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Eagle hunter man with his eagle sitting on the ground

TOP DESTINATIONS OF WESTERN MONGOLIA

Western Mongolia is famous for several ethnic groups, including Mongolian and Kazakh people. Nature is more beautiful and pristine, and the people are more hospitable and generous. There is an impressive Altai Tavan Bogd mountain range here. Kazakh is the leading ethnic group with a colorful culture and rich history. Since the Lower Paleolithic period, or 300 thousand years ago, human ancestors have settled in the Altai region, containing precious records of petroglyphs and graveyards.

Glamorous fresh-water lakes are the primary fascination of the area. Golden Eagle Festival is a "must-see." It is an exclusive hunting tradition with Eagles that has existed for 2000 years and is still strong among the Kazakhs. Initially, Kazakhs were the descendants of the Hereid tribes and settled down in Bayan Ulgii aimag in 1940 after hundreds of years of traveling.

ALTAI TAVAN BODG NATIONAL PARK

Altai Tavan bogd national park and snow-capped mountains

Located at the westernmost point of Mongolia, this park on the border of Russia and China views Kazakhstan from the highest peak of the Tavan Bogd Mountains (“Five Sacred” in Mongolian). At the northwest end of this 630,000-hectare park, the Tavan Bogd Mountains contain the five highest mountain peaks in Mongolia, with the highest, Khuiten Uul (“Cold Peak’) at 4374 M (14,201 ft). The mountains are considered sacred to local Tuva and Kazakhs. 
The park contains the full spectrum of archeology in Bayan-Ulgii, with petroglyphs, standing stones, burial mounds, and Kazakh cemeteries. This most significant concentration of petroglyphs, with over 10,000, is at the Tsagaan Sala site, which is situated along a 15km river valley. Another famous park region is the lakes region, renowned for its natural beauty. The Altai Tavan Bogd National Park is the most visited in western Mongolia and offers various activities.

Mountain climbing is best during late summer when the weather is warmest. Four of the peaks require mountaineering equipment and experienced climbers, though the shortest, Malchin orgil (“Herder Peak”) at 4025 M, can be hiked by novices. Near the mountains, it is possible to hike Pontuninii Glacier. Hiking, fishing, mountain biking, horse and camel riding, and whitewater rafting are popular in summer and autumn, with tour packages available for several days or weeks.

The best hiking area is around the lakes and the Tavan Bogd Base Camp, at an elevation of 3092 m. Fishing is permitted in the park from the middle of June to April. Everything except mountain climbing and rafting is available through the winter.

KHAR US LAKE

Khar Us Nuur (Dark Water Lake) is Mongolia's second-largest freshwater lake (15,800 sq km), with an average depth of only 4m. Khovd Gol flows into this lake, creating a giant marsh delta. The lake is about 40km to the east of Khovd city. 
Khar Us Nuur is the perfect habitat for wild ducks, geese, wood grouse, partridges, and seagulls, including rare relict gulls and herring gulls by late summer, a billion or two of everyone’s friend, the common mosquito. The outflow from Khar Us Nuur goes into a short river called Chono Khairkhan, which flows into another freshwater lake, Khar Nuur (Black Lake), home to some migratory pelicans.

The southern end of Khar Nuur flows into Durgun Nuur, a large alkaline lake suitable for swimming. The eastern side of Durgun Nuur is an area of bone-dry desert and extensive sand dunes.

a bird is flying over the lake.

KHYRGAS LAKE

western Mongolian khyargas lake.

The Khyargas Lake is one of the four lakes covering over 1000 square kilometers. Khyargas Lake is elevated at 1023 m above sea level is in the south of Uvs province, descended from tectonics, covers 1406.8 km2 square, 75 km length, 31 km width, 253.8 km length shore, 92 m depth of water near yellow berry line and in other places about 40-50 m depth in there. 

