Day 1: We arrived at Ulaanbatar (UB) railway station an hour or so behind schedule meaning we had only one hour to shower and eat breakfast at the Best Western Gobi Kelso. Our guide/driver from AlphaTeam arrived on time and had to wait while we eat. Although a rough start to the trip with me being clumsy because I don’t function well when I rush, the rest of the trip went smoothly.
That afternoon after around 400km drive south of UB, we arrived at Tsagaan Suvarga where our camp and the colorful cliff is. At first we were supposed to stay with nomad family/guesthouse, but since our new travel buddy whom we found on the train came without a sleeping bag, the guide put us in the tourist camp instead. The difference between the tourist camp and nomad family is one provide clean bed sheets and the other just a bed where you place your sleeping bag on.
The colorful cliff was beautiful! However, the wind was not friendly. It blew my brand new hat off my head and down the cliff. 😒😭 So we ended up on a mission to retrieve it which involve climbing quite a steep hill and down it. The soil isn’t solid due to the rain that blessed us this morning. Thanks to our new friend the hat was successfully returned. 😎
Day 2: Our day started at 9am where we went on a 4 hours or so drive to our camp in the Three Beauties. Its a mountain range in the Gobi. The camp is situated a beautiful spot where we can walk up a hill to see the entire valley and a village in the distant. We had lunch here, chilled out for a bit then headed into Yol Valley for a museum visit and horse riding.
Yol Valley although called Eagle valley in English actually means Vulture valley. It was raining a bit when we arrived, but cleared up pretty quickly as we got on the tiny Mongolian horses. (They cost around $300 each so if you want to own a herd of horses – this is the place to be!) We rode the horses into the valley looking for vultures and other animals on the way. At the end of the valley, we got off the horses and walked about 5 minutes to a creek/river. Part of it is still frozen. We were being careful when our travel buddy decided that its cooler to just walk and fell down in front of us. All of it is caught on camera as well! So thats the highlight of our day!
That night we went out to take photographs right before midnight. The camp and valley under the full moon was magical. I love the view here although the wind was not so kind.
Day 3: Its time to go to the sand dune. But first whats better than a pit stop in the middle of nowhere to chill of the roof of the 4×4. We totally had an amazing time!
The sand dune is gorgeous, but it was so windy that we had sand all over us. And there’s no shower tonight. Its unbelievable how there is an actual oasis right at the bottom of the sand dune. There’s even flowers. The scene was right out of the movie. We love it there!!
We spent 2 hours or so making our way up the 200m sand dune. Although it look easy, it was a real struggle. The wind was so strong that it was difficult to see. And it definitely ruined our skin. Good thing we had our cap and sunglasses or else we probably won’t make it up there.
Day 4-6: Can’t believe the end of our two weeks trip is coming to an end in the next few days. We’re now driving back up towards UB. We’ll be visting Bayanzag (Flaming Cliffs) in the South Gobi before going to Central Mongolia via Ongi Monastery and Kharakorum.
Bayanzag is the location where dinosaur fossils were found. The tourist camp we’re staying in is located a few km from the cliff itself. We almost got lost on the way back. In the evening our guide took us down into the valley to search for fossils. We found one that the guide hid away! 😂 The sunset here is beautiful and the camp food is better than the other camps we’ve been to so far. The ger itself is also nice and clean.
As we drive to UB, we passed areas with no human inhabitants. If not for the Secret of Ongi tourist camp opening up along the Ongi River, we would have to camp out in tents. The Secret of Ongi camp is the best of all the camps we have been to in all aspects. Its more like a resort than a camp. And its so peaceful to chill out on the river bank during sunset.
For the last day, we visited the ancient Gengis Khan capital of Kharakorum. We went to a small but surprisingly well organized/display musuem to learn more about the Khans before visiting a Tibetan temple. The last night was bitter sweet. Its difficult to leave such a beautiful country. Now that I’m back to civilization, there’s nothing I miss more than the serene, peace, and beauty of the wilderness of Mongolia.
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