Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Нүцгэн гоо сайхан


Monday, June 15, 2009

Хөвсгөл нуур

Khovsgol Nuur (Khuvsgul lake) is the deepest lake (up to 262m) in Central Asia, and the world's fourteenth largest source of fresh water - containing between 1% and 2% of the world's fresh water (that's 380,700 billion liters of water). Geologically speaking, Khovsgol (Khuvsgul) is the younger sibling of Lake Baikal, only 195km to the north-east, and was formed by the same tectonic forces.

It is full of fish, such as lenok and sturgeon, and the area is home to argali sheep, ibex, bear, sable and moose as well as over 200 species of birds, including the Baikal teal, barheaded goose (kheeriin galuu in Mongolian), black stork and Altai snowcock.

The region also hosts three separate, unique peoples: Darkhad, Buryat and Tsaatan. The lake is now part of the Khovsgol Nuur (Khuvsgul lake) National Park (established in 1992). Of it's 838,000 hectares, 251,000 are forest (though tree cover is starting to disappear around the lakeshore). The 188,634 hectare Khoridol Saridag Nuruu Strictly Protected Area was added to the park in 1997. An amazing 96 rivers flow into the lake, while only one river flows out - the Egiin Gol, which flows into the Selenge Gol and finally reaches Lake Baikal in Siberia.

Khovsgol Nuur (Khuvsgul lake) freezes in winter with 120cm of ice (and may not completely thaw out until early June), allowing huge trucks carrying fuel to cross from Siberia. This practice was officially prohibited in the 1980s (but still continues regardless) when it was realized that leaking oil from the trucks was polluting the lake. Around 40 trucks have fallen through the ice over the years.