Sunday, November 3, 2013


The leftovers
With blogs listing details on the hot springs of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, it's only natural to expect their neighbours (Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan) to also be dotted with nice soaks. 
But actually there aren't that many hot springs. Thus, this single blog post will cover both countries.

Starting off with Uzbekistan is the most simplest as I have yet to find out whether or not there are hot springs in this country.

That was quick.

Turkmenistan: Going underground
Turkmenistan does have the odd hot spring or two. And even a very special and extra ordinary hot spring. Referred to as Kow Ata (Kov Ata, Kovata, Kowata or Bakharden) this a subterranean hot spring. One needs to climb down sets of stairs to get to the thermal waters 60m below ground level.
'The underground lake is formed by a hot spring in a cave 60 m below the ground and stretches over several kilometres. Only the first 70 metres are accessible and sufficiently lit and provide the occasion for a dip in the 36°C water'.
An experience:
'Kowata is an underground hot spring where they took all the trainees swimming a week ago. It is about 45 minutes from the capital and about 5 kilometers from the border with Iran. You descend down about seven flights of slippery steps with wobbly hand rails, wishing you were wearing metal cleats. As you descend the dimly lit corridor, the air grows hotter and more humid, and eventually carries the smell of eggs from the sulfurous waters of the lake. The water is lovely to swim in; about 82 degrees Fahrenheit, it is like being in a bath. The depth of the water wasn’t clear, but nobody’s feet touched the bottom. However, there were many jutting rocks and ledges where you could rest. We spent about two hours swimming before learning that a half-hour was advised, probably for the same reason that excessive time in a hot tub should be avoided. Still, the water is supposed to be medicinal for your skin, and I have not seen any ill effects. When I told my family in Herrick-Gala that I swam, however, they were extremely apologetic because they don’t know how to swim'.
Not always are experiences in such a positive light.
'We drove for a couple of hours out into the middle of nowhere. The engineer led us to a cave and we went inside. Once our eyes adjusted to the dark we saw a large pool of water. There was a single electric lamp on one side of the cave which didn't do much to cut through the gloomy darkness. Bats hung from the ceiling above and the air was thick with steam and the heavy smell of sulphur.
My colleague and I stripped down to our bathing suits and jumped in. The water was bathtub temperature and very murky. I held my breath and let myself sink down as far as I dared but I couldn't touch the bottom.
Strangely the engineer refused to join us but preferred instead to hang out at the cave's entrance and smoke.
The water temperature was pleasant but the sulphurous smell became overbearing after a while and the atmosphere was just plain creepy. My colleague and I climbed out, dried off and put our clothes back on in silence.
We exited the cave and were climbing back into the car when a rickety, rusted-out old bus pulled up and a dozen locals piled out. They were dressed in colorful, ratty garments and were a pretty ragtag bunch.
"Who are they?" I asked our guide.
"Oh them."
And then he told me that this particular hot spring is famous throughout the country. That its warm sulphur waters supposedly have healing properties and that people with otherwise incurable skin diseases were bussed in to bathe here in as a last resort for a cure...
It took weeks before I was convinced that I hadn't contracted leprosy...'.
Kow Ata Underground Lake / Turkmenistan, Bakharden
Photo by flydime:
'The Bakharden Underground lake Kow Ata is an unusual natural site in the biggest cave of the Kopetdag mountains, located about 107 km south-west of Ashgabat. The Turkmen name Kov-Ata means "father of caves". At a first glance, this underground area looks like a magnificent auditorium : the overall length of the cave is 230 m, its height goes up to 20 m, and its width is at some points 57 m ('.
Wrapping up, in Turkmenistan there is just one mention of another hot spring, Koytendag:
'the, unique hydrogen sulphate hot spring, "Gainar Baba"'.

Also noteworthy is the Darvaza gas crater, a gas drilling operation gone wrong more than 50 years ago, resulting in a seemingly never ending burning gas crater. Picturesque especially at night it is also located in the deserted hinteralnds of Turkmenistan.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tying the ribbon round the trees

To the north of Uzbekistan lies the immense country of Kazakhstan. Here a few hot springs can be found, in the mountains bordering Kyrgyzstan and China. 

