Khovsgol Nuur National Park in Mongolia’s northern Khovsgol Province is rightfully considered one of Mongolia’s highlights. There is very much an emphasis by tour companies on the eastern shoreline of Khovsgol being less developed and impacted by tourism. We think that challenges exist on both shorelines as tourism increases – the protected area is large and the monetary budget small. However, although the western shoreline is more developed we continue to use it as a base because of access to Mongolia’s Khoridol Saridag Mountains.
Mongolia’s Khoridol Saridag Mountains are a 150 km-long mountain range located longitudinally from south to north between the western shore of Khovsgol Nuur and the Darkhad Depression. With many peaks close to or topping 3000m including Ikh Uul (2961m) and Uran Dosh Uul (2702m), the Khoridol Saridag Mountains of primarily uplifted dolomite with the very barren, arid upland areas contrasting with lower rich alpine meadows. In 1997, 558,458 acres of the Khoridol Saridag Mountains were established as a Strictly Protected Area – Mongolia’s highest protected status and help to protect numerous mammals including Eurasian elk, red deer, musk deer, wild boar, and European badgers.
We offer both horse trekking and trekking routes throughout the Khoridol Saridag with its sharp peaks, deep narrow gorges, steep slopes, and wide valleys. The images used throughout this blog post were taken by our guests who joined us on trekking experiences throughout Mongolia’s Khoridol Saridag Mountains.
Although there has been an increase in the number of companies offering trekking itineraries through the Khoridol Saridag Mountains, we continue to arrange treks to the area as part of our slow travel philosophy. Spending multiple nights in one location provides a more immersive experience and gives a true taste of the areas variety and diversity without feeling rushed or trying to cover too much distance in too short a time.
However, we only arrange a limited number of treks per year and none of our treks follow the same route thereby not creating a tourism circuit. Our trek style is ‘non-itinerised’, which means that once our groups set off they don’t follow a predetermined route – allowing them to make the most of whatever adventures may come their way as well as benefiting from the local knowledge of the herders who we work in long-term local community partnership with and who plan the trek and accompany our guests. Our Khoridol Saridag treks are as much a cultural trek – following a route that provides an insight into the herding way of life – as a physical one. As an example, our groups frequently follow trails which are the migration routes of the local herding families from one seasonal pasture to another.
We work in long-term local community partnership with a local Darkhad herding family headed by Basaanchuluu who we arrange all our treks with. He herds his livestock within the foothills of the Khoridol Saridag and our treks in partnership with Basaanchuluu include following migration routes used by the Darkhad herders although herding pastures and permanent human settlements are limited within the Strictly Protected Area and the natural habitat is still largely untouched by human activities. Day hikes are also possible within the mountains – using the tracks created during extensive exploration work by the USSR in the 1980s. For those wanting to walk but not keen to undertake a mammoth challenge, just walking north along the western shore – where the lake seems to meld together with the slopes of the magnificent Khoridol Saridag – can be extremely enjoyable.
If you would like to experience the Khoridol Saridag Mountains with us, consider joining one of our Mongolia trekking or horse trekking trips. Alternatively, get in touch with Jess & let us be of help.