Tours to Mongolia’s National Parks
Detailed information about Mongolia’s National Parks
Mongolia’s Northern National Parks
Khuvsgul Lake Region’s National Parks
Northern Mongolia’s Khuvsgul National Park
Mongolia’s Khuvsgul Lake National Park covers 8,381 square kilometers including lake Khuvsgul and its watershed, the Lake’s river basin and parts of Zuni Saran Mountain – it has been protected since 1992. In the region there are special plants such as Adorns sibirica, Yellow Marsh Saxifrage (Saxifrage Hercules), Valeriana officinalis and Saussurea involucrata in the forests. The taiga forest has Euro Asian Otter, beaver, moose, reindeer, argali, Siberian ibex, Snow leopards, red deer, Siberian roe deer, wolf, brown bears, lynx, wild boar, black stork, osprey and curlew. The Khuvsgul Lake’s Khankh River and Khoroo River have both been designated as “core areas’ because of their special importance for migratory birds.
Northern Mongolia’s Khuvsgul Lake
Mongolia’s Khuvsgul Lake is a huge and very deep lake situated on the north edge of Mongolia and it covers an area of 2,612 square kilometers. It is a large lake extending 134 kilometers north to south and 39 kilometers east to west and dominating the western shore of the lake is Khoridol Saridag Mountain which attains an altitude of 1,624 meters above sea level just west of the Khuvsgul Lake National Park’s boundary. 96 rivers and streams feed into Khuvsgul Lake and then via the Egiin River they exits from it draining into the Orkhon River as well as into Lake Baikal in the Russian Federation. Khuvsgul Lake is the deepest lake in Central Asia with a maximum depth of 262 meters and its waters are crystal clear and fresh. Khuvsgul Lake is the world’s 14th largest source of fresh water and it contains about 1 percent of the world fresh water (approximately 380700 billion liters). The reflections of larch forests and Majestic Mountains in Khuvsgul Lake’s water are amazing. Plenty of fish are found in the Khuvsgul Lake – such as Baikal Omul, Lenok, Umber, Siberian Grayling and River Perch. The Khuvsgul National Park includes the towns of Khatgal and Khankh and a ferry service operates between the two. Living in Khuvsgul Lake National Park are members of the Khalkh, Buriat and Darkhat ethnic groups and in the taiga forests live the Tsaatan Reindeer herders (the ‘Reindeer People’). The Khuvsgul Lake is surrounded by several mountain ranges and the surface of the lake freezes over completely in winter – the ice cover in winter is strong enough to carry heavy trucks; in fact, it’s common route for transport instead of the normal roads. However, this practice is now forbidden to prevent pollution of the lake from both oil leaks and trucks breaking through the ice and becoming unrecoverable – it is estimated that between 30-40 vehicles have sunk into the lake over the years.
Northern Mongolia’s Khoridol Saridag Mountain National Park
Mongolia’s Khoridol Saridag Mountains are a 150 km-long mountain range in Khuvsgul Province between Khuvsgul Lake and the Darkhad valley. The range covers parts of the Renchinlkhümbe, Ulaan-Uul and Alag-Erdene sums. The highest peak is Delgerkhaan Uul (3093m) with two other notable peaks that are called Ikh Uul (2961m) and Uran Dösh Uul (2702m) facing towards the shores of Khuvsgul Lake. The mountains along the lake are rich in phosphorite and in the 1980s extensive exploration work was done for open-pit mining; roads built during that time and other remains are still visible all over the area. However, due to the political and economic changes of the early 1990s between Mongolia and Russia those projects were cancelled. In 1997, a protected area covering 1886 km² was founded, the “Khoridol Saridag Mountain Range Region” is described as tundra, taiga, forested steppe and mountainous area which are greatly different in terms of nature environment and landscape but located close to each other. Due to these characteristics, it is the home of much biodiversity of tundra soil which has become home to rare and very rare S.involucrata, A. altaicum Pall, etc., as well as a variety of wildlife species (argali, ibex, Siberian moose, snowcock, sable, etc); in fact, both argali and ibex population inhabit this area as well.
Northern Mongolia’s Uran Uul National Park Preserve
Uran Uul is an extinct volcano that lays near the road and stretches from Bulgan town to Moron for some 80 kilometers northwest of Bulgan town through the territory of Kutag-Undur Soum. The preserve occupies a territory of 8 square kilometers, with an elevation of 1,686 meters above sea level and has been protected since 1965.
The preserve has 4 mountains and all of which are non-active volcanoes; the largest of them is Uran Uul that reaches 1686 meters above sea level and its crater is 500 to 600 meters wide and 50 meters deep filled with a small “crater lake” about 20 meters in diameter with small tree-like vegetation. The volcano is believed to have gone extinct 20-25 thousand years ago. Mount Tulga has 3 formations formed by flowing lava that has shaped it similar to a fireplace – it sits 1540 meters above sea level. Mount Togoo sits at 1620 meters above sea level with a width of 400 meters wide and its 100 meter deep crater. Lastly, Mount Jalavch sits 1560 meters above sea level – within the overall preserve Red Deer, Argali, Wild Boar, Siberian Ibex, Ruddy Shelduck and Duck are found in this area as well as snakes that hibernate around the volcanoes heat. The preserve is mainly made up of taiga flora with pine forests.
Northern Mongolia’s Ergeliinzoo National Park Preserve
Ergeliinzoo National Park Preserve is famous for its unique landscape and its paleontological discoveries. The area was designated as a Natural Preserve in 1996 to protect its wildlife and invaluable historic artifacts that date back over 30 million years ago. The National Park Preserve covers 60,900 hectares of land 30 kilometers northwest of the center of Khatanbulag Soum (Selenge Province).
Ergeliinzoo is home to preserved remains of different vertebrates such as fish, mammals and reptiles; wildlife includes, black-tailed gazelles, mongolian gazelles and onagers (Wild ass) as well as foxes, wolves, corsacs, lynx, badgers, and bird like sandgrouse, Daurian partridge, buzzards, great bustards and more.
The interesting places of Otson Khad and Kheregsuur are north of Ergeliin Zoo. Picturesque places include Bichigt Khad, Shiveen Bulag and Khutag Mountain.
Northern Mongolia’s Tujiin Nars National Park
This National Park’s name can be loosely translated to ‘Heaps of Pines” and its area covers the territory of Shaamar and Altanbulag soums of Selenge aimag and occupies 800 square kilometers of land. It was taken under state special protection in 2002 by Parliament Resolution № 47.
Tujiin Nars was a dense pine forest that was hundreds of years old and became protected when it was on the brink of extinction. About 40 organizations from around the world worked over 7500 hectares of land to restore the forest. Today, their works have been successful with 40-50% of the forest growing back naturally, alongside its flora and fauna.
