The Altai Tavan Bogd National Park is the most visited park in western Mongolia with a wide variety of activities, and offer a beautiful landscape coupled with three unique cultures – Mongols, Kazakhs, and Tuvas. The area is rich in wildlife and provides one of the last refuges for the Altai Argali (wild sheep), the world’s largest sheep, as well as the endangered Snow Leopard. In addition, western Mongolia is rich in archeological sites that vary from ancient petroglyphs to stone carvings from early Turkish nomads. To travel in western Mongolia and visit this area’s nomadic people between the snow-covered peaks of the Altai Mountains means to experience something that cannot be experienced anywhere else in the world. On a trip through this region, one discovers new horizons, will feel the beauty of unexplored wilderness and experience the freedom of nomadic life.
Mountain climbing is best during late summer when the weather is warmest. Four of the peaks require mountaineering equipment and experience climbers, though the shortest, Malchin Uul (“Herder Peak”) at 4025m, can be hiked by novices. Near the mountains it is possible to hike Pontanin Glacier. Hiking, fishing, mountain biking, horse and camel riding, and whitewater rafting is popular throughout the summer and autumn, with tour packages of several days or weeks available. The best area to hike is around the lakes and to the Tavan Bogd Base Camp at 3092m elevation. Tour guides can help you find the best archeological sites and to spot wildlife. Fishing is permitted in the park from 15 June to 15 April. Joining an eagle hunter with the help of a guide is available during the winter hunting season.
Hiking in Altai Tavan Bogd National Park is a great way to see the area. One of the best hikes in Mongolia is to start at the bridge between Khoton and Khurgan Nuur Lakes and head north up the shore of Khoton Nuur. Note Khoton Lake is a small portion of the size of Khovsgol; you could travel the whole way up one side of the lake in a long day or horseback or a very long day hiking. Into the northern end of Khoton lake flow two good-sized streams, the white one (i.e. full of glacial silt) being Tsagaan Us Gol River which comes down from the Tavan Bogd peaks.
From the bridge at the lake to the peaks, to the ranger station will take you five to six days’ walking (five if you’re on horseback). You might allow a couple of days extra if you want to climb above base camp, explore the hot springs, or simply take things slower or spend a day relaxing at a nice campsite.