However knowing that there are hot springs does not mean that they can be highlighted. 
Take for instance the hot spring located near Chimkent (Shymkent). Just the one mention:
'hot spring health spas'.
That's not much help. Some respite comes from the recent website of edgekz where a page by Alex Lee explains Kazakh hot spring culture. Winter is the season for hot springs. And:
'Springs are sources of healing and spirituality in many cultures, and near Kazakhstan’s hot and cold springs, you can still see ribbons tied to trees, which locals have tied there when they make wishes on the magical waters'.
So there's more.

Alma Arasan is located just south of Alamty. Alma-Arasan:
'There are 51 groundwater springs, many of which are used for spa therapy purposes. The Alma- Arasan hot spring water is similar in its chemical composition to French mineral waters of the Pyre-nean type (Aix les Bains, etc.)
The temperature of major springs constitutes 35-37 degrees centigrade. With regard to water content, temperature and radioactivity the water is similar to Tshaltubo Springs [famous hot spring in Georgia, the country]. The springs have a good influence on people who suffer from rheumatism, metabolic disease, diseases of peripheral system and blood vessels, as well as on the diseases of women and on the people who were poisoned with copper, lead and other metals. Every year Arasan-Kapal Resort accepts around 2000 patients'.
I also learned from a now defunct link that Alma was established in 1886. This link also notes the following:
'The resort’s medicinal features include warm springs of lightly mineralized water with silicic acid used for baths'.
Somehow some confusion exists as Alma Arasan can also refer to the public baths in Almaty itself. If you want to know more, take a look at the great entry into the Steppe magazine by Rebecca Beardmore.

On Zharkent Arasan which, by the way, was established in 1967:
'The main medicinal factors are: nitric, chloride-sulphate, sodium water (36C) which contains fluorine, organic substances used for bath and shower'.(source), oh no, another broken link)
Zharkent is located northwest of Almaty, quite a distance away from the former capital. If expecting a nice rural bath do note that Zharkent is another of the over-medicalized baths which seem to treat soaking as a necessary way to treat illness, rather than something which be pleasurable let alone the above mentioned way of a spiritual experience. Here is the link to the bath house / hotel, all in Russian alas. Note that this hot spring has the added benefit of radon ...

Kapal (not (?) to be confused with Kapal-Arasan) possesses (broken link) a mineral spring with a temperature of 25-28C, not quite soakable?

Aktau lies on the Caspian sea coast which may possess a salty miracle hot spring as proved on youtube with this description:
'A small warm bubbling hot spring, a little ways off-the-path from the road between Karagiye Depression (-132 meters below sea level, 3rd lowest spot on Earth) and Aktau city in Mangystau Province, Republic of Kazakhstan'.
Wikitravel mentions the existence of Radon hot springs ("facilities are very primitive") in the Aktau travel guide with nearby mud baths, possibly the same as above?

On the Partido y regreso blog there is entry on Aktau hot springs and mud baths. The following picture illustrates the soakability of this hot spring:

Remojándonos [= soaking!] un poco. Está calentito

An avid visitor to the shores of the Caspian takes his wind-cycle to the hot springs and notes that the route along the nuclear power plant is picturesque. Once there: 
'After all of the amazing scenery, I finally got to the hot water spring! Beautiful and well attended spring is extremely hot — 50-60 degrees! It is recommended not to bath more than 15 minutes at a time. Some people take mud bath'.
An odd experience is revealed by Jennie Vader on a visit to a banya slash hot spring near Turkestan:
'... and I went to a banya in the middle of the steppe about 30 minutes from Turkestan. The banya is a dome-like structure (called the egg) built over a natural, underground hot spring. We all went into this huge egg and then into our own room which consisted of 2 shower heads and an old bathtub. Basically, you seal up your room and the hot water runs constantly, steaming everything up. You shower like usual and sit in the bathtub of really hot water'.
Then there are the hot springs of Chundzha. Edgekz notes:
'Chundzha is located 243 kilometers east and a four-and-a-half-to five-hour drive from Almaty in the Uighur district of the Almaty region.  The area is home to a whopping 140 mineral springs'. 
It names Mirage, Tumar, Derevushka, Omur Su and Premium spa resorts, all located more or less near Chundzha.
'Hot spring pool at Chundzha
The indoor swimming pool at a Soviet resort in Chundzha in the eastern part of the Almaty Region in Kazakhstan'.
The above picture accompanies an article in the Steppe Times by Jonathan Newell. It links to an article which oddly doesn't mention then hot springs themselves.

