by Claudia Fiedler
To Khovsgol Lake
The next day, we went to the minibus station to get a ride to Moron. After the Russian minibus was filled to the rim with about 18 people and luggage we finally left. We had to pay 25000Tugrugs, 7000 more than Mongolians pay. Though the Russian vans are sturdy, they are prone to overheating which happened quit often along the way.
After 18 hours, we made it Moron where we could not find a place to stay, so at 4am, we went out of town and parked the car and went to sleep in the van until about 8:30am. The driver has promised us to take us to Lake Khovsgol for 10000Tugrugs. Known as "The Dark Blue Pearl", Lake Khovsgol is Mongolia's largest and deepest lake. Located in the northernmost province, it is the largest tributary stream of Lake Baikal in Russia.
Lake Khovsgol is 136 km long,36 km wide, 262 meters deep and is located at an altitude of 1645 m above sea level and is frozen from January until April or May. It's the second largest fresh water lake in Central Asia. It's inhabited by nine species of fish including the Siberian grayling and lenok. Fishing and sport fishing are becoming popular in the lake area.
The Fauna and Flora, and the Tsatan, an ethnic group practicing reindeer breeding, are the main attractions for tourist. A ferryboat operates between Khatgal and Khanh, two towns on the southern and northern shores of the lake that is within the boundaries of the Khovsgol National Park. Different ethnic groups live in the area: Khalkh, Darkhad, Buryat.
At Lake Khovsgol, we stayed at Bond Lake guesthouse which is run by Bayarlai who used to work for Nature's Door, another guesthouse. Guest can either camp, stay in gers or stay in one of the two rooms. Bayarlai and his team are wonderful. Him and his wife speak English and two of the wait staff speak English.
We organized a 4 day horse trek with them and got to meet our guide Monti and the horses the day before. The first 2 days of the trek we went along the lake with camping near the lake. We visited the reindeer herders who kept the reindeer on leashes and sold their souvenirs. It was too touristy for me and I spent the 30 minutes at the place admiring the reindeers and brushing their winter coat off.
From there, we went over a mountain pass into the forested area from where it would take us 2 days to go back to Khovsgol. This part was my favorite part and looking back now, I would have skipped the lake part altogether and only ride in the unspoiled and beautiful mountains. The lake is dotted with tourist camps and, therefore, did not appeal to me at all.
But the mountain trek was magnificent. I was happy there. The camping spots were beautiful, we always camped near streams so we had water for washing and cooking and for the horses. For breakfast, we had coffee and bread with nutella. For lunch, we had canned fish, cheese and salami, cucumber and bread. For dinner, we cooked instant noodles with green peppers. It was delicious.