Day 13: Bayanzag - Khongoryn Els
Khongoryn Els Travel Blog› entry 15 of 34 › view all entries
May 30th, 2008 – by: Biedjee
Again, the scenery was completely different today. We crossed a rocky mountain range which was covered in green grass which resembled the North of Scotland, or Ireland, rather than a 'desert'.
As I said before, there are no roads out here, so the 'road' up the mountain was a dried river bed. I wonder how they cross these mountains in the rainy season.
The view from the top of the mountains was just spectacular! In front of us we saw the Gobi desert proper, the part which is protected by a series of national parks. The vastness of the reddish-yellow plains below was simply mindboggling. And in the distance we could see the next mountain range, with the sand dunes of Khongoryn Els, our destination for the day, right in front of it.
In the late afternoon we arrived at Khongoryn Els, which is an area of huge sand-dunes, measuring 100 kms long and 12 kms wide. Some of the sand dunses are up to 300 metres high. This is the classic picture of a desert as we know it from the schoolbooks.
After an early dinner we set out to climb the dunes to watch the sunset from there, and found to our shocking surprise something which is completely the opposite of the classic desert picture from school books: a wide river with green grassy banks which we had to cross.
The climbing of the dunes itself was a lot easier than expected - I had anticipated we'd need at least an hour to climb a 300 metre high dune of soft sand, but we did it in less than 20 minutes. The recent rains had made the sand hard and fairly easy to walk on.
The view from the top was indeed stunning, with sand just everywhere you looked. Unfortunately there wasn't much sun to set, as stormclouds came rolling in, blocking the sun completely and scaring us away, back to the ger camp. This being the desert there wasn't much rain, and the whole storm didn't last very long, but the fierce wind did create some annoying sand storms.
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