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Photo from one of our recent Mongolia winter tours to Khovsgol Ice Festival

Exploring the frozen landscapes of Khovsgol Nuur on our 3-day horse sleigh expedition during our Khovsgol ice festival, Mongolian winter tour

The Khovsgol Ice Festival takes place on March 3rd and 4th in northern Mongolia.

Khovsgol is short for Khovsgol Nuur National Park located in Khovsgol Province. Probably the most famous element of this glorious national park is the 136km lake itself. Tour companies call it the ‘Blue Pearl’ of Mongolia. Mongolians call it Dalai Ej – Mother Sea – a much more suitable name. The lake is the younger sister to Lake Baikal in Siberia – part of the same Rift System. If the sky is clear, you can stand on the shoreline and see the snowcapped Sayan Mountains – the border with Siberia (the highest point in the Khovsgol watershed is Munkh Saridag at 3491m in the Sayan Mountains).

Connected to Murun by a relatively new and reasonably good asphalt road, the small community of Khatgal is located at the southern tip of the lake where it channels into the Egiin Gol. Khatgal is often bypassed but has an ambience that is a pleasure to discover especially during the Khovsgol Ice Festival. 

Isn’t there a  saying that goes a picture is worth a thousand words? So here is the Khovsgol Ice Festival through the eyes (and lens) of our guest  Kairi Aun.

A local Darkhad man taking the shortest route possible - across the frozen surfaces of Khovsgol Nuur. At the Khovsgol Ice Festival, March 2018.

Competition is fierce for the Khovsgol Ice Festival tug-of-war. Tactics include forming a brake by putting boot to boot. At the Khovsgol Ice Festival, March 2018.

Freedom! Throughout the winter, the Darkhad travel over the frozen surfaces of Khovsgol Nuur using their homemade horse sleighs. Khovsgol Ice Festival, March 2018.

Baasanchuluu - head of his family and a member of the Darkhad ethnic group. His pasture is located close to the community of Khatgal. Khovsgol Ice Festival, March 2018.

The Khoridol Saridag Mountains and western shoreline provide a backdrop to the frozen lake surfaces of Khovsgol Nuur.

Ice slides are not just for kids you know! Khovsgol Ice Festival, March 2018

The traditional Mongolian dress of a deel worn with style by a young local. Khovsgol Ice Festival, March 2018

If you’re interested, you could always join the Eternal Landscapes team as we celebrate alongside the locals from the rural community of Khatgal at the Khovsgol Ice Festival. How? By joining one of our Mongolian winter tours.

And yes, there are many companies and offering to help you to plan such an experience so why would you choose EL? I’ll leave you with the words of our guest Yi-Hsin:

‘I’ve been trying to travel in ways that give back to the local communities whenever possible, instead of funnelling money to overseas owners while paying locals a minimum wage. Also, I’ve traveled with other companies, where when you ask questions about the tour it’s obvious that the person answering your question has probably never been to the country you’re going to. I really like that EL is a small company and the people in charge are still really connected with what’s happening on the ground.’

Jess @ Eternal Landscapes.

Jessica Brooks
Jessica Brooks
I’m Jess Brooks. I have been based in Mongolia since 2006 and am the founder of Eternal Landscapes Mongolia - a registered Mongolian business and social travel enterprise that focuses on providing travellers with a real 21st Century insight into Mongolia. Together with my beloved Mongolian team, we focus on tourism that makes a positive difference. I'm also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society - awarded for my work in Mongolia and a published guidebook author - having worked together with World Adventure Guides to produce a digital interactive guide to Mongolia. http://www.jessbrooks.co.uk/
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