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Mongolia’s Eastern National Parks
Dornod Region’s National Parks
Eastern Mongolia’s Khan Khentii Strictly Protected National Park
Khan Khentii Strictly Protected National Park’s Area is a 12,271 square kilometers – the government administered strictly protected area rights for the Khentii province in Eastern Mongolia. Strictly protected areas are regions of land designated by the Mongolian Government as wildlife preservation areas, and thus, herding and tourism are tightly controlled – hunting and mining are prohibited. The Khan Khentii strictly protected area is located in the Khentii Mountains and includes the sacred Burkhan Khaldun Mountain – the birthplace of Genghis Khan as well as one of the rumored locations of his tomb. Terelj River, Kherlen River, Onon River, Tuul River, Minj River and their tributaries flow through the park. The Strictly Protected Area is northeast of Ulaanbaatar, on the borders of three “Provinces” or “Aimags” – Tuv Aimag, Khentii Aimag and Selenge Aimag. Since 1992 Khan Khentee as enjoyed Government Protection as the aim is to preserve the vast variety of species of the taiga, vegetation, animals, ecosystems as well as historical relics such as ‘Royal tombs’ (Ihsiin Khorig). It safeguards excellent examples of the taiga forest zone, high mountain zone and mountain forest-steppe zone. Rare herbs are abundant, such as Abies sibirica, Rhodiola rosea, Liliurn dauricum, Allium altaicum, Orchis fuchsli, Vacciniium myrtillus, Valeriana officinalis, Oxycoccus microcarpus and Neoltianthe cucullata. It is home to endangered species of Moose, Red Deer, Siberian Roe Deer, Musk Deer, Wild Boar, Badger, Lynx, Weasels, Sables and Foxes. Black Stork, Bar-headed Goose, Black Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Brown Shrike have been recorded in the region.
Eastern Mongolia’s Onon-Baljiin Sav National Park
An area comprising 4,157.5 square kilometers in Dadal, Binder, Norovlin and Bayan-Adraga soums of Khentii Province and Bayan-Uul sum of Domod Province was taken under state protection with two parts (A and B) in 2000 by Parliament resolution № 29.
The area forms a unique geographical environment – deep to the south along the Siberian forest, taiga and mountains from the northern part of Mongolia and from the south to the north through arid desert-steppe and valleys of Central Asia.
The park is home to Dahurian Larch (Larix gmelinii, or L. dahurica) and Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris or Pinus krylovii). Both trees are on the Mongolian Red Book of Endangered Species. The park’s combination of larch, pine and birch trees can not be found anywhere else. The park’s fauna include rare birds such as White-naped Cranes (Antigone vipio), Hooded Cranes (Grus monacha), Great Bustards (Otis tarda), lamprey (Lampetra japonica), Daurian crayfish (Cambaroides dauricus), Daurian pearl oysters (Dahurinaia dahurica), Daurian hedgehogs (Mesechinus dauuricus) and the specially protected Amur sturgeon (Acipenser schrenckii).
Eastern Mongolia’s Khar Yamaat National Park Preserve
This national park preserve occupies a territory of 506 square kilometers of Bayan-Ovoo soum of Khentii Province and Tumontsogl soum of Sukhbaatar Province. Being the winter retreat for Mongolian gazelles as well as a stopover spot for migrating birds that use the banks of Kherlen river – the area entered into protection as a Preserve in 1998.
The surrounding area of Khar Yamaat and Turuu Undur Mountain has a special formation which rarely occurs in the steppe region. This National Park Preserve is ending continuation of Khan Khentii Mountain Range or “Khangai” and is a part of an area with pine, aspen groves, fruits and medicinal plants.
Eastern Mongolia’s Lhachinvandad Uul National Park
This mountain is in southeast Mongolia within the territory of the Erdenetsagaan soum of Sukhbaatar Province. Its area, including the Baruun and Zuun Uul, is 588 square kilometers.The mountain has enjoyed protection since 1965 to safeguard Elk habitat in Mountain-Steppe Zone. The mountain is 1,233 meters above sea level and composed of granites and other rocks. It is enjoyable to watch the deer run in the low treeless space of the boundless steppe – the deer population is 200 as well as White-tailed Gazelle, Eurasian Badger and Raccoon Dog are found here.
The deer population started in 1886 when 2 deer were gifted to a lord in Inner Mongolia named Yeguzer. The deer received care regularly and by 1905 they had become 20 and later between 1914 and 1915 the deer had grown to around 100 and were let out into the wild. Because the deer were almost domesticated and used to their caretakers they wouldn’t stray far from their fence until the 1930s when the deer finally went feral and settled around mount Lhachinvandad.
Eastern Mongolia’s Ugtam Uul Natural Preserve
This Natural Preserve covers an area of 300 square kilometers in Dornod Aimag and has enjoyed protection since 1993. The preserve includes two holy mountains and the ruins of an important Buddhist monastery.
The mountain of Ugtam Uul is 30 kilometers from the center of Bayandun soum and it is 1,025 meters above sea level.
Many rare animals and plants here are listed in the Red Book of Mongolia. It’s rich in fauna as most animals of the steppe can be found here as well as host to 251 species of birds and acts as a stopover for southern birds migrating to Siberia.
Ugtam Monastery is considered to be one of the bigger monasteries in Mongolia and was built in 1777. It’s said to have housed over 300 monks with 12 temples and even a temple dedicated to worshipping Chingis Khaan’s Black Banner of War. When the monastery was razed in 1934: 11 temples, 124 monks and a farm with 16 camels, 4 horses and a single cow was documented. One if its disciples who studied at the temple between the ages of 8 and 10 made the decision to rebuild the monastery in 1990. During August of that year with the building of a stupa its reconstruction officially began.
Some economic activities may be permitted if they do not harm the values for which the Natural Preserve was established.
Eastern Mongolia’s Yakhi Lake National Park Preserve
This national park preserve was established by the Parliament Resolution 28 (1998) with an area of 2,514 square kilometers between Sergelen, Gurvanzagal and Choibalsan soums of Dornod Province. This flat steppe’s tallest mountain, Mount Dun, sits at 920 meters above sea level. The preserve itself has 17 saltwater lakes and the biggest of which is Yakhi Lake; it is the northern most part or the white gazelle distribution and is one of the main habitats for the migrating birds. The also area acts as a backup retreat for Mongolian gazelles in Galyn Shil, Toson Khulstai and Salbaryn Tal during times of drought as well as home to Saker Falcons, Daurian Partridge and Daurian Hedgehogs.
Eastern Mongolia’s Toson Khulstai National Park Preserve
This national park preserve of Toson Khulstai occupies 4,700 square kilometers of Bayan-Ovoo and Norovlin soums of Khentii Province as well as Kholonbuir and Tsagaan-Ovoo soums of Dornod Province – status was approved in 1998 by Parliament Resolution 28. Toson, Khulstai Nuur and Salbariin valley are the main habitats for white gazelles which extends the distribution of white gazelles to the north from Kherlen River.
This area acts as the main pasture and breeding grounds for Mongolian gazelles with its rainwater lakes (Ereen, Khotont, Khulst and Tsagaan) which provide a secure space for migrating birds to rest or even lay eggs. You may find Daurian Hedgehogs, Daurian Cranes and Daurian Bustards as well as rodents such as marmots, manchurian moles and pikas.
