Yuncheng Salt Lake: Nomads’ Dream, Photographers’ Paradise

There are three kinds of salt lakes in the world: carbonate, chloride and sulfate based. The famous Dead Sea and the Great Salt Lake in Utah are chloride lakes, whereas Yuncheng Lake is a sulfate lake. The Ciechi Lake, otherwise popularly known as Yuncheng Lake is a closed basin lake, meaning it doesn’t flow out to a river or sea. Hence, the salt content is high. It’s like a cycle. The water enters with salt, the water gets evaporated, and the salt stays, followed by more water, salt and evaporation. The salt keeps getting accumulated, the lake saltier. But there’s something else this magical water body is widely loved for. 

A kaleidoscope 

Yuncheng Salt Lake: Nomads' Dream, Photographers' Paradise
via leilei8027 on Instagram

Yunchen lake, called the Dead Sea of China, is famous for its gorgeous colors, and these hues vary, depending on the plants and organism species that live in the lake – if there are brine shrimps, the lake might turn red. The microscopic animal called a rotifer gives it a purple color. Come summer, algae turn it into a brigh

crimson, blue and green glass, as if it were the window of an ancient church. In winter, there is another factor at play: the colour fades away, but salt water freezes at lower temperatures than fresh water, so when the temperature drops below 23 degrees Fahrenheit, there will be Mirabilite crystals formed by the salt  These are known as Glouber’s salt. This turns out to be a sparkling and twinkling winter fantasy, and the lake becomes a wonderland. In an effort to boost Xiechi Lake’s international profile, China is reportedly taking steps to get it listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Supporter of health

The lake contains several minerals that are believed to be good for the skin. Yuncheng Salt Lake is also full of sulfates that support life. According to the Yuncheng city government, the lake contains black mud, which has restorative and healing properties.

Witnessed by history 

Salt production and shrimp breeding are the two main revenue-generating businesses from the Yuncheng salt lake. It is believed that the locals of China have been harvesting salt from the lake for over 6,000 years. The ancient human remains found around the area suggest that locals knew the benefits of the salty lake even back then. 

Researches by historians estimate that by the sixth century, a quarter of salt production in China was from Yuncheng Lake. Unsurprisingly, there are temples dedicated to ‘Salt Gods’ nearby. 

Slowing down 

The older method of salt harvesting included manual processes like sunbathing, filtering, storage, crystallization and shoveling. This traditional five-step salt production method was included in the National Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2014. Despite being a traditional craft skill, as time progressed it became outdated. The physical toll on the laborers was so high that people no longer volunteered to learn the craft and work. Hence, the method came to a halt in 1980. But the shrimp business is still a hit with revenue of over 2.5 million USD per year. This helps in local employment and livelihood.

Lively lake, but dead?

This hidden marvel also faces issues of algal bloom. As the algae continue to bloom and multiply, there will be a nutrient deficiency in the lake. This leads to the depletion of water’s oxygen supply(hypoxia), which means the other life forms of the lake suffer and succumb, leading to a dead zone.

Yuncheng lake will face changes constantly, as the climate and ecosystem continues to change. Despite going through all this, it’ll always remain a unique and marvelous wonder on earth.

To acquaint the world with its beauty, China is reportedly taking steps to get the lake listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

But to you, dear friend, all that should matter in this moment is the glorious, vibrant beauty that these waters offer. Hop into your car, book a flight ticket and don’t forget your camera. For though the kaleidoscopic lake of China is a traveller’s dream, it is forever a photographer’s paradise. 

These are the most beautiful rivers in the world.

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