Up on the dunes
Last night’s storm had blown itself out by the morning leaving a dull, overcast sky. It was really cold and still very windy. We started the day by going to the Flaming Cliffs as we hadn’t been able to go the evening before. They were very impressive (see first extra) despite there being no sun to make the colours flame. Unfortunately I didn’t find any dinosaur fossils!
We then drove to (relatively) nearby the Khongoryn Els sand dunes, known as the ‘singing sand dunes’. When we arrived at the nomadic family we were staying with, as is traditional and happened every day, we were invited in to their ger for tea. Tea in Mongolia means hot milk that has had some tea waved vaguely in its direction. The milk could be goat or cow. If you’re really unlucky the family will give you the local speciality, Arak, which is fermented mare’s milk and is disgusting!
This family owned camels and arranged for us to ride them. The camels were all tied loosely together and we were led on a walk out into the desert. Although we only walked in a large loop around the area for about an hour, it made me think about all the people who have ridden in camel caravans on the silk road from China, through Mongolia and Central Asia over the centuries.
After yesterday’s experience of rain spoiling a sunset visit, we went early to the sand dunes. They are huge. They are about 12km wide and stretch for 100km and, depending on the wind, are up to 300m tall. The second extra was taken halfway up, looking straight up at the steepest part of the climb. The view from the top was amazing. (This image is best viewed large on the black background.) It was really windy with sand blowing up and off the top of the dunes making taking photos and even seeing anything a challenge. It was more sheltered a little way down the other side of the dunes. The light was gorgeous and we stayed to see sunset (although the sun disappeared into some clouds or haze before it reached the horizon). Then came the fun bit – running back down the dunes! (Thanks to my dad for help with stitching the panorama of the dunes. The software I used had a visible join in one place but I sent it to my dad who fixed it beautifully!)
It was a beautiful clear starry night so I tried some shots of the night sky. See the last extras for the best one of the stars with the dunes at the bottom.