More recently mentions Dobyn:
'Experts say the hot springs at Dobyn village are enriched with minerals and contain small amounts of nitrogen. The waters contain silica and trace elements of radon, providing the thermal springs with unique medical and healing qualities'.
It goes on to mention how the wellness industry in Kazakhstan is shaping up. Twenty three health centres have been established since 2000, with 13 under construction, among them a Premium Spa Resort (see above). Two-hundred thousand visits were reported in 2011.

There are also mentions made of the following hot springs in Kazakhstan: Tamshaly, Ayak-Kalkan (hot spring 180 km from Almaty, in the village of Baseit), a so-called Mountain Thermal Water Resort.

Edgekz then mentions Rakhmanovsky Klyuchi resort:
'The Rakhmanovsky springs are named for the man who discovered them. Legend has it that Rakhmanov, a local hunter, once wounded a Siberian deer and followed it as it ran into a mountain spring.Rakhmanov discovered that the water was warm and steamy as he continued to track the wounded animal in order to finish it off.But as he approved the stag and aimed for a final shot, he witnessed what he thought was a miracle: The nearly fatally wounded animal lying in the hot mineral waters was suddenly healed, rose up and ran away.Rakhmanov was paralyzed by what he had just seen and couldn’t pull the trigger. Since then, locals have called the healing hot springs after the stunned hunter. To this day, despite their remote location, the Rakhmanovsky springs remain popular and many still believe they offer healing benefits such as reducing pain and improving cardiovascular health. The springs are also thought to help spark regeneration and slow aging.
The major resort in this area is the Rakhmanovsky Klyuchi Resort, which opened in 1964 and can accommodate 80 people'. 
Little other references though.

Finally, a flickr photo reference to a hot spring in their Kazakhstan set. Have my doubts though.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Chilime Tatopani, Nepal. Source

In hot water. Of Bulnai, Mongolia. Blogged by Costin.

 An instagram by tanqingju. Tibet's Dezhong hot spring

A family portrait:
'Le délice des sources chaudes tout nus'. 
Tsenkher, Mongolia. Source

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Soaking on the steppe

The Mongols and their baths
In the ever expanding list of highlighted countries, being vaguely in the direction of the Himalaya seems to compel this blogs' author to churn out another summation of possible soak sites. In this respect the country referred to as Mongolia is next in line.
So have I determined.

Having a culture which partially stems from the other side of the Himal seems to be a major swaying point to include Mongolia as an entry in this blog, though no doubt images conjured of soakers viewing the rolling steppe limited only by the end of the horizon has a great part to do with aforementioned decision. But will this remain a dream?

Mongolia, we learn, is not a real geothermally active place but nontheless the readable article on harnessing the nation's warmth (Tseesuren, 2001) does list 40 odd hot springs. Though seen mostly from the perspective of possible future power generation it does briefly touch on Mongolian soakers.
'People have used hot springs for bathing and washing clothes since the dawn of civilisation in many parts of the world. In the same way, Mongolia has a considerable experience in health resorts using geothermal water'.
This expression seems to contrast with what seems to be a commonality within Mongolia: the lack of a bathing culture as such. No doubt with the temperature being exceedingly cold most of the year, bathing may not be Mongolians number 1 love. Then again the same temperature must surely make soaking in hot water irresistible to most.

Following is a list of over 40 hot springs which Tseesuren (2001) sums up but to which I've been unable to add any additional info. These little known hot springs are Utaat Minjuur (Domod province (or aimag)), Bol Tal, Chuluut, Tsagaan Sum, Gyalgar, Noyon (all Arkhangai), Tsetsuuh, Zaart, Khojuul, Otgontenger, Ulaan Khaalga (Zavkhan), Euruu (Selenge), Saikhan Khulj (Bulgan), Khamar, Gyatruun, Sharga, Emt (Uvurkhangai), Tsokhiot, Uheg, Örgööt (Bayankhongor), Bulgan (Khovd), Gants mog, Chihert (Bayan Ulgii), Salbart, Urtrag, Tsuvraa and Khunjil (Khuvsgul).

Also note the excellent Bradt Mongolia guide (author Jane Blunden) which has an overview of over 80 hot and cold Mongolian springs (see also appendix).

