This museum is located at the entrance gate to Yolyn Am, not far from the provincial capital of Dalanzadgad. It has a collection of dinosaur eggs and bones, rocks, fossils, stuffed birds and a snow leopard, along with other stuffed animals found in the Gobi desert. There is also an ethnography museum in a ger, which is worth a visit.
The ice field reaches several meters thick by the end of winter, and is several kilometres long. In past years it remained year round, but the modern ice field tends to disappear by September. Luckily there was some still around when I visited in July but it was melting very quickly, given that it was around 23°C. The reason why it stays here is that the tight valley never sees direct sunlight but it's certainly an unusual sight given that we had just come from the Khongur sand dunes. More photo's can be found in my travelogues.
Yolyn Am (Vulture's Mouth) was originally established to conserve the birdlife in the region, but it's now more famous for its dramatic and very unusual scenery - it is a valley in the middle of the Gobi Desert, with metres-thick ice almost all year-round. The valley is named after the Lammergeier, which is called Yol in Mongolian. The Lammergeier is an Old World vulture, hence the name is often translated to Valley of the Vultures or Valley of the Eagles. It's a beautiful walk through some lovely dramatic rocky hills in order to get to the star attraction - the semi permanent ice. You can ride a horse along the valley for US$3 or a camel for US$4 each way. More photo's can be found in my travelogues.
The banks beside the little stream in the Yolyn Am are teaming with Alashan ground squirrels and Pikas (small hamster-like animals). Some were really tame and came up quite close to you but then some just simply ran for shelter down a burrow.
This is inside the family who run the camel treks beside the Khongor sand dunes. It was the poshest one we visited complete with two armchairs, rugs and some other nice furniture. No wonder they're quite well off as the camel treks prove a popular money winner with us tourists and they receive T5,000/hr for each trek. The family had at least two young children who were very sweet and who loved balloons as an American woman bought some with her as gifts.
A small stream fed by a spring runs in front of the Khongor sand dunes which makes the land on either side of it green and lush. So lush, in fact, that you have to cross over it all by a bridge as the ground is to wet. Bear in mind that this is all in the middle of the Gobi desert, the contrast between the lush greenness of the river and grass and the yellow sand of the sand dunes is really surreal. Of course, all this greenness attracts camels and horses who graze on the lush grass. More photo's can be found in my travelogues.
The Khongor sand dunes are some of the largest and most spectacular sand dunes in Mongolia. Also known as the duut mankhan (singing dunes), they are up to 800m high, 12km wide and about 100km long. The largest dunes are at the north-west corner of the range. The views of the desert from the top are wonderful and we fooled around and stayed on them for quite a while. More photos of them can be found in my travelogues.
The Gurvansaikhan Mountains are a mountain range in Umnogobi province. They are named for three sub ranges: Baruun Saikhanii Nuruu (the Western Beauty), Dund Saikhanii Nuruu (the Middle Beauty) and Zuun Saikhanii Nuruu (the Eastern Beauty) and so are known in English as The Three Beauties. The highest peak is found in Dund Saikhanii Nuruu, and is 9,268 feet (2,825 meters) above sea level. A notable gorge, Yolyn Am, is found in Zuun Saikhanii Nuruu. Though the range is surrounded by the Gobi desert, Yolyn Am contains a semi-permanent ice field. We drove through the mountain range on our way to the Khongor Sand Dunes and took photos of them which can be found in one of my travelogues.
Bulgan is a small town near the Flaming Cliffs in the Gobi desert that we passed through and filled up with fuel at. There's a large boarding school here where all the children from miles around go to. We actually met twin girls at a ger on a way from Khongor sand dunes to Yolyn Am who attend it but were on summer holiday.
Bayanzag, 120km northwest of Dalanzadgad, earned its place in history as the first spot dinosaur remains were found in Asia by American palaeontologists lead by Roy Chapman Andrews in 1921. Skeletons of protoceratops and tarbosaurus have been found here but it was famous for being the first place on earth where dinosaur eggs were found in 1923. The Americans dubbed these cliffs the “Flaming Cliffs” during their time here and it's not hard to see why. They stand out from the flat featureless plains like flames and make for wonderful photo opportunities. There's a little museum inside a ger overlooking the cliffs that contains fossils and bones as well as some black and white photos of the American expedition. More photos of these breath-taking cliffs can be found in my travelogues.
This body of water near the Flaming Cliffs (Bayanzag) was almost like coming to an oasis in the Gobi desert as we approached it from barren desert sand mixed with coarse shrubs. Near this water is a new tourist ger camp with a restaurant shaped like a huge turtle which looked more like mirage itself.
The Gobi desert is the world's fourth largest desert and covers parts of northern and north-western China, and southern Mongolia. It measures over 1,610 km (1,000 mi) from southwest to northeast and 800 km (497 mi) from north to south and covers an area of 1,295,000 km2 (500,002 sq mi). Currently, the Gobi desert is expanding at an alarming rate, in a process known as desertification. The expansion is particularly rapid on the southern edge into China, which has seen 3,600 km2 (1,390 sq mi) of grassland overtaken every year by the Gobi Desert.
Umnogobi province is home to part of the Gobi desert and, of course, you'll see plenty of these guys walking around along the dirt tracks. These are Bactrian camels who normally have a fury neck during the winder but this is sheered for wool during the summer. Mongolian's capture wild camels and it takes a year for them to be obedient but well worth the time as a camel can transport up to 160kg in weight, 100 miles a day without food or water.
We set off one morning during my 12-day tour around Mongolia and stopped off at this herding family who were sheering there sheep and goats, all by hand, of course. The family consisted of a husband and wife with her mother who was 70. They had 3 daughters - aged 12, 14, and 16. They around 300 of sheep and goats and we were told that they make some 30,000 togrogs per kilo for the goat fleece, otherwise known as cashmere. I goat provides 5-700g of wool. We were lucky to see them being sheered as it only happens once a year.
A desert wouldn't be a desert without camels and you can take the opportunity, like I did, to ride on them by the Khongur sand dunes.