Khövsgöl Nuur

Lake in Khövsgöl Nuur National Park

Image by Jorge Fernandez Getty Images

Known as the Blue Pearl of Mongolia, Khövsgöl Nuur is an extraordinary lake that stretches 136km deep into the Siberian taiga. The lake, mountains and forests that surround it form the basis for the popular Khövsgöl Nuur National Park, a major destination for both Mongolian and international tourists.

In surface area, this is the second largest lake (2760 sq km) in Mongolia, surpassed in size only by Uvs Nuur, a shallow, salty lake in the western part of the country. But Khövsgöl Nuur (sometimes transliterated as Hövsgöl or Hovsgol) is Mongolia's deepest lake (up to 262m) as well as the world's 14th largest source of fresh water – it contains between one and two per cent of the world's fresh water (that's 380,700 billion litres!). Geologically speaking, Khövsgöl is the younger sibling (by 23 million years) of Siberia's Lake Baikal, 195km to the northeast, and was formed by the same tectonic forces.

The lake's water is still very clean but a rise in livestock using the area for winter pasture has led to some pollution of the shore and feeder rivers; you're best off purifying your water.

Khövsgöl Nuur is an increasingly heavily visited part of Mongolia. Please minimise your impact on this beautiful region.


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