Lake Hovsgol (also spelled Khuvsgul, Hövsgöl, Khövsgol, and a variety of other ways) is the largest freshwater lake in Mongolia by volume and second largest by area. Located in northern Mongolia near the Russian border, it is very deep and very cold. I took the plunge and can say without question that Lake Hovsgol is the coldest body of water I have ever been in. Submerging my head was like sticking ice picks into my brain.
I took this photo at a tourist ger camp — “ger” is the Mongolian word for yurt — some distance up the western shore of the lake. It was a remote spot: To get there, we flew from Ulaanbaatar to the tiny airport at Murun, and then bumped along a dirt track for four hours to reach Khatgal, the community at the southern end of the lake. From there we took a rusty old boat up the lake to the camp itself.
One evening at the camp I stepped out of my ger to see this full moon shining through a thin layer of clouds onto the smooth surface of the water, a lone tree silhouetted against the deep blue of the darkening sky. Despite the challenges of low light and my lack of a tripod, I eventually managed to capture this shot.