South Mongolia – The Endless Desert
The barren, unforgiving enormity of the Gobi can be overwhelming. However, this expanse of largely empty land has many hidden charms – literally so in the shape of its legendary dinosaur fossils. The area’s endlessly atmospheric shifting dunes, gaping canyons and two-humped camels are just as likely to move you in one way or another. Jutting out of the surrounding flatness, Bayanzag is the site of countless dinosaur bone and egg finds.
It’s also home to the ‘flaming cliffs’ – twice a day, these steep rock faces take on a fiery appearance when struck by the rising and setting sun. On the other end of the temperature scale, the ice-filled gorge at nearby Yolyn Am is a year-round testament to the brutally low winter temperatures in this area. It’s easiest to get to both from provincial capital Dalanzadgad. Further west you’ll find Khongoryn Els, a collection of 300m-high dunes with peerless views of the desert stretching off in every direction arrive early for untouched dunes.
This is also the best place to take a ride on a double-humped bactrian (or Gobi) camel. A herder is likely to approach you when you arrive. Further wildlife can be hard to spot as animals can see you from far away, but snow leopards, Asiatic wild asses and Gobi bears all make their home in the desert. The Gobi is difficult to traverse without your own transport or as part of a tour. Never leave a town without a full supply of food and water.