Zanabazar the zoaker?
While trying to find more on hot springs in Mongolia there's no avoiding Don Croner's
blog on Zanabazar, Mongolia's first Bogd Gegen or religious leader. While living back in the 16th and 17th century, besides relieving spiritual needs, he seems to have been a penchant soaker (see for instance this blogs entry on Qinghai). Happy Mongolia mentions:

'According to tradition, Zanabazar identified up to twenty individual mineral springs here and gave very specific instructions on how they were to be used'.
The same site adds some additional info for the spiritual soaker:
'The best time to use the springs is in the spring or autumn, and and for a full treatment they should be used daily for regimens of twenty-one, twenty-seven, or thirty-one days. Odd-numbered days are considered better. Also, there is one day in each month which is thought to be the most beneficial to use the springs, for example the eighth day of the eighth month, according to the Tibeto-Mongolian lunar calendar'.
I wonder whether more is known about best soaking days. Are they dependent on a lunar calender of sorts?

Zanabazar had a few favourite soaking sites. Don on his travails to retrace Zanabazar steps is often ending at hot springs. The hot spring(s) of Onon (Khentli province) seem a favourite. Don:
'... it was Zanabazar, the First Bogd Gegeen of Mongolia (1635–1723) who reportedly first studied the medicinal properties of the Onon Hot Springs Complex. They are thought to be especially suited for treating lower back problems, which is why Zegvee and I came here. There are nine bathhouses at the Hot Springs, each with water of differing water temperatures. The usual course of treatment is to soak in the cooler hot springs and then proceed to the hotter ones'.
Don does have more info:
'Here are at least fourteen different mineral springs, some of them with boiling-hot water, and several bathhouses. Two of the larger springs, both enclosed by bathhouses, are called Ikh Tsenkher and Baga Tsenkher (“Big Blue” and “Little Blue”), names reportedly given to them by Zanabazar himself, The springs here are famous for treating diseases and afflictions of the lower body: knees (mud packs taken from near the springs are especially good for knee joints), lower back pain, kidney and liver problems, and also rheumatism and sore muscles in general'.
'View of the Hot Springs'
Other info on Onon hot spring:
'The hottest spring of Mongolia is Onon's hot spring with temperature of 70-80°. Its ingredients are chloride, hydro-carbonate, natrium and magnum and it is pellucid liquid that tastes and smells like sulfur-hydroxide.
This spring has been used to cure illnesses such as central and peripheral nerve system diseases, joint diseases, skin diseases, injury and wound.

Setsen khan Sholoi's barn that was built during the 13th century remained till recent time and at that time of khan's only dignitaries used to own the spring and use it in a suitable time of year when it is good for treatment.

Good men who were considered to be heroes of this time used to boil raw frozen meat in this hot spring. At present, people are working to create a comfortable environment at this place and many searches have been made in order to use this hot spring for treatment'.
Another of Zanabazar's haunts was Khujirt (or Khujert, Uvurkhangai aimag).
'Zanabazar was a renowned polymath who applied his energy to the study of a staggering array of subjects. One of his interests was the medicinal properties of hot springs. He is known to have studied the waters of least four hot spring complexes in Mongolia and no doubt he himself took advantage of their curative and restorative powers.
While traveling between the monastery of Baruun Khüree and his workshop at Tövkhon Zanabazar would have had numerous opportunities to stop at the extensive hot springs complex at Khujirt, on the edge of the Orkhon Valley. According to locals it was he who first studied the medicinal properties of these springs. Khujirt, located between what is now the popular tourist attraction of Erdene Zuu and the famous Orkhon Waterfall in the upper Orkhon Valley and easily accessible by road from Ulaan Baatar, is today a major resort with a sanatorium, hotels, and ger camps'.
The above is attributed to the site's highlight of Zanabazar's hot spring hide-outs. Don has more on Khujirt.
Otherwise there is this to add on Khujirt hot spring:

