Ulaanbaatar to the Singing Dunes of Khongoryn Els – Eight Days in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert: Part I


gers & horses in big country n

Roughly 75 miles (120 km) from Ulaanbaatar, grazing horses and the first ger we stayed in are dwarfed against vast grasslands rimmed in mountains. Although the mountains appear low, the grasslands themselves are over 4,000 feet above sea level. With abundant wildlife, few villages and virtually no paved highways, the Mongolian steppe is one of the world’s great high plains wildernesses.

We have no idea how our driver, Nimka, and our guide, Otgo, found the first ger we stayed in. Pitch dark except for the wash of the Milky Way in the night sky and the headlights from our van, Nimka steered from one set of indistinct dirt tracks in the grass to another. My insistence that we stop for a look at herds of gazelle coupled with our late-in-the-day start from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital, had us arriving well after dark.

And then, suddenly, there it was. A faint glow gradually assumed…

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