The Gobi desert
The Gobi desert is a vast zone of desert steppe covering almost 30 percent Mongolia. The area is often imagined as lifeless. In reality, most of the Gobi desert is desert steppes, while sandy desert occupies only 3 percent of the total territory. Wild asses, camels, snow leopards, mountain sheep, and gazelles are bred, and different types of vegetation flourish here as well. Dinosaur skeletons and their petrified eggs have been preserved in the Gobi. The climate in the Gobi is extreme, with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius in the summer and comparatively severe winters. The Great Gobi Reservation established in 1975 was designated by the United Nations as the fourth largest Biosphere Reserve in the world in 1991. This reservation is one and a half hour's travel by plane from Ulaanbaatar, located in foothills of the Altai Mountains at an altitude of 1521 meters above sea level. Two areas have been set paralleling the reserve. One, spreading over 44/9 hectares, claims the largest part of the Trans-Altai Gobi, the other, covering 881000 hectares is within the Dungar Gobi.
Bayanzag /Rich Saxual/
Bayanzag is a Neolithic site where large dinosaur skeletons were discovered. These findings are now on show in the Natural History Museum. In the west it is better known as the Flaming cliffs, so named by explorer Roy Chapman Andrews. In the same location he also discovered petrified forests, remains of mammals, and in particular the skeleton of a hornless rhinoceros, one of the largest known mammals in the world. The name Bayanzag derives from a picturesque forest in the area. Bayanzag is a worldwide renowned place famous for dinosaur bones and eggs discovered here. Archeologists also claim the area has myriad of unearthed objects from the Stone Age.
Khongor sand dune
These dunes are located to the north of the Baruunsaikhan Mountains, and in the northern part of the Sevrei and Zuulun Mountains, about 200 kilometers west of Dalanzadgad in Sevrei soum. They extend for 185 kilometers and include dunes that can reach 20 meters in height. The sound produced by the masses of moving sand can be heard from a far. When it occurs, it is said that it can be mistaken for the sound of an airplane, hence the name ‘singing sands’, or ‘musical sands’. The Khongor River flows along these dunes and gives birth to oases.
The Valley in the Zuun Saikhan Mountain Located 45 km from Dalanzadgad, in the Centre of South Gobi province, is called Yol Valley. The narrow Valley between high rock walls has breathtaking dramatic scenery, and no doubt is one of the most beautiful places in the country. During the rainy summers, hundreds of small waterfalls appear in the rocky walls. Camel and horse riding tours are available to the valley.
Govi Gurvan Saikhan /Gobi’s Three Beauties/ National park
Gobi’s Three Beauties National Park, covering over 30 percent of the territory of the country, is one of the World’s Great Deserts. Gobi Desert,teeming with innumerable forms of wildlife and hidden scores of dinosaur fossils, stretches to the south and east. Gobi is assumed to be like Sahara, the Arab Desert, or sparsely populated areas of Australia: desolate or semi-desert. But Mongolia’s 33 Gobi, which stretch from the extreme west to the extreme east are inhabited by Mongol nomads with their herds, flocks, and scattered wildlife. In addition to domesticated animals presence, this area, consisting of Rocky Mountains, sand dunes and vast plateau, is inhabited by wild asses, wild camels, black j tailed antelopes, gazelles, Gobi bears, and endangered animals which are registered in the World Red Book. The climate is harsh, I from +40 C in summer to -40 C in winter, ravaged by savage winds and dust storms up to 140 km-s per hour.
Our travel guides know every part of this desert and we can take you I to the most remote comer, the most aged and wind worn canyon; to show you the spectacular sunset. The sites of Gobi are varied! and distinct - The Valley at the Yoliin Am, known as Eagle Valley whose depths support a huge block of glacial sheet ice even in the, hottest summer months, the ancient caves and eight rock pools of Eej Mountain, the captive breeding canyon at Hermen Tsav with its proliferation of dinosaur bones. The Govi Gurvan Saihan National Park extends 320 km from east to west, covering 2.2 million hectare,; of rocky and sandy plains, cliffs, salt pans and amid oasis. The landscape of the Govi Gurvan Saihan National Park is dominated by mountain ranges that are part of the Gobi-Altai. Unlike the Northern Altai which is a single massif, they consist of separate ranges which increase in altitude from west to east and are dissected by erosion gullies hundreds of years old. “The Three Beauties” belong to the north-eastern range and consist of the Eastern Beauty Zuun Saihan), the Middle Beauty (Dund Saihan), and the West Beauty, known as Baruun Saihan in its northern part and Bayan Tsagaan in its southern part. The south-west range is made up of the Zoolon, Nomgon and Sevrei Ranges (from east to west) and others; famous for their fossil sites: Gilbent, Nemegt and Aitan mountain.
