Mongolia – Khongoryn Els (Singing Dunes)

This post is part of my Mongolia blog post series. 

One of the highlights of this Mongolia trip for me was visiting the Khongoryn Els sand dunes in the Gobi desert. The Gobi desert is vast. It is more a steppe than a sand desert, where you find grassland, thorny bushes, gravel plains, buttes, rocky canyons and sand dunes. Only about 3% of Gobi is covered by sand dunes.

Khongoryn Els Sand Dunes Panorama
Khongoryn Els Sand Dunes Panorama

The Khongoryn Els are impressive. They are about 10 km wide, 100 km long and up to 300 meters high. They are also known as the singing dunes as the wind blowing over them creates a whistling sound.

Khongoryn Els Sand Dunes
Khongoryn Els Sand Dunes

Standing in front of the dunes is really impressive. It is difficult to get the an idea of the scale by just looking at this image. The dark spots in the picture do not come from a dirty camera sensor, but from people climbing the dunes. I enlarged a small section of the above image that shows some people making their way up to the summit.

Climbing the Khongoryn Els Sand Dunes
Climbing the Khongoryn Els Sand Dunes

I arrived a bit too late to climb to the very top for sunset. This would have been a blast, but the light at the bottom was nice too.

Setting Sun behind Khongoryn Els Sand Dunes
Setting Sun behind Khongoryn Els Sand Dunes

Out of curiosity I hiked a bit up to get a different perspective and an idea how difficult it was to walk on the dunes. The sand in the portion I climbed was rather solid so it was easy to progress.
Looking down from my higher ground, I saw that the driver was taking a well deserved nap.

Sand Dunes Parking Lot
Sand Dunes Parking Lot

And when I turned around, I saw these beautiful shapes and lines. This is what I was looking forward to find in the sand dunes.

Khongoryn Els at Sunset
Khongoryn Els at Sunset





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