Khan Khukhii Mountain, lying behind Khyargas Lake, is damaged by rainwater. Thus, there are many creeks and chutes. And the south side of Khyargas Lake looks so beautiful that it seems to be the white marble rocks. 
Khyargas Lake has many kinds of fish: pikes, herrings of Altai, herrings of Nokhoi, and the migratory birds, which are rare, foregather mainly in the lake surrounded thus, there is a gorgeous native land wherever unrepeatable.

GURVAN TSENKHERIIN CAVE

Gurvan Tsenkher cave is located in Mankhan County of Khovd province. Related to the upper Paleolithic period, the rock art in Khoit Tsenkher Cave includes symbols and animal forms painted from the walls up to the ceiling. In one of the cave's corners, measuring 2.5 m high and 1.5-2.0 m deep, numerous symbols and animals were painted, overlapping each other on the top and wall. A quiet standing stag was portrayed clearly among the animals. Also, a standing buffalo with horus looking ahead was represented separately. Therefore, many animals, including foxes, ibexes, elephants, and ostriches, were pictured overlapping each other.
On its wall, in a hollow cave measuring 10 m long and 8 m wide, a camel with two humps was portrayed. Also, many symbols and trees were painted at a 2.0-2.5 m height, close to the wall where the camel was depicted. Lions, elephants, argali sheep, ibexes, ostriches, antelopes, and camels, as well as symbols, were painted with mineral-based paints of rosy and brown colors on the walls deep inside the cave.

By painting different kinds of animals, their color, and views, the Khoit Tsenkher cave rock paintings show their original artistic, cultural, and historical features that are different from the other rock paintings in Mongolia and her neighboring countries. Some particular parts of the animals, such as their horns, necks, and humps, are depicted with an exaggerated hyper-realism typical of the Paleolithic period. In the Cultural category, this site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on August 1, 1996.

A big mountain and cave.

TSAMBAGARAV NATIONAL PARK

Huge mountains and yaks.

Tsambagarav Mountain National Park is situated along the border of Khovd Province. This park has many snow-capped mountains and glaciers. It houses many endangered animals. On the southern slope, there are small larch patches and coniferous trees.

This park is filled with beautiful valleys and gorges, making it a spectacular destination.  The wildlife is diverse here. One can see many Turkic stone men and petroglyphs. This park has various recreational activities like camel trekking, sunbathing, canoeing, swimming, mountain climbing, and horse riding. 

This park is spread over an area of 110 hectares. The highest point of the park is 4208 m above sea level. Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, is about 1630 km from this park. Khovd city is around 130 km from Tsambagarav Mountain National Park. Jeeps and vehicles are easily available for reaching the park.

UUREG LAKE

Uureg Lake has breathtaking surroundings. The salty water lake is in a superb panorama, surrounded by Altai's high summits. 

Fishing and hiking opportunities are overwhelming here, and rock paintings representing animals can be seen in the gorge of the Tsagaan River. The local herders of this area are called the Durvud ethnic group.

a bird is flying over the lake.
Achit lake and blue sky.

ACHIT LAKE

Achit Lake is one of the largest lakes in Mongolia, covering 311 square kilometers. The length of the lake is 30 km, and the width is 16km. It is between Kharkhiraa Uul and Turgen Uul, at 1,464 meters above sea level. 

Achit Lake is irrigated from 10500 sq. Km Square is fed by the Altangadas and Bukh Murun rivers, providing the Khovd River. 
The state has protected the island of Devel in the Usan Khooloi River.

MUNKH KHAIRKHAN MOUNTAIN

Munkh Khairkhan Mountain is situated in the Munkh Khairkhan soum of Khovd province, which is located 1458km west of Ulaanbaatar.

It is the second highest peak in Mongolia, standing at 4362m above sea level, and was designated as a state-protected area in 2006 to safeguard endangered species such as Snow Leopards, Ibex, and Wild Mountain sheep, as well as valuable ancient cultural sites.

Munkh Khairkhan Mountain also serves as a natural boundary between Hovd and Bayan Olgii provinces, and crossing over the mountain range will bring you in contact with different people, cultures, and so much more.

