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China and Mongolia Land of Dynasties

Lake Khovsgol

One of the clearest lakes in the world

We   flew   north   to   Muron   and   visited   the   large   supermarket   for   a   few   provisions   –   water,   wine and   biscuits   then   drove   North   to   Hatgal   -   the   small   village   on   the   southern   tip   of   the   lake.   Our soup   lunch   in   a   local   restaurant   was   interesting   as   people   sit   on   long   tables,   anywhere   they   can find   a   place.   We   then   took   a   small   boat   to   the   east   side   of   the   lake,   which   only   has   a   couple   of ger   encampments   -   versus   the   over-crowded   touristy   west   side.   It   is   just   as   beautiful,   more peaceful but less accessible. The   following   morning   we   walked   along   a   forest   trail   that   led   to   a   promontory   known   as   The Wishing   Rock,   with   great   views   over   the   vast   Lake   Khovsgol   and   the   mountains   beyond.   We continued   along   the   pebble   shoreline   to   another   lookout   point.   In   the   afternoon   we   went   for   a 2-hour   horse   ride   from   the   camp   into   the   surrounding   countryside   and   another   shoreline   of the lake. Lake   Khövsgöl   is   Mongolia’s   largest   lake   and   is   located   near   the   border   with   Russia,   at   the   foot of   the   eastern   Sayan   Mountains.   Among   the   clearest   lakes   in   the   whole   world,   it   is   surrounded by   pristine   nature   with   beautiful   forests,   mountains   and   meadows   and   an   abundance   of   bird species   and   orchids.   The   name   Khövsgöl   is   derived   from   Tuvan   language,   meaning   'Blue   Water Lake',   and   is   also   referred   to   respectfully   by   locals   as   Dalai   Eej   (Mother   Ocean).   It   is   the   second- most   voluminous   freshwater   lake   in   Asia,   and   holds   almost   70%   of   Mongolia's   fresh   water   and 0.4% of all the fresh water in the world. The   surface   of   the   lake   freezes   over   completely   in   winter.   The   ice   cover   got   strong   enough   to carry   heavy   trucks,   so   that   transport   routes   were   installed   on   its   surface   as   shortcuts   to   the normal   roads.   However,   this   practice   is   now   forbidden,   to   prevent   pollution   of   the   lake   from both   oil   leaks   and   trucks   breaking   through   the   ice.   It   is   estimated   that   30-40   cars   have   sunk into the lake over the years. Khovsgol   is   Mongolia's   northernmost   province,   bordering   with   Russian   Siberia.   The   area   is home   to   endangered   animals   such   as   reindeers,   moose,   ibex,   Argali   (horned   wild   sheep), otters, sables, martens, bears, deer and musk deer.