THE REGIONS OF MONGOLIA
Khogno Khan Uul Nature Reserve
Although it's just off the main Ulaanbaatar-Kharkhorin highway, this nature
reserve sees relatively few visitors. Its arid terrain of rocky semi-desert is
good for short hikes and there are a few old temples to explore, both ruined and
active. At the southern foot of the mountain are the ruins of Ovgon Khiid, built in 1660 and
destroyed (and the monks massacred) by the armies of Zungar Galdan Bochigtu, a
rival of Zanabazar's in 1640. About 10 monks reside here in the summer months.
The head lama is a charming woman who professes soothsaying abilities.
The mountain is in Bulgan aimag but most easily accessed from the Ulaanbaatar-Arvaikheer
The ruins of the earlier destroyed monastery (GPS: N47∞ 26.267', E103" 42.527')
are a lovely 45-minute (2km) walk along a well-defined path up the valley to the
right. The surroundings belong to the 46,900-hectare Khb'gno Khan Nature Reserve
and you might spot ibex, wolves and many varieties of hawk. There are lots of
hiking possibilities around here.
Camping is excellent in the valley, though the only water comes from a
hard-to-find well at the lower end of the valley. All of the following ger camps
have horses for rent for about US$3 per hour.
tivgon Erdene Tour Camp (Monastery Ger Camp; with meals US$25) This well-built
ger camp and wood lodge is a short walk from the temple. It is run by the monks
at the Ovgon Khiid.
Khogno Khan (with/without meals US$30715) Located 4km southwest of Ovgon Khiid.
Bayangobi (with meals US$40) Some travellers have stayed for about US$15 without
meals when the camp isn't busy. The camp can be reached by branching south for
6km off the main road, 3km west of the turn-off to Khogno Khan Uul.
To get to Khogno Khan Uul from Kharkhorin by jeep, turn north off the main
road, 80km east of Kharkhorin. The road passes several ger camps until, after
8km, you reach Khogno Khan ger camp, where you turn right for the remaining 4km
or so to the monastery ruins. There is a shortcut if you are coming from
Ulaanbaatar (turn right after the Bichigt Khad ger camp).
As you approach the border of Ovorkhangai from Ulaanbaatar, one surprising
sight that livens up a fairly boring stretch of road is the sand dunes of Mongol
Els. If you don't have the time to visit the Gobi (where there are not a lot of
sand dunes anyway), these are certainly worth wandering around.
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