Zavkhan aimag, Uliastai, Museum of Famous People, Dechindarjaa monastery, Javkhlant Tolgoi, Tosontsengel, Zagastain Davaa
THE REGIONS OF MONGOLIA
- Territory - 31,853 square miles (82,500 sq. km.)
- Center-Uliastai town, located 693 miles (1115 km.)
- Number of somons - 24
- Zavkhan aimag was established in 1931.
Zavkhan aimag is situated in the western part of Mongolia. On the North it
borders with the Russian Federation. The territory of this aimag is hillous, 10
percent of the territory resembles Khangai landscape, and the rest is steppe and
semi-desert. The highest peak of the Khangai mountain the Otgontenger, with
altitude of 12,812 feet (3,905 m.) above sea level is located in the territory of the aimag.
The coldest season is January with the average temperature of 90°
F (-32° C). The annual precipitation is 8 - 12 inches (200 - 300 mm.). There
are many rivers, such as Ider, Tes, Zavkhan, Khun. Small and big lakes include
Otgon, Telmen, Khar, Kholboo. The longest river is Zavkhan, its length being 502
miles (808 km.). The largest lake is the Telmen - 77 square miles (200 sq. km.).
Zavkhan aimag is a province of springs, such as Otgontenger, Ulaan Khaalga and
Khojuul. Soil in the Western part of the territory is pale and in the eastern
part it is mountain type forest soil. Herbs such as saussurea involucrata,
kobresia, sedge, shrub grow everywhere. The largest sand dune /Mongol sand/ and
Bor Khar sand are located in the territory of Zavkhan aimag. In the forest bear,
deer, boar, musk deer, may be encountered; wild sheep, ibex, lynx, and antelope
in mountains; and black-tailed antelope in the steppe. Birds include condor,
eagle, suran, ottis targa, guose, pelicane, storke, gule. The main sector of
economy is agriculture. Aimag's industry produces a range of products including
construction materials, meat, wood, animal by - products and foodstuff.
The eastern edge of Zavkhan aimag is the western flank of the Khangai Nuruu,
the second highest mountain range in Mongolia, and a spectacular area of forests
and lakes, dotted with snow-clad peaks, white-water streams and hot and cold springs.
The southern and western parts of Zavkhan, usually ignored by visitors and
Mongolians because of poor roads and transport, is a sharp contrast - a land of
vast deserts, salt lakes and sand dunes where rain falls once or twice a year.
Most of the border with Gov-Altai aimag is the Zavkhan Gol, which flows from
Khangai Nuruu north-west to Khyargas Nuur in Uvs aimag and drains an area of
over 71,000 sq km.
The main ethnic group residing in the aimag are the Khalkh.
PLACES TO VISITED.
- Uliastai. Uliastai is wedged in by mountains on all sides, and has a brisk but dry climate. It is one of the most remote aimag capitals in Mongolia, but is pleasant and quiet, and a logical place to stay while you consider the direction of your plunge into the Mongolian wilderness.
The two museums - the Museum of Famous People (i.e. from Zavkhan aimag) and the History Museum - are next to each other on the main street. The former contains a mammoth bone, some fine religious art, and a tsam mask, worn during lama dances, made from coral. The 'famous' people from Zavkhan include the writer В.
Chavukhulan and P. Ochirbat, the first democratically elected president of Mongolia.
Dechindarjaa monastery. This small, well-appointed monastery reopened in 1990 and now has around 50 part-time monks. The monks are very friendly, and you are allowed to watch their ceremonies, which start at about 10
a.m. every day. The monastery is in a ger district, a pleasant 3.5 km walk north of the town
center - look out for the silver tin roof as you enter from the north.
Javkhlant Tolgoi. This hilltop near the river, and just to the north of the main street, features a pavilion and three concrete animals: an elk, ibex and argali sheep. The views from the top aren't spectacular, but it's worth the short climb to get some notion of how the city is laid out.
- Zagastain Davaa. Forty-eight kilometers north-east of Uliastai on the Uliastai-Tosontsengel road is a spectacular mountain pass with the unusual name of Fish Pass. At the top, there are good views, a large ovoo and the largest collection of flies in western Mongolia.
- Otgon Tenger uul. Hardcore mountaineers and alpine explorers may want to travel to Otgon Tenger Uul, about 60km east of Uliastai. At 3905m, it is the highest peak in the Khanaai Nuruu range and is now part of the 95,510 hectare Otgon Tenger Strictly Protected Area.
- Tosontsengel. Tosontsengel is the second largest city in Zavkhan and perhaps should have been the aimag capital, as it has more economic justification for its existence than Uliastai: Tosontsengel is the
center of the timber industry in western Mongolia.
Tosontsengel is a poor, dusty '20-horse' town with no market or regular transport. Nevertheless, it is a useful stopover if you are travelling between Khovsgol and Arkhangai aimags. There is some stunning scenery in the surrounding valleys.
- Telmen Nuur. This beautiful salt lake is accessible from the town of Telmen, 20km south-east of the lake, on the main Uliastai-Tosontsengel road, or by heading west 25km from the main Moron/Uliastai crossroads. There is good camping on the east end of the lake, though you'll need your own water.
- Bayan Nuur. This salt lake, among the Bor Khyarin Els sand dunes, is in the remote western part of Zavkhan, and is very difficult to reach. The scenery is fascinating and locals claim there is good fishing.
PAGES OF THE PICTURE ALBUM