THE SOUTHERN MONGOLIA

One of Mongolia’s most popular site is the Gobi Desert: a habitat to some of the world’s rarest animals and a unique landscape. Many envision the Gobi as a place of unbearable heat and lifeless sand dunes, similar to the in-hospitable Sahara desert, but in reality, the desert and semi-desert ecosystem is quite vivacious. The Gobi consists of high mountains, springs, forests, sands, steppes, and a rich animal population. Occupying 30 percent of the country’s vast territory and stretching from the east to the west through southern Mongolian, the Gobi shelters 52 mammal species, 15 kinds of reptile, 1 type of amphibian and 106 different varieties of birds. The desert also contains over 400 species of plants, including many valuable medicinal and decorative plants. Its numerous rare animal includes argali sheep, ibex, snow leopard, lynx, wild ass, gazelles, saiga, wild Bactrian camel, and Gobi bear, just to name a few.

Dalanzadgad Town

Distance: 553 kilometers from UB
Duration: 1 hour and 20 minutes by air
Accommodation: Hotels.
The center of South Gobi (Omnogobi) Aimag, Dalanzadgad can act as a starting point for trips to numerous destinations in the southern Gobi Desert, including the Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park, Eagle valley, the Bayanzag Flaming Cliffs, the Hongor Els Sand Dunes, and Borzongiin Gobi in Mongolia’s southern tip, where people can find themselves among herds of hundreds of wild ass and black-tailed gazelle. Dalanzadgad also has a museum where samples of local flora and fauna are displayed and basic hotel accommodations.

Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park

Distance: 40 kilometers to the southeastern edge from the town of Dalanzadgad
Duration: 1 hour by road from Dalanzadgad
Accommodation: Ger camps
Activities: Camping, desert expeditions, camel riding, mountain climbing, paleontology, wildlife viewing.
Situated to the west of Dalanzadgad, Gobi Gurvan Saikhan Park encompasses a series of ridges and valleys that make up the eastern end of the Gobi Altai Mountains. Its name means “three beauties of the Gobi, which refers somewhat ironically to four great ridges that it incorporates: Zuulun, Sevrei, Gilbent, and Nemegt. Surrounded by low plains, the park’s mountains rise to 2200-2600 meters above sea level.
Gobi Gurvansaikhan extends for more than 380 kilometers from west to east and possess a varied landscape of rocky and sandy desert plains, precipitous cliffs and ravines, salt pans and oases. The Park has the greatest diversity of plant and animal life in the Gobi Altai, with over 620 species of flowering plants and all 52 species of the Gobi’s mammals.
Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park features some of Mongolia’s most popular tourist destinations, including the picturesque gorge of Eagle Valley and the Singing Sands, a spectacular sea of sand dunes bordered by red sandstone formations, an oasis and a “forest” of saxaul bushes. Nemegt, Hermen Tsav and the Bayanzag Flaming Cliffs, the sites of many important dinosaur fossil discoveries, also lie within the park’s boundaries.

Eagle Valley Yoliin Am

Distance: 45 kilometers from Dalanzadgad
Duration: 1 hour by road from Dalanzadgad
Accommodation: Ger camps
Activities: camping, mountain climbing, hiking, wildlife viewing.
One of the best-known travel destinations in the Southern Gobi is Yoliin Am Canyon, also known as Eagle Valley (yoliin actually means lammergeier, one of the most endangered birds of prey species). Nestled between ridges of Zuun Saikhan Uul Mountain—part of the Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park a small river that flows through the valley. Sheltered by high cliff walls on both sides of the canyon, thick ice gorges remain frozen even on summer’s hottest days.

Bayanzag-The Flaming Cliffs

Distance: 90 kilometers from Dalanzadgad
Duration: 1 and half hours by road from the tourist camps
Accommodation: Ger camps
Activities: desert expeditions, camping, hiking, paleontology.
First hailed as the Flaming Cliffs in 1920 by Roy Chapman Andrews, famous American explorer, and paleontologist, the site looks like fire in the middle of the desert from a distance.
The area holds an amazing number of dinosaur fossils. Complete skeletons, including the one-horned protoceritops and the egg thieving oviraptor, as well as numerous eggs, have been excavated from ravines in the Flaming Cliffs.

