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Introducing Gov-Altai

Mongolia’s second-largest aimag is named after the Gobi Desert and Mongol Altai Nuruu, a mountain range that virtually bisects the aimag to create a stark, rocky landscape. There is a certain beauty in this combination, but there is considerable heartbreak too. Gov-Altai is one of the least suitable areas for raising livestock, and therefore one of the most hostile to human habitation.

Somehow a few Gobi bears, wild camels, ibex and even snow leopards survive, protected in several remote national parks. Most of the population live in the northeastern corner, where melting snow from Khangai Nuruu feeds small rivers, creating vital water supplies.

Mountaineers and adventurous hikers with a lot of time on their hands might want to bag an Altai peak. Opportunities include Khuren Tovon Uul (3802m) in Altai sum, Burkhan Buuddai Uul (3765m) in Biger sum, or the permanently snow-capped peak of Sutai Uul (4090m), the highest peak in Gov-Altai located right on the border with Khovd aimag. Most climbers approach Sutai Uul from the Khovd side.