Trek - Bayan-Olgii - Base camp to Khoton Nuur


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.

Trek 3D topo map for printout

Difficulty scales
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.

Getting in
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.

Getting out
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.

Route description
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.

Special notes
(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.


Andrew said...

I will be hiking the route between Khoton Nuur and Tavan Bogd Base Camp next week. I see that you posted 4 GPS coordinates. I was wondering if you had any other notable GPS coordinates for this trek. I was also wondering roughly how much you spent on a driver to get to the trail.

To Mongolia said...

Hi Andrew
The jeep will cost 150usd to 200usd, or a little more. It is negotiable.

I do not have additional GPS coordinates.


Suno Kim said...

Seems like the trekking route is not the best. Comparing to north of Khoton lake is much more worse than the trek in Southern cost.

To have exact information about everything in Western Mongolia you can visit Kazakh Tour office and meet Dosjan. He helps you and gives all information you need. Very helpful friendly person. You can email him. (

Anonymous said...

About trekking route: The trekking route which you mentioned on the map above is not the main trekking route. You should make correction on northern end. Because your trekking route doesn't go to base camp or to the Potanin ice glacier and we agree to Suno Kim that southern cost of Khoton lake is much more beautiful than the northern cost.

Dosjan from Kazakh tour was very helpful and friendly. He dropped us at the Altai Tavan Bogd Northern ranger station. We recommend Kazakh tour.

Alex Maynard said...

Hey mate, were you able to find a gps topo map for the nat park ?