GNF - Eco Tourism Mongolia

Eco Tourism in Mongolia


Mongol Ecology Center (September 2015)

Newsletter Issue 6


Lake Hovsgol, the "Mother Sea", is one of the oldest and most pristine lakes in the world. Nomadic tribes were first attracted to the beauty of the “Blue Pearl” over 4,000 years ago, and have left many cultural marks that can be seen in the artifacts that still dot the region today. Lake Hovsgol is the 16th largest freshwater lake (volume) in the World, holding 1 % of the Earth’s freshwater, and 70 % of all freshwater in Mongolia; it is the greatest source of inflow to its sister lake, Baikal.


Lake Hovsgol is recognized as one of 17 ancient lakes worldwide, and is the only such lake that is completely surrounded by permafrost. Its entire watershed is protected in a landscape of interconnecting ecosystems that cascade downward from high mountain tundra and alpine forest, through taiga forests and steppe grasslands, streams, wetlands, and ponds. The Lake is surrounded by old growth Siberian Larch, typical of the original taiga forest. The region is home to many ethnic minority groups: Darkhad, Khotgoid, Uriankhai, Buriad, and Tsaatan. Both the Darkhad and Tsaatan are famous for their practice of shamanism.


Until recently the National Park that surrounds Mongolia’s Lake Hovsgol was relatively inaccessible to domestic and international travellers. Over the next decade, however, the number of tourists expected to visit this lake region will increase multi-fold. A paved road will be completed to connect Lake Hovsgol with the provincial capital of Murun, about 100 kilometres distant.  A regional airport there will provide easy access to domestic and international travellers. In addition, a newly opened border crossing with Russia at the northern end of the lake promises to usher in a new influx of visitors from the larger Lake Baikal region, located but a few hundred kilometres away.

Project Goals

The long tradition of nomadic families is threatened by increasing desertification of the landscape that has sustained their livestock for centuries. As a consequence, many are moving towards major cities and villages, hoping to find employment. Increased tourist services around Lake Hovsgol will reverse this trend and stabilize rural populations in the Lake Hovsgol Region. The project aims to help both the park and the surrounding communities cope with this inevitable growth of tourism - and to ensure that the Hovsgol region might develop in a sustainable manner, with minimised impact to the rich environmental and cultural heritage that characterises this remote area. To do so, the National Park management will be strengthened, a national and international awareness raising campaign for the Lake will be started and sustainable tourism will be fostered.

Project Measures

Promotion of sustainable tourism

Aside from the development of training material workshops for 30 operators of so-called "Ger Camps“, traditional nomadic camps, will be conducted in order to reach a common standard, meeting the requirements of eco- tourism.

Furthermore, jointly with 20 - 25 nomadic families it is planned to re-establish the so-called Morin Ortoo System of horse terminals - where visitors can rent and exchange horses for rest and feed on long trails through the park.


Strengthening the National Park Management

After the elaboration of the long-term management plan training courses for Park authorities and rangers will be held and the staff will be equipped with the necessary tools to assess and manage the natural resources of the park.


Awareness Raising Campaign

Jointly with the Park authorities environmental education material for sensitisation of the local communities will be developed, so that measures to protect the environment of the lake can be disseminated.

Project Partner

Mongol Ecology Centre was founded in 2009 with the aim to ensure a thriving future for Mongolia by transferring best practices to protect and nurture the environment, natural resources and cultural heritage of Mongolia.

 In the Lake Hovsgol National Park
 Gravel road in the National Park
 Camp in the National Park
 View to the Lake Hovsgol
 "Wild" garbage dump: glass waste in the National Park
 On the shoreline of Lake Hovsgol
 Arresting landscape in the Lake Hovsgol National Park
 Project meeeting in a yurt

Further information about Lake Hovsgol is avaiable on our webpage.


This project is funded by the EU Delegation to China and Mongolia through the EuropeAid Programme “Non State Actors in Development Mongolia".

Further information about the Delegation to Mongolia.

Further information about the EuropeAid Programme.

 Europäische Union
 Erbacher Foundation

This project is also supported by the Erbacher Foundation and the Sika AG.

 Sika AG

Official Project Titel:




Project Period:


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Project Partner:

Guide and Integrate a Sustainable Economic Revitalization of Local Communities dependent on long-term Stewardship of Lake Hovsgol National Park, Mongolia


August 2012 – July 2015




European Union, Delegations to China and Mongolia; Erbacher Foundation and Sika AG


Mongol Ecology Center (MEC)