Ikh Nartiin Chuluu, commonly known as Ikh Nart, lies in the East Gobi, marking the northeast ending of the Gobi Desert. Ikh Nart Nature Reserve was established in 1996, covering 66000 hectares to protect a globally important population of argali sheep. As the transition area between the desert and grassland, Ikh Nart has a unique landscape consist of glacially formed rocky outcrops, arid steps, and few vernal pools and springs with small trees.
Fauna and Flora
Ikh Nart Nature Reserve has a relatively high diversity of plants and animals. Apart from being dominant by argali sheep and Ibex, the area is also home to 41 species of mammals, including Asiatic wild ass, Mongolian gazelle, grey wolf, and many more.
200 species of birds have been recorded, including the migrating birds. The rocky outcrops and a small number of trees in the area provide a place to nest for the birds. Birdlife International designated Ikh Nart Nature Reserve as an Important Bird Area because of its population of threatened Lesser Kestrels and importance for migrating species.
The inhabitants of plants vary depending on the rain. Forbs such as onion grass (Allium spp.) often grow over relatively wet years and dominate the landscape. Other species common in wet years include Fringed Sagewort and Sage (Artemisia spp.). Wildflowers are diverse and include irises, lilies, never-die flowers, asters, and many more.
Despite preserving the biological importance of mother nature, Ikh Nart also protects cultural sites that persisted from as early as the stone age. A quite number of historic ruins, petroglyphs, and burial sites enrich the importance of the region to be preserved.
Situated 320 km from Ulaanbaatar, Ikh Nart is one of the easily reachable places to see wildlife in Mongolia. Four hours of driving or 6 hours of train ride takes you to this pristine wild nature. While it’s not guaranteed, there is a high chance of spotting argali sheep or ibex in the area. If you are lucky enough to encounter a group of gazelle or wild ass, pat yourself on the back. There are many ways to explore Ikh Nart depending on how adventurous you are. From all of them, camel trekking could be the most exotic way to spend the days.
Some of the photos in this content were taken from the official website of Ikh Nart Nature Reserve.