Jul 05 2008

What We Did in the Gobi

Published by at 3:10 am under Gobi,Mongolia

After a couple of nights in Ulaan Baatar, we went to the Gobi Desert for a few days. Here are some highlights.

Our flight to the Gobi had been scheduled for 6:15am but we received notice the night before that it had been moved to 4:15. As if 6:15 wasn’t early enough. This meant we would be picked up at the hotel at 2:15am. Ugh. We arrived in the Gobi about 6am and on the way from the airport to our ger camp, we stopped at Yolyn Am canyon (named after the bearded vultures that are prevalent here).  We did a 2K hike into canyon.  The canyon is well known for having ice in its shaded/narrow parts even in summer. We weren’t disappointed:


We also saw two ibex from a distance, and lots of pika and ground squirrels.  After leaving the canyon, we drove about an hour to the Three Camel Lodge and chilled out.  Given our early morning start, it felt great to do nothing for a while. The lodge is really nice, with great staff and great food. Our ger was very comfortable and even had its own half bathroom. Here is a picture of the camp:


We were supposed to see a performance of traditional music that night at the lodge but when the musicians arrived, one of the musical instruments was broken so they apologized profusely and canceled the show.  We didn’t get a chance to see the performance on another evening because the activities we chose required us to be away from the lodge at that time.

The next day, we both got massages in the morning and then after lunch, we took a 4-hour drive to the Khongoryn Els sand dunes. It was a long and bumpy ride. We got a flat tire along the way but our driver (named Mongol Boy – seriously) changed it in no time:


We hiked a little ways up the sand dunes until it started to rain and get really windy. It was so windy that the sand stung when it blew against our skin. Our guide Badmaa said she had never seen it rain at the dunes before.  Dave got some nice shots and the rain made interesting patterns on the dunes as well as colors in the sky at sunset:



We got home at 12:30 am. Because the roundtrip was 8 hours, we heard the entire contents of Mongol Boy’s MP3 player about 4 times.  We started to learn some songs by a famous Mongolian singer named Javkhlan:


Here is a video on YouTube for one of the songs we learned.  It shows some aspects of Mongolian life that we saw when we were there.  His music sounds like a cross between traditional Mongolian music and pop ballads.  His voice is great – very deep and rich. It’s hard to believe he’s only in his 20s.

The next day was our last full day. We relaxed in the morning and then after lunch we drove to Bayanzag (The Flaming Cliffs).  We spent the afternoon with a herding family with seven children: 5 girls and 2 twin boys whom we quickly named Trouble #1 and Trouble #2. After eating camel yogurt, dried goat and noodle soup, and camel curd, we then went outside to watch the mother milk the camels. Thank goodness we saw this after we had eaten the camel products. 🙂 She was a real trooper. While handling 7 children and the chores, she was suffering from a broken rib but still had a beautiful smile on her face and was a gracious hostess. Here is a picture of us with the mom and dad:


Here is a picture of Trouble #2 and his pet:


After leaving the family’s ger, we spent sunset at the Flaming Cliffs, named because they turn an intense red at the end of the day. This day was July 4th and we were told that seeing the cliffs would be a good substitute for fireworks. It wasn’t. But it was nice:


On the way home, we listened to more of Mongol Boy’s music. Besides Javkhlan, he had some Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, Fergie, Michael Jackson, Elton John, and Alicia Keys on his MP3 player. Quite the interesting mix. It was fun when he started singing along with the Spice Girls song (Viva Forever).

The next morning, we had an early start to fly back to Ulaan Baatar.

– Dave & Meredith

One response so far

One Response to “What We Did in the Gobi”

  1. Hank says:


    Your photos and blog of the Gobi are amazing. Call me when you return so I can hear some of the yet to be published stories. Keep posting photos!

    Happy travels.

    Hank B.