Highlights of South Gobi

A third of Mongolia is covered by the Gobi, a region of extremes with rain falling once every two or three years and temperatures reaching over 40 degrees in the summer, and plummeting to 40 below during the winter. The mysterious Gobi holds many surprises; it supports an amazing variety of wildlife, glaciers remain frozen year-round, and only 3% of the area is covered by sand dunes – the rest consisting of gravel plains, steep mountains and green valleys. Much of the South Gobi is part of the Gurvansaikhan National Park, home to wildlife including gazelle, wild ass, two humped camels, takhi (Mongolian wild horse), antelope and the world’s only desert bear, the Gobi bear. Fossil finds have revealed that the Gobi basin was once part of a large inland sea, and is considered to be the best places to find dinosaur fossils behind Arizona. The combination of this natural history and the fact that the Southern Gobi is one of the world’s least developed areas, makes this region many people’s highlight of their visit to Mongolia.

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With blazing red sandstone cliffs and plunging canyons this part of the desert looks like something from another world, especially striking at sunset. Bayanzag was made famous when in 1922 American palaeontologist and traveller Roy Chapman Andrews discovered the first nest of dinosaur eggs the world had ever seen.
Eagle Valley is a beautiful river canyon flanked by sheer rock walls with a height of 200m on both sides, blocking any sunlight from the valley below. There is a walking path following a small river running along the canyon floor for a mile until it freezes into a thick corridor of ice stretching into the distance. 
The towering Hongor Els dunes are located in the far south of Mongolia and stretch for 120 miles, and are known as the ‘singing sands’ after the whining noise the wind creates when shaping the dunes. The dunes reach a height of 800m and seem to appear from nowhere as the surrounding landscape is so contrasting, with a river running through lush green vegetation and level plains.