Camels and Sand Dunes

We left our hot showers (after one more morning quickie) and headed out into the Central Area of the Gobi Desert. We are passing the Red Stupas on the way. They look much like the White Stupas except not nearly as large. As usual Baisa had to do a few tricks for us, such a camera hog, you would just not believe.

 

Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park

After this brief pause, it was on to the first stop that is high in a National Park, The Gobi Gurvan Saikhan, also known as the Three Beauties. The park has the only active Glacier in the southern half of Mongolia. While it is small, it is amazing that it never totally thaws, even in the heat of the Great Gobi. To reach the glacier you must walk about 4 KM through a narrow gorge. The route is full of chipmunks and ground squirrels of all types and with luck you may get to see one of the large Ibex rams that inhabit the gorge. Unlucky for us, we were not able to see one on this trip. At the end of the gorge you will find the small ice flow. During the summer the water beneath the ice is running but the ice is still thick enough to walk and slide on. The entire area is one of the most beautiful we encountered in Mongolia.

Glacier Gorge

Glacier in the Gobi

After a night in our Ger at the Three Beauties we were off in the van for what proved to be the roughest ride of the entire trip. 300 KM through the desert that is carved each year by the melting snows of winter and the landscape is one huge mess to cross. A short burst of speed then slam on the brakes for the next wash out and this goes on for the entire 300 KM.

Sand Dunes in the Gobi

 

Our destination is the huge Khongoryn Els Sand Dunes. The dunes are 200 meters high, 12 miles wide and about 150 miles long. We will be staying with a good friend of Oyuna who is a camel and goat herder. He will be taking us on the Gobi dunes part of the adventure. His family gers are located at the bottom of the highest peaks in the dunes. A great place to climb for a spectacular view of the entire region. The climb up is about 200 meters and takes from 40 minutes to as much as 120 minutes depending on your stamina. The last half of the climb is pretty much is done on hands and knees, much too steep to walk up. When you finally reach the summit you are at the top of a razor thin area and to stand, you must have a foot on either side. After the long hike up you just want to stay at the top for as long as possible looking at the view of the other side. The ‘run down the dunes’ is much more enjoyable and a lot faster. After two days of hiking and riding camels in the sand it is time to now head to a place known as BAYANZAG / FLAMING CLIFFS.

Sand Dunes

 

Flaming Cliffs

Flaming Cliffs

The ride to the cliffs, while not as bad as the road into the dunes, was still very rough. After clearing the first mountain pass we were back on the flat steppe floor and flying along through the well traveled ruts with another van we had picked up at the dunes. The two travelers, Fiona and Shawn, are from Australia. They had contracted a driver only and had trouble with their van every day since the start of the trip several days before. They decided to travel along with us in case of more problems. We made great time and then started hitting more and more rain. In the steppes, rain means instant problems. We had to stop and help pull several vans out of the mud along the way to the cliffs.

 

 

The cliffs are famous in Mongolia for the huge amount of dinosaur bones and fossils that have been dug out of the soft red clay. The ger village we stayed in had a small complete dinosaur that the owner had dug out by himself long before it became a protected area. The flaming name comes from the brilliant red of the clay at sunset. We spent the afternoon at the cliffs and then went back to the Gers for dinner and a movie on the computer.

Monastery Ruins

 

Next on our route was the Saikhan Ovoo which is a small village in the Middle Gobi province. Near a sharp curve in the river you will find the remains of two old monasteries ruins, the Barlim Khiid is located on the north bank and the Khutagt Khiid located on the south bank. Originally monastery had about 500 monks and was erected in the late 18th century as dedication in honor of the first visit to Mongolia by a Dalai Lama. The monastery was reopened in 1990 and current Dalai Lama visited in 1992.

River 1

 

It was the more enjoyable stop in the Gobi with a small river that we camped by with wild sheep occasionally showing themselves on the mountains around the campground. This would be our last stop in the Gobi and we would be on to the waterfall and the Mountains of the North.

All our photographs that we process will be published here.

Comments

  1. Wow! All these sceneries are great and beautiful. I have never imagined that this place is as great as this. I think Gobi offers adventures and experience that we can never have thought of.

  2. Correct me if I am wrong but is Gobi the capital of Mongolia? Sorry for not knowing because to me for the longest time Mongolia is off the map when vacations are discussed.

  3. Wow! Everything looks beautiful; I’m especially stunned by the sand dunes. Selfie lovers would be in heaven in this trail.

  4. The picture quality of these places are top notch. Makes me curious what are the techniques involved in this? Of course makes me want to visit Mongolia as a country.

  5. Beautiful pics! Gee I envy you guys! I could never have the courage to go to these places. Maybe someday I will. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Blogs have really evolved these days. Nowadays we can find great in-depth travel content like this, not just some pictures of cat posts. This is very educational and can even be highlighted in some history classes. Will share your blog, more people need to be exposed to it!

  7. Oh My!!! such a great place to visit… the Great Gobi Desert… how come i never heard about this place before?! this must really be remote and hard to go to… seems like one should be an outdoorsey to be able to survive this trip… but as the pictures show… the place really looks promising… the sand dunes… the lakes… the vast green lands… i must look for more info about mongolia… for i might want to go here someday…

  8. never knew MONGOLIA had sand dunes and such beautiful lakes… scenery that would melt your heart away… this is really one for the list of places one should visit before they die… and the pictures attached are just mesmerizing… there are alot of nice places around the world… and i think… making blogs about them helps us see the hidden wonders of the world…

  9. That’s must be real fascinating to walk on the frozen ice while the water is still running underneath it. To be quite honest I think I would be afraid to do that. What if it cracks! 0_0

  10. Once again some really great pictures! Climbing those massive sand dunes must have been exhausting! The way the sand just moves out from underfoot, you take one step and slide back halfway! But yeah, coming back down would be fun!

