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Khar Us Nuur National Park

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West mongolia

About 40 km to the east of Khovd city is Khar Us Nuur (Black Water Lake), the second-largest freshwater lake (15,800 sq km) in Mongolia with an average depth of only 4km. The national park is located near the Great Lake Depression lowland, covering a large area of desert steppe and semi-desert environment. It plays a decisive role in climate formation and composes a special ecological environment. Khovd Gol flows into this lake, creating a giant marsh delta. It’s the home and last refuge for rare and very rare wildlife species. Also, it is a distinctive and unique natural place composed of mountains with fresh water resources in our country. The Gobi Desert, steppe valleys, and the Mongolian Altai Mountains are covered with snow. The national park was enrolled on the list of the Ramsar Convention in 1999 due to its suitable environment for water and marsh bird species. Khar Us Nuur is perfect habitat for wild ducks, geese, wood grouse, partridges, and seagulls, including the rare relict gull and herring gull. The best time to observe birdlife is in May and late August. The outflow from Khar Us Nuur goes into a short river called Chono Kharaikh, which flows into another freshwater lake, Khar Nuur (Black Lake), home to some migratory pelicans. The southern end of Khar Nuur flows into Dorgon Nuur. The eastern slide of Dorgon Nuur is an area of bone-dry desert and extensive sand dunes. Just to the south, and between the Khar and Khar Us lakes, are the twin peaks of Jargalant Khairkhan Uul (3796m) and Yargaitiin Ekh Uul (3464m).

The vast reedbeds and diverse aquatic plant communities of those three large but shallow lakes – Khar Us nuur, Khar nuur, and Dorgon nuur – provide suitable habitat for a diverse range of breeding and migratory water birds, including the globally threatened Swan Goose, ferruginous Duck, White-headed Duck, and Relict Gull. These lakes are home to three endemic Western Mongolian fish species. Because of the existence of a number of religious locations and historic sites, the lakes are critical for the area’s groundwater recharge. They are also a social and culturally significant area.