The Gobi Desert is the 6th-largest desert in the world and the second-largest in Asia after the Arabian Desert. The name “Gobi” comes from the Mongolian word “Govi” meaning “waterless place” and it spreads across southern Mongolia and northwestern China between the Mongolian Altai and Khangai mountains and the Himalayan Plateau, with an estimated area of 500,000 square miles (1,300,000 square km).
Contrary to the image of what was a remote and unexplored region, much of the Gobi is not sandy but has exposed bare rock, and it is possible to drive the car for long distances in a different direction to arrive at the Inner Mongolia Grassland, the Taklamakan Desert in Xinjiang, the Tibetan Plateau, and the Da Hinggan (Greater Khingan) Range.
It is famous in Chinese history as the location of several important cities along the Silk Road. Later, due to impressive descriptions by Marco Polo in 13th-century, the Gobi Desert is first becoming known to Europeans.
The climate of Gobi is acutely continental and dry: winter is severe, spring is dry and cold, and summer is warm. The daily temperature range is quite large, and you will experience the scorching heat of the sun in the daytime and the bone-chilling freeze at night so warm clothes are a must in any season.
Despite its harsh climate, the Gobi Desert harbors some unique flora and fauna. Among the species that inhabit it, the most notable are the snow leopard, Przewalski’s horse, gazelles, gray wolf, antelope, and pikas.
Travel in the Gobi Desert
As constituting a major part of the ancient Silk Road, it is one of the great wonders in China and has abundant culture and history, and even parts of ruins of the Great Wall and the exceptionally preserved dinosaur fossil assemblages have been found here, so the Gobi perhaps a must attraction in many travelers list. However, it is strongly discouraged to venture there alone, and accompanied by a guide is essential.
Taking a 4×4 jeep to surf sand sea, camel trek, or overnight stay at a yurt is all family-friendly desert activities.
The fantastic tour of the Gobi Desert can be integrated with an itinerary starting from Beijing and the Great Wall, crossing Inner Mongolia to Gansu and Xinjiang along the footsteps of the Silk Road.
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