MONGOLIA FISH FISHING TOUR
PLACES FOR FISHING IN MONGOLIA
LAKE KHOVSGOL (KHUVSGUL)
Known as У The Dark Blue Pearl Ф. Located in the most northern province, it is the largest tributary stream of Lake Baikal in Russia. Khovsgol
1645m above sea level and is frozen from January until April or May. A ferryboat operates between Khatgal and
Khankh, two towns on the southern and northern shores of the lake that are within the boundaries of the Khovsgol
(Khuvsgul) National Park.
Size - 1,012 square miles (2,620 sq. km.)
One of the largest lakes of Mongolia, known as У The Dark Blue Pearl Ф. Located in the
most northern province (Khuvsgul aimag), it is the largest tributary stream of Lake Baikal in Russia. Khuvsgol is 1645 m above sea level and is frozen from January until April or
Try to imagine a 2760 sq km alpine lake, with water so pure you can drink it. Then add dozens of mountains 2000m high or more, thick pine forests and lush meadows with grazing yaks and horses, and you have a vague impression of Khovsgol Nuur
(Khuvsgul lake), Mongolia's top scenic attraction. In surface
area this is the second largest lake (136km long and 30km wide) in Mongolia, surpassed in size only by Uvs Nuur, a
shallow salt lake in the western part of the country.
Khovsgol Nuur (Khuvsgul lake) is the deepest lake (up to 262m) in Central Asia, and the world's
fourteenth largest source of fresh water - containing between 1% and 2% of the world's fresh water (that's 380,700 billion
water). Geologically speaking, Khovsgol (Khuvsgul) is the younger sibling of Lake Baikal, only 195km to the north-east, and was formed by the same tectonic forces.
It is full of fish, such as lenok and sturgeon, and the area is home to argali sheep,
ibex, bear, sable and moose as well as over 200 species of birds, including the Baikal
teal, barheaded goose (kheeriin galuu in Mongolian), black stork and Altai
The region also hosts three separate, unique peoples: Darkhad, Buryat and
The lake is now part of the Khovsgol Nuur (Khuvsgul lake) National Park (established in 1992). Of
it's 838,000 hectares, 251,000 are forest (though tree cover is starting to disappear around the lakeshore). The 188,634 hectare Khoridol Saridag Nuruu Strictly Protected Area was added to the park in 1997. An amazing 96 rivers flow into the lake, while only one river flows out - the Egiin Gol, which flows into the Selenge Gol and finally reaches Lake Baikal in Siberia.
Khovsgol Nuur (Khuvsgul lake) freezes in winter with 120cm of ice (and may not completely thaw out until early June), allowing huge trucks carrying fuel to cross from Siberia. This practice was officially prohibited in the 1980s (but still continues regardless) when it was
realized that leaking oil from the trucks was polluting the lake. Around 40 trucks have fallen through the ice over the years.
There are numerous caves around the lake, so specialists are interested in the area, though finding a cave worth exploring in the thick forests will require a
guide, considerable time and a lot of luck. Visitors also come to fish, swim in the icy water, watch the ducks, seagulls and other bird life, hike or horseback ride along the shoreline, or just find a comfortable spot to stay and soak in
the fresh air and natural beauty.
Khovsgol Nuur (Khuvsgul lake) is a pristine but increasingly heavily visited part of Mongolia.
The best time to visit the lake is in spring, when it rains less and the flowers and bird life are often at their best - but it will still be very cold (there will be plenty of snow
on the ground), and the lake may still be frozen.
The summer is a little more crowded (not so crowded that it would spoil your trip), but it can still be cold, and it often rains. The meadows around the lake are sprinkled with
beautiful wildflowers during this time. Autumn is another good time to visit, when the leaves are turning
Winter is amazingly cold, though blue skies are the norm. The lake freezes over and you can drive up over the lake and enjoy the disorientating feeling of looking down through the
ice to the lake floor. Locals say that the lake is at its most beautiful during this time.
As the southern gateway to Khovsgol Nuur (Khuvsgul lake), Khatgal is the largest town on the lake. With some of the best budget accommodation in Mongolia, it is a good launch pad for the lake and most people spend at least a day here preparing for or relaxing after a trip. The town is actually on the river, the Egiin Gol, at the mouth of the lake, so you don't get much of an idea of the lake's size from here.
Khatgal used to be a busy depot for trucks headed to and from Russia, but the town's economy has since ground to a halt.
The national park has set up a couple of marked walking trails starting from Khatgal. A shoreline trail leads 10km until it hits the jeep road. A 12km loop ridge trail branches off the shoreline trail and heads up and along a
ridge offering fine views of the lake. For an easier view of the lake just climb the hill immediately
North of Nature's Door camp.
Information: a new national park office is being built at the southern end of
town which should offer hiking information and a video and slide show on the park.
