Gobi Desert Travel China

The vast Gobi Desert spans both China and Mongolia. The Gobi Desert sprawls over 500 thousand square kilometers – the size of the UK therefore it makes up more than 90% of the land area of China! It is one of the most extreme yet beautiful deserts in the world, with its sand dunes, sun bleached mountains and freezing nighttime temperatures. It is an unforgettable place to visit, filled with a fascinating and captivating beauty.

China’s Gobi Desert is renowned for its extreme landscapes, vast expanses of wilderness and some of the world’s most incredible sightseeing. Every traveler should add it to his/her bucket list. The desert’s most recognizable spot, “The Singing Sand Dunes” is considered the No.1 scenic sight of the Gobi Desert. When winds hit the dunes, a deep, low resonates that compares to throat singing of Tibetan monks. A hike up the 30-meter-high will reward adventurers with awe-inspiring sunrises and the shifting patterns on the sand seem to change before your very eyes.

Most visitors travel to the Gobi Desert to take part in camel safaris, as most tours offer a complete cultural experience. A perfectly organized safari will help travelers to explore and understand the Tuvan and Mongolian way of life. Camps are mostly outfitted with luxurious amenities and no matter what kind of traveler you are, you will find the Gobi Desert to be incredibly accommodating.

This remote desert features many surprises and special destination points. For example, the Yadan National Geological Park in the Gobi Desert displays hundreds of meters-high, unusual red rock formations. Other attractions include the Gobi Gurvian National Park and the Mongolian Ger Camps. Given its remote location, most visitors choose to take guided tours so they avoid getting lost in the vast desert and can access the many hidden gems.

Normann Frank, a renowned French traveler and adventurer said, “Traveling is an amazing experience that will not only broaden your horizons but also expand your knowledge of different cultures, lifestyles and customs.” He was right, the beauty of traveling and exploring the world is that one can only ride the wind of imagination! Visiting far-flung places, like the Gobi Desert, helps to deepen the exploration of one’s identity.

Traditional lifestyle and culture attitudes

Travelers to the Gobi can rest assured that the local people are some of the most hospitable people on the planet. Many of them still live and rely on the traditional, nomadic cultures, often herding and trading goats, sheep and dromedary camels. In Mongolia, you can learn much about their culture through interacting with the local people. Many nomads live in the traditional, Mongolian-style tents, called yurts. These colorful tents are adorned with small bells and ornate embroidery.

The Gobi Huvsgul region has some of the most impressive sights in the world. It’s not only renowned for its spectacular landscapes but also its culture. The locals have a more laid-back attitude to life and the usual hustle and bustle of everyday life doesn’t seem to exist there. People living in this part of the Gobi are the kindest, most peaceful and friendly people you will ever meet.

Visitors spend hours exchanging stories and experiences with the nomads. Local people, especially children, like to mingle and interact with foreigners. They now understand the importance of respecting tourists as the practice brings economic gain. Due to this understanding, tourists are made to feel welcome and appreciated in the Gobi Desert.

Risk of getting lost in the desert

One of the dangers when traveling off the beaten path through the Gobi Desert is getting lost. Obviously, the number of foreigners in this area is limited, there are no GPRS navigators that can help you! So, it is important to follow the trail of the traveling seller, or camel herder and avoid trekking on your own. Make sure that you have a good GPS and a working cell phone, and inform someone about your route and the time of your arrival.

If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot find the right way, then try to take note of any landmarks. If you do end up lost, the best thing to do is stay in the same location and wait for help. Do not attempt to walk back to whatever direction you may think your original route was. Walking around in the desert, particularly during the night, can be very dangerous since the area has no or very few roads that can be taken.

Remember, if you plan to do a Gobi Desert trip or any other off-the-beaten-track journey then explore the area with someone who has prior experience in the area. This will ensure that you don’t get lost and, consequently, get hurt or even worse.

Activities to do in the Gobi Desert

When you go to the Gobi Desert you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to activities. The desert offers an immense variety of activities ranging from four-wheel-drive tours, camel rides, horseback or donkey riding, camping, hiking and helicopter rides.

