Duniart – Photography and Blog by Toine IJsseldijk

Khongoryn Els

Mongolia, June – July 2019

Day 4 – 24 Jun: Yoliin Am Khongoryn Els

After a drive through some spectacular diverse scenery we arrived early afternoon in Khongoryn Els, home to some of the largest and most spectacular sand dunes in Mongolia. Khongoryn Els is also known as the Singing Dunes, from the sound they make when the sand is moved by the wind, they are up to 300 meter high.
The Gobi Desert is not entirely a dry desert and has a short annual rainy season, feeding enough ground water that is accessible throughout the dry season, making large parts of the desert here to some extend liveable. That is, liveable for those who really know how to survive in otherwise extremely harsh conditions, isolated from the outside world. The next two days we would spend with our fabulous nomad host, who had set up his gers at the edge of the sand dunes, deeper into the desert than anyone else.
Click any of the photos for full screen view and to scroll through the gallery.
In the afternoon we went for a camel ride, which was quite an experience. These camels are still semi-wild; we had to mount them one by one and then took off for a ride around the bare desert landscape.
Sun sets quite late this time of the year, so we used the evening to explore the nearby sand dunes and enjoy sunset from the summit of one of the highest dunes. That was easier said than done, because the dunes turned out to be much taller than they seemed. The slopes are steep, and you really have to use hand and feet to get up there!
And that’s how our first day deep in the Gobi Desert came to a beautiful end…

Day 5 – 25 Jun: Khongoryn Els – Gobi Desert

I woke up early morning, as the day before I had seen that our host had gathered all their camels nearby and tied them with ropes to some poles. I was assuming they would let them free the next morning, which I thought could make for some nice photos, in early sunlight.
Time to climb the sand dunes one more time, this time just to play in the sand!
Next stop: deeper into the Gobi Desert, for some wild camping !
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