By Marcelo Kawanami
Recently I hadthe chance to watch a documentary regarding Mongolia. This far land located between China and Russia, the country has a strong influence from both countries but had the ability to develop a unique and rich culture. One of the things that called my attention the most was Khövsgöl Nuur. Known as the Blue Pearl of the Mongolia, Khövsgöl Nuur is an extraordinary lake that stretches 136km deep into the Siberian taiga. The lake and mountains that surround it form the basis for this popular 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 1% and 2% of the world’s fresh water (that’s 380,700 billion litres!).
Khuvsgul is one of seventeen ancient lakes in the world being more than 2 million years old, and the most pristine. The Lake area is a National Park bigger than Yellowstone and strictly protected as a transition zone between Central Asian Steppe and the Siberian Taiga. Despite Hovsgol’s protected status, illegal fishing is common and prohibitions against commercial fishing with gillnets are seldom enforced. The lake is traditionally considered sacred in a land suffering from arid conditions where most lakes are salty.
The Park is home to a variety of wildlife such as ibex, argali, elk, wolf, wolverine, musk deer, brown bear, Siberian moose, and sable.