Not far from Khövsgöl Nuur, live the Tsaatan people, named from the Mongolian word for reindeer, tsaa. Their entire existence is based around the reindeer, which provide milk, skins for clothes, transport and, occasionally, meat. The Tsaatan are part of a Tuvan ethnic group, which inhabits the Tuvan Republic of Russia.
There are only about 60 Tsaatan families, spread over 100,000 sq km of northern Mongolia. They are truly nomadic, often moving their small encampments, called ail, every two or three weeks – looking for special types of grass and moss loved by the rein- deer. The Tsaatan do not use gers, but prefer tents made from reindeer skin. The Tsaatan practice shamanism.
The climate is exceedingly harsh in the winter, and the lack of responsible tourism guidelines or enforcement means that some of the current tourism to the Tsaatan tribes actually have a negative impact. Few companies who arrange trips to the Tsaatan take an ethical or sustainable stance to support the preservation of Tsaatan culture and their traditional lifestyle.
We recommend visiting the Tsaatan in Northern Mongolia during Fall through Winter, except for December and January when temperatures can drop well below 25 degrees C.