Introducing Khyargas Nuur National Park
Khyargas Nuur, a salt lake amid desert and scrub grass, provides an attractive summer home for birds but sees little tourist traffic.
On the northwestern side of Khyargas Nuur, there is a cold spring that dribbles out of the mountain – locals say drinking from it has health benefits. Five kilometres further on is Khar Temis, an old Soviet holiday camp that is falling into serious disrepair. It has lake views and a sandy beach.
The main attraction of the lake is Khetsuu Khad, an enormous rock sticking out of the water that attracts migratory cormorant birds. The birds arrive in April and hatch their young in large nests built on the rock. When the chicks hatch, their squawking is constant and deafening. The aura created by the white cliffs, shrill birds and the prevailing smell of guano makes you feel as if you’ve arrived at the ocean. By mid-September the cormorants are off, migrating back to their wintering grounds in southern China.
Besides camping, the only option is the Khetsuu Khad Ger Camp set down here in the middle of absolutely nowhere. It has hot showers, flush toilets, a restaurant (meals T5000-6000) and lonely staff.
The last 15km of the road to Khetsuu Khad is very sandy and it’s easy to get stuck, so don’t attempt it without a reliable 4WD. The turn-off from the main road is signposted.
A national park fee of T3000 applies around the lake, though you’d be lucky (or unlucky) to find a ranger to pay it to.