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