Day 5 was the highlight of the tour and the remaining days were more or less just getting us back to Ulaanbaatar. The pictures in this post are actually day 6 at which point my last camera battery died just as I was shooting the stars in the evening. There wasn't much to shoot on Day 7 or 8 as we were driving all day and taking the same route back. So here we go, Day 6. I'm going to call this the night we sleep with mice in our ger. Or should I say, the night I could not sleep because there were mice in our ger.

After leaving the lovely dunes of the Gobi, we quickly stopped because our engine was overheating. Oh, don't we just love these Russian vans. It was fairly warm out and we find ourselves letting the engine cool periodically throughout the day. We stop where a nomadic family has set up tables of different souvenirs for purchase. While some are tending to the tables, others are tending to the livestock. Here the goats go wild for water.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8We end up stopping for lunch and as Rick and I walk around, we find a carnage of animal parts which is always a nice sight before eating.9 10We eventually end up at Flaming Cliffs in the afternoon, which doesn't really look that flaming to us and we later find out, they appear "flaming" at sunset, so I guess we are too early for the fire. The site is also of importance because here is where many important dinosaur fossils have been discovered. Most famously, it's here where the first fossilized dinosaur eggs were found. This IS The Land Before Time! 11 12 13Nearby, we settle into our ger for the night and this was the least impressive as far as view and facilities thus far. The one perk was there was a tourist camp within walking distance where we could pay for a shower. Hallelujah! A proper shower. And when I say proper, I don't mean nice or clean—there were buzzing flies in mine and it was the kind of shower where you definitely want to wear your flip flops, but it did the job and there were no animal feces in sight. I'll take what I can get.

We walked around the area to find more animal parts strewn about.

What is with today and animal decay?14 15 16 1718 19 20 21 22The evening light was rolling in and we all decided to head back to the tourist camp for a nice cold beer at their bar, which in reality we found out what it actually meant was a nice warm beer in the dark because there was no electricity. Eh, you take what you can get.

We head back and the sky is brimming with stars. I take a few shots and we head to bed...

or so I thought...23 Rick and I as well as the Austrian couple crawl into bed still with the light on— well it's not a light, it's a candle, so we know we have a limited amount of light left. I take my glasses off and am laying there until I see a blob of white go across the floor. I think it's nothing and blame it on the fact that I don't have my glasses on. Wait! There is goes again. This time I put on my glasses and it's like living in NY all over again. Mice! Noooooooooo. Rick then sees another small one climbing on the WALLS! He checks under our beds and there is mice poop everywhere. I want to sleep in the van, on top of the van, I don't even care at this point. Rick thinks they are cute and I am annoyed that he can sleep soundly while I am up all night worried mice are going to crawl in my sleeping bag. It's pretty warm this night, but I fully zip up my down sleeping bag, which I later find out that I might as well be sleeping in a sauna. The Austrian couple seems just as grossed out as I am and we all move our backpacks away from our beds as to not create a grand staircase to our sleeping quarters which were are already pretty low.

We look at the candle and we guess we have maybe 30 minutes left of light and after that it will be dark—a free domain for the mice to run wild! I am freaking out. The ger has holes throughout and they run in as quickly as they run out. There's nothing to be done.24

The candle goes out.

Our other two tour mates come in and I'm just concentrating on trying to sleep all the while trying to make some noise periodically so that if there is a mice near by bed, maybe it will be spooked. By this point,  I'm sleeping with a towel over my head too because I'm imaging them running over my face.

I don't even know what time it is, but I am startled by the Austrian couple and their flashlight. A mouse is crawling on one of our tour mates beds. She hadn't moved her bags away from her bed and the mice took the stairs. By this point I'm sweating—dripping even, refusing to unzip my sleeping bag. Rick hasn't moved an inch and I am awake in a pool of my own sweat.

I barely slept that night and probably lost a few pounds of water weight while doing so. Morning came painfully slow and I was eager to get the heck out of there. Rick was rested. I was weary.

I told myself I'd sleep in the car, but then I remembered that surviving the bumpy roads awake was hard enough. Let's just say I was over the tour come day 7.

Day 7 was all driving minus a lunch stop as well as day 8 and we arrived back in Ulaanbaatar around six in the evening.

Tour complete!

I hope there isn't a mouse in my bag...


This is the first and only day of our tour that we don't start by getting in the van. We have a full day to enjoy the dunes. First up? Camel riding.

The nomadic family we were staying with had horses, sheep, goats, and camels so we did not have to go so far to get between humps. We also found out the night previous that they also produce their own fermented mare's milk. We sipped, but we couldn't really get into it.

We had an hour with the camels, led by the owner and we were to finish the ride at a nearby "lake," as we were told by our guide. By day 5 we were all dying for any form of a shower. She told us it was possible to swim in it, so we all put on our bathing suit attire at a chance of feeling fresh.

The owner prepared the camels and we were off!

My Gobi Desert camel riding fantasy was realized! 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13We arrive at the "lake" as seen behind the camels two photos above. It doesn't look like much, but we are all pretty desperate. We strip down and I'm trying not to be grossed out by the mushy, muddy bottom, or the livestock poop that floats near shore. We wash up all the while pushing away the poop around us in a desperate attempt to wash ourselves. I even made an impromptu facial scrub out of Gobi sand and sunscreen. Who needs a spa?

The things we do to bathe. 14 15 16Once we dry off we head back to our ger and rest up before we climb to the top of the dunes. 17 18Our lunch is reminiscent of empanadas (yum!) and our guide and driver set up a game played with livestock ankle bones. I never thought I'd see the day where I'm rolling ankle bones like dice. Vegas is missing out.

Read more about ankle bone games here. We were taught a game called "Horse Race."19 20 21 22 23 24After feeling ankle-boned out, we got ready to set out to for the dunes. The guide told us it would take about an hour to get to the top and that it would be best to do barefoot.

She was right about both. The dunes are steep and the sand is slippery. It was like being on the StairMaster for an hour. Thighs are burning!

We rest frequently on the way up and as we ascended, the wind became worse.

In fact, you could hear the wind on the dunes from our ger. This is a phenomenon called "singing dunes," and we were about to be in the thick of it.

As you can imagine, sand is deadly to a camera so I could only manage a few shots. 25 26 27 28 29 30 31When we reached the top, the wind was brutal. I couldn't take my camera out, let alone see because the sand was enveloping everything. We made it to the top, now if only we could see! The barrage of sand bullets became too much and we slowly made our way down.

We were exhausted after the climb!

I had no choice but to collapse on the desert floor...

Dream day complete.32


Day 4! This is the halfway mark of the trip! We left the area we deemed The Land Before Time and traveled into a protected area only accessible by way of tour operators.

We stopped at Yolyn Am Valley to find narrow gorges, yaks, and impressive views.123456After hopping back into the van, we found ourselves driving through gorges that could barely accommodate the width of the van, (much like in the above picture) not to mention that we were driving through streams. Is this a road or a river??? Eventually we made our way out and drove a LONG time until we reached the famed Khongor Sand Dunes of the Gobi. This is what we've been waiting for!

And how were we greeted? With a sand storm.

It eventually cleared and we spent the remainder of the night checking out the area and ogling at the view. 7 89 10 1112 13 14 1516 17 18 1920 21 22 2324 25 26 27 28 29The night ended with a rainbow!

The next post includes camel riding & climbing the dunes. EPIC !