The expedition launched in mid-August 2018 from Mongolia’s Ulaan Taiga Special Protected Area. Under the guidance of Tumursukh Jal, director of the protected area, the team ascended Mount Belchir (elevation 10,994 feet). The flanks of this mountain provide the headwaters for several rivers, including the Delgermörön, one of the Selenge’s two largest tributaries.
After documenting the river’s source, we began a descent of the Delgermörön by kayak, then transferred to rowboats near the southern boundary of the protected area. The expedition reached the city of Mörön in early September, then continued on to the Delger’s junction with the Ider, a confluence that forms the Selenge proper.
The team reached Sukhbaatar and the confluence with the Orkhon near the end of the month, crossed the Russian border at Kyakhta, then returned to the Selenga and continued downstream to Ulan Ude and the Baikal Delta. The river portion of the journey ended on October 6 at the village of Istomino, during the second snowstorm of the trip. (You can read Peter’s description of that event here.)
While in Russia, the team met with Andrei Bazov and Natalia Bazova, two of the world’s leading experts on the threatened Baikal omul (Coregonus migratorius), an endemic species of whitefish that spawns in the Selenga. Several days later, the team climbed to the summit of the highest peak on Baikal’s Svyatoy Nos peninsula (6,158 feet).
A map of the entire route (minus some of the highway travel) is available here.