Khovsgol

Mongolia’s northernmost aimag, Khovsgol is with the possible exception of Arkhangai the most scenic in Mongolia. This is a land of tall taiga forest, crystal clear lakes, icy streams and lush grass. It does rain a lot during summer, but this only adds to the scenery : rainbows hang over meadows dotted with white gers and grazing horses and yaks. The aimag is dominated by the magnificent Khovsgol Nuur, one of the most scenic spots in Mongolia. The lake is surrounded by several peaks of almost 3000m in height. To the west, there is the Darkhadyn Khotgor Depression, with plentiful forests and lakes. In this region, around Tsagaan Nuur live the fascinating , but fast disappearing, Tsaatan people, whose lives revolve around domesticated reindeer. Other ethnic groups ainclude the Khalkh, Buryat, Uriankhai and Darkhad.

Five Rivers

About 50km south of Moron, on the border with the Arkhangai aimag, is an area where the Ider, Bugsei, Delger Moron and Chuluut rivers converge. In September and October this is one of the best fishing spots in the country.

Uran Togoo

About 60km directly west of Bulgan city is the extinct volcano of Uran Uul and nearby Togoo uul, now part of the 1600 hectare Uran Togoo Tulga Uul Natural Reserve in the sum (district) of Khutag Ondor. All four mountain names allude to their volcanic past with designations borrowed from around the fireplace. The Uran Togoo and Togoo mountains are named for their bowl shape, the Tulga mountain for its three mounds reminding of the traditional iron tripod kettle support. Jalavch is a term for a small pot . A Smaller area was initially protected in 1965 by State Great Khural Resolution №17. In 1995, it was designated as a monument by Parliament Resolution № 26 with an area of 5800 hectares.

Amarbayasgalant Khiid

The star attraction of Selenge aimag, this monastery is considered the second most important in Mongolia ( after Erdene Zuu Khiid in Kharkhorin) and the most intact architectural complex in Mongolia. It is well worth visiting on the way to or from Khovsgol Nuur or other areas in northern or western Mongolia , but it’s difficult to reach. It’s probably not worth the effort of coming here all the way from Ulaanbaatar just to see the monastery- you are better off incorporating it into a short three-or four day countryside trip to take in the surrounding scenery, or a longer cross-country trip. Amarbayasgalant Khiid was originally built between 1727 and 1737 by the Manchu emperor Yongzheng, and dedicated to the great Mongolian Buddhist and sculptor, Zanabazar, whose mummified body was moved here in 1779. The monastery is in the Chinese style, down to the inscriptions, symmetrical layout and imperial colour scheme. The communists found a way out here in the late 1930s, but “only” destroyed 10 out of the 37 temples and statues, possibly because of sympathetic and procrastinating local military commanders. The monastery was extensively restored between 1975 and 1990 with the help of Unesco. These days, around 50 monks live in the monastery, compared to over 2000 in 1936. The temples in the monastery are normally closed, so you’ll have to ask the head monk to find the keys and open them up if you want to see any statues or scroll paintings. There are around five halls open to tourists.

Tsaatan

Hidden in an isolated corner of Northern Mongolia, Straddling the border or Russian Siberia, a unique minority group lives in the sprawling tundra. Ariound 500 Dukha people live a remote nomadic life, migrating from place to place in search of valuable resources to continue their existence. Minority people can be found all throughout Asia, but the Dukha are notably different for the livestock that they keep. Not yaks, camels, goats or horses but reindeer. Known as the Tsaatan people, these reindeer herders have been attracting international attention over the last few  years for their unique and unchanged way of life.