Last Updated on November 17, 2021 by Nellie Huang

A photo essay of the Gobi Desert Mongolia and its tumultuous sand dunes dotted with yurts and camels.

As the wind blows, I hear faint music in the air. The whistling tune is a hypnotic and eerie one, and it seems to echo out of nowhere. I’m standing on the top of the highest sand dune in the Gobi Sand. So where is the music coming from?

“From the sand,” my local guide Amaraa says.

“They call this Khongoriin Els, singing sands in Mongolian.” A beautiful name indeed.

Here on the top of the dune, the sand takes on a soul of its own, whispering in high pitch while dancing with the wind.

Gobi Desert, Mongolia: Sand Dunes, Yurts and Camels

Visiting the Gobi Desert, Mongolia

While the music plays in the background, my eyes are distracted by the view before me: A sea of sand stretches before me, forming giant dunes that rise and fall like undulating waves in the ocean. The sand sparkles in different shades of gold, while the cloudless sky is blanketed in endless blue. In the far distance looms a range of grey mountains, topped with glistering white snow and patches of dark green forests.

Vast sea of sand

A Magical Journey into the Gobi Desert

This is the Gobi Desert, the third largest desert in the world, covering more than 500,000 square miles in area and sprawling across two countries. It’s the desert whose very name means wide open space and whose powerful sands and scorched shadows almost define Mongolia. Without the Gobi, there is no Mongolia.

But unknown to many, it’s not all sand in the Gobi — the desert is dotted with a network of beautiful canyons, caves, rocky cliffs and majestic mountains. It’s also brimming with life: Nomadic families have lived here for centuries, in traditional Mongolian gers, and sustaining their lives on animals that live here. The Bactrian camel, a species of camel native to the steppes of Central Asia, is one example. Today, you can still see them roaming freely in the wild sands of the Gobi.

My trip to the Gobi was one magical journey; I hope these pictures I shot in the Gobi will give you a glimpse of the beauty and magic of the desert.

READ MORE: Experiencing Nomadic Life in Mongolia

 

The magnitude of the sand dunes are amazing

Giant sand dunes

Starting the climb
Looking down from the dune

Jeep

Gobi camel

Young camel guide and his camels

A close up of the camel

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More Info:

I visited the Gobi Desert as part of my Nomadic Mongolia trip with G Adventures. Visiting the sand dunes is part of the itinerary but there’s also an optional activity to ride a camel around the base of the dunes and visit a local family (drinking Arag in their tent and getting to know their lifestyle). The activity cost 30,000 MNT or US$15 and lasts around 3 hours. Transportation in Mongolia is hard to come by, so the best way to see the Gobi is by traveling with a tour operator.

Disclaimer: My trip was made possible by G Adventures, but as always the opinions expressed above are my own.