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Altai Mountains Roadtrip

Explore the western part of Mongolia

 

The Altai Mountains is a mountain range located in Central and East Asia, where Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan borders. Altai Tavan Bogd has some of the most stunning sceneries in Mongolia with towering mountains, breathtaking glaciers, green valleys and crystal lakes. Also, on the way to the mountains, you’ll have enough time to visit other beautiful spots through off-road tracks.

 map

Trip total: 4609 kilometers.

Trip duration: 19 days.

Recommendations: Suitable vehicle(camper van or SUV), tent, sleeping bags, cookware, mosquito spray, swimwear, warm clothes and a camera.

Trip highlights:

- Mongolia’s biggest lakes
- Fishing and bird watching
- Eagle hunting culture
- Beautiful scenery
- Intimidating presence of Altai Tavan Bogd mountain massif
- Symbolic ruins of ancient capital city

Itinerary

Day 1. Ulaanbaatar

Arrive in Ulaanbaatar city and see around the city before heading out to the Altai Mountains. Start your city tour at the Sukhbaatar Square and visit the close by Choijin Lama Temple. The area is ideal for your lunch break with several good restaurants around the temple like Millies, Silk Road, Veranda, Choijin Temple Restaurant and more restaurants and coffee shops are in the close by Shangri La mall. Continue your afternoon with a visit to the Gandantegchinlen Monastery and Zaisan Memorial with a great view over the city.

Day 2. Ugii Lake

(Ugiinuur soum of Arkhangai province)

Located in eastern Arkhangai, Ugii Lake is famous for its bird life. It has 150 types of aquatic birds such as cape barren goose, spoonbill, dalmatian pelican cranes and ducks. Also the lake is known for its fishing such as perch and luce. Besides you can enjoy swimming, sunbath, horse and camel riding, and hiking.

Day 3. Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake

(Tariat soum of Arkhangai province)

Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake has pikes and many other species of fish. There’s an extinct volcano named Khorgo located east from Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake. You can go hiking and fishing. This beautiful area has great wildlife as you may see chitals, marsh deer, wild boars, ducks or great cormorants.

Terkhiin Tsagaan 

Day 4. Zurkh Lake

(Shine-Ider soum of Khovsgol province)

Zurkh Lake is located near the center of Shine-Ider soum. It’s a small lake with various types of fishes and could be found on the way to Uvs Lake.

Day 5, 6. Khovsgol Lake

(Khovsgol province)

Khovsgol Lake and the area surrounding it is a paradise for outdoor travelers and there are plenty of room for activities like hiking, bird watching, fishing, horseback riding and kayaking. It's inhabited by nine species of fish including the Siberian grayling, sturgeon and lenok and the area is rich with various species of flora and fauna. The region hosts three separate unique nomads: Darkhad, Buriat and Tsaatan(Reindeer herders).

Khovsgol 

Day 7, 8. Uvs Lake

(Uvs province)

Uvs Lake’s surface covers over 3400km2, making it Mongolia’s largest lake and the water is said to be saltier than the ocean. The area around the lake is ideal for bird watching. Over 300 bird species are documented around the area such as gulls, geese, spoonbills, cranes, eagles and white-headed duck.

Uvs 

Day 9. Ulgii Soum

(Bayan-Olgii province)

Ulgii is the capital of Bayan-Ulgii province and it is the center of the predominantly Kazakh region of Mongolia. Stay overnight and drive to Altai Tavan Bogd.

Day 10, 11. Altai Tavan Bogd

(Tsengel and Ulaankhus soum of Bayan-Olgii province)

Altai Tavan Bogd has some of the most stunning scenery in all of Mongolia with snowy mountains, beautiful glaciers, green valleys, and crystal lakes. Altai Tavan Bogd National Park has many endangered species including argali sheep, beech marten, ibex, grey wolf, red deer, vulture, elk, snow leopard, and golden eagle etc. Tavan Bogd massif has a peak named Khuiten with its height reaching 4374m, making it the highest point in Mongolia.

Day 12, 13. Khar Us Lake

(Khovd province)

Khar Us Lake is Mongolia's third biggest lake by area with 1578km2 surface, and it is home to wild ducks, geese, wood grouse, partridges and rare sea birds. Although, the lake is swarmed by mosquitos it’s a great spot for bird watching.

Day 14, 15. Khyargas Lake

(Uvs province)

Khyargas lake has rare fish such as mongolian grayling, pikes, different types of herrings as well as migratory birds. On the south side there’s white cliff called Khetsuu Khad and it has stunning view. Swimming and bird watching are recommended here.

Day 16. Mukhart River

(Zavkhanmandal soum of Zavkhan province)

Mukhart River is a small river flowing on 200km along the Bor Khyar Dunes, forming a lovely oasis. The source of this river is lovely Bor Khyar Dunes as it spontaneously springs as well as spontaneously disappears in the dunes. You can enjoy the view from the top of the sand dunes and try out camel riding.

Mukhart 

Day 17. Bayanbulag Soum

(Bayankhongor province)

Stay overnight and head out to the ancient city of Karakorum.

Day 18. Karakorum

(Kharkhorin soum of Ovorkhangai province)

Karakorum was the capital city of the Mongol Empire between 1235 and 1260, and of the Northern Yuan dynasty in the 14–15th centuries. There’s a museum built on the ruins that will unfold the intriguing history of the ancient city. Also, you can visit one of the earliest surviving Buddhist monastery in Mongolia, the Erdene Zuu Monastery which located right next to the ruins of Karakorum.

Karakorum 

Day 19. Back to Ulaanbaatar

Wake up early and drive back to Ulaanbaatar.

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  • western-mongolia
  • karakorum
  • hiking
  • roadtrip
  • culture
  • sightseeing
  • wildlife
  • adventure
  • climbing
  • camping