Khövsgöl Lake, Mongolia

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In Khatgal (pronounced as “hot gal”) MS Hostel I met a Vietnamese trekker Dong and we decided to trek along the westside of the lake together.  Though I was told that if I have been to Baikal, I don’t need to stop by Khövsgöl.  However, after trekking around Khövsgöl I had to disagree.  I am truly amazed by its purity and how the leaves change color with the season.  The altitude of this lake made this lake much more dramatic than Baikal.

Our first day was pure adventurous trekking.  We started along the lake and soon found ourselves on a narrow path hanging along the steep slopes of the lakeshore.  The trails were unclearly marked and a lot of the times we had to call for a blind judgment of which path to take – thankfully all of them go in the same direction.  Since the roads were very narrow dirt roads with lack of maintenance, we had to use trees and shrubs to help ourselves to stay balanced and guide ourselves along the trail.

At one point I sat my foot on what looked like a part of the dirt road with nothing under it and I fell off the path as soon as it collapsed under me.  Dong grabbed my backpack as I slid off the slope.  “Help!” by now my entire weight was hanging on the backpack grabbed by Dong.  Slowly, using branches and trees around me, we scooted me up.  After several tries, we were in a steady progress, and it wasn’t until half an hour later that I was dragged back on track.

At the sunset we had to find the big path since the slopes along the trail are too steep and too dangerous for us to pitch our tents.  We decided to climb straight up through the bushes till we get to the top of the lake bank.  After some struggle, we made to the top and there was a horse trail right in front of us.  Following the horse trail we found ger camp and right outside the camp we pitched our tents for the night.

That night was very very cold.  It was so cold that I could hardly sleep.  I heard some thumping in Dong’s tent, apparently he had a hard time to sleep too.  I remembered some hand warmers that Joe gave me, so I took some of them out, spread them all over my sleeping bag, put on some more cloth in order to get some more sleep.

The second day was much less challenging.  Our horse trail merged with the car road not long after the start of the day.  We walked along the lake, passing through quite a few nice ger camps, and pitched our tent in around one of the last ger camps – and the nicest ger camps here named Toilok.

On our third day we were extremely exhausted from the two days of hardcore walking, so we rented 2 mountain bikes from Toilok and further up north.  Climate changed tramatically as we progressed northward.  It gets so cold, but between the bleak breath of air one could see the crystal purity in this blue lake.

At the end of the day, we were contemplating if we should camp for another night and then hitch a ride back the next day.  After negotiating for sometime, we decided to book the local’s motorbike home.  However, when these locals showed up, they started charging us more than what we have agreed upon.  I almost decided to dismiss them and pitch the tents for another night, but Dong took in the changed prices, “I’m too tired, I want to sleep in a bed tonight.”

I’m glad we made that decision instead of camping out for another night – two hours after we got back to our hostel in Khatgal, a snow storm started.

From Khövsgöl Lake, Mongolia, posted by Jenny Zheng on 11/05/2011 (121 items)

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