A great winter Adventure In Khuvsgul

Crossing Khövsgöl lake,
Way & Back
By dog sledding

Located at the northern extreme, Khövsgöl is a province of Mongolia and also the name of the largest and deepest lake of the country. This lake was baptized by its former inhabitants "the blue water lake" and popularized later by Russians under the name of "Kossogol".
Much more than in other aïmags, this region keeps local traditions. Several ethnies live there. Among many, we can meet the Durkha, the Buriat, and of course Darkhad people, well known as Tsaatan or reindeer herders.

Khövsgöl Lake is baptized "the blue pearl of Mongolia" because of its great beauty and the colour of its water.

The area is a National Park that gathers a very rich fauna and a flora, often endemic.

Wide varieties of birds live there, mainly migratory birds which come to nest there, in summer time.
The lake is surrounded by Khodiral Saridag Mountains composed of around ten extinct volcanoes.

Due to its lake, Khövsgöl is one of the rarest areas in Mongolia where people eat fish.

The lake is surrounded by several peaks, reaching 3500m high where you can find eternal snow and ice fields.
This wild place is not well-known and many summits haven’t been explored yet.

Day 1 - Departure for the airport, Transfer Ulaanbaatar/Mörön/Khatgal.
Reception at Mörön airport of and transfer by vehicle to Khatgal.
Installation at the guest-house in Khatgal.

Mörön is the main city of the Khövsgöl Province. Khuvsgul province is one of the biggest in Mongolia, with 100000 k2m² and is the most populated with 121 000 inhabitants.
From Mörön, we will have 100 kilometers, to reach Khatgal, on trails.
Small village at the beginning of the lake, Khatgal is a former russian colony, that was very prosperous due to the trade between Mongolia and Russia.

First sight of the Khuvsgul lake

Khövsgöl lake is one of the biggest stock of pure water in the world: 135 km long, 35 km wide, its average depth is 100 meters but can reach 260 meters.
Water from Khövsgöl Lake ends in the Baikal Lake, by the Egiin and Selenge rivers.

Introduction to the dog team
Preparation of equipments for the departure next day

Day 2: departure for the great adventure.
The first day will be short, around 30 kilometers running alongside of the bank.
This day will be also your initiation to drive a dog sledge.
We will make a small stop by the famous mineral water spring, a few kilometers away from Khatgal.
Then we will carry on the crossing of the lake to join the Toilogt camp on the western bank.
There, the owners of the ger camp will receive us.
Toilogt camp is one the most known ger camp around Khövsgöl lake. In summer time, it is one of the most crowded…
But in winter, we will be the only visitors, traveling up there.

 Day 3 : Toilogt camp /Jigleg
We will approach the widest part of the lake, feeling of immensity, even if we stay near the bank.
The stage of the day will be 45 kilometers, to reach the mythical Jigleg pass. This area is named after the small Jigleg River and is also the only way to join Tsaagan Nuur Lake, on the other side of the mountain.

We will stop by the small Heltglyn lake, little basin close to the big lake, formed by a mineral spring that does not ever freeze in winter. This small lake is the shelter for many birds like ducks, swans, etc…
A place of a marvelous wild beauty.

The lake is mainly surrounded by a bluish ice crest, formed by a big amount of ice blocks pushed there by the last waves of Khövsgöl waters, just before temperatures froze this immensity.
It is not rare to meet here a horse sledge , unexpected meetings that make this trip even more human and interesting.

Horse sledding is mainly practiced in Khövsgöl province. It is one of the Khövsgöl specificities.

At Jigleg, several wooden houses are installed at the edge of the lake. Some of them are unhabited during the winter. We will overnight in one of them in company of a nomad family.

Day 4:  Jigleg / Dolon Uul
Long way up north to reach the Dolon Uul peninsula at 55km away from Jigleg.
During this long day, we will cross many compression crests, common in this area.
The ice of Khövsgöl is incredibly pure, white marbled, or with some white air bubbles.

The ice slaps permanently making strange noises. Waves also keep moving under the deep ice layer, result of a non stop seismic activity.

We will arrive at Dolon Uul at the end of afternoon to overnight in a ger near the lake in an incredible wild place…

Day 5: Dolon Uul / Khankh
Crossing of the lake, to join Khankh, also called Turt.
On this place, the lake is around 30 kilometers wide. It will be a quite short way to reach this small village, nested between the edge of the lake and high cliffs.
Small village at the border of Russia… A magical place with its very unique atmosphere.
The magnificent Monkh Saridag mount, worshipped by Khankh inhabitants, reigns on place.
This beautiful summit culminates at almost 3 500m and marks Russia’s border.
We will arrive in Khankh and be welcomed by Bayarkhuu, director of the hotel.
Installation at the "last hotel before the frontier ", great wooden building, recently built at the edge of the lake.

Day 6: Day rest in Khankh or Departure for the horse trek.
Going always more north, at the foot of Monkh Saridag, on horses.
Preparation for the departure on the following day. Small purchases in Khankh.

Day 7: Departure for the way back to Khatgal.
Crossing the 13 ovoos on the foot of the hill, symbols of a glorious past. They are the old tracks of the border of the Great Mongolian Empire created by Chinggis Khan.
The empire of the Great Khan was at that time formed by 13 provinces gathered. Passing near these 13 ovoos would inform any foreigner that he was entering in the Empire.

We will have around 30 kilometers after the ovoos, to reach the other side of the lake, at Doloon Uul.

Day 8: Doloon Uul/Jigleg
Same itinerary to go to Jigleg, but not the same light, not the same way to see the lake, the nature, mountains…The view is splendid, with an incredible view on the 3000m high mountain that separates the 2 main lakes of the province: Khövsgöl lake and Tsaagan Nuur lake.

We might feel some vibrations and movements of the ice and hear the noise of waves becoming stronger.
Unforgetable moments….Even dogs are under the power of the place.

Day 9: Jigleg/Toilogt
We will choose a new route to reach Toilogt, closer to the coast, closer to the blue ice compression blocks. We will have already covered so far around 200 km on Khövsgöl ice. Dog sledding will become for you easier and you will feel like a true musher and will be able to appreciate totally the beauty landscape.

Day 10: Toilogt / Khatgal.
Arrival at the camp in the middle of the afternoon.
Installation at the guesthouse of Gamba and Chimgee.

Day 11: Day free in Khatgal.
A day rest in Khatgal, to visit the little typical village and have a      walk on the hill near the village…

Day 12: Domestic flight to Ulaanbaatar.
About 3 hours on a difficult trail, in a wonderful landscape, to reach Moron.
Visit of the Delgermörön archeological site with sculpted rocks of 4 000 years.
Arrival in UB at the end of the afternoon.


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