A natural highlight, Mongolia’s Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park (also written Khorgo-Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park) encompasses an area of wild nature – volcanic craters, rugged mountains, river valleys, and rolling steppe.
Located in Arkhangai Aimag (province) Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park is part of the central Khangai Mountain chain that dominates Mongolia’s central heartland. One of Mongolia’s three major mountain chains, the Khangai extends for roughly 800km in a northwest-southeast direction, culminating in the highest point of 4021m sacred Otgontenger in Zavkhan Province.
Terkhiin Tsaagaan Nuur translates into Great White Lake and at the centre of this national park is a large freshwater lake – the largest in the Khangai Mountains. Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur forms part of the Tariat volcanic field together with the lava terraces of the Chuluut and Suman Rivers. Within the area, there are six cinder cones, including the most well-known – Khorg. There is a footpath leading to the 180m wide crater of the Khorg volcano and it is possible to walk around it. The lava flow from Khorg was radiocarbon dated at about 4930 years ago and dammed the Chuluut River, forming Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur.
Although the lake is relatively small (it is approximately 16km long, east to west, and around 4km-6km wide, north to south) Mongolia’s Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park has 10 tributary rivers and over 6000 hectares of wetlands of international importance leading to it being included in the list of the Ramsar Convention of Wetland Protection in 1997. As well as a number of smaller lakes to the west, the numerous bays and peninsulas on the northern shore are home to Bar Headed Geese, Ruddy Shellducks, and Northern Lapwings. It is one of 70 Important Bird Areas (IBA) in Mongolia (designated by Bird Life International) and part of the East Asian Australasian Flyway protecting migratory water birds.
There are populations of Siberian Marmots on the open steppe and Grey Wolves mainly in the larch-dominated coniferous forest on the northern slopes of the mountains. On the southern side of the mountains you will find an array of steppe and alpine plants including edelweiss.
Don’t be put off by the development of ger camps in the area or by influencers or tour companies saying White Lake is ‘touristy’. The hinterland is spectacular and perfect for an extended trek where the remote wilderness allows for self-discovery and personal reflection. The solitude and connection with nature can be a transformative experience. We offer both foot and horse treks at Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur through our long-term local community partnerships and the treks act as a supplementary source of income further supporting the economic sustainability of our partnering herding families.
For those with an interest in geology, you can explore volcanic craters, lava formations, and unique geological features that tell the story of the region’s volcanic past. The area is also a haven for bird enthusiasts.
For those looking to visit Mongolia’s Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park, we ask you to do so responsibly. This not only allows you to experience the raw beauty of the area but also empowers you to be a custodian of its unique ecosystem. With respect and environmental consciousness, you can ensure that your journey leaves a positive impact, contributing to the preservation of this region for future generations to explore and appreciate.
A Reminder To Travel Responsibly
Jess @ Eternal Landscapes