West of Xining, Qinghai for the most part comprises a great emptiness. The 3000m plateau is too high to support agriculture, and the only people who traditionally have managed to eke out a living here have been nomadic yak-herders. The real highlight of the area is the huge and virtually unspoilt Qinghai Lake, whose saline waters are home to thousands of birds. A few hours beyond, Chaka Salt Lake is an interesting stop for those wishing to break the long journey to Golmud, the only town of note for hundreds of kilometres, and a place to catch trains to Lhasa as well as onward transport to Dunhuang and southern Xinjiang.

 

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