How To Travel to Potanin Glacier

Located on the Western most point of Mongolia in Bayan-Ulgii Province, the Potanin Glacier is the longest glacier in the country.

Potanin Glacier

Located within the Altai Tavan Bogd National Park “the five sacred mounts of Altai”, near the triple border with China and Russia, the road to reach the glacier is simply extreme. A 4WD vehicle and an experienced driver are recommended. Avoid driving in this area if unpaved mountain roads aren't your strong point. The glacier is about 14 kilometres long and located through in the Altai Tavan Bogd mountain in Altai Mountains. It’s named after explorer Grigory Potanin. There is usually snow until end of May. It starts snowing again in October, though it can drop below freezing at night even in August. This track can get very muddy and slippery after rain making it challenging to get through. During and after a storm the road may be impassable, even with a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Rainy season is from mid of July to Mid of August.

4x4 vehicles only. This trail passes through remote areas, so you need to be prepared. If you dare to take the risk and travel along this dusty and bumpy route, then make sure to be driven by someone who has experience of the road. The vast steppes and great distances in Mongolia make road trips mandatory. Bumping over rutted dirt trails across open plains and ploughing through mud-soaked river valleys is part of the adventure leading to Tavan Bogd. Driving a Furgon, a Russian ex-military jeep, is a popular choice especially when grunt overrides grace. It’s common to reach the glacier with a UAZ-425 (pronounced “Wuzz”), a relic of 1960s Soviet engineering but which could go absolutely anywhere provided its engine was not overheating. Because of its shape, it is colloquially known as the “bukhanka”, which means “loaf”.

This road tests the skill, and courage, of any driver. It ends at 3.095m (10,154ft) above the sea level. The area is extremely inaccessible, as it is situated right at the border of Mongolia with Russia, Kazakhstan and China. The rugged and remote far reaches of western Mongolia are a series of wild landscapes capped by glacier-wrapped mountains, divided by green river valleys and shadowed by soaring peaks. Don't forget your camera with lots of film/memory, fully charged batteries and an empty memory card! The scenery in this remote area is stunning. Clear rivers fed by ice-melt tumble down the valleys, a rainbow assortment of wildflowers carpet grassy meadows and white peaks dominate the skyline.