Eastern Mongolia’s Mongol Daquur Strictly Protected National Park
Mongolia’s Mongol Daguur is a steppe and wetland region listed as a UNESCO World Biosphere Preserve with its trans boundary eco region straddling three countries – Mongolia’s Dornod Province of eastern Mongolia, Daurian eco region of Russia and the Hulun Lake wetlands of China. The area is categorized as a Strictly Protected Area within the framework of protected areas within Mongolia. Mongol Daguur’s steppe and wetland territory mainly consists of low mountainous landscapes that support a variety of fauna and flora. The biosphere preserves provide nesting and breeding grounds for globally endangered species such as the white-napped crane while also serving as a migratory stopover site for many rare and endangered species. This Strictly Protected Area encompasses 1,030 square kilometers of Dornod Province and is host to 6 of the World’s 15 rare species of Crane, including the threatened Hooded Crane, Siberian Crane, Common Crane and Desmoiselle Crane, etc., as well as the Relict Gull, Mandarin Duck Whopper Swan, Great Bustard and 226 other species of birds. Also this park is home to rare animals including Daurian Hedgehog, Roe Deer, Mongolian Gazelle, Red Fox, Raccoon Dog and Wolf and over 300 plant species have been recorded including Larix dauricum and Paenoia albitlora.
The Strictly Protected Area is in two parts: the larger northern part is contiguous with the Daurski Preserve across the border in the Russian Federation that consists of rolling grassy steppes and wetlands fringing the south shore of the lake Tari. The southern part encompasses a stretch of the clear waters of the Uldz River and its pristine wetlands that are protected primarily to safeguard the high nesting concentration of White-napped Crane. This is the largest breeding population in the World of this endangered species – perhaps 70% of the World’s total.
Eastern Mongolia’s Numrug Strictly Protected National Park
This Strictly Protected National Park Area is the most remotest and uninhabited easternmost tip of Mongolia that is located in Dornod Aimag some 420 kilometers to the east of Choibalsan town. It has been protected since 1992 and encompasses 3,112 square kilometers of Mountain Forest-Steppe Zone and Steppe Zone, including the watershed of the rivers Degee and Numrug which are the tributaries of the Khalkh River. The Strictly Protected Area is ecologically distinct from the rest of Mongolia because the area is home to Manchurian plants and animals as well as Central Asia species. The area is fairly wet, and sufficient for stands of Scots Pine, White Birch and Willow.
Biological diversity is high with some 44 species of mammals, 234 species of birds, 24 species of fish, 4 species of amphibians and 3 species of reptiles. Many kinds of rare plants occur in the region such as Peanoia albitlora, Zygadenus, Sibirica, Rhamnus ussuriensis, Lilium dauricum and Sorbariasorbifolia. Rare mammals include Ussurian Moose (Alces alces cameloides) and Eurasian Otter; rare birds such as Great Bustard, Houbara Bustard, White-naped Crane, Common Pheasant, Ptarmigan and Great Black Water Shrike breed here. You’ll need to obtain special border permits from the General Authority for Border Protection as well as a permit from the Department of Natural Environment – these permissions are generally given to research biologists only.
Eastern Mongolia’s Dornod Steppe Strictly Protected National Park
This dry and unspoiled steppe land was declared a strictly protected area in 1992 covering 5,704 square kilometers of area. The preserve is divided into Part ‘A’ which is the Menengiin Steppe (lies on the territory of Dornod Aimag) and Part ‘B’ that is the Lagiin Khooloi which includes some territory of both Dornod Aimag and Sukhbaatar Aimag. The steppe is dominated by the grasses and herbs characteristic not only of the Eastern Mongolian Steppe but also of the Dagurian Steppe; in fact, 10% of the rare plants in the Red Book of Mongolia are found here. The official declaration of the Strictly Protected Area was to safeguard an example of the last large undisturbed steppe ecosystem in the World and to protect one of the greatest wildlife sights in Central Asia – the massive herds of Mongolian Gazelles. Today herds of up to 40,000+ Mongolian gazelle migrate across the vast open plains which is truly reminiscent of the East African migrations of wildebeest. Many species of rare birds are present such as White-napped Crane, White Crane, Common Pheasant, Roughlegged Harrier, Steppe Eagle and Great Bustard.
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Mongolia’s Southern National Parks
Gobi Desert Region’s National Parks
Southern Mongolia’s Great Gobi Desert Strictly Protected National Park
The Great Gobi National Park (Gobiin Ikh Darkhan Gazar) is the fourth largest biosphere preserve in the world. It protects habitat home to Bactrian camel, Pallas Cat, Takhi (Wild Horse), Asiatic Wild Ass, Saiga Antelope, Siberian Ibex, Black-tailed Gazelle, Gobi Bear, Asiatic Wild Dog, Lybian Cat, Snow Leopard and Black Vulture. It’s divided into Gobi A (southern Gobi Altai) and Gobi B (Dzungarian Gobi). Zone ‘A’ is located 500 kilometers from Bayankhongor town and covers 45,149 square kilometers including the Edrengiin Nuruu, Atas, Chinggis, Segs Tsagaan Bogd and the boundless Gobi Nomin and Tsenkher.
Part ‘B’ is 250 kilometers from Altai and covers 8,000 square kilometers that comprises of the South Gobi of the Altai Mountains and Zuungar Gobi.
Altogether Mongolia’s Great Gobi Desert Strictly Protected National Park Area (A+B) has a total area of 53,117 square kilometers thus making it one of the biggest preserves in the World; and, it has been protected since 1975. Across the Great Gobi Desert there are oasis such as Ekhiin Gol, Tsagaan Wr Burgas, Shar Khuls and Tallin Meltes with very continental climates with temperatures falling to -40C in winter and rising to +40C in the summer. As at the annual average rainfall rages between 60 to 70 millimeters the climate is extremely arid and mainly desert plants can grow well; that includes: Populus diversifolia, Talmarix, Sophora flavescens, Elaeagnus moorcroftii, Animopiptanthus mongolica, Iljinia Iregelli, Amygdalus mongolica and Ephedra eguisetina.
Southern Mongolia’s Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park
Mongolia’s Gobi Gurvan Saikhan (Gobi three beauties nature complex) is a national park in southern Mongolia. The park was established in 1993 and expanded to its current size in 2000 – 27,000 square kilometers thus making it the largest national park in Mongolia; stretching 380 km from east to west and 80 km from north to south. The park is named for the Gurvan Saikhan Mountains which translates to the Three Beauties. Gobi Gurvan Saikhan is a mountain range composed of schist and sedimentary rocks of Paleozoic age – the name is derived from three sub ranges: the East, Middle and West Beauty (the range forms the eastern half of the park).
The park lies on the northern edge of the Gobi Desert – the higher elevations contain areas of steppe that reach elevations of up to 2,600 meters. The highest peak is Zuunsaikhan Mountain which reaches 2,815 meters above sea level. A number of rare plants and animals are found in the park including snow leopards, Siberian ibex and wild sheep. The eponymous mountains of the park are inhabited by the magnificent lammergeier or bearded vulture. In the region are sand dunes – most famously the Khongoryn Els or Singing Sands. Another major tourist destination is Yolyn Am which is connected with Dalanzadgad by paved road and a mountain valley that contains a large ice field through most of the year. The park is usually accessed via the town of Dalanzadgad, which has airport service to Ulaanbaatar.