When traveling to China’s Gobi Desert, you will come across some of the most unique and striking sites that you can imagine. Indeed, the desert is one of the most awe-inspiring places on earth, and how a visit to the place can affect a person is hard to describe.

Those looking for an adrenaline rush can go sand boarding or sand skiing. This is when resort staff will help set up a sand board at the top of sand dunes and you can literally slide down on your belly or on your feet! What an experience!

The area also offers some of the most stunning sunrises and sunsets in all of China. The atmosphere that is created due to the sand of the desert and the setting of the sun is breathtaking and picturesque. Taking pictures and capturing moments in this environment has no comparison.

In the Tuvan region there are also some interesting attractions. The Tuvan people are from a nomadic tribe and their culture is quite fascinating. During your visit, you will learn their practices and customs such as cupping therapy, horse riding, and archery.

Amazing Gobi desert wildlife

One of the most interesting facts about the Gobi Desert is that this barren landscape shelters a wealth of wildlife, and is home to over 200 mammal species, 878 bird species, more than 4,000 plant species and various other insects and reptiles.

Surprisingly, the desert’s sandy plains are teaming with life from the desert’s bounty of spiny plants to seabirds, reptiles, snow leopards and bactrian camels. Moreover, the desert is a major stopover for millions of migratory birds, some passing from Siberia all the way to South Africa. There are many rare species like black-tailed gazelle, wild ass, marbled polecat, white-headed duck and the impressive snow leopard, all resident in the desert.

Particularly in the Zuun Saistani Reserve, along the northern side of the mountains, there is a cordial environment for the wildlife. This area contains dry steppes, semi-deserts, semiarid and arid mountains with various ecosystems. These differ from other protected areas because there are more predators in proportion to herbivores here, as they predate on the numerous small prey animals.

The snow leopard in the Gobi Desert is a species of great conservation conservation concern. Although they can breed yearlong, their cubs are born from December to January. There, they find plenty of prey including ibex, argali, marmots, and hares. As a result, this is the ideal habitat for the snow leopard to safely nest their cubs, helping them to grow and survive.

Environmental threats and conservation efforts

Unfortunately, the Gobi Desert region has seen a significant decline in its wildlife population in recent years. There are many causes, the main being human activities such as overgrazing, which in turn directly or indirectly affects the vegetation. Moreover, wildlife face further threats from human-induced pollution and climate change.

The Gobi Desert is one of the least known deserts, and the lack of conservation efforts is a major issue for its wildlife. In order to protect the environment, several initiatives are being taken. Animal migration routes are being monitored and conservation areas are being established to protect animals such as the ibex, argali, snow leopard, and more.

Governments are also taking steps to preserve traditional way of life such as camel and sheep herding, which provide economic and social benefits to local communities. In 2000, the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mongolian Wild Horses, or Takhi, as they are locally known, was founded. This facilitation of this endangered species has resulted in the successful reintroduction of the Takhi to their native environment.

Gobi Desert’s future

The Gobi Desert is now starting to appear on the radar of destination seekers due to its unique landscapes and opportunities for adventure. Moreover, the future of this desert is secure with ongoing initiatives to protect, preserve and facilitate its habitats and resources.

In terms of travel, the area is steadily increasing its select accommodation options, such as luxury and eco camps. Although, traveling to Gobi Desert implies a long journey, visiting this captivating place is definitely worthwhile due to the cultural, scientific and inspiring values it provides to any visitor.

More and more people are visiting the Gobi Desert to admire its landscapes, interact with the local nomads and experience some of the most thrilling outdoor activities. So, if you are looking for a unique, enriching holiday where time appears to stand still and where natural beauty can still be admired, then visiting the China’s Gobi Desert is an absolute must!

Bernice Sorrells

Bernice A. Sorrells is a freelance journalist and travel writer from the United States. She has written extensively about China, covering topics such as culture, history, politics, and economics. Bernice has traveled extensively throughout China, visiting many of its provinces and cities.

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