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In 10 days we went around Iceland, following the famous Ring Road. The OSM map below shows our route in detail. You can zoom into the map with the mouse wheel or the control buttons up to single streets.
Notice: Many older devices (also some less performant smartphones and tables) may experience some heavy load when rendering the map with the complete route, since they have to process thousands of waypoints. Hence, you should be a little patient. The deeper you zoom into the map, the faster the map will be rendered, because only a small portion of the waypoints will be considered. On a current PC, you should not see any significant delay.
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Part 6 of the trip: Ömnögov' (2)
Khongoryn Els. Continuing westbound through Gobi, with 25°C in the shades. Comfortable temperature indeed. In the distance we see Khongoryn Els, a 100 km long stretch of sand. The camp Gov' Erdene (Gobi Treasure) offers us an unexpected luxury: log cabins. And private bathrooms.
In the evening we visit yet another nomad family. We get some snuff, a quick check of the yurt's minibar, camel cheese, and airag (fermented mare milk).
Early next morning (I mean, really early, getting up at 4:30 am) we drive out to the dunes, and wait for the sunrise. Yes, again, unbelievable. You need to see that. The colors, the small ripples on the sand, which almost looks like snow in the backlight.
Later that day, we drive over dusty tracks, but not alone - there are plenty of other tourist buses on their ways.
Lammergeier valley. At about 3 pm, we arrive at Yolyn Am, the valley of the Lammergeier (vulture). The bottom of this gorge never sees direct sunlight, so in some years, the snow and ice never melts. However, at least this year, nothing is left of it; maybe this is a sign of the global warming. In fact, it is not really cold, you can walk through the water with bare feet. In the small museum near the main road there are some stuffed animals and information about the area.
In the evening we reach our next stop, Gobi Oasis. It is located about 10 km northwest of Dalanzadgad, the capital of the Ömnögov' (south Gobi) aimag.
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Part 5 of the trip: Ömnögov' (1)
Steppe (Dundgov'/Ömnögov'). We are crossing the Gobi today. This is a desert you may not have seen anywhere else; deserts usually mean burning sun, dry air, high temperatures, sand, dunes, camels. Well, camels are also here, but the sun is hidden behind clouds. It starts raining. Among the sparse grass you can find wild thymus, and there is a scent like in a herbal cabinet as soon as you leave the bus.
The ground turns to rusty red, and we encounter the saxaul forests. They really do not look like forests, but mainly because the saxauls do not grow very high, more like bushes.
Bayanzag (Ömnögov'). We arrive at the Mongolian Gobi Luxury Tourist Camp near Bayanzak,a rock formation that is also known as the "flaming cliffs". We are truly lucky - after the rainy morning, the sun appears again, making the rocks glowing in a orange light. Bayan-zag means "full of saxaul", but we did not see that many saxaul here.
The area around the hills is unbelievably flat. The camp does not look too far away, but it takes some time to walk back from the flaming cliffs.
On the next morning, I can see a fantastic sunrise in the Gobi desert. What else could you want?
We continue our journey again, visiting the small supermarket in Bulgan, then continuing to the south.
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Part 4 of the trip: Övörkhangai and Dundgov'
Orkhon valley (Övörkhangai). We continue just a few kilometers to the Orkhon valley and arrive at our next camp, Talbiun Ger Camp. A clear attraction of the area is the Red Waterfall near the Orkhon river. I don't take the opportunity to take a bath, as it is a bit difficult to climb down the walls, and my shoes were not appropriate for that.
A small breakdown: flat tyre at one of our buses. In the evening we visit a nearby yurt camp; the nomads show us around their cattle and invite us into their yurt. It is interesting to see how four people manage to live in such a yurt - and not just during a short trip. In the night, the Milky Way stretches over our heads.
Near our camp we can find prehistoric carvings in stone slabs. We cross the Övörkhangai aimag and have a short stop at some stone circles which may be prehistoric tombs.
The landscape is getting more and more barren. At noon, we have a lunch stop in the middle of nowhere, grass steppe all around. A tissue roof is unrolled from one of the buses, providing some shadow. There are herds of goats and sheep every some kilometers.
Ongiin Khiid (Dundgov'). At about 5 pm we reach the next camp, Secret of Ongi, located in the Saikhan-Ovoo sum (district) in the Dundgov' aimag. The camp is located next to a monastery ruin, the Ongiin Khiid. The camp calls itself "the gate to Gobi", and it again has a distinctive touristic focus, featuring a building complex, evening entertainment, and an opulent buffet.
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Part 3 of the trip: Arkhangai and Kharkhorin
Tsetserleg. We continue eastward again, visiting Tsetserleg a second time. We walk through the market halls, the container market (where the stands are actually containers). For lunch, we enjoy a hotpot dish, which is actually well-known at home as traditional Mongolian, but obviously not here.
Tsenkher. At about 5:30 pm we get to the next camp at Tsenkher. This one has an obvious touristic focus. There are hot pools outside, and a set of buildings for lavatories and a large restaurant.
After breakfast we drive through some difficult, muddy terrain; some other tourists seem to be in trouble - you really need an all-terrain car here. There is not always a bridge when you need one.
Erdene Dsuu (Övörkhangai). At noon we visit Erdene Zuu, the first buddhist monastery in Mongolia. It was destroyed in 1937 except for the walls and some few buildings. Since 1990, parts were restored, and the monastery was reopened. Outside of the walls we have a look at the excavation site, where remnants of the antique capital of Genghis Khan can be seen.
Munkh Tenger (near Kharkhorin). In the afternoon, we reach the Munkh Tenger camp near Kharkhorin. Later, we visit the Karakorum museum and then have a walk in the beautiful landscape.