Southern Mongolia’s Small Gobi National Park
Mongolia’s Small Gobi strictly protected area covers 18,391.7 square kilometers of land in Nomgon, Bayan-Ovoo and Khanbogd soums of South Gobi Province as well as Borzon, Zeemgene and Kharmagtain Gobi areas which are the southern part of Khatanbulag soum of Dornogobi Province. In 1993, Parliament declared it as a strictly protected area to preserve its original natural features and conditions as it’s the main habitat for rare and very rare wildlife of the world – such as Khulan (wild ass), black-tailed gazelle, argali (wild sheep), and ibex; about 50% of the Khulan population of Mongolia inhabit in this area.
Southern Mongolia’s Eej Khairhan National Park Preserve
The waterfall cascades from the peak of the Eej Khairhan (2,275) meters and is famous for its beauty. The water flows through nine natural steps, each has a pothole eroded in granite that is 2 to 3 meters wide and rounded 2 to 4 meters deep. Wildlife is important and special – Haloxylon ammoden-dron, Ephedra glauca and Gobi Bear (Ursus artos) live here as well as being home to 93 species of plants. Eej Khairhan covers 225 square kilometers and has been protected since 1992. It is on the western side of Zakhuin Bayan Burd oasis in Tsogt soum within the Gobi-Altai Province – about 200 kilometers from the town of Altai.
The mountain has a cave with evidence indicating that a human used to live in it. Historian D.Ochirbat determined that it was a monk by the name of Ravdan who lived in the cave for some years back in 1923.
Eej Khairhan acts as a natural chokepoint for large rare mammals, such as Argali, Ibex, and Snow Leopards that migrate between Mongol Altai mountains and Govi Altai mountains.
Southern Mongolia’s Alag Khairkhan Uul National Park Preserve
This National Park is a preserve that includes the mountain of Alag Khairkhan Uul and impressive narrow canyons. The National Park Preserve was established in 1996 and encompasses 36,400 hectares in Bugat soum in Gobi-Altai Province. Mount Alag Khairkhan sits an altitude of 3738 meters above sea level. Its permanent icecap is a source for numerous rivers such as Khukh Sair, Tsahir, Bosgo, Khatuu and Uliastai. The mountain range is home to rare plants such as Vansemberuu (or Snow Lotus, Saussurea involucrata), Fringed Pink (Dianthus superbus) and Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) as well as wild animals such as Argali, Ibexes, Snow Leopards and Altai Snowcocks.
Southern Mongolia’s Khasagt Khairkhan Mountain Strictly Protected National Park
Khasagt Khairkhan is a mountain of the Gobi-Altai Mountains and located in the west part of Gobi-Altai Aimag along the Zavkhan River with an elevation of 3,578 meters. The Strictly Protected Area covers 274 square kilometers, 22 kilometers northwest and 15 kilometers northeast and has been protected since 1965 in order to safeguard local populations of Argali, Ibex, Snow Leopards and Altai Snowcock as well as to conserve the forest-steppe landscape of the Mongol Altai Mountain Range. The central part of the mountains is covered with dense trees and grass and is host to Red Deer and other rare animals. Owing to the vertical change of climate, there is a clear distribution of vegetation of Gobi and Steppe zones at the altitude of 2,200 to 3,000 meters above sea level to which at the foot of the mountain is considered to be the start of the Gobi Desert. One of the most interesting local places is a gorge of the Khunkher which is 50 kilometers from Altai town – and indeed there is a resort in the gorge.
Southern Mongolia’s Burkhan Buudai Uul National Park Preserve
Burkhan Buuda National Park Preserve is part of the main chain of the Mongol Altai Mountain Range. Mount Burkhan Buudai Uul’s peak reaches 3765 meters above sea level. The mountain is the source for rivers Urd, Dund, Khoid and Urt Chatsran thanks to its permanent ice cap. The National Park Preserve was formed in 1996 to conserve the natural beauty, longstanding worship and tradition and to surveil the appropriations of its resources over 52,100 hectares in Gobi-Altai Aimag (Tsogt soum and Khaliun soum).
Argali, Ibexes, Snow Leopards, Snowcocks, Bearded Vultures and Vultures are commonly found throughout the preserve. It is also home to unique canyons, Thousand Graves of Lake Khyaryn and White Gates of Uyert
Southern Mongolia’s Ikh Nart Uul National Park Preserve
Ikh Nart Nation Park Preserve is the northeastern-most edge of the Argali habitat, based on its beauty, the Ikh Nart Uul Natural Preserve was formed in 1996 in order to safeguard 43,700 hectares in Dornogobi Province (Dalanjargalan soum and Airag soum). It boasts picturesque views such as Khulikhan Am, Shine Usny Am, Khukh Usny Am, Elsenii Am and Gurvan Honogiin Am as well as sites renowned for their cultural and historic significances.
Although it is geographically classified as a desert it has chunks of taiga elements from the north-east. The taiga takes up 35% of its flora in the preserve. Rare plants like caragana and cherry blossoms make up a part of the ecosystem – another unique aspect of the preserve is the plentiful supply of fresh water sources. Owing to this, numerous bird nests found throughout the cliffs of Ikh Nart prove it to be a diverse habitat suitable for various wildlife. The list includes: an abundant number of Argali, a small number of Ibexes, Mongolian Gazelles, Black-tailed Gazelles, wolves, Lynx, Corsacs, foxes, badgers, skunks, hedgehogs and pikas.
Southern Mongolia’s Lake of Ganga Nuur National Park Preserve
Ganga Nuur National Park Preserve is a Lake at the northeastern edge of the vast sand dune belt of Moltsog Els. Ganga Nuur is a fresh water lake that covers 4 square kilometers located 11 kilometers southeast of Dariganga Soum within Sukhbaatar Province. The protected area embraces 288 square kilometers including Ganga Nuur, the sand dunes of Moltsog Els as well as the smaller lakes of Kholboo, Uizen and Sumt. The protected area is famous for its nature and it has enjoyed State protection since 1993 – the abundance of food and sheltered nesting places attract flocks of the White-naped Crane, Whooper Swan, Little whimbrel and other birds.
Southern Mongolia’s Suikhent Petrified Forests National Park Preserve
Suikhent Petrified Forest formed hundreds of millions of years ago in the Jurassic Period of the Mesozoic Era – stated protected since 1996. The fossil forest is located 60 kilometers northwest of Ergeliinzoo Natural Preserve and 12 kilometers west of Ulgii Khiid. The Petrified Forest of Suikhent is distributed over an area 500 meters long and 800 meters wide and it consists of the fallen trunks of many large trees with logs up to 20 meters long and from 50 centimeters to 1.5 meters in diameter. Another Petrified Forest can be seen in Tsagaantsav some 40 kilometers north of the Suikhent Petrified Forests. One can encounter the herd of Black-tailed Gazelles in the northern part of Tsagaantsav and on the way to Mandakh Soum.
Southern Mongolia’s Zagiin Us National Park Preserve
The Zagiin Us National Park Preserve was established in 1996 as an effort to conserve Mongolia’s youngest and north-most saxaul forest covering 273,600 hectares of land in Dornogobi and Dundgobi. The landscape mainly consists of small hills and sand dunes in the middle. This desolate preserve has no other water sources than 10 wells (some are collapsed); making it nearly uninhabitable for humans and animals with the exception of black-tail gazelles that thrive in the region as well as Mongolian gazelles, corsacs and wolves.
