We left the lovely family after a long farewell with Buyan Khishig in the morning and then headed for our next destination, which was 180 km. away. It was another day of bumpy driving that none of us were really looking forward to, so when the van had some problems and Bagii had to stop to fix it, Luke and I jumped out of the van, grateful for the chance to explore the area. Lucky for us, it happened in a beautiful mountainous area, so we spent the time climbing a small mountain with great views of the area from the top. Bagii thought that “monkeys” was an appropriate nickname for us after our little adventure, since we couldn’t resist going for a climb! I agree with him.
But before we could put our feet on safe grounds again, Bagii started driving off. He’s a true joker though, so we both knew that he wouldn’t go far, but he did make us walk a few 100 metres extra!
We drove past some snowcapped mountains that seemed to be quite close to us, but Byamba told us that they were about 100 km. away, which really amazed me. The visibility in Mongolia is incredible, since most of the land is flat and the weather is almost always clear and sunny.
We stopped at a small desert village on the way to our ger camp accommodation, where the plan was to have a long-awaited shower in a public showering place. After four days of travelling in the dusty desert, I was feeling pretty icky about myself; my hair was greasy, my body full of sand and I desperately needed to change my clothes.
But when we got there, we learned that the electricity had gone and therefore, the showers didn’t work. Thankfully – and luckily, – the ger camp that we were staying at that night had a shower, although it was a freezing cold one.
We arrived at the ger camp, dropped off our bags and then drove off to the nearby Flaming Cliffs (Bayanzag in Mongolian), also known as the Homeland of the Dinosaurs. The magnificent orange/red sandstone cliffs were made famous by American paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews, who visited the area in the 1920s. The area was the first place where dinosaur eggs were discovered among other finds including speciments of Velociraptor and eutherian mammals.
We had all the time we wanted here, so we climbed several cliffs and decided to walk the 5 km. to walk back to the ger camp, which was enjoyable in the beautiful weather.
The ger camp was not anything like the places we had stayed at before; in fact it felt more like it was built for tourists rather than for or by nomads. I was a bit disappointed that we wouldn’t be experiencing the nomadic lifestyle that day, but still it was convenient because of the showers and the electricity to charge our cameras. They also had western toilets, which was a nice change from the traditional smelly long-drop toilets.
I actually really missed spending time with a family and their animals that evening, but despite that, with the help of beer and vodka, good company, singing and dancing, we ended up having a really fun evening at the ger camp.
Stay tuned for part five of Stories from the Gobi Desert: The Ongi Monastery.