'Khujirt is a sanatorium of hot spring (54.5 C) and mud treatment, found in the territory of Khujirt soum of Ovorkhangai Province at 2660 m ASL, 420 km from Ulaanbaatar, 80 km from Arvaikheer and 54 km from Kharkhorin. The hot spring was used by local people starting from many centuries ago. The water has the smell of sulphur, has no color and it is rich in sodium, calcium. Khujirt is one of the first State sanatorium of Mongolia for treatment of nervous, gynecology, kidney, bone, heart and other ailments. The sanatorium has recently opened a special section for foreign tourists. And there is a tourist ger camp not far from the sanatorium. The area is excellent for hiking'. (source: non-functioning)
Finally it was the hot spring of Estiyn (Yestin) which Zanabazar also frequented.
'While overseeing the construction of Saridag Khiyd (see above-below) from 1654 to 1680 Zanabazar would have ample opportunities to visit Estiyn Rashaan (rashaan = mineral springs) twelve miles to the northwest. According to tradition he identified here up to twenty individual mineral springs and determined the medicinal properties of each. Even now some of the springs have small signs in Tibetan indicating what the water is to be used for, including ailments of the heart, teeth, eyes (one for the left eye and one for the right), nerves, nose, ears, innards, lungs, and so on. There are also two log bath houses with bathing pits. Herdsmen from the Tuul and Kherlen valleys still here by horse to take cures and retreats. My horseman when I visited here told me his cousin came here for seven days after a bad fall from a horse and after bathing daily in the bath houses came away cured. Locals also maintain that bathing in the larger of the baths will atone for big sins, while bathing in the smaller one atones for little sin'.
The most well-known hot spring of Mongolia seems to be
Tsenkher. It even has (had?) it's own organisation, Hot Spring Water’s Efficiency Association, though this seems / seemed more dedicated to exploiting greenhouses than encouraging soaking. The sole references date back to 2008.
Besides the organisation there's also mention made of the following:
'Mongolian “Bridge” Group and Japanese “Tsagaan Sogoo” company established the “Tsenkher Jiguur” tourist camp in 1995 pursuing two main goals, the development of tourism based on a hot spa, which is situated in Tsenkher sum of Arkhangai prefecture and the contribution to the local area development ... Please, take off your clothes first, then have a shower and be clean before you bathing in a hot spring! For hygienic purposes it is regulatory to take bath naked in the hot spa.'
That said, there is little proof of nakedness. On internet at least.

Apparently Tsenkher is increasingly commercially exploited. This organisation runs a 'camp':
'“Tsenkher Jiguur” tourist camp is situated in the north of 480 km-s from Ulaanbaatar capital, in the north west of 120 km-s from Khara Khorum tourism destination. The tourist camp is comfortable one, located in the foot of forestry hills with beautiful nature view, neighboring to hot spa. The camp’s capacity is 20 ger rooms, 7 hotel rooms with heating system, which are capable to provide service for 80 persons simultaneously. There Mongolian and European meals are served in Ger restaurant.
The Japanese styled inside and outside hot spa baths are made with original stones and rocks from the nature, so this bath makes people to feel the real natural spa environment and make them to relax and refresh very well. During bathing in outside spa bath travelers can observe glittering stars in the sky in nighttime. There guests have a nice chance to watch national concert with songs and dances, as well as to participate in camp fire works, are able to be provided with service of beauty saloon, massage and sauna.
The springing out of deep earth hot spa contains simple alkaline structure of sodium of sulphuric acid with phtalic and with temperature of 86.5 degrees warmth. Spouting out speed is 10 liters per a second. This spa is very useful for treating any injuries, wound, radicle, fatique and depression, therefore, guests and indigenous people use it with much respect.
In its surrounding area it is absolutely suitable to explore the picturesque nature view, to pick up flowers, to catch butterflies, arrange hiking, horseback trekking tours. Also it is considerably possible for exploring nomads lifestyle, nomadic civilization, riding yaks, catching horse, making horses calm, milking mares and cows, preparing milk products. In wintertime tourists like to have hot spa bath and trek on snow covered hills. Also in spring time tourists can explore Traditional New Year Holiday-White Month and participate in hunting wolves [!]'.
Relax and refresh with dancing with wolves?
Tsenkher hot spring (source).

Not all is so delightful, take this case:
'The "baths" were dirty (and filled with big Mongolian men), the changing rooms were full of flies (see video), ...'.
One (recent) review on tripadvisor which despite the three stars seems less benevolent in description:
'N47°19'8.8" E101°39'16.8" This tourist gercamp has a new modern design hot spring house with separate inside and outside pools for men and women, although apartheid in the outside pools is not enforced. Staff was clearly absent all the time. Towels too. No cleaning was done at all, and the next day the floors were still dirty. Pools were not being kept at the right temperature. Showers and toilets were malfunctioning. All the camp guests use the only showers working, because there aren't any in the ablution block. Without skilled staffing, proper cleaning and adequate maintenance, this new hot spring house will be out of service in a few years'.
Others tend to disagree:
'I’d give Tsenkher hotsprings a 9 out 10'.
'Teel Rashaan (Hot Springs) on the Olziit River. Water is said to be good for digestive problems'. Photo by Don Croner.