The saxaul forest is dubbed ‘the silver forest of the golden gobi’ by locals, as the saxaul tree roots and branches take on a bright white color. While both dark and light saxauls are found around asia, Mongolia is home to only the light ones. Although saxauls can reach 8 meters in height, mongolian saxauls only reach 1-3 meters and their roots usually extend to 5 meters below the surface with some cases reporting 10 meters.
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Mongolia’s Central National Parks
Central Region’s National Parks
Central Mongolia’s Bogd Khan Uul (Mountain) Strictly Protected National Park
Bogd Khan Mountain adorns the south side of Ulaanbaatar city – from ancient times this is one of Mongolia’s worshipped mountains which the Mongolian government declared the Bogd Khan a protected site for its beauty thus making it one of the oldest legally protected natural areas in the world. Bogd Khan’s peak is Tsetsee Gun which reaches 2,257 meters above sea level and is one of the four holy peaks surrounding the capital. Bogd Khan Peak is covered mostly with Siberian Larch (Larix sibirica) and home to over 220 species of herbs, Red Deer, Musk Deer, Siberian Deer, Siberian Ibex and Wild Boar as well as Common Buzzards, Woodpeckers and Storks. Bogd Khan Mountain is so revered that there was a ceremony to pay tribute to Bogd Khan Mountain that used to take place over two days. Religious ceremonies were held on the first day which was followed by a festive naadam on the second day. There are two ovoos (sacred pile of stones or cairns) on Tsetsee Gun (“Duke Tsetsee”) peak – the East Ovoo was called the “Religion Ovoo” while the the west was called the “State Ovoo”. The spirits of the mountain were visualized as a strong Khangarid bird and a white-bearded old man riding a deer (Цагаан Өвгөн); these sacred characters can be seen participating in the Tsam ceremonies.
Mongolia’s Terelj National Park
Formed in 1993, the Terelj National Park covers 2,864 square kilometers of the southern Khentii Mountain Range. Terelj is a picturesque place of high cliffs eroded in Mesozoic granites, creating a wonderful landscape of granite tors. Wind, rain, frost, ice and natural acids have created bizarre shapes and eroded huge blocks of granite as if by some giant sculptor. Precious stones have been mined for over 100 years – a huge crystal of clear quartz (optical quartz) with a weight of 7.5 tons measured at 2.4 meters long, 1 to 3 meters wide and displaying 18 symmetrical facets was found in 1960 at the Gorkhi deposit. Terelj National Park is connected with Ulaanbaatar by a paved road and approximately 66 km from the Ulaanbaatar city center. A small southern portion of the park is developed for tourists, with restaurants, souvenir shops, horses and camels for rent, and tourist ger camps – whereas the northern part of the Terelj Park is where GER to GER operates its nomadic GEOtourism homestay trails. In the north, the main attractions are Khagiin Khar Lake (Black Mountain Lake), Princess Temple, Asralt Khairkhan Peak, Golden Cradle Peak, Yustin Hot Thermal Springs and to the south Ariyabal Buddhist meditation temple, Turle rock and the Old man reading a book rock, etc. Terelj Park’s wildlife includes brown bears and over 250 species of birds as the Tuul River flows through the park. Lastly, Terelj Park has many rock formations for rock climbers of all skill levels!
Central Mongolia’s Nagalkhaan Uul Natural Preserve
Nagalkhaan Mountain is 90 kilometers southeast of Ulaanbaatar located within the territory of Tuv Aimag. The mountain is mostly composed of granites of Paleozoic age and attains an elevation of 1,970 meters above sea level. The Natural Preserve covers 130 square km of mountains and the area has enjoyed State protection since 1957.
A forest of Siberian Larch (Larix sibirica) covers an area of 500 hectares in the middle, however, larch isn’t the only tree that grows here; Aspen (Populus tremula), Laurel-leaf Poplar (Populus laurifolia) and Birch can be found as well as Deer, roe deer, foxes, wolves, manuls (Or Pallas’s cat, Otocolobus manul), marmots, ground squirrels (of the Spermophilus genus), skunks, rabbits and various pikas (of the Ochotona genus) inhabit the place.
What you wouldn’t expect to find is all the ancient tombs belonging to the Tureg era from the 6th century – which makes a visit to this area even more interesting!
Mongolia’s Khustain Nuruu National Park
The Mongolian Government declared Hustai National Park as a Specially Protected Area in 1993, one year after the initiation of the reintroduction project of the Takhi (Przewalski’s horse) to the Hustain Nuruu. Khustain Nuruu National Park extends through the Khentii Mountains and includes the western edge of the Mongolian steppe at the boundaries of Altanbulag, Argalant and Bayankhangai Soums of Töv Province. Khustain Nuruu National Park is about 100 km from the capital city of Ulaanbaatar to the west. Reintroduction started by the import of 16 Przewalski´s horses from the Netherlands to Khustain Nuruu National Park in Mongolia in association with the Foundation for the Preservation and Protection of the Przewalski Horse and the Mongolian Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment. During 1992-2000 at five times 84 wild horses from European countries were reintroduced in Hustai National Park. At present 335 individuals of Przewalski’s horses exist in Hustai with 34 breeding harems and more than 80 bachelors compete for the mares. It is the highest number of Przewalski’s horse in the World.
The park covers 50,600 ha land which is home to 459 species of vascular plants, 85 species of lichens, 90 species of moss and 33 species of mushrooms. 44 species of mammals have been recorded including Altai wapiti, Mongolian gazelles, roe deer, wild boar, wild sheep, ibex, Mongolian marmots, grey wolves, Eurasian lynx, Pallas cat, red fox, corsac fox and Eurasian badgers. The 217 species of birds include golden eagle, lammergeier, great bustard, whooper swan, black stork, Daurian partridge and little owl.
Mongolia’s Khangain Nuruu National Park
Mongolia’s Khangain Nuruu National Park preserves biodiversity of the Khangai mountain range since 1996 and embraces 888,500 hectares straddling Arkhangai Aimag (Bulgan soum, Ikh Tamir soum, Chuluut soum, Tsenkher soum and Khotont soum) and Uvurkhangai Aimag (Bat-Ulziit soum, Uyanga soum, Khujirt soum and Kharkhorin soum). The Khangai mountain range supports a variety of habitat types ranging from steppe through taiga to alpine vegetation. Mountaintops are rounded, with bare or rocky peaks, and some even with alpine meadows and lakes. The forests are mostly larch and pine but mixed forest is common. Steppe vegetation is found in the foothills. Many large rivers originate from the Khangai mountains and at lower elevations dense riparian forests flank these. The main land use is livestock husbandry and there are several settlements in the area – today pollution of water sources from mining and forestry are the main threats. Overgrazing is also becoming an increasing threat resulting in land degradation in the lower foothills and poaching for wildlife is widespread. The tallest mountain is the Otgontenger (Youngest sky) with the height of which is given as 4,021 m – it is one of the four paramount sacred mountains of Mongolia and State ceremonies are held there. Suvraga Khairkhan (Stupa Khairkhan, height 3,117m) is another sacred mountain to the east of Tsetserleg and those mountains feed the rivers Orkhon, Selenge, Ider, Zavkhan and the lakes Orog and Böön tsagaan. In the west are the Khangai Mountains that transition into the Great Lakes Depression. The Khangai mountain region is known for its mild microclimates in certain areas and winters there are not as harsh as in other parts of the country.
