South Gobi, Umnogovi aimag. Umnogovi, Omnogovi, Mongolia, Gobi Desert, dunes, Dalanzadgad. Gurvansaikhan Natural Park. Bayanzag. Khongoryn Els.
THE REGIONS OF MONGOLIA
- Territory - 63,861 sq, miles (165,400 sq.km.)
- Center - Dalanzadgad town, located 344 miles
(553 km.) from Ulaanbaatar.
- Number of somons - 15
- Umnugobi aimag was established in 1931.
- Meaning of province name: South Gobi
Umnugobi province in southern Mongolia is one of Mongolia’s largest provinces, with a
population density of only 0.3 people per sq km. The few people who live here
are of the Khaikh ethnic group. It's not hard to see why humans prefer to live
elsewhere. With an average annual precipitation of only 130mm a year, and summer
temperatures reaching an average of up to 38°C, this is the driest, hottest and
harshest region in the country.
The Gurvansaikhan Nuruu range in the center provides the main topographic
relief in this pancake-flat region. These mountains reach an altitude of 2825m
and support a diverse range of wildlife, including the extremely rare snow
leopard. The mountains also make human habitation marginally possible by
capturing snow in winter, which melts and feeds springs on the plains below,
providing water for some limited livestock.
Omnogov supports thousands of black-tailed gazelle, which you may see darting
across the open plains. The aimag is also home to one-quarter (93,000) of
Mongolia's domesticated camels. The two-million-hectare Gurvansaikhan National
Park protects a lot of wildlife and is home to dinosaur fossils, sand dunes and
rock formations. The 1,839,176 hectare Small Gobi Strictly Protected Area, in
the south-eastern section of the aimag, is the last great bastion of the khudan,
or wild ass.
The territory of the aimag is semi-desert. The average altitude is about
4,265-5,249 feet (1,300-1,600 m.) above sea level. The famous tourist
destinations include Gurvan saikhan, Tost, Servei, Noyon Bogda, Nomgon, Nemegt,
Altana and Gilbent, which are the extension of the Altai mountain range, and
rise up to 9,843 feet (3,000 m.) above sea level. The world's famous Gobi desert
is located in this province. Its parts are Khongor sand, Galba, Borzon, Zeemeg,
Zag, Suzh. Khongor sand stretches for 36 square miles (92,5 sq. km.), and its
length is 115 miles (185 km.) and the width is 12 miles (20 km.). The average
temperature is around 39° F (+3.9° C) in main areas, with the average in July
68° F-77° F (+20° C to +25° C) and 59° F-77° F (-15° C to -25° C) in
January. The average precipitation is about 5 inches (133 mm.). There are many
cold springs in the province such as Khadaat, Nemegt, Zoloon, Enger buleen,
Talkhit. The Elgen and Salkhit are hot springs. Over 250 species of flora grow
in the territory of the Umnugovi aimag. Many medical herbs, such as astragalus,
gentian, flavor nitracia, cynomorium, agriophyllium, and trees such as saksaul,
oleaster, populus diversifolia and elm are found in Umnugovi. The rare animals
include wild horses, wild sheep, ibex, wild camels. The aimag is famous of the
black tailed antelopes, white antelopes, lynxes, foxes, corsas, rabbits and
badgers. In the territory of the aimag there are many places of interests such
as the mirror rock, and salt lake, beautiful oasis with groves of elm, populus
diversifolia, cleaster and vast valleys of sand dunes. Popular destinations are
Gurvan Zeerd, Dulaan buut huge caves, the famous national park Yoliin valley,
refered to as "Khangai in the Gobi", Dungeneegiin valley, and Kherem
hillock. The South has bright soil, and in the North soil is brown semi-desert.
This aimag is well-known for dinosaur fossils as old as 60 - 80 million years,
and finds from Stone Age, and Bronze Age. Also there are ruins of ancient
cities, fortifications, and ancient graves, and monuments. The main section of
the economy is animal husbandry. The annual production reaches 1,800 million
tugriks, trade turnover is 2,000 million tugriks.
PLACES TO VISITED.
- Dalanzadgad. Population 12,500. Elevation 1465m. The capital of Omnogov aimag, Dalan-zadgad is a soulless and windy town. Sit-ting in the shadow of the Gurvansaikhan Nuruu range, the town has reasonable facilities and regular transport, so it's a good base for explorations into the desert. Be-sides the museum - which is not as good as the one at Yolyn Am - there is little to see or do.
South Gobi Museum. Surprisingly, this museum has little on dinosaurs - just a leg, an arm and a few eggs. (All of the best exhibits are in Ulaanbaator, or in any of a number of museums around the world.) There are a few nice paintings, a huge stuffed vulture, and a display of scroll paintings and other Buddhist items, which presumably makes up for the fact that this is the only aimag capital with-out a functioning monastery or temple.
