15 Facts on The Gobi
Desert - Asia's Largest
Desert, with a Difference

The Gobi Desert is Asia's largest desert. But this Mongolian desert is not just the orange sands like you may be thinking. There is much more to the Gobi desert.

The Gobi Desert is the largest desert in Asia, spanning over 1,600 km (1,000 miles) over China and Mongolia, and the 5th largest desert in the world.

Thinking 1,000 miles of sand and extreme heat?

Think again.

Here are 15 Facts about the Gobi Desert

1. The Gobi Desert:
From Mongolian gobi, meaning “waterless place”

The Gobi Desert: Tour leader and Mongolia expert Rich plays with the new company drone

The Gobi Desert Climate

2. The Gobi Desert is cold. SO cold that in winter it snows, and frost sometimes covers the dunes. This is due to its northern proximity and that it lies at around 910–1,520 metres (2,990–4,990 ft) above sea level.

3. Despite the lack of blistering heat, the Gobi Desert still lies exposed and has some of the most extreme temperatures in the world. Temperatures can change as much as 35 °C (63 °F) within a 24hr period.
(And I thought England was bad for weather not making up its mind…)

The Gobi Desert Geography

4. Contrary to the popular idea of the definition of a desert, the Gobi Desert is not just bare sand. In fact, most of the Gobi Desert is exposed bare rock. Only 5% of the Gobi Desert is sand dunes.

5. The Mongolian Gobi Desert can be split into 5 different ecoregions, including the Eastern Gobi desert steppe, the Alashan Plateau semi-desert, the Gobi Lakes Valley desert steppe, the Dzungarian Basin semi-desert, and the Tian Shan range.

6. The Gobi Desert is home to the Khongor sand dune (see below). At over 12km wide, 180km long, and a height of 80 meters, this is one of the world’s biggest and most beautiful sand dunes.

7. The Gobi Desert holds archaeological importance. Many important fossils have been found here, the most memorable of which include the discovery of the first dinosaur eggs in 1923.

The Gobi Desert: A mixture of terrain, only 5% of which is sand dunes.

The Gobi Desert History

8. The Gobi Desert holds historical importance as it played an important role in history as part of the great Mongol Empire, serving as the location of several important cities along the Silk Road.

9. The Gobi Desert region first became known in Europe through Marco Polo in the 13th Century who described this vast land vividly.

10. In 1987, the Mogao Caves complex near the city Dunhuang in Gansu province was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. This is a series of Buddhist cave temples in China dating from the 4th to the 10th-century housing important historical paintings.

The Gobi Desert Animals

11. The Gobi desert is the home to a surprising number of animals. This includes gazelles, polecats, camels, Mongolian wild donkeys, and a whole load of lizards.

12. Occasionally, the Mongolian Gobi Desert is also visited by snow leopards, brown bears and wolves.

The Gobi Desert: Camels make up a significant proportion of life in this vast expanse of land.

The Gobi Desert Population

13. Yes, people live in the desert! Although, the population of this mega expanse of land is relatively small. Fewer than 3 persons per square mile, in fact.

14. The main Gobi Desert population is Mongols, as well as Han Chinese.

15. Most inhabitants in the Gobi Desert work raising cattle, living a nomadic life. They use traditional living quarters known as Mongolian Gers (yurts) and often move around.

The Gobi Desert: A Mongolian Ger camp.
The Gobi Desert: A Mongolian Ger camp. Have the opportunity to stay like a local!

The Gobi Desert Tour

Why join a Gobi Desert Tour?

- No one wants to get lost in a desert. Let alone Asia’s largest! Sure, solo travel is great – but there are some things that should be left to the experts. Let the local guides and Gobi Desert experts take you to the most dazzling places that the Gobi Desert has to offer – all the while knowing that you’re in safe hands.

- Tour leader Rich Beal has 15 years of experience leading tours to Mongolia, including remote areas of Mongolia’s far west and Gobi Desert.

Why visit the Gobi Desert in the first place?

- If you’ve read this far and still need convincing, I’m surprised you’re still reading. But kudos to you!

- A tour to the Gobi Desert will provide you with a landscape like no other. Vast expanses of miles and miles of land, with not another person in sight. If you’re after a break from people, life, or social media… It’s hard to beat.

- Visit Mandalagovi, a desert town once home to factories during the Soviet Union, go hiking in the Gurvan Saikhan Mountain range, and check out 10 million-year-old dinosaur eggs. Plus much, much more!

How can I join a Gobi Desert tour?

Head over to our Mongolia tour page for information on our next Gobi Desert Tours, lead by Mongolia expert Rich Beal.
Alternatively, contact us for information on private tours in Mongolia or information on joining other Mongolia tours such as the Naadam Festival tour.

The Gobi Desert: See you there!
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