Khavtsgait Petroglyphs

Distance: 76 kilometers from Dalanzadgad
Duration: 1 and half hours by road from the tourist camps
Accommodation: Ger camps
Activities: desert expeditions, camping, hiking, paleontology.
Khavtsgait Petroglyphs (GPS: N43°54.256′, E 103°31.345′, elevated 1822m), an exceptional collection of rock carvings, dating from 3000 BC and 8000 BC. There are several petroglyphs as you scale the rocky hill that leads up to the right from the trailhead. The most impressive ones are located at the top of what is a 30-minute, 120m climb. Travelers will discover drawings of animals including antelopes, ibexes, and mountain sheep, a rare depiction of a camel, red deer, hunters and galloping horses, camels with riders.
Besides animal carvings of the caravan, gers, crown, seats are discovered in 2013 newly from this site.

Hongor Els Sand Dunes

Distance: 200 kilometers from Dalanzadgad
Duration: 4-5 hours by road from Dalanzadgad
Accommodation: Ger camps
Activities: Desert expeditions, camping, camel riding.
The Hongor Els Sand Dunes, Mongolia’s largest area of dunes, stretch for 180 kilometers. Bordered at its northern edge by the bank of the Hongoriin River, some of the peaks of the dunes tower 250 feet. There is an oasis in this region, which is rich in vegetation and supplies drinking water for the surrounding animal populations.

The Ongiin River & Temple

Distance: 240 kilometers from the South Gobi
Duration: 7-9 hours by road from
Dalanzadgad
Accommodation: Ger camps
Activities: Camping and camel riding.
Along the Ongiin River, where the ruins of the Ongiin Temple rest, a traveler stands at the halfway point between two major travel destinations: the South Gobi and Karakorum. Many choose to spend a night at this spot during their journey between the southern Gobi and central Mongolia.

Shar tsav

Distance: 70km from Manlai soum
Duration: 7-9 hours by road from Sainshand
Accommodation: Camping
Activities: camping, hiking, paleontology, wildlife viewing.
Millions of years ago dinosaur life thrived in the Gobi Desert, and today their traces remain. A number of dinosaur footprints (from tiny plant eaters and giant tarbosaurs alike) are well preserved in hardened mud, 70 kilometers south of the town of Manlai. The site is thought to have been the shore of an ancient inland sea that has long since disappeared. Nearby a shallow canyon contains the remains of ancient fish and shells in between layers of sedimentary rocks.

Tugrugiin Shiree

Distance: 30 km from Bayanzag flaming cliffs
Duration: 1 hour drive from Bayanzag
Accommodation: Ger camp Camping
Activities: camping, hiking, paleontology.
Tugrugiin Shiree, another of the Gobi’s rich localities for dinosaurs’ fossil excavation are located 30km from Bayanzag flaming cliffs. The site is Mongolia’s southernmost province of the semi-arid desert is an escarpment of white sandstone that once encased the famous “Fighting Dinosaurs,” the fossils of a Protoceratops and a Velociraptor locked in combat position. Discovered in the 1970s. Tugrugiin Shiree helped further Mongolia’s standing as one of the world’s most important countries for paleontology. The country has seen the discovery of 40 species of dinosaurs.

Khermen Tsav

Distance: 400 kilometers From Dalanzadgad
Duration:
Accommodation: Camping
Activities: camping, hiking, paleontology, photographing.
Khermen Tsav is famous for its natural beauties, as well as for its bountiful underground fossils of dinosaurs. Besides, it’s not unusual to find some in the place. At the foot of these sand cliffs, the ground is fully covered with saxauls.
Khermen means “wall” and Tsav means “fissure”. Thousands of years of erosion formed this majestic canyon, in which rocks are balanced 30 meters above the ground. The canyon stretches on 250 square kilometers and is 200 deep, but between the lowest point and the highest one, there is a difference in height of 1000 meters (The colors are a gradation of reds and will delight the photographers.
The first dinosaur skeleton was found in that place. The scientists agree that 200 million years ago, the place was covered with an inner sea. The American archaeologist Roy Chapman Andrews named this place “The end of the World”.

East Gobi Desert (Dornogov)

Distance: 463 kilometers to Sainshand from Ulaanbaatar
Duration: 8 hours by train to Sainshand, 10-12 hours by road
Accommodation: Ger camps
Activities: Desert expeditions, Buddhist pilgrim, camping, hiking, paleontology, wildlife viewing.
The eastern Gobi has an open landscape of arid grassland, prone to episodes of severe drought and dust storms. Despite its vast sands, there are many small lakes, streams, and springs in the area. Accessible by railway, Mongolia’s main border point with China in the southern frontier, Zamiin Uud, lies in this region. This part of the desert also incorporates several historical sites, including Hamariin Hiid Monastery, where the great 19th-century poet and playwright Damzabrabja staged his famous “Saran Huhuu” in 1830. The Burden Bulag Sand Dunes, also in the region, are some of the largest and most extensive dunes in the Gobi.