Mongolia is a landlocked country in Northern Asia bordering Russia and China. It is home to a great wealth of natural resources, including several vast national parks. Gobi Gurvansaikhan in the northern region of the Gobi Desert is Mongolia's largest national park at 10,425 square miles and also the second most protected park in the country. Lake Khövsgöl provides 70% of the country's water, and it and the mountains surrounding it make up the Lake Khövsgöl National Park, a popular destination for both resident Mongolians and international tourists. Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area with its three beautiful mountain ranges is the most protected area in Mongolia. Khustain Nuruu National Park is a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized wildlife biosphere, famous for the peaceful coexistence of humans and wildlife there.
Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, established in 1993, is the largest national park in Mongolia, covering 10,425 square miles. The park stretches 80 kilometers from north to south and 380 kilometers east to west. Gobi Gurvansaikhan lies in the northern region of the Gobi Desert. It comprises of gravel and rubble plains, dry valleys, salt wetlands, springs, and Oases. The foothills of these mountains have red Cretaceous sandstone eroded into gorges. The region has an elevation of up to 2,600 meters and have steppe climatic zone. Around 52 mammal species, including the wild ass, hamsters, pikas, Gobi bear, gerbils, snow leopard, and wildcat and endangered species such as the Argali sheep and the Siberian ibex, live in this hostile environment of the Gobi Desert. Around 246 types of birds including the breeding birds such as Kestrels, vultures, lammergeyers, and Altai snowcocks also flourish in the park. Sand dunes such as the Khongoryn Els are notable sights in the region.
Lake Khövsgöl National Park
Lake Khövsgöl is Mongolia’s largest freshwater lake by volume and second largest in terms of surface area. The lake and the area surrounding it make up the Lake Khövsgöl National Park which covers an area of 3,500 square miles. Several mountain ranges, such as the Bürenkhaan-Mönkh Saridag at 3,492 meters above sea level, surround the lake. The lake surface freezes during winters. Its watershed is small so are the river's tributaries. The Egiin Gol drains the lake to the south connecting it to Selenge and then flows into Lake Baikal. The lake and the national park form part of the southern border of Siberian Taiga forest in which the Siberian Larch is the dominant tree species. Fish species of commercial interest in the lake include the Eurasian Perch, Burbot, and the endangered Hovsgol grayling. Wild animals such as the argali, musk deer, brown bear, wolf, elk, ibex, and Siberian Mouse find a home in this national park. Lake Khövsgöl National Park forms a transitional zone between the Siberian Taiga and the Central Asia Steppe and thus it is a strictly protected area. The Khovsgol Long-term Ecological Research Site established in 1997 provides scientific research and environmental infrastructure studying climate and strategies to counteract the environmental challenges facing the lake, the park, and watershed. Even though illegal fishing still goes on, and gill-net fishing is prohibited it is not strictly enforced. Mongol Ecology Center created Lake Khövsgöl Conservancy to help protect the country’s biggest source of freshwater and the biodiversity it harbors.
Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area
The Khan Khentii in Khentii Aimang, Eastern Mongolia is a protected wildlife preservation area. Khentii, one of three ranges, starts at Ulaanbaatar and stretches to the eastern plains. There are also several peaks that are 2,500 meters above sea level, including Asralt Khairkhan at an elevation of 2,800 meters. The protected area is around 4,737 square miles and is inclusive of Burkhan Khaldun Mountain, and borders Gorkhi Terlj National Park to the West. The whole parks a mixture of forests, alpine tundra, wetlands, and permanent snow and ice fields with the core of the remote wilderness uninhabited. Tourism and herding are highly controlled with mining and hunting prohibited. The protected area is almost completely uninhabited by humans and provides refuge to endangered species including the brown bear, weasel, and moose, and more than 250 bird species.
Khustain Nuruu National Park
Khustan Nuruu National Park is located in Tov Province, around 100 kilometers west of Ulaan Baatar. The park is a reserve in the UNESCO World Biosphere listing of Nature Reserves. The National Park is approximately 195 square miles and is home to 459 vascular plant species, 85 lichen species, 90 moss species, and around 33 mushroom species. There are also 44 known species of mammals here, including the red deer, Mongolian gazelle, Eurasian lynx and badger, gray wolves, and corsac fox, 217 bird species such as the golden eagle, great bustard, black stork, whooper swan, and little owl. Also, 16 species of fish, 380 insect species, and two amphibian species live here. Khustain Nuruu National Park is one of the best managed national parks in Mongolia.
Ecological and Recreational Havens in Mongolia
These parks provide the dry country of Mongolia with beautiful landscapes of lakes, mountain ranges, and deserts. Apart from providing habitats to wildlife, communities also thrive around these parks. Camping, reindeer viewing, horseback riding, and tours are some of the top recreational activities proffered by the national parks of Mongolia.