Trekking tours | Desert Trekking tours | Camel adventure in the Gobi-desert

TREK003-1: Camel adventure in the Gobi-desert



The Gobi desert, one of the world's great deserts, covers much of the southern part of Mongolia. Unlike the Sahara there are few sand dunes in the Gobi; rather you'll find large barren expenses of gravel plains and rocky outcrops. The climate here is extreme. Temperatures reach +40° C. in summer, and -40 in winter. Precipitation averages less than 100 mm per year, while some areas only get rain once every two or three years. Strong winds up to 140 km/h make travel dangerous in spring and fall. Great Gobi National Park is one of the largest World Biospheres, with an area larger than Switzerland. It contains the last remaining wild Bacterian (two-humped) camels, wild ass, and a small population of Gobi bears, the only desert-inhabiting bear.



Camel adventure in the Gobi-desert

This tour will star from Beijing, the capital of Gansu province, you will see the cultural characteristics of the north-west of China. Take the Beijing Jeep and trek into the Gobi desert, camel will be your guide…


Day1: Beijing – Lanzhou

Arrive in Beijing, the capital of China, and then fly to Lanzhou, the capital city of Gansu Province, in former time an important station on the Silk Road. Lanzhou was a main junction of the trade routes to Tibet, Sibiria and the central parts of China located on the banks of the Yellow River. Nowadays Lanzhou is a modern industrial city. A bus will bring us from the airport to our hotel in the city (70km) where we will spend the night.


Day2: Lanzhou -Wuwei

On a quick road we will travel from Lanzhou in about four hours to Wuwei, a city with a history of 2000 years. Nowadays Wuwei is an ordinary Chinese city, although it is well known for a famous grave. Found in 1969, dating back to the eastern Han-ear (25-220). This grave is called Leitai and is located on the premises of a temple dating back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and was dedicated to the Taoistic God of Thunder Leitai. Besides that we are also going to visit the bell tower, called Confucius Temple (Wenmiao) and the Kamarajiva Pagoda. It is said that the famous Buddhist monk and translator Kanarajiva (344-413) had spent 17 years of his life there.


Day3: Wuwei - Zhangye

Travel along the so-called Gansu corridor (Hexi corridor), a natural passageway on the Silk Road crossing the Qilian Mountain Range (elevation over 4000m) into the Tengger and Alashan deserts. At noon we well arrive in Zhangye, a former military post along the Silk Road, it's attraction is the Temple of the Great Buddha's journey into nirvana. The statue is about 35m high and considered the biggest one in China. The so-called Drum Tower (Gulou) in the city center dating back to the year 1507 and the Wooden Tower (Zhangye Muta), an extraordinary high pagoda (50m) on the premises of the Temple of Long Life (Wanshou Si), will be part of our program too.


Day4: Zhangye - Alashan Youqi

We are going to visit the so-called Horse-shoe Monastery (Mati Si), some 60km southwest of Zhangye. Its famous Horseshoe Grottoes in the shape of step-like pyramid date back to the northern Wei-era (386-535) and its central temple-with its well-preserved wall paintings-to the Ming Dynasty. From there we will continue our day trip via Zhangye and Shandan to Alashan Youqi, an ancient city of our adventure into the Alashan Shamo.


Day5: Drive with Jeeps to Nuo To Lake

Alashan Youqi is the seat of the main government of the autonomous region Inner Mongolia south of the Alashan Gobi or the so-called Badan Jilin Shamo, the Chinese name for sand desert. Heavy-duty jeeps well bring us into the sandy vastness of the desert and the rough journey will take about 6-7 hours, a hundred kilometers across a spectacular countryside of gigantic sand dunes. Our target of the day will be a holy lake called Nuo To where we are going to spend the first night in a tent on the trip.


Day6: Stay on the shore of the holy lake

This day on the shore of the holy lake will be a relaxing one. We are going to have a little hiking around the lake, and enjoying the beauty of the lake in midst of a sea of sand and will get used to walking in the desert. Meanwhile, our travel guides will prepare the equipment for our camel expedition. We will spend the second night under the open sky.


Day7: Trek

For the first two days of trekking shorter distances are intended in order to get tuned to the dreamlike landscape of sand dunes, the sun, the blue sky of course-to get used to desert walking. Besides, the packing of the camels usually takes a little longer at the very beginning of a trail. Our caravan will travel from the lake for about 3-4 hours to Badan Jinlin. Badan Jinlin is a Buddhist monastery at the shores of two lakes that was established in 1775. it was a busy place in former time but is a quiet one nowadays. We are going to visit the monastery and explore the lakes and the fascinating landscape surrounding them.