There are several hotels in Dalanzadgad, including the Tuvshin, Devshil and
Gobi. Restaurants include the Mazaalay and Gobi, as well as those located in
- Mandal - Ovoo. This village, also known as Sharkhulsan, is renowned for the number (about 14,000) and quality of its camels. Just before the start of Tsagaan Sar (Lunar New Year), which takes place in January or February, Sharkhulsan hosts the annual festival, the Holiday of the Ten Thousand Camels.
The highlight of this festive, family occasion is the 18km camel race across a nearby region called the Ongiin-Tal steppes. In 1996 nearly 200 camels took part, and the winner took just 45 minutes.
Nearby is Ulaan Nuur (Red Lake), the largest and just about the only lake in Umnogov. It may not be there when you visit because it often dries out; and it won't quench your thirst either - it is very salty.
Bayanzag, 120km northwest of Dalanzadgad, earned its place in history as the
first spot dinosaur remains were found in Asia by US paleontologists in 1921. It
is called Bayanzag because it is rich in saxual trees (haloxylon ammodendron).
Skeletons of protoceratops and tarbosaurus have been found here. With its huge
red cliffs, Bayanzag is a beautiful place with unusual land formations. The
Americans dubbed these cliffs the “Flaming Cliffs” in 1921. Because it is such a
big tourist attraction, there are plenty of souvenirs for sale here. You can
also hire camels to ride.
- Gurvansaikhan Natural Park. Stretching from the border with Bayan-khongor almost to Dalanzadgad, the 2.7 million hectare Gurvansaikhan National Park is the highlight of the aimag, and the overwhelming reason why any tourist comes here. Unlike other national parks in the Gobi, the Gurvansaikhan does contain a few attractions, and its facilities - ger camps and roads - are reasonably good.
Gurvansaikhan, which means the 'three beauties' and refers to its three ridges (though there are four), contains mountains, dinosaur fossils, sand dunes, rock forma-tions and a valley which, incredibly, has ice for most of the year.
The park also contains over 200 species of birds, including the Mongolian desert finch, cinereous vulture, desert warbler and houbara bustard. Spring brings further waves of migratory birds.
The park also has maybe 600 or more types of plants (a lot of which only bloom after very infrequent heavy rain). The sparse vegetation does manage to support numerous types of animals, such as the black-tailed gazelle, Kozlov's pygmy jer-boa and wild ass, and endangered species of wild camel, snow leopard, ibex and argali sheep. In 2000, the park was expanded by over half a million hectares, stretching into Bayankhongor aimag.
- Yolyn Am. Yolyn Am (Vulture's Mouth) was originally established to conserve the birdlife in the region, but it's now more famous for its dra-matic and very unusual scenery - it is a valley in the middle of the Gobi Desert, with metres-thick ice almost all year-round.
The small nature museum at the gate on the main road to Yolyn Am has a collection of dinosaur eggs and bones, stuffed birds and a snow leopard. There is also an ethnography museum in a ger, which is worth a visit.
Look out for the remarkable petrified wood lying by the roadside. The ranger office and museum sell some good souvenirs, including landscape paintings and, amaz-ingly, one of the best collections of Mongolian stamps in the country.
From the museum, the road continues for another 10km to a car park. From there, a pleasant 25-minute walk, following the stream, leads to a gorge full of ice. In winter, the ice is up to 10m high, and continues down the gorge for another 10km. It remains frozen for most of the year, except lor about a month starting in late August.
You can walk on the ice - but be careful, especially in late summer.
The surrounding hills offer plenty of opportunities for some fine, if somewhat strenuous, day hikes. If you are lucky you might spot ibex or argali sheep along the steep valley ridges.
- Khongoryn Els (Khongor sand dunes). The Khongoryn Els are some of the
largest and most spectacular sand dunes in Mongolia.
There is an exotic sand dune called Khongor in the territory of Sevrei soum of
Sout govi province. This sand dune stretches in 130 kilometer area of the
province. The width of the sand dune is 3-5 kilometers and gets to 20 kilometers
in some parts. The height of the Khongor sand dune is approximately 80 meters.
The highest point of it reaches 195 meters above ground level. The dune is also
referred to "Voicy mankhan" by locals as it generates sound similar to that of
airplanes. Travelers coming up here run down the sand dune and as they stop
suddenly they would hear plane like sound. The locals advise that the travelers
should walk barefeet on the hot sand which is extremely good for health. If you
do not want to walk you may choose to go by camel, just behind the sand dune
there is a river called Khongor as well and it runs over 10 kilometers long.
Khongor river has gorgeously gfeen grass. It flows into Adag nuur. Green grass
covering land behind yellow sand under blue sky. Perfect harmony in nature.
- Mukhar Shiver. This location is very similar to Yolyn
Am and it has been made into a protected area. As a result, entering the area by
car is forbidden. Like Yolyn Am, it is frozen almost all year round and is
surrounded by rocks.
