Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Journey to the Gobi Desert: Rock Formations

The total number of days of the trip was seven, I was excited to finally begin the journey; I had to wait for a few days before starting my camping trip in Mongolia. It was too expensive to do things on my own, so I waited for other people who planned to do the same thing. Luckily, I met other travelers that came from Russia and wanted to do the same trip to the desert.

Our first stop was the Rock Formations.


The Long Journey


It began to snow once we started to head off for the Gobi Desert. It was my first time to experience snow, and in Mongolia of all places! Once our customized van drove out of Ulaanbaatar, I couldn't tell the difference between the sky and the road since everything was white. We passed by nondescript towns and gas stations; there was a whole lot of nothing for a long time.

We eventually got to a part that wasn't covered in snow. I didn't know where we were but there were horses grazing.





We drove off again after a short break, and the brief grassland area turned into snow, ice and white as far as my eyes could see.

Rock Formations


Our driver/guide finally said 'we have arrived at our first stop' (something like that, he spoke only broken English). It was called Rock Formation (I forgot the Mongolian name, if ever there was one).





Since it was my first time seeing snow, I was excited to see the rugged rock formations covered in white. After my initial excitement wore off, I started to freeze again, it was really cold, wind and snow blowing all over the place. It got worse when we went higher by a couple of meters.



Smile even if it's freezing
The view overlooking the rock formations and the surrounding landscape was beautiful.


We took a couple more minutes to explore the area and then we hit the road again.

At Camp


The Rock Formation wasn't originally the first stop, but because of the inclement weather, our driver decided to suggest the change, which we didn't go against. We arrived at camp and felt immediately welcome.





We were given some snacks and drinks, and talked about our trip. Time flew by quickly and it was dinner already. There wasn't much to do at camp other than play cards, read or listen to music. I wasn't able to take pictures of the stars and moon at night, but I'd describe what I saw as nothing short of spectacular. There were no buildings, just a hint of smog and no other lights that would make it difficult to see the constellations above. I would later realize that nights in Mongolia weren't completely dark, but illuminated by the stars and moon.





Sunrises in Mongolia were just as beautiful as the night sky. There was nothing blocking your view, and you'd see the sky turn from ash gray into different shades of red and orange.

I left my water in the van and it froze in less than 12 hours




Camping in Mongolia


I booked a tour with ubguesthouse, the van was comfortable for this type of trip and the guide/driver friendly and attentive. He and his assistant were able to cook inside the vehicle (no joke!). They charge around US$50-US$55 per day depending on the size of the group; this covers the homestays, food, fees and van for the entire trip.


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