Mongolian ancient capital, Kharakhorum, Chinggis Khaan’s , fabled city, was founded in 1220 in ! The Orkhon valley, at ! the crossroads of the j Silk Road. It was from: here that the Mongol Empire governed, until Khubilai Khaan moved ! it to Beijing. The | symbolic ruins of Kharakhorum (Harhorin), monumental walls (400 m of length) with 108 stupas, surround the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia, Erdene Zuu Monastery, built in 1586. In 1792, it housed 62 temples and 10.000 monks; since 1990, it has become an active monastery again. Turtles carved from the stone marked the boundaries of the complex. Nearby, Turkish monuments and rock inscriptions erected in 8-9th centuries in memory outstanding fighters for independence. World famous for its wonderful ancient remains, Kharakhorum is located 370 km away from Ulaanbaatar with an elevation of 1600 meters above sea level. In order to become acquainted with Khujurt, one has to visit the ruins of the ancient [town Kharakhorum. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the capital was [a bustling splendid city with rich culture. Those who would like to visit Khara Khorum can also see the former Buddhist monastery Erdene-Zuu, erected in the 16th century. A surprise for the community and scientists alike was the discovery of a burial of a [Mongolian woman which dates to approximately the 14th century. Discovered along with the woman were two Egyptian masks, a wooden comb and a bronze mirror in a silk case. The ruins of this ancient capital, Khara Khorum and the Erdene Zuu monastery with their 108 stupas, are undoubtedly at great interest to travelers.
Erdene Zuu monastery
Built in 1586, using stones from the ruins of Khara-khorum, was the first Buddhist Centre in Mongolia. It was not a simple monastery but a veritable fortress, surrounded by powerful mils and towers on all four sides, each wall had a gate, similar to the building designs of the old Qidan and Mongol towns. At its height, the monastery housed 1000 monks in100 temples. Closed and badly damaged during the Stalinist communist regime of the 1930’s, Erdene Zuu is once again functioning and open to sightseers. The temple contains valuable collection of sculptures, artwork, and books.
Known as “The Dark Blue ’earl”, Lake Khovsgol is Mongolia’s largest and deepest j lake. Located in the Northern Province, it is the largest tributary stream of Lake Baikal Russia. Lake Khuvsgul is 136 km long, 36 km wide and 262 meters deep and is located at j an altitude of 1645 m above sea level and is frozen from January until April or May. It is the second largest fresh water lake in Central Asia. It’s inhabited by nine species of fish including the Siberian grayling. Fishing is becoming popular in the lake area. Fishing for Taiga and practicing reindeer breeding are the main attractions for tourist. A ferryboat operates between Khatgal and Khanh, two towns on the southern and northern shores of the lake that is within the boundaries of the Khovsgol National Park. Different ethnic groups live in the area: Khalh, Darhadt, Buryat. Tsaatans are reindeer herders. Lake Khovsgol is on the migration route for birds from Siberia, thus facilitating marvelous opportunities for bird watching.
Khorgo Volcano is a dead volcano covered with basalt lying in east of Lake Terkhiin Tsagaan (National Park) in Arhangai province. In addition to seeing interesting bubbles of solidified lave named “Basalt Ger”, it is also possible to visit yak’s herders.! Arkhangai province, the northwest slope of the Khangai chain, is called “the! Switzerland of Mongolia” for its Forests, rivers, and wooded hills.
Amarbayasgalant Monastery was built between 1726 -1736. It is dedicated to undur Gegeen Zanabazar and built by Enkh-Amgalan Khaan of Manchu empire.
Although it was heavily damaged by the communist purges, a great part of the monastery remains. During the purges, 10 of the 37 temples and statues were destroyed. The Monastery was restored by UNESCO from 1975 until its reopening in 1990. Presently, 30 monks reside in the newly restored monastery ranging in age from 7 to 90. Thirteen of the monks are between the ages of 7 and 13, who have for a great part been picked up from orphanages around Mongolia.
In the main temple is a statue of Guru Deva Rinpoche who is the formal abbot of the monastery although he is gone for the majority of the year. Since 1992 he has been putting enormous effort into restoring temples, statues, and sculptures. It is said he has raised 1 million US$ for restoration.