Khangai has become a generally used term by Mongolians to describe the entire lush forest-steppe area to the north as opposed to the southern desert, which is called Govi (Gobi). The intermediary steppe area is called Kheer or Tal. A similar Mongolian word for sacred mountains is Khairkhan which means loving king (for example Asralt Khairkhan is a particularly intimate name meaning caring and loving king). It’s forbidden to say the name of a Khairkhan when the mountain is in view. If the mountain is in view, it should simply be called Khairkhan and not by its full name. This strict custom applies in all regions of Mongolia. Any mountain or hill that is pleasing to the sight or in any other way pleasant is praised with the words “that is indeed a special Khairkhan” or “what a majestic Khairkhan!” etc. Any area of the mountainous forest-steppe region or mountainous region that it contains rivers, springs, plants, animals, etc., may be praised with the words “that is indeed a great Khangai” or “there is no denying that that is a unique Khangai!” etc. Two provinces of Mongolia are named after the Khangai mountains: Arkhangai (Northern Khangai) and Ovorkhangai (Southern Khangai).
Mongolia’s Noyon Khangai Mountain National Park
Mongolia’s Noyon Khangai Mountain National Park was established covering an area of 591 square kilometers of Khangai Soum in Arkhangai Aimag in 1998. This area is a special and beautiful formation of nature as well as a home to many rare and very rare species of plant and wildlife. There are many sources of mineral waters and springs and since ancient times there has been a historical tradition to worship this area.
Central Mongolia’s Batkhaan Uul Natural Preserve
Batkhaan Mountain extends for 30 kilometers along the border of Tov Aimag and Ovorkhangai Province; the mountain reaches 2,178 meters above sea level and is 250 kilometers from Ulaanbaatar.
The Natural Preserve covers 218 square kilometers and has enjoyed State protection since 1974 in order to conserve ancient historic and cultural monuments. The Batkhaan Mountain Range displays the landscape of the Forest-Steppe Zone and about ten rivers and streams take their sources from the Batkhaan Mountain Range; some flowing north and others to the south. It is unique that big sand dunes and the forest are situated quite close;
Birch (Betula platyphylla) and Siberian Larch (Larix sibiri-ca) dominates here and granite, sandstone and marble rocks occur (Batkhaan Mountain is also rich in herbs).
The north and south skirts are valleys and the river banks of Batkhan mountain have multiple ancient graves and tombs. The preserve is home to Petroglyphs at Bichigt draw (re-entrant/valley), ancient armor at Mount Togoo, dinosaur tracks at Uvriin Lun pass and Khukh pass, and mammoth bones from before the Quaternary Period.
Central Mongolia’s Khognokhaan National Park
Khognokhaan National preserve covers 469.9 square kilometers of land and is situated in the territory of Gurvanbulag, Dashinchilen and Rashaant soums of Bulgan aimag. This area was taken under state protection in 1997 by Parliament Resolution № 47. The preserve is based around Khugnukhan mountain known its beautiful valleys, temple ruins, cave paintings from the Bronze Age and ancient graves.
The area has a unique combination of flora from the taiga and the steppe. The northern side of the mountain has a pine forest while the nearest pines grow at Khentii Mountain ranges over 200 kilometers away. A rare species of Cotoneaster(Cotoneaster mongolicus, Pojark) grows in the mountain.
According to legends the name Khugnukhan was given to shun King Galdanboshigt’s actions of using ‘khugnu” knots to execute monks in the area. Galdanboshigt was waging a war on terror when his troops discovered a temple by a glint given off by a golden pinnacle at its top. The temple was razed and its occupying monks were tied by their necks in a file and thrown off a cliff – that knot used was called “Khugnu”.
The temple is actually two temples called Uvgun and Zaluu with some sources calling them Khugnu Tarniin temple; they were rebuilt in 1994 and named Erdene Khambiin Temple.
Central Mongolia’s Lake of Naiman Nuur or Eight Lakes National Park Preserve
“Eight Lakes”is located 116 kilometers from the town of Arvaikheer and within the administrative center of Uvurkhangai Province – there are actually nine lakes when including Shireet Lake, Bugat, Khaliun and others.
The lake of Naiman Nuur lies at an altitude of 2,200 meters above sea level with a forest belt located some 300 to 400 meters above on the surrounding mountains. Sometimes violent winter storms blow across Davaa Pass as well as in summer. Its rough terrain makes it impossible for cars to reach the location thus making it an ideal spot for horseback riding tours approaching from the north-west.
Craters of extinct volcanoes are near the lake of Naiman Nuur and is home for Red deer, Argil, Wild Boars, Ibex, Musk Deer and Ducks, Snow cocks and other birds have been recorded here.
Bulgan Uul National Park Preserve
This beautiful mountain is near the town of Tsetserleg that is the administrative center of Arkhangai Aimag. Bulgan Uul reaches an altitude of 1,980 meters above sea level and preserve covers 18 square kilometers – protected since 1965 in order to safeguard the plants, animals and scenery of the Steppe Zone and Forest-Steppe Zone.
About 40% of Bulgan Uul is made up of steep cliffs and scattered rocks – on the mountain are rare species of plants and animals i.e., Red Deer, Musk Deer and Wild Boar – however – owing to the nearby community most of the animals have fled. The mountain is host to Black Grouse, Capercaillie and Ptarmigan are widespread; the best-known pass is Tsagaan Davaa that is located on the western pan of the mountain.
Mongolia’s Tarvagatain Nuruu National Park
Mongolia’s Tarvagatain Nuruu National Park was established in 2000 covering an area of 5254,40 square kilometers. The park encloses a diverse wilderness environment of steppes, forested valleys, mountains, lakes and deserts and it locates in Tsakhir Soum of Arkhangai Aimag and Aldarkhaan, Ider, Bulnain and Ikh-uul soums of Zavkhan aimag. The area is the watershed region between the flow source and water of the Selenge, the biggest river in Mongolia. The national park is a composition of historical, cultural and natural heritages, and is an excellent place to develop sanatoriums and tourism.
Mongolia’s Khorgo and Terkhiin White Lake National Park
Khorgo-White Lake National Park is located in the central part of Mongolia and covers about 773 square kilometers area including freshwater Terkhin Tsagaan Nuur (White Lake) and an extinct volcano called Khorgo Mountain. Khorgo lays east of the Terkhiin White Lake and it has an elevation of 2,240 meters above sea level. The volcano erupted to encompass huge of sq.km area 8 thousand years ago. Around the volcano there are many cauldron shaped places to hide so Khorgiin Togoo name is connected to these places. Also there are some interesting places such as ice cave, “Shar nokhoin tam” (hell of yellow dog) and “Cave of a person” around the volcano.
About the origin of fresh watered Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake, it flows north and south Terkh Rivers locked by lava flow from a volcanic eruption. The length of lake is 16 km; width is 6-10 km, 20m deep, 2060 m above sea level and occupied 61 sq.km. Terkh River is the biggest river which is one of the 10 rivers flows into the lake – only one river flows from the lake and it’s called Suman River or “Arrow” because this river flows through the lake like an arrow. There is a small island at the middle of the lake where birds make their nest and lay eggs.
