Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, Mongolia

Photo: Three Camel Lodge
Photo: Three Camel Lodge

Soaring sand dunes. Striking canyons. Dinosaur fossils. Felt tents. This desert destination could easily be in Botswana, Namibia, or Tanzania. Anywhere in Africa, really. But you have to head north this time. And then east. Keep going. Farther. Eventually you’ll reach the Gobi. In Mongolia.

After landing in Dalanzadgad, drive more than an hour along a bumpy track. The road ended just outside of the airport. Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park is located at the northern end of the massive desert in southern Mongolia. Visit the Bulgan Soum natural spring. Ride a double-humped Bactrian camel in the Moltsog Els Sand Dunes. Drink plenty of water.

The crisp morning air quickly turns hot and humid by noon. See ancient artwork in Havtsgait. The petroglyphs depict deer and goats. Try to spot the elusive snow leopard in the Gegeet Valley, and Lammergeiers–vultures that feed on dead animals–in the Yol Valley. And make your way to the Flaming Cliffs at sunset one evening. The sandstone turns bright red-orange as the sun dips below the horizon.

Photo: Three Camel Lodge
Photo: Three Camel Lodge

Between the heat and the long drives between activities, you’ll be ready to do, well, nothing in the evenings. Three Camel Lodge’s remote location and view of the Gobi Altai Mountains–plus the countless stars in the sky–make it an ideal place to reflect on all you’ve seen and done. Share a bottle of Syrah at the Thirsty Camel Bar. Eat mutton, dairy products from local nomadic families, and locally grown veggies at Bulagtai Restaurant. Sleep in gers–wooden structures with layers of felt and canvas–similar to the ones used by nomadic herders. The gers have wood stoves, king-size beds, and camel’s milk lotion. The electricity goes out by 11 p.m. each evening. Your ger has a ceiling window, so you can fall asleep under the stars. In the Gobi.


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