From Khatgal, a reasonable road first heads south-west before swinging north-east across several dry river beds and over the pass, Jankhai Davaa, 17km from Khatgal, where you receive your first magical glimpse of the lake. The road continues past the gorgeous headlands
of Jankhai, once a Russian
village, and Toilogt, where there is a rash of ger camps. The road then gradually deteriorates. Very few vehicles venture past Toilogt, so
no road maintenance is deemed necessary.
Around 30km north of Toilogt is Khar Us, a series of springs surrounded by meadows of beautiful wildflowers. In June locals flock here to eat the bailius fish for
it's medicinal properties. This makes a great destination to reach on horseback.
A jeep can travel as far as Jiglegyn Am, almost exactly halfway up the western shore, before the trail disappears into mud and forest. Only horses can go further north or
take the western trail from Jiglegyn Am to Renchinlkhumbe, on the way to Tsagaan
The eastern shore is not as good because the road rarely hugs the lake, the scenery isn't as pretty, there are only a handful of gers between Chuluut and Borsog, almost no wildlife,
and the flies can be appalling. If that doesn't put you off, it might if we said that this is the worse stretch of road we encountered in 15,000km of overland
travel. There are some plans to improve
From Khatgal, head for the bridge over the Egiin Gol, where you may need to ask directions. The trail meanders over some hills and past a collection of huts known as Chuluut
- if in doubt, follow the line of electricity poles. The trail continues past an interesting ovoo (a shamanistic collection of stones, wood or other offerings) at the pass Ikh Santin Davaa
to a gorgeous spot called Borsog, six hours by jeep and 103km from Khatgal.
With a tent and your own food, you could have a lovely time in Borsog picking wildflowers, swimming, hiking and
fishing with just a few yaks and a ger with a slightly lonely family for
If your spine hasn't suffered permanent damage by now, you could carry on further to a couple
of gers known as Sevsuul. The road actually improves a little here, then hugs the
lake and is usually passable all the way to Khankh. Surprisingly, a few sand dunes dot the landscape.
From Khatgal, allow at least 12 hours by jeep to travel the 200 or so kilometres to Khankh (Turt), a former depot for oil tankers headed to and from Siberia. Khankh is more
Buryat and Russian than Mongolian, because it is closer to its northern
neighbour than to Ulaanbaator.
Remember that if you reach Khankh, you will have to come all the way back along the same bone-crunching, eastern
road: there is no way any vehicle could get from Khankh to Jiglegyn Am, halfway up the western shore. At the moment going all the way around the lake is only possible by boat or horse.
Hiking. This is one of the best ways to see the lake and the mountains surrounding it. You will need to be self-sufficient, although there are a few gers in the area to buy some
meat or dairy products from. The trails around the lake are easy to follow, or just hug the shoreline as much as you can.
Of the mountains in the south-western region, the most accessible is Tsartai Ekh Uul (2515m), immediately west of Jankhai, where the hiking is excellent. Also try the numerous other
mountains in the mountain range Khoridol Saridag Nuruu, such as Khuren Uul (3020m), not far north of the trail to Renchinlkhumbe; Ikh Uul (2961m), a little north-west of Toilogt; and the volcano
of Uran Dosh Uul (2792m).
Longer treks are possible around the Dorkhod Sayani Nuruu range, which has many peaks over 3000m.
Kayaking & Boating. Traveling by kayak would allow you to see the lake without the strain of driving along the appalling roads. The lake is full of glorious little coves,
perfect for camping and fishing, and you could even check out the only island, Modon
Huys, almost exactly in the middle of the
Several large boats remain moored at Khatgal docks. They very occasionally take passengers up to Khankh but these days they will only move when chartered, which will cost an
arm and a leg. If you do charter a boat to Khankh, you'll still have to share it with a boatload of nonpaying passengers who have been waiting for some tourist or trader to fork out the money.
Horse Riding. If you just want to hire a horse for a few hours you could arrange this with a family at the lake.
A guide is recommended for any horse-riding trips in the region.
A complete circuit of the lake on horseback will take from ten days to two
weeks. A return trip by horse from Khatgal to Tsagaan Nuur, and a visit to the Tsaatan people, will
take from 10 to 12 days. An interesting 10-day trip could take you east of the lake to Chandiman Ondor and Dayan Derkhiin Agui cave.
Fishing. If you love fishing, then you'll get excited about Khovsgol Nuur
(Khuvsgul lake). Bring your own fishing gear - or beg, borrow
or buy one. A rod would be better, but you can still have success with a hand line
and a simple lure. You can fish from headlands along the shore, from bridges or, if you are keen, wade into the lake
for a few meters.
Some of the best spots we found were the bridge at the southern end of Khatgal (which leads to the road going up the eastern shore), Borsog on the west shore, and at several coves
where the eastern road meets the south-east shore. Around a dozen species of fish inhabit the lake, including
salmon, sturgeon, grayling and lenok.
Fishing is not allowed before July 10. T
About 50km South of Moron, on the border with the Arkhangai aimag, is an area where the Ider, Bugsei, Selenge, Delger Moron and Chuluut rivers converge. In September and October this is one of the
best fishing spots in the country.
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