If visiting Mongolia, and absolute must is a Gobi Desert Trip. I met a few ladies on the internet and we booked a trip through Khonghor Guesthouse.
Our group of 5 ladies, a driver, guide, and our Russian van stopped to stock up on groceries in the capital city before we slowly made our way to the Gobi Desert. While you might see actual roads on the maps of Mongolia, these roads were just dirt tracks. Signs, directions, and mile markers are non-existent.
On our first day, we crossed through beautiful grasslands.
we stopped for lunch at a remote diner.
We saw a monastery in a small town,
and slept on the floor during our “family stay” – a first of 6 nights in yurts. It was spooky driving in nearly complete darkness to find this nomad family’s home and we were lucky to find the place. The night, we ate some goodies the family made for us (cheese, hard bread cookies, and mutton leg) and glared at the starry night.
On day two, we started seeing desert views.
We stopped to have fermented mares milk at a farm/yurt.
We stopped to eat camel ice cream
and got to see a mini-Nadaam (a local wrestling match).
Next, we were on to the Flaming Cliffs. Dinosaur fossils and eggs have been found there.
At the yurt camp, Jolly and I sat outside to watch the sunset and lots of goats travel thru the campsite.
On day three, we had a long drive. We stopped in a small town for treats. Every store seems to have Coke and Snickers Bars.
We stopped for a bathroom break amongst millions of blooming purple desert chives in the cracked orange earth. I smelled like we were peeing in a salad!
We made our way to the Khonghor sand dunes. I love sand dunes and these didn’t disappoint. It had been so hot in previous days and I was worried about the climb to the top of the dunes, but this day had stayed cloudy all day. We rode camels to the end of the dunes.
And then climbed almost an hour in steep, soft sand to the top and to our luck, the sun started to come out and provide ups with a sunset over the dunes.
I slid down the dunes on my butt in about 1/25th of the time it took me to climb up and walked to camp for the dinner our guide had made for us. She was a little angry that we weren’t on time but we had to take advantage of the interesting sunset that night.
On day four, only Edna and I got up at 5am to watch the sunrise against the dunes. This was probably the most amazing sunrises I have ever seen. The colors just kept on changing – I’ve never seen something like this.
We returned to the yurt camp for breakfast and then continued to Yol valley, a valley of springs and ice (although the last of the ice had melted the week before)
Our stay that night was another goat farm.
On day five, we continued to Dalandgazad, the largest “city” in the Gobi Desert and had lunch at a cafe, a chance to take a shower and a look around the town.
We stopped and camped at the “White Stupa” – basically a painted desert.
By evening we stayed at a camel farm. It was fun to watch the baby camels drink milk from the mommas. As the sunset, I tried to get the perfect photograph of a camel and the setting sun. The camels didn’t make it easy, but some of these shots are too bad.
On day six, we stopped in another Gobi city for lunch.
We stopped at Chulu, caves and ruined monastery.
Our camp this night was a goat farm amongst interesting pancake rocks. It poured rain in the evening – enough that the yurt was leaking.
On day seven, we stopped for Airag, or mare’s milk at the yurt home of one of our driver’s friends. They handed me a huge bowl of the stuff and I really tried to drink it but my stomach was telling me “NO!”. I managed to down about 1/4th of the fermented drink. Later we stopped at a roadside diner for more of that mutton noodle hot dish. I wasn’t feeling well to begin with but when I looked at my dish and realized there were several black human hairs in it, I lost it. I ran as fast as I could out of the restaurant into the grass and started to throw-up. Just as I was finishing, I looked up to realize a Mongolian cowboy, complete in a long coat, boots, and hat was looking at me. Imagine what he was thinking. Probably shaking his head and thinking those tourists.
Overall, it was a fantastic Gobi Desert trip with gorgeous sites.
Traveled Aug, 2012