Altai Tavan Bogd National Park

by Mongol

Altai Tavan Bogd National Park

Altai Tavan Bogd National Park

Altai Tavan Bogd National Park is in Bayan-Ulgii Province, Mongolia. Located south of Mongolia's highest mountain, this national park covers an area of 6,000 sq km and is home to three lakes and a glacier. A stunning landscape of high glaciated snow capped mountains, alpine and sup-alpine forests, large lakes, rivers and streams, mountain grasslands, barren rocky mountain ranges and semi-arid desert type valleys. A very rugged land. In the park region there would be snow until end of May. Rainy season is from mid of july to Mid of August. Average temperature in Summer: Day: 16-25°C, Night: 7-13°C


Park permit is required to enter the ATB National Park. Buy an ATB National Park permit from ATB National Park Administration office in Ulgii center. Park permit costs 3000 tugrik (Approx. $2.4 ). If you are going into the park, which is next to the border with Russia and China, you will also need a border permit obtained from the border guards office in Ulgii center. Not having one can potentially get you arrested. Your tour company will take care of this for you, or you can ask at the national park information office for someone to help arrange this for you if traveling independently.

Independent travelers in the park will find that park rangers and border guards will stop and ask for permits and fine you accordingly if you don't have them.

No restaurants in the park. Take any special food you need with you. Local Kazakh foods are generally meat and...more meat. Goat, sheep, horse, camel and cow.

Altai Tavan Bogd National Park eatery
You will most likely "go native" and eat with the locals. It's customary, and generally a nice thing, to bring some onions, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, a bag of noodles, rice, as food items you can give to the woman of the house, who mainly prepares all meals. This is easy if you've hired a car and driver for your trip. You can get these items in any quantity at the local Ulgii open market. A really interesting place to go. Watch your pockets though! Your driver or guide can help here. You'll also want to take along bottles of water for the ride. You can find these in many Ulgii Center shops. Also bring any herbs, tomato sauce, or soy sauce to help make the food tastier to your personal preference.

If you are really staying with locals in the park, it's also nice to give a needed household item as a token of your appreciation. Candles, packets of matches, a small a block of green tea, and of course a handful of boiled sweets (hard candy) for the table and kids. It's not mandatory of course, but a nice gesture. You can get any of these items at the open market as well and in any quantity you want.

Most of the tour companies who travel in the park will bring you to their own pre-arranged accommodation, either their own lodge or camp set up. There are a few very scattered ger (yurt) camps around, but you'll have to check with the park office for their current locations.

Altai Tavan Bogd National Park lodging

Inside the park, there are no commercial lodges, hotels, backpackers, etc. Independent travelers can find lodging with local Khazakh herders if they want to get a very enjoyable and interesting local experience. If you do this, pay them for your stay. Income opportunities for these people are very limited. Two to four dollars a night is currently acceptable and good value for the experience. When traveling further into the mountains, there is no lodging unless you carry a tent, and this is recommended.

There are now several herder communities who have gotten together and can provide some primitive services such as accommodation and guiding. Check with the park information office to find where these are if you want to visit a real community based tourist venture. It can be a great experience, but be prepared for basic, very basic.

If traveling with a tour company they will (or should) have everything you need for a comfortable camping experience. Take pains to make sure they are reputable and do have what you need. Ask the park information office about good camping areas in the park.

There are very few designated camping sites around the park, so it's basically up to you where you want to put your bones for the night. If around a herder family, it's a good idea to ask if you can camp closer to their ger (yurt). Most will enjoy having you there and you will be secure for the night.

The same rules for camping apply here as anywhere else in the world. If you pack it in, pack it out! This is especially important in and around the base camp area for the Tavan Bogd (five kings) range, where serious high alpine climbing can be had. It is a very fragile area and easily impacted by human use.

AS for camping toilet needs. There are no toilets. If you don't know how to "shit in the woods", you'll want to practice a bit before undertaking a Mongolian adventure.

Altai Tavan Bogd National Park safety

When traveling in the park, especially if you're an individual or an independent group, it's best to register with the park office and let them know your intentions. There is no "rescue" service of any kind in Mongolia, but at least they'll know where to begin looking for you if you do go missing or get hurt. Locals are very kind and helpful, but if you do get seriously injured, it will basically be up to your own initiative and strength to get you out of there. Good seasonal clothing, first aid kit, back country equipment for the activity your planning and a little knowledge of the area are essential. A good map.

When traveling alone anywhere, it's always a good thing to play it safe. There is potential to run into a few rogues along your route. It is a wild place and far from anywhere. That's what's appealing. Hopefully as a traveler you already have the experience to read situations as they arise when coming across certain individuals. When camping for the night, it's a good idea to ask a local herder to camp near their ger (yurt) for extra safety. If that's not possible, be discreet in choosing where to set up the tent.

Things to do at Altai Tavan Bogd National Park

Lots to do in the park. High alpine and very serious climbing, back country skiing (may spring skiing is great!), fishing, great mountain trekking, horse and camel trekking, whitewater kayak and rafting, and learning about and experiencing the unique Kazakh culture of the area.

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