Wonders Of Western Mongolia

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The most remote yet the most beautiful part of Mongolia - Western Mongolia covers the Bayan-Ölgii, Hovd, Uvs, and Zavkhan provinces. 

With its glacier-wrapped high mountains, shimmering salt lakes and hardy culture of nomads, falconry and horsemanship, western Mongolia is  includes many National Parks, Strictly Protected areas, Nature Reserves, Nature Monuments, also home to the highest mountain Altai Mountain Range, Khuiten peak(4374 m), biggest saltwater lake Uvs Lake Basin (inscribed in "UNESCO World heritage sites" in 2003) and many smaller lakes, mountains, rivers, forests, and steppe. 

Moreover there are countless archeological sites with petroglyphs, cave paintings, standing stone monuments, monasteries, and ancient forts that date back as far as 10,000 years throughout the region.

The Western Mongolia is home to the Kazakhs (Eagle hunters) and Oirats, or western Mongols, which can be divided into 10 different tribes, as well as Khalkhs, or eastern Mongols. 

Travel to Western Mongolia can’t be just 1 or 2 days as there are lots of amazing things that you should never miss. Here is the list: Wonders of Western Mongolia to help you to plan your trip. 

 

Altai Tavan Bogd National Park 

The National park has a lot to offer you. The highest mountain peak, the Khuiten peak at 4,374 meters (14,300 feet) flanked by four other peaks along with the Potanin river, the source of a massive glacier, are commonly known as Tavan Bogd or the Holy Five - All included in Altai Tavan Bogd National park area. 

The range is home to Argali sheep, ibex, red deer, brown bear, marmot, fox and wolf, as well as the endangered snow leopard and lynx. Birds include Saker falcons, Altai snow cocks and golden eagles.

Also it is abundant with significant archaeological sites dating back to the Paleolithic era, evidence of human habitation as far back as 40,000 and 12,000 years ago. 

Bronze age petroglyphs, man stones from the later Turkic period and deer stones along with Khurgan or burial mounds can be found. Elaborate graves of Scythian warriors and princesses have also been discovered in this region rich in natural wonders and archaeology. 

The Tsagaan Salaa and Baga Oirog rock paintings depicting prominent hunting and livestock are important monuments of the art of the transition from ancient hunters and gatherers’ society to livestock breeding and the beginning of the classic nomadic economy in Mongolia.  The Altai mountain range stretches for 900 km across Russian, Mongolia, and China. 

Trekking through the mountain, find hidden gems: Khoton, Khurgan lakes, horse trek through glaciers etc… Every adventurous  wish will come true here. 

 

Uvs lake, UNESCO World Heritage Site 

Uvs lake is the largest lake in Mongolia, which is 84 km in length and 78 km in width.

The lake water is five times saltier than the ocean’s water and contains no fish, but it provides a habitat to over 200 species of birds. The lake is fed by Tes river and has no outlet. In 2003, UNESCO listed the Uvs Lake Basin as a natural World Heritage Site. The site is made up of twelve protected areas representing the major biomes of eastern Eurasia.

The steppe ecosystem supports a rich diversity of birds and the desert is home to a number of rare gerbils, jerboas, and the marbled polecat. The mountains are an important refuge for the globally endangered snow leopard, mountain sheep (argali) and the Asiatic ibex. Uvs Nuur Strictly Protected Area also includes Altan Els or Golden Sands, another wonderful area for wildlife viewing and lies on the border of Uvs and Zavkhan aimags. 

 

Khyargas Nuur national park 

Khyargas Lake receives a lot less attention than Uvs Nuur, being 'only' half the size and 'only' twice as salty as the ocean. The lake does provide an attractive summer home for birds, but it is not as scenic or as accessible as other lakes in the region. It is still worth a stopover if you are travelling between Uvs lake and Khar Us lake in Khovd aimag, or driving or hitching towards Tosontsengel in Zavkhan through the mid-eastern part of Uvs aimag.

On the north-western side of Khyargas lake, there are some fantastic hot springs. Head for the abandoned village where the road leaves the lake, or ask directions at Naranbulag. A national park fee applies around the lake, though you'd be lucky (or unlucky) to find a ranger to pay it to.