On the map
Lesser well known are the following hot springs.
(Tuv province):
'Estii rashaan is a hot spring (+34°c) in the valley of the Estii River'.(source)
Khuremt (Uvurkhangai province):
'The Khuremt hot spring has been used since ancient times. Components include bicarbonate and sodium. The maximum temperature of the water reaches 58.8C. There are 10 streams, and the spa water is used for extremities and nervous diseases'. source
Mogoit or Khangain Tsagaan Chuluu (Uvurkhangai province):
'Khangain Tsagaan Chuluu. Is a picturesque white and marble rock on the south east side of the hot spa at Mogoit. It is over 10 meters high taken by someone because of worshipped rock'. (source: link no longer working)
There are also a few photo's on flickr (not interesting enough(?) to repost here). 

Is Mogod the same (Bulgan aimag):
'Elegant Private Stone Bath at the Hot Spring Resort in Mogod, Bulgan Aimag. The facilities, while rustic are very well maintained and the water is fantastic. The only hot spring I've visited in Mongolia that is comparable to a Japanese Onsen. The rooms are simple but comfortable, the gers not quite as nice. Very few foreign tourists, but lots of Mongolian families. The valley setting is lovely. Highly recommended'. Source
Taats (Tsaats?) hot spring has received funding from UNDP's GEF to initiate 'development'. Also located in Uvurkhangai province.

Teel hot spring (see photo above this paragraph) is located in Bayankhongor province.
Shivert (Arkhangai province) seems to be Mongolia's only really developed hot spring. Visit the website of Hasu Shivert resort (devloped doesn't necessarily imply that website is maintained ...) to find the following text:
'Shivert Resort provides state-of-the art wellness center built around natural hot springs. Our staff team is dedicated to answer all your questions and needs during your stay. Newly renovated facility [2009] includes outdoor pools, natural treatment centers, sports facilities, large conference and dining rooms all in the middle of wilderness of Mongolia'.
Despite the development, not much to be found.
Khaluun us (or Tsenkheriin, Zavkhan province):
'...remarkable Hot Spa of Tsenkheriin Khaluun Us , which is now serving as a health spa for tourists, it lies 30 kms south of Tsetserleg town. The water of Tsenkheriin Khaluun Us spring is remarkably hot at +86.5 C and contains hydrogen sulfide'. (source)

Photo by smee:
'Mongolia. Hot Spa of Tsenkheriin Khaluun Us - 30 kilometers south of Tsetserleg town. The Shiveet Mankhan tourist camp in the back'.
Bulnai (Khuvsgul province) hot spring resort is described as
'... offering simple cabins around a former Soviet resort'.
A first hand experience:
'I was thinking more of a geyser in the ground - the 'springs' were situated in little wooden huts and were basically just a rectangular hole cut in the wooden floor containing very hot water. The baths came in temperature grades of 38, 43 and 48 degrees centigrade and although you were not permitted to take in soap or shower gel, we spent a good 30 minutes just soaking and trying to expunge the dirt we had accumulated from the previous few days' riding'.
AsiatoEurope2011 in Bulnai (note many springs are hotter):
'Here we are in 28C:'