Locals Legend states that once upon a time an elder man and woman lived with their granddaughter. Though the grandma always warned her daughter to cover the water-well completely but one day the daughter forgot to cover the well and that morning they exclaimed “Oh my goodness, look at all the water” – it was from this event that “Terhiin” (all that water) Lake was formed. Legend says that a locally famous wrestler was called in to cut the top off one of the nearby mountains to use as lid to plug the well water from continuing to flood out. It is from the tip of this ‘legendary lid’, which became today’s vantage point that we use to see the panoramic view of the lake. Locals renamed the lake to Terhiin White Lake because of the white waves. This renowned lake draws in local visitors from nearby regions to pay their respects to the Lake annually by celebrating a rural Naadam Festival at the end of June. An interesting sight is the so-called “Basalt Ger” on the south, a bubble of solidified lava with a broken piece making a natural door – some stone gers are 1.7 meters tall (several more volcanoes are nearby). The region is host to Red Deer, Siberian Deer, Wild Boar, Ruddy Shelduck Duck as well as the Great Cormorant is common in summer nesting at the lake of Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur.
Central Mongolia’s Otgon Tenger Uul Strictly Protected National Park
The peak of Otgon Tenger Mountain reaches 4,021 meters above sea level and is covered by eternal snow. Today, Otgon Tenger is one of the most sacred mountains of Mongolia and is an important place of pilgrimage for many Mongols. Otgontenger displays a synchretic fusion of traditional nature worship with Buddhist influences. The mountain is particularly associated with the Bodhisattva (Ochirvaanu) whose fierce ornate statue dominates the base of the mountain. The Otgon Tenger region has been protected since 1992 in order to conserve the high mountain ecosystem – The Strictly Protected Area covers 955 square kilometers of area including not only the Otgon Tenger Peak of the Khangai Mountain Range but also its spurs and Lake Badar Khundaga. Otgon Tenger Mountain is about 60km east of Uliastai town and has many rare plants including Snussurea involucrata, Adonis mongolica and Juniper (Juniperus) as well as sightings of Snow Leopard, Argali, Red Deer, Siberian Ibex and Musk Deer. Though climbing the sacred Otgontenger Mountain is prohibited – trekking around the Mountain is highly recommended. Most travelers enjoy having view of the peak from the Dayan Mountain with the option of continuing down to Khokh Lake for swimming, horseback riding and camping.
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Mongolia’s Western National Parks
Western Region’s National Parks
Western Mongolia’s Khar Us Lake National Park
The Khar Us Lake (Black Water) National Park was established in 1997 covering 8502,7 square kilometers area of Myangad, Durgun, Chandmani, Mankhan and Buyant soums in Khovd Province. The national park was enrolled in the list of the Ramsar Convention in 1999 due to its suitable environment for water and marsh bird species. The Khar Us National Park is located near the Ikh Nuuruud lowland and has the largest reed beds in central Asia. The Khar Us lake basin displays desert steppe and arid semi- desert ecological zones and plays a decisive role in climate formation. It is a home and a distinctive natural place composed of mountains with fresh water resources, Gobi desert, steppe valleys and the Mongolian Altai Mountains covered with snow. You can enjoy watching many species of birds such as Black-throated Divers, Arctic Loon, Red-crested Pochard, Swan Goose, Relict Gull, White-headed Duck, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Dalmatian Pelican, Great Cormorant, Great Sand Plover and Great Egrets, Wallcreeper, White-Throated Bush-Chat, Eurasian and Cinereous Vulture, Lammergeier, Chukar, Altai Snowcock, Golden Eagles and Steppe Eagles.
Western Mongolia’s Myangan Ugalzat National Park
This national park is part of the Mongol Altai Mountain range and its territory comprises of 600 square kilometers of Tsetseg Nuur of Khovd Province. It was placed under protection in 2002 on the basis of its rare wildlife, plants and beauty.
Named after the thousands of argali wild sheep that roamed its lands this national park is is home to rare animals such as snow leopards, argali wild sheeps, wolverines, deer, ibexes and Altai snowcocks. The national parks flora includes Altai onions (Allium altaicum), Golden roots (Rhodiola rosea), a rare species of the Saussurea genus (Saussurea involucrata) and plants, on the Mongolian Red Book of Endangered Species, Savin juniper (Juniperus sabina) and a species of peashrub (Caragana spinosa).
Western Mongolia’s Sharga Mankhanii Tal Natural Preserve
This Natural Preserve has protected 3,168 square kilometers since 1994 to conserve the habitat of the Mongolian subspecies of the Saiga Antelope (Saiga tartarica mongolica). A species listed in the “International Red Data Book” and now widespread only here.
The Natural Preserve of Sharga Mankhani Tal is in two parts.
Shargiin Gobi: This large area covers several Soums in Gobi-Altai Aimag and lies at an altitude of 948 to 1,200 meters above sea level and is located 90 kilometers west of the town of Altai. The Shargiin Gobi is 90 kilometers wide and 129 kilometers in length and the lake of Shargiin Tsagaan Nuur is in the central part of the Shargiin Gobi where groves of Saxaul (Haloxylon ammoden-dron) are found here.
Mankhanii Tal: This steppe is located in the lake valley of Khar-Us Nuur and it encompasses the territory of several Soums in Khovd Aimag (Mankhan, Darvi, and Zereg); the site is 70 kilometers from the town of Khovd.
Western Mongolia’s Bulgan River Natural Preserve
The Bulgan River rises in the Altai Mountain Range and flows about 200 kilometers south via Bayan-Olgii Province and Khovd Province and finally drains into lake Ulangar in neighboring China. The river has over 100 tributaries with the largest ones being Indert, Toshilt and Bayangol. The Natural Preserve covers 77 square kilometers and is 25 kilometers long and 1.5 kilometers wide – the terrain includes rivers, dunes and mountains.
It has been protected since 1965 to safeguard Beaver and its habitat. Black-tailed Gazelles, Wild Boar, Argali and Siberian Ibex as well as Storks and Great Cormorants live here. Its steppes and hills’ flora is mainly taiga-desert oriented with shrubbery, needle grass, and cherry blossoms while the river banks are covered green bush plants, a staple of the beaver population.
Western Mongolia’s Lake Basin of Uvs Nuur Strictly Protected National Park
Mongolia’s Uvs Nuur Strictly Protected National Park Area (7125 sq km) consists of four separate areas: Uvs Nuur, Türgen Uul, Tsagaan Shuvuut Uul and the Altan Els Strictly Protected Areas. The national park covers everything from desert sand dunes to snowfields and marsh to mountain forest. It takes its name from Uvs Nuur Lake, a large, shallow and very saline lake that important for migrating birds, waterfowl and seabirds. The steppe ecosystem supports a rich diversity of birds and the desert is home to a number of rare gerbil, jerboas and the marbled polecat. The mountains are an important refuge for the globally endangered snow leopards, mountain sheep (argali) and the Asiatic ibex. The lake basin of Uvs Nuur has spectacular landscape and a more extreme range of ecological zones than perhaps anywhere else in the World: perpetual snows and permafrost of the Turgen Mountain to the desert sands of Altan Els (Golden Sands), and the lake basin displays all the major ecological zones of Central Asia: High Mountain Zone, Forest-Steppe Zone, Desert-Steppe Zone, Desert Zone as well as major wetlands for both fresh and saline. The climate is extreme – the World’s coldest, warmest and driest climate are generally at this latitude ranging from -40°C and as low as -58°C has been recorded to a blistering +40°C.
