Orientation map - Trek region in red color in west Mongolia
This trek takes place in the highest region in Mongolia - the Altai Tavan Bogd mountains (5 peaks mountain). The trek goes through high mountain passes, freezing cold rivers, beautifull lakes, breathtaking views of the mountains and highest peak in Mongolia and through scattered Mongolian and Kazak nomads who aren't on the tourists path.
This trek is difficult in several aspects - It's remoteness, physical difficulty and the need to be self sufficient as it doesn't pass through any villages on the way.
While the Trek doesn't really start in the Altai Tavan Bogd base camp, it is a few hours walk from it.
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Trek 3D topo map for printout
Length - 4 : Takes about 5 days to one week.
Physical Difficulty - 4 : Long hiking days and altitude changes.
Navigation - 4 : Trail is not marked and navigation is needed.
Remoteness - 5 : Arriving to starting point is only by hired jeep.
Equipment - 4 : Camping equipment is required as there are no villages on the way.
The starting point is the park ranger's ger which is a few hours from the Altai Tavan Bogd base camp. Getting there is by hired jeep which can be organized through the tourist information office in Olgii. It is about 180km from Olgii on mountain dirt roads.
You can either arrange with the driver a pick up at Khoton Nuur or continue walking about 2 more days to Tsengel and find there a car heading for Olgii. There is also a chance of finding a car leaving lakes area towards Tsengel.
The route starts where the dirt road into the mountains stops at the ger of the park's ranger. From there it is possible to wal a few hours to the base camp of the Altai Tavan Bogd peak. From the ger you start walking southwards, crossing a first ridge into Tsagaan Gol (The white river). Crossing the big river you start climbing slowly in the valey towards a steep climb to the hieght point in the trek - Khara Salaguun Davaa which is a big pass in the mountains about 3100m high. The pass could be covered with snow and difficult to cross, depending on amount of snow (it can also be clear and easy to cross). From the pass, the rest of the way is a descent towards the two lakes - Khoton and Khurgan Nuur.
From here you either head to Tsengel with a car you prearranged or find a car heading in the direction, or you can continue walking down along the river until you reach Tsengel.
The whole trek should take between 5 and 8 days.
On the way you will find nomad gers. Most of them are Kazaks but there are some Mongolians too. The biggest concentration of nomads are around the lakes.
(See also the notes on the map)
1. Because of the proximity of the region to the Russian and Chinese borders any one who travels in the area is required to carry a "border pass". The border pass is a piece of paper given to you by the army that states your route and number of people in the group. The border pass is free and can be acquired with the help of the tourist information office in Olgii. Note that if you are hiring a driver to take you to the starting point and out he needs a permit too. Once you have the permit technically you are not allowed to separate the group, but if you go alone without a guide and tell the army on the way that you are being picked up at the end of the trek by the same driver you can get around it.
2. You also need park permits to enter the area which can be bought at the tourist information too. Cost about 4000 tugrug.
3. The nomads in the area are mostly Kazak. Most of them do understand Mongolian but not necessarily.
4. In summer, along the lakes there are swarms of mosquitos. Make sure you have reppelent and nets.