In the Abode of the Gods – Mongolia and Altitude

February 3, 2015
Northern Mountains and Sacred Lakes – Images From Our 2014 Mongolian Small Group Adventure
February 17, 2015

Mongolia. Did you know that it’s one of the highest countries in the world with over 80% of the country over 1000m? It’s a high plateau with an average altitude of 1580m above sea level. Although Ulaanbaatar is not the highest capital in the world, it is given the ominous title of the coldest capital city and is 1350m above sea level.

Why have I started to spout statistics?
We offer Mongolia trekking tours. One frequent question is about the altitude.


1350m above sea level (4429 feet). This means that there is 86% of the oxygen available at sea level. Image by our guest Nick Rains

Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park

The highest point of Mongolia’s largest national park – Gobi Gurvan Saikhan n the southern Gobi is 2,825 m (9,268 ft).  This means that there is 72% of the oxygen available at sea level. Image by our guest Violine Coard


The ancient capital of the Mongol Empire under Ogodei Khan and the home of Erdene Zuu Monastery. The altitude of Kharkhorin is 1476 meters (4843 feet) which means that there is 85% of the oxygen available at sea level. Image by our guest Mick Egan

Khovsgol Nuur National Park

The stunning Khovsgol Nuur which holds approximately 70% of Mongolia’s fresh water.  It’s altitude is 1645 meters (5,400 ft)  which means that there is 83% of the oxygen available at sea level. Image by our guest Egon Filter

 Otgon Tenger Strictly Protected Area

Otgon Tenger is Mongolia’s most sacred mountain and at 4,008 meters above sea level the highest in the Khangai range (some earlier topographic maps record a maximum elevation of 4,021m). Mongolians consider the mountain to be the mystical abode of Ochirvan – the fierce, dark blue protective deity of the Buddhist religion. At 13150 feet,  there is 62% of the oxygen available at sea level. Image by …Turuu and I


Khogno Khan Nature Reserve

Khogno Khan Nature Reserve in Bulgan Aimag. The highest peak of this incredible granite massif is 1966m (6453 feet) – there is 80% of the oxygen available at sea level. Image by our guest Mick Egan

Shiliin Bogd

An extinct volcano in the wind-swept lowlands of Dariganga in Sukhbaatar Aimag. At 1778m (5833 feet) there is 82% of the oxygen available at sea level.  Image by our guest Mandy Wong

Chuchee Uul & Khoridol Saridag

This stunning pass is 2300m (7,550 feet). This means that there is 77% of the oxygen available at sea level.  Image by our guest Egon Filter

Khuiten Uul – Altai Tavan Bogd National Park

On top of the world! An end of season picnic celebration in front of Khuiten Peak – Mongolia’s highest mountain at 4,374 m (14,350 feet). It is one of five peaks of Tavan Bogd National Park.  There is 60% of the oxygen available at sea level. The image is a very bad one taken by us on our smartphone!

Altitude and its effects

Did you know that the effects of altitude on your body start at between 1500-2000m? The effects obviously increase the higher you go.

Trekking in Mongolia is not considered high risk unless your planning on scaling the highest peaks of Altai Tavan Bogd. However, there are a few things to be aware of that will make your trip just that little more comfortable. 

1) Cold

Roughly speaking, for every 100m of ascent, the temperature can drop by as much as 1 deg c. Mongolia is (in)famous for its challenging and changeable climate and the subtle effects of altitude combined with a bit of Mongolian weather can affect trekkers.

 Pack gloves, a hat,  an insulating jacket and spare warm layers such as thermals will help your trekking experience to not be a too chilly one!

2) Dehydration

 Cooler so not so much fluid required. Right? Nope. Ask someone who has travelled to Mongolia and they will probably mention about how dry the atmosphere is – how lip balm and a moisturiser are two useful items on the ‘going to Mongolia’ packing list.  At altitude, the air is drier and just by breathing your removing moisture from your body. Drink plenty of fluid….and beer does not count. 

3) Sunstroke

 UV radiation levels increase by 10% with every 1000m gained in height. This means at 3000m, the amount of UV from the sun is 30% higher than at sea-level. Even if it’s cloudy, 90% of UV can penetrate clouds and snow reflects up to 80% of UV. To prevent the weathered look, pack that sunscreen! 

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