 

Khoid Tsenkher Cave

The Khoid Tsenkher Cave is located 90 km south of Khovd city, and is well-known for their remarkable cave wall paintings featuring drawings and polychrome rock paintings of wild mammals and human hands that date from around 20,000 – 15,000 years back to the Paleolithic Age. The largest cave is 15 meters high with a floor area of 12 meters by 18 meters.

On the wall of a passage leading from the entrance of the smaller cave, measuring 10 meters in length and 8 meters in width, there are images of two-humped camels; not far from these there is a collection of various other symbols and images, painted with a white outline and filled in with reddish ochre.

Elsewhere in the cave, at a depth of 2 meters, a large number of overlapping symbols and animal shapes can be seen on the walls and ceilings, including images of deer, ibex, woolly mammoths and ostriches, which show the age of painting.

The paintings are an outstanding example of the cave art of the Stone Age.

 

Tsambagarav Mountain 

The sacred, snow covered Tsambagarav Mountain at 4208m (13,737 ft) on the border of Bayan-Olgii and Hovd provinces towers over the 110,960 hectares of Tsambagarav Uul National Park. 

The park is known for its stunning vistas and diverse wildlife. The park contains many glaciers, rocky gorges, glacial lakes, and a 7 meter waterfall, in addition to deer stones, balbal (standing stones), and Kazakh and Uriankhai nomads. Many rare and endangered species can be found including the Argali sheep, Ibex, Snow Leopard, Rock Ptarmigan and Altai Snowcock. 

Tsambagarav Mountain and the smaller Tsast Uul at 4193m both require crampons and ropes, though surrounding peaks can be hiked. This park is a great place for hiking, horse and camel riding, mountain climbing, fishing, eagle hunting, and cultural and nature sightseeing. 

 

Otgontenger Mountain Strictly Protected Area

Mount Otgontenger is part of the three most sacred summits of the country, and it's strictly forbidden for women to climb it. According to the Mongolian traditional beliefs, angry gods live in the sacred mountains of Otgontenger. Located in 60 km east of Zawkhan province center Uliastai city,  3,905 meters the mountain is the highest peak in Khangai range and is favored by hardcore mountaineers and alpine explorers. 

The southern and western parts of Otgon tenger mountain present a stark contrast with its vast deserts, salt lakes and sand dunes where rain falls once or twice a year. The largest sand dune called the Mongol Els and Bor Khar sand coexist along the meandering rivers and lush green forests and valleys.

 

The Khar Lake

Khar Nuur (“Black Lake”) is located in western Mongolia’s Valley of Lakes, Zavkhan aimag is surrounded by fine sand dunes and mountains covered in dense wood, at an altitude of 1980 meters above sea level and covers an area of 89 square km, 48 metres deep. 30 kilometres long, 5-10 kilometres wide fresh water lake.. It is one of the most stunning natural scenes so inviting and remote. Khar Lake is one of top tour destinations to see the wonderful joining of a freshwater lake and sand dunes in Zavkhan province.

Swimming, fishing and boating are the best options here.  The same holds true for salt Lake Bayannuur in the Bor Khar sand dunes where locals claim have good fishing. The nature reserves jointly protect the Altai habitat home of snow leopard, argali, ibex, wild ass, Gobi bear, the wild Bactrian camel, jerboa, and antelope to name just a few.

Of course there are a lot more to see in Western Mongolia such as Golden Eagle Festival or more natural scenic destinations, more wildlife. 

 

The People 

You can visit Kazakh (Eagle Hunters) or Tuva families in Western Mongolia. The Kazakhs are the second largest ethnic group in Mongolia after the Khalkhs, with 101,000 people comprising 5% of the population. Most live in Bayan-Olgii Aimag, where they make up 90% of the inhabitants. 

The Kazakhs have a rich culture, close extended families, and many traditions that are still practiced today that are centuries old. 

Today, Bayan-Olgii has a distinctly Kazakh culture. Kazakh is the language of everyday communication, with Mongolian used for inter-ethnic interactions and official communication. Islam is the primary religion of the Kazakhs. 

Moreover they always welcome visitors pleasantly and give you food and lodging if you need it. They will respect you as a guest and are ready to teach you how to survive in the Mongolian extreme cold, high mountain areas. 

Mongolian travel will never stop amaze you with its wonders of Western Mongolia. 

 
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