Day8: Trek

In the morning we might get the chance to enjoy the unbroken image of the monastery in the mirror of the lake. After that we are going to trek from Badan Jilin to the Lake of the Holy Spring Yinderitu in about 3-4 hours. The spring feeds a lake in midst of the desert and this phenomenon contradicts to the Mongolian name of this region Gobi, land without water.


Day9-13: Trek

In the next five days, as now being used to it, we are going to trek 6-7 hours daily with our camel caravan through an ocean of sand dunes that rise up to 300m. The average elevation of our trail at that point will be 1100 to 1500m above sea level and we will cover about 15-17km beeline. Walking in sand or on firm ground alternate and cause a pleasant rhythm. We will camp for the night in the dunes. Our route is well laid along springs in order to refill our water supply with fresh water regularly. On the 11th day of our hike we will be guests on a little farm called Cha Hu Ji Long where the Gao family is awaiting us. On the 14th day at noon we are going to arrive at a little village named Ku Rei Ta (Xu Gui) and refill our water supply for the last time and might even have a cold refreshing shower. The village is actually a ghost town, because most of its inhabitants left the place a long time ago when the seat of the regional government had moved to a northeasterly town named Ta Mu Su. The ghost town Ku Rei Ta has given its name also to a Buddhist monastery, which was rebuilt in the cultural revolution. It has a history of about 600 years. We will explore the monastery and its surrounding area and later trek for about 2 hours through the desert to our final camp. An open fire, delicious food, a lot of fun and a heaven full of stars will make our day.


Day14: Drive to Erjina Qi

We are going to cover a long distance in this day. Right after breakfast, jeeps will bring us some 70km from Ku Rei Ta to the new seat of the regional government-the town Ta Mu Su. From there we are going to travel 140km on a firm sand road to Alatan Abao. From there we will drive 450km on a fairly new tar road to Erjina Qi. On the road we are going to pass a checkpoint along the border of Inner Mongolia. After that long ride we will enjoy the night in a pleasant hotel.


Day15: Visit Khara Khoto

Right after breakfast we are going to visit Khara Khoto, the so-called Black City, on the northeastern brim of the Akashan Gobi. This ancient city is the most important excavation area in the Gobi and its ruins are well preserved. Stupas dome-shaped mounds or towers serving as a Buddhist shrine can be seen from the distance. Remnants of the city wall and renovated mosques illustrate the importance of this outpost of the former empire of Xixia. From there we will return to Erjina Qi and visit three other stapes that were part of the ancient route to Khara Khoto.


Day16: Drive to Jiayuguan

Drive about 400km to the east of the Alashan Gobi to Jiayuguan where our journey around this desert comes to an end. This city in the Hexi corridor was in former time a military outpost on the Silk Road where the Great Wall ended.


Day17: Visit in Jiayuguan

Jiayuguan means Passage to the Promised Valley. Very close to it is a restored fortress that in former time marked the end of the western part of the Great Wall. We are going to visit it and enjoy its extraordinary setting on the outskirts of Jiayuguan. We will also visit graves dating back to the Wei era (220-265) and Jin era (265-420) that are well known for their beautifully illustrated wall paintings.


Day18: Jiayuguan - Dunhuang

We are going to follow the Silk Road in westerly direction heading for Dunhuang, an oasis dating back to the Han Dynasty. We will enjoy the comfort of a hotel in this city for the next two days.


Day19: Visit Mogao Grottos in Dunhuang

In the morning we are going to visit the famous Caverns of Mogao (4th-14th century) that are about 30km south east of Dunhuang on the shore of a little river. They are also called the Thousand Buddha Caverns and considered one of the most important centers of Buddhism in China. Thousands of Buddha statues are placed in caverns and small niches that have been cared by Buddhist monks into a steep sandstone wall. Their walls are illustrated with picturesque paintings and due to the dry climate of the desert, these art work are very well preserved and of outstanding beauty.


Day20-21: Fly to Beijing

We will fly from Dunhuang back to Beijing, return to our hotel in the city center and then spend the rest of the day on our own will. The capital Beijing and former seat of many dynasties offer innumerable historic sights. We will see the most famous of them the Forbidden City, the Lama Temple, the Temple of Heaven and some less well known spots of this fascinating city.


Day22: Fly to back home

We will be brought to the airport and board the airplane back home.


Best Time: 15. september - 15.november


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