Hauntingly Beautiful and Vast
Gobi simply means “desert,” and of all the world’s arid lands, this remote region – lying between Siberia to the north and the Tibetan Plateau to the south – has the greatest air of mystery. Stretching for 1,000 miles west to east, the Gobi is divided politically into two sections: half in Mongolia proper and half in the area of northern China called Inner Mongolia. Either side can be visited, but the Mongolian side has a little more romance and several million fewer people.
Contrary to the sterile sameness that the word “desert” may suggest, the Gobi holds many fascinations, and not just paleontological. It is a place of subtle colors that change with the day’s light, of stark skies and vast spaces, an utterly silent landscape punctuated by the occasional ger (yurt), the Mongolians’ round, white, tentlike homes.
These cheerful people, who subsist on the animals they herd, are naturally generous, feeding and feting foreign guests who show up at their door unannounced. Their simple lifestyle continues in quiet, unspoiled isolation, much as it has for thousands of years.