Tourist Map (22KB); Mongolia Destinations (main page)
The Gobi is a general Mongolian description of the entire South, one third of the country. It is not a complete desert, as often perceived by many travelers. Most of it is semi-desert claiming to hold 33 different ecosystems of which only 3% is true desert. With its dramatic cliffs and valleys, rolling sand dunes, the ancient Gobi is one of the world’s most unusual deserts. The vast expanses are infused with plantlife, which supports herds of animals raised by the nomads in this region. You will see thousands of wild and domestic camels, cranes, hawks and gazelles, and plenty of evidence that dinosaurs once roamed the region. The Gobi is a land of extremes: significant rain falls only every two or three years. It can be well over +40 C during the summer and below -40 C during the winter. In 1975, the Mongolian Government added the Great Gobi desert to the list of strictly protected areas and later, in 1991, it was awarded the title of the fourth largest Biosphere reserve in the world by the United Nations.
For a unique travel experience, go to the remote region of Baga Gazarin Chuluu for hiking and exploring caves. Gurvansaikhan National Park is the home to a valley of ice, huge sand dunes (Hongorin Els site), and dinosaur fossil sites of Bayanzag. The lovely and tiny lake of Sangiin Dalai Nuur is a remarkable place for its bird life and temple ruins. Excellent camping can be found in the area of Shargaljuut, where hundreds of hot- and cold-water springs are located.
If you have time and are willing to take a chance, visit Kara-hot (The Black & Dead) city. It is the oldest known city in the Gobi Desert , founded originally by Chinese in the lowest part of the Altai Mountains and the Alasha Gobi (now in China). Around XII century, the city was lost to Mongols in the war. According to legend, Kara-hot possessed a lot of wealth and when it was under attack, many treasures were hidden in one of the wells. Many had tried their luck until 1909, when the site was visited by a Russian explorer Peter Kozolov. After months of search, he discovered many art items, coins, banners, marvelous paintings, cult objects, and a number of ancient manuscripts. Even today, visitors are still able to find a few Chinese coins and other items.