Munkh khairkhan mountain

BAGA OIGOR PETROGLYPH

baga-oigor-petroglyph.

The Tsagaan Salaa River flows into the Baga Oigor in the far western region of Bayan Olgii aimag, in the Mongolian Altai Mountains. The "Altai" project, a joint effort between Mongolian, American, and Russian researchers, began in 1994 and revealed that the lower Tsagaan Salaa and upper Baga Oigor are home to one of the largest rock art complexes in North and Central Asia.

The region is also the richest in terms of the chronological age, quantity, and quality of imagery. The rock art contains various images of animal species, hunting scenes, and depictions of human life in the area. We can see humans riding and leading animals, loaded caravans, and schematic drawings of what are believed to be enclosures.

Some of the imagery seems to have had religious or ritual significance, such as bell-shaped anthropomorphic and birthing scenes, which are arguably some of the earliest images. A great deal of the imagery may also be connected with human and animal reproduction. Although precise dating is impossible, there are plausible hypotheses that correlate certain themes with different periods, reflecting changes in climate and the patterns of human activity.

TSAGAAN SALAA ROCK PAINTINGS

Tsagaan River Petroglyphs are located in Naran soum of Gobi-Altai province, along the left side of Tsagaan River. Tsagaan River Petroglyphs or Tsagaan Salaa Rock Paintings are protected by UNESCO because it is a part of Mongol-Altaic petroglyphs that were engraved on the UNESCO World Heritage in 2011. The rock formation that exhibits the petroglyphs covers about 15 square km along Tsagaan River inside Altai Tavan Bogd National Park.

There are about 10,000 rock paintings that you can examine with your own eyes. Those invaluable historical evidences date back to the Neolithic and Bronze Age period and they mainly depict hunters and herders doing their chores.

The petroglyphs are an extremely important subject matter for various reasons, not only because they are huge in numbers but because the depictions show huge details of the everyday life of prehistoric people. The main information we can collect here is the transitional shift between hunter-gatherers to agricultural societies which mainly involved domesticating and breeding animals rather than cultivating plants.

Ancient rock painting on the rock
amazing lake and lots of horses

TELMEN LAKE

Telmen Lake is a saltwater lake located in Telmen soum of Zavkhan province. It is 28km long, 16km wide with a surface area of 194 square km and a maximum depth of 27m. There are three lake islands in Telmen Lake and they host migratory birds.

The lake has only one tributary called the Khooloi River and is mostly fed by rain and underground water. The area around Telmen Lake is barren with no trees and it is a combination of the steppe and the Gobi desert. Temperature ranges between -32°C during winter to 12°C during summer.

TOLBO LAKE

Located 45 kilometers south of Ulgii, it stretches from southeast to northwest, the lake depression is of tectonic origin, the source of the reservoir is glacial, and it is one of the largest lakes in Mongolia. Tolbo soum is located at the southern end of the lake. It covers an area of 185 square kilometers, the longest is 21.5 kilometers, the widest is 6 kilometers, and is 2,080 meters above sea level.

There are several small islands. The largest is Gichgenii Tolgoi, which is only 4 meters above sea level. It is irrigated by about 10 rivers flowing from the surrounding mountains, and the excess water is discharged through the Turgen River into the Umnu River, a western tributary of the Khovd River.

The story near the lake:

There is a story known as the Battle of Tolbo Lake, which is related to the events of the 1921 People's Revolution.

It is a historic event that 160 Mongol-Soviet troops led by Khasbaatar and Baikalov fought on the shores of Lake Tolbo against about 2,400 White Russian troops led by Baron Ungern's Kaigaradov and Bakich. In this unbalanced battle, the Mongol-Soviet soldiers were seized swore an oath of allegiance stayed together for 42 days, and finally decided to break the siege and succeeded. Thus a plaque has been erected in their memory and is on top of a hill along the main road. There is also a monument to Khasbaatar and Baikalov 1 km behind the Tolbo soum center.

Amazing tolbo lake and horses

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