- Moltsog Els. These sand dunes are smaller than those at Khongoryn Els,
however it is a popular spot for tourists who cannot go to Khongoryn Els. The
area is also worth seeing for its saxual forest with its thick and uniquely
- Nemegt Mountain. Nemeht and Altan Mountains are located in the
territory of Curvan tes soum which are referred to be a homeland of dinasours.
Up until now dinasour fossils are found around these mountains. This soum has
many mountains famous for their beauties. There are more areas, which are
gorgeous such as Zuun mod, Zulganai, Mermen tsav, Naran, Naran daats, Khailaast
having fabulous rivers and oasis. These mountains located 400 kilometers away
from South govi province are rich with dinasour fossils. It is said that people
had manually excavated gold around 1900s and transported to China through the
China Mongolia border. The mountain is called Altan due to its untapped gold
resources. This mountain preserves footprints of ancient people who had
excavated gold. Eastern and western parts of Nemeht mountain used to be home for
mazaalai bears. However, mazaalai bears are becoming almost extinct.
- Khermen Tsav. Hermen Tsav is a canyon with beautiful oasis, 6 km in
width and 15 km in length located in a distance of 400 km from Dalanzadgad city.
The canyon is full of 30 meters high natural formations of cliffs, and looks
like remains of ancient cities and temples, iceberg drifting on a sea, huge
dinosaurs, turtles and crocodiles. As scientists defined it was an inland sea
bottom some 200 million years ago.
The first steppes on this land give an impression that you have entered to the
age of ancient world. American scholar Roy Chapman Andrews named this place as
"The End of the World." Hermen Tsav is known not only by its beauty of natural
formation but also by its trove of dinosaur fossils. The first full skeleton of
a dinosaur was found in this place. Even nowadays, there are treasure chest
fossilized dinosaur bones and eggs lying on the surface of sandy land. The
beauty of the cliffs is added with small grove of Gobi saxaul trees.
- Shar tsav. After you go through Oyu Tolgoi deposit that has made
Mongolia known throughout the world you will head to a place called Shar tsav.
Shar tsav is situated at the border of Manlai soum of South govi province. This
is the only place with clearest footprints of dinasours. These footprints depict
picture of small dinasours spinning around larger ones right before a major
calamity happened. The smaller ones had footprints like chickens whereas larger
ones had footprints as long as one meter. Several hundred such footprints are
left in an area with 100 meter in diameter. The gigantic dinasours walked one
meter long. The famous journalist G. Badamsambuu was the one who first took a
photo of this spot and prepared TV program which was broadcast via Mongolian
National Television channel. Since then both foreign and domestic tourists
started heading towards this wonderful tourist attraction, Shar tsav is one of
the few places in the world with such interesting formation and history.
- Ukhaa Tolgod oasis. Between Nemegt and Sevrei lies one of the park’s most
significant dinosaur discoveries, an inconspicuous fossil-laden cluster of red
hills called Ukhaa Tolgod.
- Zulganai. West Nemegt Mountain, the Gobi becomes a harsh, herder less
desert. Travelers must have knowledge of water sources, like the Zulganai oasis.
GPS: 43 35. 00 N 100 04.00 E
Gobi is usually assumed to be a desert where there is no border. But people get
to notice that water, plants and animals do inhabit in their own ways in gobi
desert, as they travel deep into the territory. There is an oasis called
Zulganai at the territory of Gurvan Tes soum of South govi province. It is
incredible to suddenly spot a small but beautiful oasis in the middle of the
gobi. Bamboos and reeds and woody plants of the gobi surround the oasis and
animals satiate their drinking needs in the water in the middle of this area.
Here deers, antelopes, wild horses and camels, wolves are seen many in numbers.
To wonder you may encounter deers drinking water shoulder to shoulder with
wolves as they are too thirsty. Oasis is the most dangerous in one hand as they
may face any types of enemis and is a lifesaver on the other hand. The Zulganai
oasis had had wild boar. However these animals went extinct in the 1960s.
- Nemegt canyon. Dry canyons south of Nemegt Mountain provide
interesting but strenuous hiking. Fossils, sometimes found on the surface,
should never be moved. Nemegt Uul. GPS: 43 40.00 N. 100 55.0 E
- Nemegt Badlands. Sprawl below the southern slopes of Nemegt and Altan
Mountains. This is dinosaur country, where some of the world’s most dramatic
fossil discoveries nave been made. It’s also extremely rugged and remote. A trip
here requires self-sufficiency and careful planning. Beyond Nemegt Zulganai, an
oasis in the far west where poplar trees and reeds are supported by a small
river. In the northwest, near Ikh Bayan Mountain. Bichiegt Valley Is rich in
petroglyphs. The area is best approached from Bayankhongor, on the north side.
Guides are available through the Bichegt community
- Sevrei Mountain. The road west from Sevrei runs along the base of
Sevrei Mountain /2631 m/, one of the highest peaks in the Gobi and considered
sacred by local people. GPS; 43 36.00 N. 104.02.10 E.
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