Trekking at Khovsgol Lake

Posted by on November 16, 2011

Trekking at Khovsgol Lake

After four days of horse trekking at Khovsgol Lake, Gal and I decided to go back to the basics and do some trekking up the West side of the Lake.

Shore hiking on Khovsgol Lake.

Day 1 started with an easy walk from Khatgal village along the shore of the lake for a few miles.

Khovsgol Lake overlook.

Pretty quickly, though, we ascended to the high points overlooking Khovsgol Lake.


We ended the day with a nice view over still waters, looking up at the mountains we were planning to top out the next morning.

Snow cloud over Khovsgol lake.

In retrospect, though, we should have seen what was coming.

Snowy campsite

Gal and I awoke the next morning to a campsite, and indeed an entire landscape, covered in snow.

Khovsgol hiking in snow

Not to be deterred, once the weather broke we started up the hills. About an hour into the hike, though, we got caught in a real-life snowstorm and built a fire to wait it out.

Snowy flower close-up

After an extended lunch under the treeline, the snow finally let up.

snow clear skies

With clear skies, we started again towards the top.


We arrived to a gorgeous view, and with aspirations of making it to the top of the highest peak nearby at just under 2300 meters high.

snowy khovsgol hilltop

Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.


After getting most of the way to the peak, we were waylaid by a renewed snowfall that cut visibility down to little more than our immediate area.

snowy khovsgol panorama

As we started down the clouds broke once more, but with not enough time to finish our climb.

Mongolia ger Khovsgol LAke

Unprepared for cold weather sleeping, I decided to spend one last night in a Mongolian ger in the name of the warmth I knew the woodstove would provide.

Dry riverbed in mongolia

The next morning, much of the snow melted, we strolled easily back towards Khatgal.

Khatgal village

On getting back to the village, we walked back to our guesthouse to end the only hike I’ve ever had that saw a round-trip on foot from door to door of my hostel without needing public transport at all.

This hike was a ton of fun, and actually did a lot to rehabilitate snow in my mind from the terrible frozen beast I once thought it was.  All it really takes is a warm fire and some good hiking to make snow bearable!

The map situation around here isn’t great. You can buy Mongolia maps on Amazon, which are a good start but not exactly trekking scale. We ended up taking digital photos of the maps in the tourism office and using those as a reference. Not ideal, but it worked out ok for us!

Looking for somewhere warm to sleep once you get back to Ulan Baatur? There are a ton of hostels in the city, but I found Gana’s Guesthouse to be the coolest one around. Quiet area, dorms in yurts, and a really good atmosphere. Check them out!


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5 Responses to Trekking at Khovsgol Lake

  1. Lana

    Looks great! I’m headed there in a couple weeks and really enjoyed looking at your photos. What a beautiful place~

    • Stephen

      Awesome, Lana, have a great time! Much of Mongolia was pretty, but the lake stands out as my favorite area by far. I still want to go back one day and do a full-on horse trip all the way around Khovsgol!

  2. Claire

    Wow. This looks awesome. A friend and I are planning sth similar. We would also like to hike at the Khovsgol Lake. So I wanted to aske how you found your route? Did you have a guide or a map?

    Thanks for answering.

    Greets from Basel


    • Stephen

      Hi Claire, it was quite a nice trip! We found it impossible to buy maps anywhere in the area, but the tourist office had one and they let us look at it while we were planning. We ended up taking photos of it and using those as our topos, which is clearly not ideal but was better than nothing. For the short bit we walked, however, there wasn’t really a lot of need for one. I’m not sure what it looks like when you get further away from the south of the lake.

      Hope that helps!

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