Gobi Desert


Here, in 1922, Roy Chapman Andrews from the American Museum of Natural History in New York discovered great numbers of bones. They belonged to a hitherto unknown, homed and herbivorous dinosaur approximately 2 m long. It was later named Protoceratops andrewsi after its discoverer. In two years of digging, more than one hundred individuals were unearthed.

During this time, Chapman and his colleagues first discovered dinosaur nests complete with clutches of eggs; a discovery which drew world-wide attention.
What natural disasters may have surprised and killed all these dinosaurs? Scientists think that the animals were buried under sandslides. Large sand dunes saturated with rain water collapsed and flowed lava-like into the valley. Today, the occasional heavy rains and the strong spring storms expose the skeletons by washing away the surface layer.
A few kilometres north-west of Bayanzag Tugrogiin Shiree is another important site for Protoceratops. Here, the visitor can view the exposed edges of geological strata, areas of alluvial sand and saksaul stands .
North-east of Bayanzag, visitors are able to view the small fields of shifting dunes of Moltzog Eis and sandy areas overgrown by saksaul.


"Khongoryn Els" is the largest accumulation of sand in the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park. With an area of over 900km2 it is one of the biggest areas of sand in Mongolia.

The dunes rise abruptly from the plain. The wind continu­ally blows from the north west; therefore the dunes can?reach an imposing 200 m in height on the leading edge. These high dunes are called "singing sands" by the local inhabitants.The dunes are situated in a basin surrounded by moun­tains.They are 6-12 km wide and over 100 km long. The sand in the basins between the mountains originated in ancient lakes and rivers. The wind subsequently shaped it into dunes.
Tour operators recognize the tourist value of Khongoryn Els and include it in their Gobi tours.


World famous sights within the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park and its surroundings are the paleonto­logical sites in the west of the Park, with such well-known names as Khennen Tsav , Bugiin Tsav, Ulaan Tsav, Altan and Nemegt Mountains and Bayanzag north west of Dalanzadgad. The views include impressive canyons and rugged mountain massifs. Together with the Himalayan Mountains, these massifs were folded upward like a concertina when the Indian continental plate drifting north in the ocean collided with Asia.

The heaps of rubble at the foot of the mountains and in the valleys between the mountains are multi-coloured because every mineral contained in the rocks erodes differently. These wide basins used to be swamp and lake landscapes populated by dinosaurs. Therefore they are hiding an incredible number of fossils. Paleontological discoveries have been made in the Gobi for centuries. The old Chinese-Mongolian dragon mythology is said to have its origin in the discovery of dinosaurs in the Gobi.


In 1965, long before the Gurvansaikhan National Park was established, a small area of 69 km2 around the Yolyn Am was gazetted as a Protected Area. Visitors arrived to see the permanent ice, the endemic plants and impressive wildlife such as the numerous vultures, ibex and argali.Snow leopards and other predators also occur in the vicinity of the Yol Valley, which is less than 60 km west of Dalanzadgad in the Zuun Saikhan Mountains. Between steep and jagged rock faces of the Zuun Saikhan Mountains, the Yol creek winds through a narrow gorge at an altitude of 2,500 m. It is one of the 5 rivers in the Gurvansaikhan National Park with water throughout the year.High altitudes of the "Three Beauties" receive only 50 mm precipitation in a year; at the foot of the mountains it is only a little more than 100 mm. These numbers illustrate what a scarce resource surface water is in this region. For the whole area, the average annual precipitation is 120-130 mm. rn general, two thirds of this falls in the summer, i.e. between June and August. The warmest month is July, with a maximum recorded tempera­ture of 40 Celsius and a minimum of -42 Celsius in January. These temperature extremes combine with winds and sporadic heavy rain to shape the gorges' jagged rock faces.

The river in the "Yolyn Am"Gorge builds up a thick layer of ice over the winter months. In former years, this ice layer did not thaw even in the summer. However, since approximately 1980, the ice has been observed to thaw faster. These days, the length of time that the ice can still be admired depends on the climatic conditions each year, i.e. how cold and wet the winter was (which will have determined the thickness of the ice layer), when the thawing period commenced and what the temperature has been since (which will have determined the speed at which the ke has thawed).