The lake is also called Lake Khuvsgul, Chöwsgöl Nuur or Khövsgöl Nuur.
Lake Hovsgol is located in the Northwest of Mongolia, close to the Russian border, at an altitude of 1,645 m above sea level. It covers an area of 2,760 sq. km and is Mongolia’s second largest lake and by volume (480.7 cubic km) even Mongolia’s largest lake. Lake Hovsgol holds approx. 70 % of Mongolia’s freshwater (surface water).
The lake is one of the seventeen ancient lakes, more than 2 million years old. Four islands, partly wooded, partly rocky are located in the lake. The largest island covers an area of 6 sq. km. The islands are important breeding/nesting places for numerous bird species.
Lake Hovsgol provides habitat for 10 fish species and 44 different water plants. On its shores 750 plant species are found. Among the 291 bird species, 258 are migratory birds, 68 mammals are found in the lake area, about 10 % of them are endemic. In 1992, Lake Hovsgol became the status of a national park.
The catchment of the lake is rather small (4,920 sq. km), the lake is fed by 46 small tributaries. The only outlet is Egiin Gol in the south of Lake Hovsgol. It flows south-eastern wards into River Selenga and thus reaches Lake Baikal. The water covers a distance of 1,000 km and surmounts an altitude difference of 1,169 m, although the straight-line distance between both lakes, Hovsgol and Baikal, is only 200 km.
Lake Hovsgol is surrounded by larch forests, mountain ranges and mountain chains. In winter, the lake freezes over completely, the ice sheet is one to 1.5 m thick. The larch forests are threatened by illegal logging, forest fires and thawing of the permafrost soils. Increased soil temperatures due to climate change as well as overgrazing of the soils are responsible for thawing of the permafrost soils. An increase in livestock population leads to soil degradation, the important vegetative cover is missing to keep down the soil temperature and control the evaporation.
During the last ten years, the number of tourists increased from 7,700 in 2004 to 45,443 in 2014, an increase of more than 500 %. Since 2012, the Global Nature Fund and the partner organisation Mongol Ecology Center are implementing together the project "Guide and Integrate a Sustainable Economic Revitalization of Local Communities dependent on long-term Stewardship of Lake Hovsgol National Park".
The partner organisation Mongol Ecology Center (MEC) was formed in 2009 with the goal to protect and preserve the natural resources, biodiversity and the cultural heritage at Lake Hovsgol.