Posted by Selena Travel / 11 30, 2023
Lake Khuvsgul is one of the best sites to visit for travelers venturing to Mongolia. Located in the northern region of the country, close to the border with Russia, Lake Khuvsgul offers a host of activities and attractions for every type of adventure traveler.
From hiking to boating, you’ll be plenty entertained on the shores of one of Mongolia’s largest lakes.
Since travelers tend to flock to Ulaanbaatar when planning to go to Mongolia, we figured that a guide to visiting Lake Khuvsgul would be useful for those of you looking to go a bit more off the map. Here’s everything you need to know about Lake Khuvsgul.
About the Lake
Lake Khuvsgul is also known as the “younger sister” of Russia’s Lake Baikal, with its drainage basin ultimately sending freshwater to the latter body of water.
And like Lake Baikal, Lake Khuvsgul is millions of years old, making it one of the most ancient lakes in the world.
It’s framed by the magnificent Sayan mountain range, creating a picture perfect scenery between lake, mountain, and open countryside sky.
The freshwater of Lake Khuvsgul is known for a couple of reasons. Not only is it crystal clear and beautiful, but it’s also Mongolia’s greatest reserve of drinking water and home to several species of fish.
Most notably, the endangered Khuvsgul grayling swims about here. As a site that’s significant both historically and ecologically, it’s no wonder Lake Khuvsgul makes for a great destination for adventure seeking travelers.
Things To Do in Lake Khuvsgul
If you love being in nature and exploring outdoors, Lake Khuvsgul is a wonderful destination for you to visit.
From hiking to spotting unique wildlife to engaging with the local community, you’ll bring back tons of memorable experiences from your trip to this under the radar region of Mongolia.
Below are some of the top things to do while visiting Lake Khuvsgul.
Whether you opt for a day trip or a complete journey circumnavigating Lake Khuvsgul, you won’t be disappointed by the view. From the shiny lake waters to the towering mountains, Lake Khuvsgul is one photogenic spot.
Your hike will take you up and down the mountainous terrain, which makes for a challenge. Come prepared physically for the excursion.
You can also climb the highest peak of the Sayan mountain range, Mönkh Saridag. At 3,491 meters high, it’s certainly no walk in the park.
Train appropriately, pack the right gear, and enlist a local guide to show you the way. On the border of Mongolia and Russia, Mönk Saridag’s views are some of the most enviable.
If you want to give your feet a break, horseback riding is another way to experience the great outdoors in Lake Khuvsgul. Similar to hiking, you can opt to take a day tour or a multi-day excursion.
Your accommodation should be able to help you set up a horseback riding tour for a day, but book in advance for overnight trips. You’ll have an unforgettable adventure riding along Lake Khuvsgul’s charming shores.
Lake Khuvsgul is also home to an incredible array of unique wildlife. Running around the lake are ibex, wolves, Siberian moose, mountain sheep, sables, and more cool creatures.
While you’re hiking or horseback riding, you might be lucky enough to come across some of these animals.
Fishing & Boating
You can also go fishing in Lake Khuvsgul. You could reel in a burbot, lenok, and other fish. A guided tour is a must, as Lake Khuvsgul also houses one endangered species.
In terms of boating, you can also go sailing or kayaking on the calm waters of the lake. Your guesthouse or ger camp should have recommendations for booking tours.
Also in the province of Khuvsgul are some of the last reindeer herders in the world. Residing in the town of Tsagaan Nuur, you can arrange to visit the Tsaatan reindeer herders for a couple of days from Khatgal.
Arranging a tour would be useful for covering transportation, accommodation, and an insider’s expertise on reindeer herding culture, though it is possible to drive yourself and find a local ger camp to stay in.
Either way, it will require advance planning if you want to hop over and visit the Tsaatan reindeer herders.
For a few days in the middle of July, the people of Mongolia honor their past, celebrate their culture, and mark their independence from China with the Naadam Festival.
The Naadam Festival’s biggest event takes place in Ulaanbaatar, but a number of countryside villages, including Khatgal, will host their own mini Naadams. You’ll still get the complete Naadam experience, chowing down on local food, observing the cultural outfits, and watching the three main sports of archery, wrestling, and horseback riding.
But in Khatgal you’ll enjoy an intimate and up close experience. If you’re headed to Lake Khuvsgul in July, attending the local Naadam Festival is simply a must.
How To Get There
To get to Lake Khuvsgul, you can fly from Ulaanbaatar to Mörön. From there, you can take a van to the town of Khatgal on the lake’s southern shores.
Alternatively, you could also ride the bus all the way from Ulaanbaatar to Mörön, and then transfer to Khatgal via van from there.
In total, it will take you about 24 hours to complete the journey. The ride won’t be comfortable, but it will be a cool experience to travel with the locals.
Where to Stay
In Khatgal, you can stay at MS Guesthouse or at the Mongol Ujin Tour camp, which is a ger camp. A ger is a traditional Mongolian housing unit, and for that reason we strongly recommend the latter accommodation.
It’ll add an extra cultural element to your journey deep into the Mongolian countryside. Gers are circular tent-like structures, and the camp comes equipped with showers, toilets, and amazing food.
Further north of Khatgal, you can also try the lodgings at Art 88 Resort or Toilogt ger camp. They have gers and mini huts that you can retreat to at the end of each day. No matter where you stay, you’ll have great views near scenic Lake Khuvsgul.
We hope this guide to visiting Lake Khuvsgul has answered all of the questions that you might have about visiting this remote corner of the country.
Lake Khuvsgul is the perfect destination for any traveler looking for a taste of adventure, and we’re certain that you’ll enjoy your time here.