Central Tuva

In the territory of the central Tuvan valley, rivers flow, medicinal springs burst forth, and lakes glimmer in the sun. Many of them are medicinal, for example the lake Düs-Khöl, which is also known as Svatikovo. Its salty water and medicinal mud are comparable to the Dead Sea of Isreal. People come here to treat their joints and a number of illnesses, covering themselves in the black mud. The water is very salty here, so salty that anyone can float in it with ease. The water temperature at the bottom of the lake (about 4 meters deep) reached 40 degrees centigrade. It is inhabited by millions of tiny red crustaceans. Here you can see a desert-type zone, with hot sands and rolling tumbleweeds. Not far from Dus-khöl is lake Khadyng, whose water is similar to sea water. This is a favorite vacation spot for the inhabitants of Kyzyl. Another neighbor of Dus-Khöl is lake Cheder, whose salty medicinal waters are rich in hydrogen sulphide.

In the Tuvan valley rests its deepest and largest freshwater lake, Chagytai. Local people connect this name with the name of Genghis Khan’s son, telling many legends about that great warrior and the possibility that his tomb is located under the lake’s water. Others say that the name of the lake comes from the Mongolian word zagystai, meaning ‘having fish.’ Indeed, there are certainly many fish that occupy this lake, and therefore many fishermen.

In addition to aquatic riches Tuva is decorated by its mountains. One of the most revered is the rocky mountainKhaiyrakan, a holy place for believers. It is said that it possess a strong energy and healing power, which was felt by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama during his visit here. The name of the mountain can be translated as “Holy heavenly bear,” a deity, which has come down from the heavens. There are more than one of these holy bears in Tuva – Ak-Khaiyrakan is a different mountain where the spirits are worshipped and rituals take place. Deep in the mountain is the cave of Mören, which beckons spelunkers with its secrets.