Younger sister of Lake Baikal
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The most scenic destination of Northen Mongolia, Khuvsgul Lake (Khovsgol Nuur, also spelled 'Hovsgol') is the largest freshwater lake in Mongolia by volume and second largest by area holding 2% of the world's fresh water. Located near the Russian border, at the foot of the eastern Sayan Mountains, it is nicknamed "Younger sister of the Sister Lakes (Lake Khuvsgul and Lake Baikal)". The area of Khuvsgul Lake, raised well above sea level, is 2760ms. Its length is 136 km and width 36.5 km, and up to 260 m deep.
Khuvsgul is a land of thick forests, rushing rivers, sparkling lakes and rugged mountains. This stunning area were set aside as Lake Khuvsgul National Park (2500 hectare). In recent years, this spectacular landscape of water and mountains that is sacred to so many has become the destination of more and more travelers, from all around Mongolia and beyond. Heading through the endless pine trees and into the open valleys dotted with the white gers and grazing herds, you'll be wondering if you haven't set foot back in 19th century Montana.
The highlight of the area is the ethnic reindeers' herders called Tsaatan. This ethnic groups of Turkic origin related to the Tuvans are the most exotic and mystical people with small numbers, inhabit in the amazing beautiful taigas. Tsaatan people worship "the Eternal Blue Sky and Mother Earth" and retained an ancient, unusual culture based on shamanistic rituals and forest-based reindeer-herding. Shamanism, rather than Buddhism, is the religion of choice in these parts.
By Mongolian standards, Khuvsgul Lake is touristy, but this ensures good facilities, and once you get a day's travel from the main town you'll likely have the place all to yourself.
If you love fishing (a fishing permit is required), then you'll get excited about Khuvsgul. The lake is full of fish, such as lenok, salmon and sturgeon, and the area is home to argali sheep, ibex, bear, sable, moose and a few near-sighted wolverines. It also has more than 200 species of bird, including the Baikal teal, bar-headed goose, black stork and Altai snowcock.
This is a place in Mongolia where one can get sense of total unspoiled wilderness. The area is paradise for outdoor travelers and there are plenty of room for activities like hiking, birding, fishing, horseback travel and kayaking.
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