Uvs Lake is the largest lake in Mongolia – it is 743 meters above the sea level, 80 kilometers wide and 80 kilometers long while covering 3,350 square kilometers with clear but brackish water – a land-locked Inland Sea as local refer to it as times. The Nariin, Sagil, Borshoo and Khundlen rivers enter but none drain out. It is a magnet for a variety of birds ranging over 220 species have been recorded, including: Osprey, White-tailed Eagle, and Black Stork, Swan Goose, Bar-headed Goose and Eurasian Spoonbill. Today, there are over 100 pairs of Spoonbill nest in the vicinity as well as Great White Heron, Whopper Swan, Great Black-headed Gull, White-headed Gull and Black Stork.
Western Mongolia’s Devel Aral (Island) National Park Preserve
This National Park Preserve comprises of 103 square kilometers around the Develiin island in the Usan khooloi and Khovd rivers that feeds from Achit lake is located between Bayan-Olgii and Uvs Provinces – protected by Parliament Resolution 29 of 2000.
This area is home to ring-necked pheasants, wild boars and beavers that are becoming more and more rare in Mongolia; also, the region has great numbers of wild sea buckthorn. Beyond the beauty of the region, it is designated to protect the wild boar and beaver habitats.
Devel Aral’s swamplands and diverse fauna and flora make it a part of the Altai-Sayan region, one of 200 must-save eco zones in the world. The preserve has 158 species of birds including Mongolian Red Book of Endangered Species listed birds such as Black Storks, Whooper Swans, Bar-heade Geese, Swan Geese, White-tailed Eagles, Common Pheasants, Great Bustards, Pallas’s Gull, etc… As for its Natural and Historical Monuments – there are many places that are protected that include natural landscapes as well as historical and cultural sites for research, sightseeing, historical and cultural purposes. Access to the location or “Permissions” are provided – granted – that requested activities do not adversely affect any Monuments.
Western Mongolia’s Khan Khukhii-Khyargas Lake National Park
The Khankhukhii Mountain Range covers 2206 square kilometers of area of Zuunkhangai, Undurkhangai and Tsagaan Khairkhan soum in Uvs Province. The park was established in 2000 and is located deep in the mountain valleys and is a demarcation of Uvs and Khyargas lake basins. The area plays an important role in maintaining the ecological balance by limiting the process of desert-steppe region increase. Khyargas and Airag lakes provide a home to numerous globally endangered bird species that are listed in the Red book of Mongolia as well as musk deer, red deer and wolves.
Western Mongolia’s Khukh Serkhiin Nuruu (Mountain Range) Strictly Protected National Park
This is a mountainous tract on the border of Bayan-Olgii Aimag and Khovd Aimag. The Khukh Serkhiin Range extends over 50 kilometers to the southeast of the Gurvan Tsast Mountain which is a spur of the Mongol Altai Range. The highest peak is Takhilt Mountain that is capped with eternal snow reaching at hight of 4,019 meters above sea level. Siberian deer, wild sheep, Siberian ibex, Eurasian lynx, Snow leopard and other rare animals inhabit the Khukh Serkhiin Mountain Range. Visiting the national park will give you an opportunity to see these rare animals just like visiting zoo – in fact – this park’s bighorn rams are the largest sheep species in Mongolia and are among the largest in the world. Many years ago a 190cm long horn sheep was hunted near the park – still till today this sheep holds Mongolia’s biggest ever on record. Owing to this, this park became popular and today receives many regular travelers every year. The Strictly Protected National Park covers 659 square kilometers – it’s about 50 kilometers long and 20 kilometers wide. It has enjoyed protection since 1977 in order to conserve populations of wild sheep and Ibex.
Western Mongolia’s Altai Tavan Bogd National Park
Mongolia’s Altai Tavan Bogd (Altai Five Saints) is a national park covering area of Tsengel soum, Ulaankhus soum, Sagsai soum and Altai soum in Bayan-Olgii Province. Altai Tavan Bogd National Park has about 6362 square kilometers of area and has some of the most stunning scenery in all of Mongolia with towering White Mountains, three large freshwater lakes (Khoton, Khurgan, and Dayan), 34 glaciers and several waterfalls. Altai Tavan Bogd Mountains are the highest mountains in Mongolia, with Khuiten Uul (Cold Peak) at 4374 m being the highest. These permanently snow capped mountains form a bowl around the Potanin Glacier, which covers 23 square km. The other peaks are Nairamdal (Friendship 4180 m), Malchin (Herder 4050 m), Bürged (Eagle 4068 m) and Olgii (Cradle 4050 m). From the peak of Kuiten Uul, it is possible to see Kazakhstan 30 km away on a clear day. The Lakes’ Region is a beautiful area surrounding 3 large fresh water lakes. A small channel attaches Khurgan Nuur and Khoton Nuur with a many small creeks flowing into the lakes from surrounding mountains. Two of these creeks form waterfalls of 7 to 10 m in height. These lakes are full of fish and many species of bird – Dayan Nuur is a smaller lake 20 km south of the 2 larger lakes.
Tavan Bogd Mountains is considered sacred to local Kazakhs, Tuvans, and Mongolians. Tavan Bogd Park stretches from Russia along the Chinese border following the Altai Mountain Range that divides China, Russia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan for over 200 km. Ancient tribes have left many artifacts using the region for religious ceremonies – today tens of thousands of petroglyphs exist in the Tavan Bogd Park that are part of a World Heritage Site. In addition there are numerous Turkic Stone Men and stone burial mounds including the Tsagaan Salaa Rock Paintings with over 10,000 cave drawings along 15 km of the river valley.
Western Mongolia’s Siilhemin Nuruu National Park
The Siilkhemiin Nuruu National Park consists of two parts, A and B, that encompasses 1400,1 square kilometers of area along the state boundary in Ulaankhus and Nogoonnuur soums of Bayan-Olgii Province. It was designated as a national park in 2000 by Parliament resolution № 29 and designated to protect the area’s resources as it’s the habitat of the mountain sheep (wild sheep).
Western Mongolia’s Tsambagarav Mountain National Park
This area, comprised of 1109.6 square kilometers of Tsambagarav Mountain, was established in 2000 by Parliament resolution № 29. It is located between Erdeneburen soum of Khovd aimag, and Altantsogts and Bayannuur soums of Bayan-Olgii aimag. The area is of significance for the study of glaciers and is also designated to protect snow leopards.
Mount Tsambagarav sits at an elevation of 4195 meters above sea level and is ice capped all year round. Some petroglyphs can be found on the mountain depicting heavy cavalry. Historians argue whether the petroglyph is from the Nirun Empire era (IV-VI century AC) or if it’s from the Tureg Era (Also known as Turkic Khaganate, VI-VIII century AC).
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