10 Reasons to visit Mongolian Altai Mountains
Altai Tavan Bogd National Park is an impressive natural reserve and is famous for its 5 highest peaks and largest Potanin glacier, lying on more than 4,000m above the sea level, the highest and westernmost region of Mongolia.
The park has not only natural wonders but also it has cultural and historical wonders including thousands of ancient rock carvings, listed on UNESCO World Heritage Site, mysterious stone men and burial mounds and uncommon nomadic cultures of Kazakh and Tuva people.
There are also beautiful hidden lakes Khoton and Khurgan, worshipped Shiveet Khairkhan Mountain, crystal clear rivers and rare wildlife.
Travel Mongolia and take a trip to Altai Tavan Bogd National Park, in western Mongolia can be a great adventure. If you take a trip to Mongolia you should not miss this amazing cultural, historical and natural rich National Park.
Here are the ten reasons to visit Altai Tavan Bogd National Park of Mongolia.
1. Mongolian Altai Mountains
Mongolian Altai is the largest mountain system in Mongolia. Beginning in the mountain group of Tavan Bogd /5 saints/, one of the elevated parts of the country, it stretches south-east and consists of a number of ridges close to each other and average altitude of the ridges is 3,000-3,500meters.
The highest point is Mt.Khuiten/4374m/ means “cold” and another peak is Nairamdal means friendship, where Russian, Chinese and Mongolian borders meet. Other peaks are Malchin/Herder/, Burged/Eagle/ and Ulgii/ Land/. Altai Tavan Bogd National Park is the highest and remotest park of Mongolia, established in 1996 and covers 6,362 square kilometers.
2. Largest lakes in Altai Tavan Bogd National Park
Altai Tavan Bogd National Park contains numerous beautiful lakes. The largest Lakes are Khoton, Khurgan and Dayan. Khoton and Khurgan Lakes are connected with wide channel and surrounded by snow caped mountains and beautiful scenery.
There is an island covered by woods in the middle of Khoton Lake and the lake is also source of Khovd River which drains the Altai Mountain. These two lakes are home to several species of fishes, some of them are only in western Mongolian basin. Also, many local nomads live around the lakes where you can visit and experience their culture.
3. Glaciers of the Park
There are more than 10 glaciers in Altai Tavan Bogd Mountains and 3 of them can be seen when you are heading to the park. The largest glacier is Potanin, 14km long and named Grigory Potanin, Russian explorer who first discovered this glacier. Potanin Glacier is decreasing in size in last years as other glaciers around the world. You can hike on the glacier with experienced local guide and take a hike and enjoy the beautiful peaceful scenery.
4. Rock carvings of Mongolian Altai Mountains
The most complete and best preserved visual record of human prehistoric representation is existing in Mongolian Altai Mountains, inscribed on UNESCO Heritage Sites as “The Petroglyphic Complex of the Mongolian Altai”.
About 10,000 petroglyphs and number of ancient human statues/stone man/ are close to Shiveet Khairkhan Mountain which show us the thousands years of ancient tribal history and culture dated back from Neolith to Bronze age and the meaning and expressiveness of this rock art might be transition from ancient hunters, warriors and societies to livestock breeding and the beginning of the classic nomadism in Mongolia.
5. Standing rocks and stone men are also popular
There are about 700 standing rock and stone men exist in the world and more than 500 of them are located in Mongolia. Near the Shiveet Khairkhan Mountain, there is a complex of Turkic stone men dating back to 6-8th century.
6. Visit Kazakh and Tuva Nomads in the park
Altai Tavan Bogd National Park is located in ethnically diverse region of western Mongolia. Kazakh, Tuva and Uriankhai people have been living here for thousands of years and still keeping their nomadic heritages and lifestyle. Their culture and religion are diverse too.
Tuva people have worshipped Shiveet Khairkhan Moutnain since they had settled in Mongolian Altai and it means that they protect this region including its wildlife and historical/cultural heritage sites for hundreds of years which gives us the chance for discovering our ancestors’ way of living and beautiful wild nature.
Don’t miss to visit in Kazakh family, their hospitality is amazing like other Mongolian nomads.Kazakh people believe in some strange sayings that “the family cries and they might be unlucky when guests not to visit their home” so Kazakh family offer their last meals to their guests, even they don’t have any food for them. Every Kazakh family owns Dombor-the national musical instruments and the golden eagles for prey. You can experience their unique culture, lifestyle and amazing hospitality.
7. Eagle Hunters and Golden Eagle Festival
Altai Tavan Bogd national Park is home to golden eagles. Hunting with golden eagles is one of the most important traditions of Mongolian Kazakhs. They train their eagles at its young age and hunt with eagles in winters. In the beginning of October, in Bayan-Ulgii province, The Golden Eagle Festival is held for promoting Kazakh’s ancient tradition to their next generation and to the world. On this fascinating festival, you will see and enjoy uncommon cultural activities and have great opportunity to take stunning photos.
Here you can enjoy the most impressive golden eagle and eagle hunters' photos by Batzaya Photography.
8. Fauna of the Altai Mountain National Park of Mongolia
The National Park is habitat of large mammals, including, red deer, brown bears, gray wolves foxes and marmots. Endangered snow lynx, Snow Leopard, Argali wild sheep and impressive birds, golden eagles, Eurasian eagle owl, snowcock, and several species of falcons. Also, thousands of migratory birds, pass through in spring and fall, including Eurasian spoonbill, relict, and 6 species of crane, gull and Black Kite hawk. Mongolian Altai is one of the best destination for fishers, Potanin Osman, Mongolian Grayling, found only in western Mongolia and other several species of fish are famous Taimen, Lenok Trout are in the rivers and lakes of the park.
9. Flora of the National Park
Mongolian Altai Mountain the eco region is the habitant of many endemic and endangered species of plants including, Rhodiola rosea Juniperus communis and Altai onion /Allum Altaicum pell/ some of them are used for medicine and food by locals. Half of the flora of Siberia is found to be here. Generally the flora of the park has poorly studied so it is great destination to scientists.
10. Western Mongolia - Outdoor Activities and Photographic Destination
Mongolia is a true destination of photography and outdoor adventures. If you are a photographer looking for new, exotic place to photograph, then Mongolian Altai Mountain is the right destination for you. Check out the best photo spots in western region of Mongolia. You can hike, climb, trek, camp and horseride are popular activities in this awe inspiring region. Landscapes are diverse too, including desert steppe, dense forests, peaceful meadows, crystal clear lakes, Mountain Rivers and glacier and snow caped mountain adventures await you.
You can trek anywhere in the park and most people hike or ride horses and camels. It is good way to explore surrounding area of the park. Riding and package carrying horses and camels can be rented through both local tour operators and families. Fishing inside the park is great with 5 species of fish, some of them are only found in the Western Mongolian Basin. The lakes and rivers contain Taimen, Lenok Trout, Osman, Grayling, and Pike. Fly fishing during the summer is attracts sportsmen from all over the world and ice fishing is popular among locals during the winter. Fishing inside the park is permitted from June 15 to April 15.
Climb the highest peaks of Mongolia. To climb the Khuiten Peak needs world class skills and climb the Malchin peak is easier, so you have opportunity to enjoy the view from the roof of Mongolia.
Horseback riding is one of the best way to explore deep in this large park. Riding through the diverse landscapes like locals and visit the highlighted sites of the park. There are more adventures await you which could not be expressed by the words. Ayan Travel (toursmongolia.com) the local adventure tour operator arranges all kind of tours to the park. Just come and experience!