My girlfriend and I made a 6 days trip to Gobi Desert from 17-22 August, 2014 via internet booking with a local guide - Travel Gobi.
The local guide is quick to response which is desirable but gather they may need to improve their papers documentation to assist the tourist for accounting/ insurance claims purpose. We have to request several times and seem still have difficulties to get things in order. No receipt for our paid travel will given.
Before our trip, our connecting flight via Beijing to Ulaanbaatar (UB) was cancelled and the airline scheduled us to much later flight. We have to reschedule all our plans and dates then on, all our flights delayed from 1 to 3 hours either for domestic or international flights. And this seems to be a common event, so be well prepared.
For this trip, we have a guide and a driver in a van and it seems the same for other group travelers that we met on the road (if lucky as there are more animals than humans on the desert!). We have chosen the "Standard package" for this trip but do not expect hot shower on daily basis or all tourist camps have the same standard. We stayed in the traditional ger which are decorated differently in each camp and have shared shower, toiletries facilities.
During the trip, we have to change our tourist camp daily as we need to travel long distance to get to the next destination and thus need to pack light. It is common to re-wear the clothes, so don't worry as all smell the same! Each driving may takes 1-3 hours or more on the roads, so one has to be prepared to relieve oneself in the vast nature. In additional, the weather temperature during our trip range from 8 to 33 deg basis. The trip can be pretty dusty and those who has allergy, do remember to take some medication in case needed.
Despite the remoteness of the places we went, it would seem quite safe for anyone to travel with a good guide and driver with good driving (land may seem flat but there are many terrains to overcome), navigational skills (as there is no sign board in the desert!)
Food wise was a bit disappointment as most tourist camps are now catered towards the taste bud of the tourists (western food geared towards Russian style) instead of presenting the local cuisines. Fortunately, we managed to taste authentic food served in local restaurant on our 1st day. The meat is good and sweet as they are fed with grasses in the nature and not animal feeds. And there are no fruits in the desert! So finish up your salad if being served in the tourist camp!
Otherwise, the vast unobstructed sky above the steppes, lush greenery, plots of potatoes harvest with bright glowing yellow color against the blue sky with clouds, wild bushes, cliffs, hills, terrains and untamed animals in the wild, roaming for their food, laze under the sky, gather to share the small puddle of waters, the enormous number of stars shining bright and the moonlight in the night have created a scenic memorable image that will imprint in your mind for long.
The 6 days trip to Gobi Desert is just a touch and go experience but was good for at least once in a lifetime! I would love to go back to Mongolia again if there is opportunity and next time, I will want to stay longer in each destination to experience the scenery and peacefulness rendered by the vast nature! Back to basics!
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