The Gobi is the second largest desert in the world, second only to the Sahara. It is situated in the southern portion of Mongolia
and also includes parts of China.
In many ways, each part of the Gobi looked similar to deserts I had seen in Utah, Arizona, Texas, and California. But there
were some important differences. There was no cactus in the Gobi. There was also little evidence of the flash floods which
carve so many of the deep canyons in the US deserts. Finally, there were camels in the Gobi, some 250,000 camels. Trees
were almost totally absent from the Gobi. While it was warm in the Gobi, it was not hellishly hot like Las Vegas, Phoenix, or
Palm Springs, probably due to the fact that the Gobi is further north and more highly elevated than those deserts.
Our first stop in the desert was at a "spring" Our driver removed a
rock from over a small hole. He then put his hand down in the hole
and retrieved a utensil for dipping up the water. Many Mongolians
believe that the water from this spring is good for the eyes and
capable of removing eye ailments.
Right, a good jeep trail
across the Gobi.
Below, one of the first Ger
tents we saw in the Gobi.
Right, we stop at the location of a monastery destroyed by the
Soviets. Our guide pauses to say prayers at this religious spot.
We saw many goats, and then we saw some of our first camels.
Because of the harsh climate of the Gobi, camels appeared to
be the most common of the domesticated animals. While they
roamed freely, they are all domesticated and are kept for
transportation as well as camel wool, milk, and meat. At one
restaurant, the guide was told our dish was beef. However,
after tasting the dish, she assured us that we were eating
The camels in the Gobi are Bactrian which only exist in the
Gobi. They have two humps which make them great to ride in
my humble and unexpert opinion.
Below, one of our Ger camps. In the Gobi, virtually the only electricity was from generators and solar panels. Electricity was
usually available for an hour or two in the evening. One of the most amazing parts of the Gobi was something I could not
photograph, the starry nights. Our first three nights were a new moon, and the sky was absolutely black as there was none of
the light pollution which obscures the skies in the US. We looked up at the sky and saw millions of stars. Those nights alone
were worth the whole trip.
There were some horses in the Gobi in the greener parts of the desert, although they were more common in the north. The
horses in Mongolia are small. Mostly, one saw boys riding the horses which they used for herding and transportation.
The Gers were wonderful places to stay. They
were clean. Mattresses were usually a couple
inches thick on top of pieces of wood.
Showers and toilets were in a common
building. There was also a building or Ger
Staff usually came to wheel or carry our
luggage to our Ger. Within a few minutes
someone would appear at our Ger with a hot
water thermos for tea.
We were blessed our first two days in the Gobi
with cool weather as it was the beginning of
the rainy season.