The seemingly desolate 500,002-square-mile Gobi Desert hides a rich Mongolian nomadic culture; rare wildlife, such as goitered gazelle, golden eagles and snow leopards; and a Nomadic Expeditions-owned and -operated eco lodge dedicated to cultural, environmental and species preservation.
Pack a bandana. Nomadic Expeditions’ dusty 14-day Gobi Trek begins in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, with a 90-minute prop-plane flight to Dalanzadgad. There, the real journey begins. Your first stop is Flaming Cliffs, the site where Roy Chapman Andrews discovered the first nest of fossilized dinosaur eggs, and then it’s off to Khongoryn Els sand dunes. There, your 70-mile trek through the Gobi’s barren, rocky expanse begins. Each day, you’ll sit atop a lumbering Bactrian camel and wind through miles of sand dunes, past clay cliffs and through forests of saxaul trees. Each night, you’ll set up camp on the arid desert floor.
Respite comes in the form of Three Camel Lodge’s handmade felt gers and unobstructed views of the Gobi Altai Mountains. The wind- and solar-powered outpost’s Thirsty Camel Bar serves up steamed mutton dumplings and Altan Gobi, a Mongolian lager. Dig in and watch native Mongolians perform traditional songs and dances. Rest up: The exploration of Ongiin Khiid’s ancient temple ruins is next. threecamellodge.com.