  11. Such amazing photos taken! You really brought the scenery to life. The sand dunes look so amazing. I can’t wait to go there next year,

  12. I’m an avid fishing fan. Seeing those bodies of water in the pictures, it makes me wonder if those are any good for the sport. If I see more pictures of bodies of water in that place that have the potential for fishing, I just might drop by in the near future. I would love to tell my buddies that I went fishing in the desert!

  13. I imagine the crazy 300km road trip is not comfortable but it would be worth it knowing that you have such wonderful view of nature. I would love to visit this place someday thank you for sharing. I have always thought of Mongolia as cold and ice covered, now I can see that there is also a colorful time of the year.

  14. I agree these landmarks looks stunning ans MOngolia has been ff the grid as far as vacation spots are concern so good job highlighting this. Mongolia has come a long way since its dark Geghis khan era.

  15. The Monastery Ruins picture reminds me of the Anglo-Saxons period where men will let their horses drink from that river. Makes you wonder if there are any weapons or something of value thrown in there. Who wants to have a camping trip there and some treasure hunt there with me? haha

  16. I never saw deserts as a beautiful place until now. Thank you for making me realize my ignorance and for the visual aids that opened my eyes!

  17. I’m rather ignorant about deserts. The only words I think about when hearing the word desert are: hot, sand, dry, dehydration, sunburn, hallucination, snakes, death. Also, those pictures look amazing! What camera did you use to take those?

  18. Wow. That is absolutely gorgeous. It’s breathtaking! For some reason whenever I decide to go travelling Mongolia always pops into my head. I just never know where to go! There isn’t enough info online about it. Thanks to you guys this might be the next destination for me!

  19. Wow, all your photographs look stunning, especially that of the sand dunes. I am curious to see the flaming cliffs at sunset. I bet it would be such a majestic view. Mongolia seems like a good place to visit if you’re looking for great adventure. Thank you for sharing this! Definitely adding this place to my travel bucket list.

  20. Sounds like a very eventful and scenic trip. Even just looking at pictures of the dunes and the water makes me feel very at ease.

  21. Wow such a surreal adventure! Sand dunes and flaming cliffs?! Never been to either but the photos I’m sure don’t do it justice enough!

  22. A journey across the Gobi desert has been on my radar ever since I took to traveling. Mongolia as a country has always fascinated me more because it still remains a widely unexplored place. Seeing your pictures, especially of the flaming cliffs, makes me more curious about the place

  23. Hello,

    I’ve never been to Gobi Desert, but read lots of interesting news about it, and your post adds to interesting ones. I think desert also gives that mysterious beauty just like the other tourist spots.

    This would be a perfect location for fashion shoot with Arabian night-theme 🙂 Kudos!

  24. Your adventures seems to be great. I had visited deserts years ago in Dubai and would love to visit Mongolia (since its near my place as well. ) . You have some amazing photographs accompanying your post.

  25. I have visited the same places as you, during my trip to Gobi Desert. I was impressed by Yolyn Am, even if the ice was melted and I could only see bits of snow towards the end. I didn’t see the rams either but I did have an encounter with a brown snake that made my heart jump. Snakes are one of my biggest fobias.

    1. Thanks for the nice post Joanna. Sorry about the snake in Mongolia scarrier you. We did not find any while we were there. Planning on taking a trip back next in 2018 to tour the western part of the country then attend the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan.

    1. You can rush all over and see the central part of Mongolia in 14 days which is where everything we have in our 4 posts on Mongolia. The western part of the country is more spectacular and we are returning next year for another month. Should you really want to see the central area and spend a little time in Ulaanbaatar you can do it in 21 days and really enjoy yourself. I would not take one of the group tours, go on the Mongolia Forum in trip advisor and hire a private driver where you can do things a little slower. That will save you money on the tour as well. Check out all of our pictures of Mongolia at http://aroadtophotography.net/our-portfolio/

  26. Mongolia is high on my bucket list. Can’t wait to spend much time there and preferably on a horse!! Great Gobi adventure seems like an amazing trip. Would love to see the Glacier.

  27. Mongolia is still such a pristine country when it comes to natural landscapes, that’s why it’s extremely high in my bucket list! And your gorgeous photos made me want to go there even more. I’ve never been to a desert, maybe the first one I go to could really be Gobi, who knows! 🙂

  28. Have not read too much about the Gobi Desert and well, did not know it was so beautiful either. One side you have red cliffs, other desert dunes and yet another you have a lovely river flowing. Gobi is full of surprises. Thanks for sharing these.

  29. Firstly these images are stunning ! I love deserts so would love to visit the Gobi one day.Interesting fact about the dinosaur bones that the villager dug out. The journey seems tiring but so worth it.

  30. It looks like you had a very nice day around Mongolia! I have to say that of this post, what I liked the most were the dunes. I don’t know why but I have always found them very mysterious, they are basically mountains that appear and disappear at their convenience… Anyway, Lovely post, and another addition to my neverending wish list

  31. Your captures of the landscape itself are mind-boggling and can lure anyone to visit Mongolia. The sand dunes sound real huge and climbing them looks an experience in itself with rewarding views. Interesting to know that the Flaming Cliffs are popular for the dinosaur bones found.

  32. Wow, this looks absolutely stunning! I have always had this weird fascination with Mongolia (such an interesting destination!), and now I really want to go! The Flaming Cliffs looks absolutely stunning. I think I now might just stalk your blog a wee bit more to figure out how/why you decided to go there 🙂

  33. This is one of the travel trails I have had in mind for years, are you doing it with all the family? How long is your stay/trip going to last? Which was your starting point and where are you finishing? Have you rented the camper? I would love a post about the logistics and getting ready for this trip!

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