Travel period: July 26-31, 2018
Lake Khövsgöl is about 800 km north-west from Ulaanbaatar. Some sources said that it could be up to 20 hours by bus to Murun (Mörön) and then a few more hours by bus or taxi. We bought our tickets at the Dragon bus terminal, half an hour by public transport from the main Ulaanbaatar‘s square Sukbaathar (bus no. 3 or a trolleybus). It’s possible to use ticket machines if you are familiar with Cyrillic or to use one of 10 desks. They usually don’t speak English, so It’s better to have written everything on a paper or a cellphone. Lots of time we tried to say difficult names asking direction without success. Sometimes even showing on a map where it was written wasn’t enough. For us it was cursed the city named Tsetserleg 🙂 The ticket to Moron cost 32000 MNT. There are no proper marked bus stands, so we had to find our coach by its plate. The number is on the ticket. It’s better to ask because the buses stand randomly in the parking lot. With a bit delay, unloading some stuff like anvils and few stops (all passengers took proper dinner/lunch on the gas station every time) we arrived in Murun at 5 am. We were a little bit confused because the journey was only 11 hours. We took the only car offering us a ride to the lake on the deserted bus terminal.
Read more: Ulaanbaatar and Gorkhi Terejl national park
To Hatgal, the first village at the lake it is about 100 km. Together, we paid 50000 MNT. The nature along the way in the morning sun was stunning. Lots of animals (also camels) and gers (Mongolian name for jurts / traditional tents) in the grassy plains. Our driver took us to one of the camps, a few meters from the lake. 25000 MNT for a cottage was a reasonable price. They also offered a few gers. The amenities were OK, but no shower and water in the wash basin only occasionally. We would recommend the place however, we don’t think it has a name. The village itself offers nothing special, few groceries, eateries and one nice café (The New Roots) operated by an American. We spend two nights in Hatgal and did only short hikes up to the hill with nice views of the lake and around.
The day after tomorrow we caught one of the locals with his family in a totally wrecked car. The distance to the next village is only 17 km, but we spend with them about 2,5 hours. Few stops during the journey and flat tire on the rocky, bumpy and muddy so-called road. We almost died because all the dust and exhaust came inside through windows and holes in the rotten car body. But it was a real fun at the end. They offered us some mutton filled pancakes and we gave some sweets to their little boy. Good deal. Janghai village stretches along the lake and there is one camp next to another. No groceries so fill your backpack if you want to be self-sufficient. We took the whole ger for 30000 MNT with a view of the lake. The only amenities in the camp were wooden bio latrines. During our stay, we had 2 dinners (one vegetarian) and 2 breakfast (yak’s butter tastes rich creamy), 5000 MNT each meal. Everything was really tasty. Again, we don’t know the name but it’s beside the Ar Tsaram Tour Camp (100 000 MNT for a ger).
Around the lake
The next day we took some food and did 8 hours hike along the lake to the promontory and to the mountains to see surroundings from the height. You can find a lot of fine spots to rest on the pebble beach (the grass is full of animal droppings). The water of the lake is crystal clear but despite July‘s summer sunny day, the temperature was too chilly for swimming. I dare only put my feet in it. Herds of horses run back and forth, yaks, sheep and goats pasture on the plains. Such a kitsch. After a few hundred meters there is a road (close to a dried river-basin – in the summer) which follows to the mountains. We went few hours to climb the top of the hills or to see the lake from the northern side but it had no end, no people to ask, no map (isn‘t also marked in google maps) so we returned. Though we didn’t achieve our goal, peaceful woods and the views were spectacular.
How we tried to get from Janghai to Tsetserleg is another story.