Bugat hot spring (Bayan Ulgii province) is a hot spring not included in Tseesuren's (2001) list. This web site once added (not working anymore) to the precise coordinates:
'It is a hydro carbonat sulfas natrii hot spring'.
Tsagaan gol (Bayan Ulgii province):
'Locals come to this hot spring to have medical baths and drink the water. There are small wooden houses for hot baths'. source
Commercial property?
The hot spring of Jargalant sum (or Jalga, presumed to be in Khuvsgul province; Jargalan / Khunjil?):
'This hot spring smells and tastes little bit sulfate, transparent, it flows through various stones, like kidney-stones, very thick placed sandy soil. Nearby beautiful high mountains and amazing forest, which has different trees, like pines, ebony, asp, cedar are around the hot spring. Temperature of the hot spring’s water is 45-50C hot'.(source)
More info:
'Jargal Jiguur hot springs, sulphar springs that emerge from the ground (150m) at 70 degrees Celsius. Facilities include outdoor baths (male and female), showers and accommodation'.
It does seem that Jargal Jiguur was the commercial name for Khunjil, the prize winning text of which goes as follows:
'Nestled amid 70 Celsius natural mineral springs, with a knowledgeable, friendly, and professional staff, Jargal Jiguur offers an amazing spa experience. At this premier choice of Jargal Jiguur spas, cascading waters nurture more than skin and body -- they soothe the heart and soul. Visit our recently renovated, Japanese-style spa. Select from a bountiful array of soothing treatments from full body massages to anti-fatigue treatments. Whether you desire a dip in one of our naturally heated mineral spas or a private massage, you ’ll enjoy it in soul-relaxing fashion at our Jargal Jiguur hot springs spa resort'.
Could it be Khunjil?
'Khunjil (mostly known Jargal) is a natural hot spring flows out whole year from the ground at 70 Celsius degree in mountainous North Mongolia. It is located 1580m a.s.l and in 730 km from Ulaanbaatar capital city, over 180 km south-west of Murun town in Khuvsgul province and 5 km south west Jargalant village'.  
The same source adds:
'There is only one tourist camp which is offering for tourists outdoor baths. They transfer the hot water via tubes and built some pools. Curative water and amazing nature featured by wooden mountains make this an excellent place for relax. Night bath is great. Sitting in the pool drinking while seeing stars at the dark sky is one of the favorite activity in here. The open air-baths are recommended'.
Shargaljuut hot spring is a more often visited and more developed hot spring in Bayankhongor aimag. This web site describes Shargaljuut as 'well-known' and 'popular among Mongolians'.

And now we return to the aforementioned vision of soaking in Mongolia. This blogger had a different vision (oh, link not working):
'Upon entering the Shargaljuut springs, it immediately struck us that it was not as developed as we had hoped for. We had dreamt of large pools of water, immaculate service and Russian saunas. None of that. We had to cross some smaller rivers, made it this time, and ended up in a very basic ger camp. The hot springs are symbolic for the Mongol approach. Leaking tubes, old wooden gers, rundown buildings, unclear directions and too many people just hanging about. A hot spring was nothing more than a standard bath in a ger, to be filled with water. However, it must be said the water was fantastic and we felt like new'.
Lazy overachiever has also something to say on Shargaljuut and it is not a thank you to Lonely Planet! But nothing about gers. This website adds a photo which shows both gers as well as a building or two:

The Dutch broadcaster BNN has  a visit to what they attribute as the Tsenkher hot spring, which seems very incorrect as it is quite obviously Shargaljuut. This is the video, the visit starts at 2:20. Floortje Dessing arrives in high spirits but after seeing the docter and the poor state of facilities might have chickened out were she not there to fill her programme ...

 It also has a Facebook site (188 likes)!

'Our private hot spring bath: luxury old school Russian bath tubs hiding inside'.
Shargaljuut, taken in 2005 by Martijnopdemotor.

[Updated August 2013]

Tseesuren, B. (2001) Geothermal Resources in Mongolia and Potential Uses. United Nations University. Geothermal Training Programme. Reports 2001, no. 15. Reykjavík, Iceland

Mongolia's hot springs as according to Blunden (2008). Note that she also lists many other springs which may well be hot. But here are those she does mention specifically:
Övörkhangai aimag: Khujirt, Mogoit, Khüremt, Emt; 
Arkhangai aimag: Shivert; 
Bayankhongor: Shargaljuut, Örgööt, Ükheg; 
Khövsgöl: Bulnai; 
Zavkhan: Otgontenger, Ulaankhaalga, Zart; 
Bulgan: Khulj; 
Selenge: Yestiin Gol, Yöröö; 
Khovd: Nevt, Bulgan; 
Bayan-Ölgii: Gantsmod; 
Khentii: Onongiin Ikh Rashaan; 
Dornod: Utaatminchüür

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Hot pot
In the area to the northwest of Kathmandu, south of the Ganesh Himal and Manaslu, a few less well-known hot springs can be found.
Jharlang hot spring is to be found in the district of Dhading, not so far from from Kathmandu. Jharlang takes it name from the village with the same name. It's a day and a half walk from the district capital of Dhading Besi (source).

Further far away is the hot spring of Chalise (Charlise, Chalish). There is this discription:
'Today we will get rest in the village as we have long way up and down to and will have good communication but there are some sight visiting place called Tatopani where the hot spring. The pot is not very big but it is naturally hot. There are three pond at the same place will take 1:30 hours from the Chalise village'.
Could this be the hot spring:

In Gorkha district we learn (should be past tense: the link is broken! ... sigh) there are two hot springs:
'Tatopani hot water spring site (at 3,300ft) half an hour from Khorlabensi [Khola Besi], Machha Khola village hot spring on the other side of Bun [Buri] Gandaki'.
Both hot springs are located along the Budi Gandaki river. 

