Khogorin Els Sand Dunes, Gobi Desert, Mongolia
Trip Start Mar 13, 2007
92Trip End Aug 10, 2007
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Unlike natural resource rich Kazakhstan and Russia, Mongolia is actually trying to build a tourist industry as part of its economic development and now attracts around 300,000 foreign tourists annually
Our ten days or so in the Gobi consisted of a mix of sightseeing and transit and a combination of ger camps and bush camping. Perhaps it's a misnomer, though, to characterize camping in a land without any bushes as bush camping. The first of the three main sights in south-central Mongolia that we visited was Khongorin Els sand dunes, one of several major sand dunes areas and stretching about 75 miles long by 5 miles wide in what is overall a mostly stony rather than sandy desert.
There's not much else to do in the Gobi except walks in the desert to some of the scenic spots and perhaps a camel ride to the sand dunes. I've ridden one-humped camels (Dromedaries) many times when working at a trip leader in Egypt and Jordan, but riding on a two-humped Bactrian Camel was an entirely new experience for me. The main difference between the two as far as I can tell is that Dromedaries are taller than Bactrian Camels, an evolutionary adaptation to be farther from the hot ground in a hotter climate, thus the swaying "ship-of-the-desert" sensation of riding a camel is more pronounced on a Dromedary than on a Bactrian Camel. So keep that in mind if you are considering purchasing a camel as alternative form of transportation because of high fuel prices. I feel like such a camel connoisseur in comparing the difference in the ride between and one-humped and a two-humped camel.