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Mongolia: Bayanzag, Kharakhorum, Khongar Sand Dunes, Khustai National Park, Ongi, Ulaanbaatar, Yol Valley
Khongar Sand Dunes, Mongolia: Singing to glory
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
Today we would set foot on the soft sands of Gobi Desert. Before we could do that, there was a bonus waiting for us – a visit to nearby mountain to see Rock Art of the Bronze Age. This was not on the schedule though - all thanks to our enthusiastic guide.
An hour’s drive from Bayanzag got us to the foothills. Thereafter it was on foot. A 30-minute trek (was pretty steep and slippery because of loose rocks) and we were on top. Gusty winds welcomed us. Out there we saw some fascinating rock-art that were carved thousands of years ago.
A 5-hour drive from the foothills saw us at the Gobi-Erdene Luxury Ger Camp. As the name suggest, it was indeed a luxury – nice beds, electricity and attached facilities with running water; what else could we ask for? And just 15-minutes away were the sand dunes, which we explored in the evening.
Khongor dunes, "Khongoriin Els", are the most important sand mass of Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park. Its area is more than 900 square kilometres and is one of the largest sandy areas of Mongolia. Suddenly standing out from the plains, they are undoubtedly among the most spectacular of the country. The wind continuously blows from North towards West and the dunes can reach breath taking heights, between 100 and 300 metres at their highest points. Khongor sand dunes are more than 180 km long and can be 27 kilometres wide. The inhabitants name their imposing dunes as “singing dunes” due to the sound made by the wind when it moves the sand. Beyond the dunes, the steppe extends as far as the eye can see.
Khongor dunes have a particular appeal, because they have an impressing combination of colours (the dunes are pale yellow). At north, they are lined with a green and luxuriant vegetation band, delimited by a river, Khongoriin Gol. Supplied by subterranean sources, this little river flows along the dunes for a few kilometres, and forms an oasis in the middle of the dried landscape.
Whilst I was walking around taking pictures, some of the members from our group climbed up midway on one of the tallest sand dunes.
Khongar Sand Dunes Image Gallery Photo viewer
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