Erhai Lake, Chinese Erhai, is an alpine fault lake in Yunnan's west. Its name means ear-shaped sea. Er Lake was also known as Yeyuze or Kunming Lake in ancient times. Some also call it Er Lake or Erhai, as 'hai' can be translated as ocean or lake.
Erhai is situated at 1972 m above sea level. In size, the North-South length of the lake is 40 km and the East-West width is roughly 7-8 km. Its area is 250 km², making it the second largest highland lake of China, after Dianchi Lake right next to Kunming. Its circumference reaches 116 km, its average depth is of 11 m and the total storage capacity of 2.5 billion m³.
The lake is sandwiched between the Cangshan Mountains to the West and Dali Old Town. It starts at Dengchuan at its northern extremity and finishes at Xiaguan city in the South, receiving water from the Miju and Mici Rivers (in the North), the Bolou River (in the East) and smallers streams from the Cangshan Mountains. Yangbi River is the lake's outlet in the South and eventually flows into the Lancang River (Mekong River).
The lakeshore can be explored by walking or biking. Highlights include Er Lake Park and the Butterfly Springs on the Western bank. Islands on the lake – including Guanyin Ge, Jinsuo Island ("Golden Shuttle Island"), Nanzhao Fengqing Island and Xiaoputuo Island – are also available for visits by boat.
The lake is an important food source for the local people (Bai ethnic minority), who are famous for their fishing method: their trained cormorants catch fish and return them to fishmongers. The birds are prevented from swallowing their fish by rings fixed around their neck. Erhai also holds a high diversity of typical carps.
The lake used to be a royal deer ranch for the Nanzhao Kingdom. (wikipedia)