The Mongolian Gobi Desert is one of the most mysterious and unique places in the world. Mongolian Gobi is a vast zone of the Gobi Desert and desert steppe. There are 33 different geographic zones in the Gobi of which sandy desert occupies only 3 percent of the total area. The Gobi is often imagined as a lifeless desert, similar to the African Sahara Desert. In reality most of the Gobi is a land of steppes and many camel breeders inhabit this zone that is rich in wildlife and vegetation. The Gobi is surprisingly full of wildlife such as two-humped Bactrian camel, wild Argali sheep, ibex, wild camel, khulan wild ass, white and black tailed gazelle, snow leopard, endangered Gobi bear “mazaalai”. The Gobi Desert was the site of some of the most famous dinosaur fossil discoveries including the world’s first dinosaur egg nests some of which can be seen in the Museum of Natural History in Ulaanbaatar. There are many things to do in the Gobi: climb the highest sand dunes, see the beautiful Gobi sunset, visit a camel breeder’s family, enjoy camel riding, trek in the green oasis, explore Dinosaur Lands’ Flaming Cliffs where the first dinosaur egg nests were found or other areas of Dinosaur Lands, and hike in Bearded Eagle’s Canyon, the coolest place of the Gobi even in the hot summer and many more.
Khongor Sand Dunes
The beautiful Khongor Els Sand Dunes with an extraordinary length of 180 kilometers and 15-20 meters wide lie on the northern part of the mountains of Sevree and Zuulen. The huge sand dunes are part of the desert zone that make up around 3% of Mongolian territory. The sound produced by masses of sand movement in the wind can be heard as unique natural music. That is why some dunes are named “Duut Mankhan” or Singing Dunes. A green oasis is near Khongor River at the northern edge of the sand dunes. Visiting a camel breeder’s family, riding on two-humped camels, climbing to the top of large sand dunes, trekking in the green oasis, taking great pictures, and seeing beautiful sunsets are some of the great things to do in this place.
Bayanzag “Flaming Cliffs”
Bayanzag, located near the center of Bulgan Sum, is internationally famous for paleontological finds of dinosaur remains from the Paleolithic Era that include complete dinosaur skeletons, eggs and hatchlings of the Cretaceous Period. Dinosaurs discovered here including: Protoceratops, Oviraptor and the heavily armored Pinacosaurus that were living 70-80 million years ago. Dinosaur eggs with a diameter of 10 to 15 centimeters were found here in Mongolia for the first time in the world in 1922 by American explorer Roy Chapmen Andrews. Here scholars have also found traces and weapons of ancient people. There is also a small museum with interesting dinosaur findings.
Yoliin Am “Bearded Eagle Canyon”
Yoliin Am is the narrow canyon of a river that flows through 2815 meters high East Beautiful Mountain. The gorge has sheer rock walls with a height of about 200 meters in the central part. It has been protected since 1965 and has an area of 70 square kilometers. Today it is one of the Strictly Protected Areas of Mongolia. The rain that falls at the summit of the mountain flows down into the sheer canyon forming four waterfalls. There are several hundred meters distance between the waterfalls. Yoliin Am is famous for its high & narrow canyons, frozen summer stream and wild life such as bearded eagles, wild Argali sheep, ibex, and Mongolian mice. The stream remains frozen even in July, the hottest month of the year. There is a small museum of the Gobi Three Beauties National Park at the entrance of Yoliin Am.
This is a beautiful sandy cliff canyon of over 250 square km, 10 km wide and 100-200 meters deep. Khermen Tsav is located in northern Gurvan Tes Sum a distance of 400 km from the town of Dalanzadgad. Scientists have defined it as an inland sea bed. Khermen Tsav is known not only by the beauty of its natural formations but also for its dinosaur fossil findings. The Khermen Tsav area has not yet been well studied.
Nemegt, Ancient dinosaurs’ skeletons and eggs are found on the mountains of Nemegt. Tarbosaurus, one of the best known of flesh-eating dinosaurs and Saurolophus Angustirostris, one of the largest duck-billed dinosaurs lived at Nemegt in late Cretaceous times. Numerous other types of large dinosaurs have been discovered and continue to be discovered at Nemegt.
Tugrugiin Shiree, It is a steep cliff around 30 meters high to the west of Bulgan Sum. Dinosaur bones appear on the walls and the rare remains of petrified egg with the skeleton of a young dinosaur were found.
Baga Gazariin Chuluu Mountain
The beautiful Baga Gazariin Chuluu is a local protected area. It is a picturesque granite mountain with an elevation of 1751 meters above sea level in the Great Granite Zone of Mongolia. There are some interesting sites to visit: a temple ruin used by Buddhist monks, a hole with Holy Water for the eyes and a small cave.
With its fantastic color combinations, Tsagaan Suvarga or “White Stupas” is one of Mongolia’s greatest natural beauties. It is interesting to see the scarped cliffs of Tsagaan Suvarga, facing east from a distance it looks like the ruins of an ancient city or a complex of white stupas. Over thousands of years the wind has carved this amazing natural beauty. The cliff is 60 meters high and 400 meters wide. Tsagaan Suvarga was an ancient sea bottom and its eroded cliffs are rich in fossil seashells.
The monastery was established in the 1760s by Bari Yonzon Khamba in a small mountainous area along the Ongi River. During its peak use the monastery had over 1000 monks and a complex of around 30 temples. The Ongi Monastery is still active but now only a few monks perform its functions. The remains of two ruined monasteries, the Barlim Khiid on the north bank and the Khutagt Khiid on the south indicate the monastery complex was built in Balba or Tibetian style.