An American wolverine expert, after having visited the Khan Khentii, said:
“It’s like a wilderness combination of Yellowstone some 200 years ago and the Brooks Range of Alaska”.
Khan Khentii is a forested wilderness area – three times the size of Yellowstone – northeast of Ulaanbaatar. It is mostly Larch forests, the uppermost treeless parts being the Hentii Mountains, with numerous bogs, swamps and rivers between the ridges. It is a impenetrable, uninhabited wilderness. There are no people to ask for directions. Hiking or riding in a straight line is almost impossible as the numerous streams which become rivers here bisectsthe ridges creating marshland and bogs , which are the sources of the Tuul, Herlen and Onon Rivers, just kilometers from each other. In this sense, this source of rivers is the watershed of Asia. The Herlen and Onon flow into the Amur which in turns empties into the Pacific Ocean as the longest free-flowing river of Eurasia. The Tuul River flows past Ulaanbaatar, joins the Orhon and Selenge Rivers which empty into Lake Baikal, which eventually ends up in the Arctic Ocean. Therefore it is not just matter of knowing where you are (having a GPS perhaps…), it is a matter of knowing the routes where one can cross safely.
How to travel here:
Nomadic Journeys regularly does customized float trips on the uppermost reaches of the Onon River. We fly in a helicopter to the interior of the Khan Khentii and off load all of us, plus rafts. Then we raft from there some 4 days through wilderness. The area has brown bear, wolves and moose. We have also done expeditions loading foldable canoes onto pack horses, riding with trailfinders for two days past legendary Burkhan Haldun Mountain to the Onon River. for film crews headed up by Swedish explorer Ola Skinnarmo and a Swedish television film crew. Pack-horses will return to their home range empty.
The Khan Khentii interior is also reachable from the Khan Khentii buffer zones along the Upper Tuul River and the Buryat lands at Batshireet and Onon River.
Our ger camp at Jalman Meadows is in the upper Tuul River Valley, adjacent to this wilderness. From Jalman there is a week’s pack horse ride to go to Hagiin Black Lake and back. It is the ideal trip to experience the Khan Khentii wilderness. We offer it as a daily departure (for individuals to join) in September. It is a pack horse ride across unforgiving terrain to the Hagiin Black Lake, camping out in tents supported by pack-horses and a local trailfinder. It can be done also in June, but as demand is low, there is not a fixed date. In July and August, the streams may flood and become unpassable rivers. A trip may be done at this time also, but you should then plan for possible delays of 2-3 days.
Jalman Meadows is only a 3-4 hours drive out of Ulaanbaatar.