See the photo below by Mann Gurung, simply entitled 'Tatopani':

'That night we stop in a town called Tatopani, meaning “hot water”. The village is exploiting a nearby hot spring and that’s where it takes its name from. Before nightfall, I go down to the river. We have never been this close to Buri Gandaki. I find a nice spot on the rocks to sit and look at the blue-greenish alpine water. I stare at the patterns forming in whitewater, just fascinated for a moment. Before I know it, the sun has gone. Time for me to go as well'.
Me briefs on tatopani but walks faster than the first quote above:
'there is a small hot spring 20 min further'. 
There is though little info on the specific hot spring on the other side of Buri Gandaki. 

Possibly the same but possibly not, an art lover details:
'Just south of the town of Arughat, along the Buri Gandaki River in central Nepal there is a small hot spring which has been channelled into a public bath. Next to this bath are two small buildings which over the centuries were used as Buddhist and then Hindu shrines'.
Just so as not to confuse: Arughat hot spring near Arughat. Tatopani hot spring between Machha Khola and Khola Besi. Unless I have them mixed up ...

HOT spring in Tatopani from perfilov

Saturday, April 6, 2013

 'Tatopani hot spring'
The Tatopani, northwest of Dhunche, Nepal. From the photobucket page of Bramsam.

'Baignade dans des thermes naturels'
Tirthapuri hot springs, west Tibet. From en roues libres

Borong hot spring, Sikkim, India. From the webstagram account of skoisirius :
'Discovered the #Borong #HotSprings today. After one of the bumpiest rides on #twowheels ever, around 20 clicks later, we ended up at a huge hole in the road and had to walk from there. 40 minutes through a Nepalese #Shire (not joking) we hit the river and right next to it, this simple, yet #natural #pool of lovely #sulfury water. Our soakmates: #Sikkimese , #Nepalese , and #Bhutane , in which a few of the younger men spoke decent enough English for small talk. The hike back up through the Shire was an hour and a half long and decently intense ventute, but with the help of a local man, we located our transpo and were off on a whole different adventure getting back to #Ravangla. Quite the rewarding and overall incredible day! Stoke. | #Sikkim #India #Globetrotter #Winning #Travels #AreWeStillInIndia'

Baltistan, Hot Springs'.
From the flickr page of  Gaetano Pezzella

A child enjoying the hot springs at Malki, Kamchatka [Russia]'
From the flickr account of  Jorgen Dalen

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Soaking Snippets

An avid follower would have noticed that gradually all blog entries are being updated / corrected / reworked / expanded. But this is a very slow process so I want to add a short photographic overview of recent Himal finds.


Puga hot water springs  
 Puga Natural hot water springs [Ngari, Tibet]. geothermal spot. Look at hand of man every where on earth. Its covered with a drum and some old clothes. And as usual some pepsi bottles. This is a rich source of sulphur. Soon this spot will be eaten up by some chemical industry. 

(Source from flickr: Rithwik)

Hot springs near Dzogchen Valley [Sichuan]
(Source: Denis Lipatov
Tub [Kirgistan]
Source: Roberto de La Tour on flickr

Somewhere in Lamjung, Nepal. From Buzz Nepal Treks Facebook page.

Besides the ferry crossing, we had heard that somewhere in Gele [Yunnan] there were hot springs. When we found it, the single spring turned out to be a bit of a sad affair. There had obviously once been a structure built around the spring. The walls still stood — although they were in serous disrepair — but the roof had long ago disappeared.
It was actually a refreshing change when compared to Kunming's dolled-up hot spring spas. This single water hole was rustic, quiet and we had it to ourselves. We settled slowly into the scalding water and collectively let out a sigh. After three days on bikes and three nights of near-freezing temperatures, the water was heavenly.
From the blog.

Ugyen's family sits inside one of the four bath tubs. Grandfather and grandmother soak themselves and scrub one another inside the bath while the children amuse themselves. The bath is partitioned in a way so that the doh can not enter the main bathing vessel, protecting each body from contact with the scalding stones. 
A hot stone bath, a tradition from Bhutan. From the blog of A Year of Blue Poppies