Day 21: Camping in the Gobi Desert

After a stunning drive through the Gobi Desert, we arrived in a Ger camp by the Khongor Sand Dunes.

We had a quick bite to eat from our own stash of groceries and then asked Baatar to drop us off at the base of the highest dunes.

From there, we slowly made our way up a massive sand hill with all of our camping gear.

It was a tough climb. Every two steps up, you slipped one step down the sand.

Once in the dunes, we were entirely mesmerized by the views of the infinite sand.

Just stop and breathe. There’s nothing but stillness and silence. A sea of waves in a snapshot.

I’m locked in a millisecond.

We walked around for an hour or two before we found this camping spot-

It was ideal not only because of the epic views, but because there was a little bit of protection from the wind.

Lucky for us, the wind was still quite weak when we were setting up the tent. Especially because one of the segments in our tent pole broke. Fortunately, Felix is a responsible traveler and had a repair kit with him (even though it was my tent) :). I’ve never even carried a first aid kit.

So we fixed the tent and filled a couple of plastic bags with sand to peg it down. Then as soon as we threw our bags in the tent, the wind picked up like no tomorrow and it got very cold.

We put on all of our clothes, grabbed a bottle of vodka, and made our way up to the highest sand dune for sunset.

Yeah vodka really does warm you up when it’s too cold to be outside :D

After sunset we cooked dinner inside the tent and tried to work up the courage to go back outside to look at the stars. It must have been around -15°C, but with the wind it felt like -30°.

Two more shots and we were out the door.

I walked up a sand dune to have a moment alone.

And there I was. All alone. Small Sasha, on top of a big sand dune, on a big plateau on top of a big chunk of land we like to call “Mongolia”, on little Earth, orbiting around our little star. One of hundreds of billions of little stars in our little galaxy- one of hundreds of billions of galaxies…

And all I see is shiny dust.

I walk up to the edge of the dunes. I look out- there it is, eternity at my feet.

Just like my friend Manu used to say, “in the desert, you don’t have to look up to see the stars, just look straight ahead and you will see them all around you.”

I didn’t think that my camera was capable of taking decent night photos with the kit lens (and clearly, I don’t have any money for another lens :)), but Felix taught me a bit about night photography. The first three shots were taken with my camera, the last one was Felix’s.

I also don’t really know how to organize or edit photos either :D
I tried to edit the last one to give you an idea of what the stars look like in the desert, but I don’t have the RAW file or much patience. So just keep in mind that the view was much better than the photos :)

Most people would have HATED it though! :D It was super cold, windy as hell, and there was sand EVERYWHERE! We could barely sleep at night because the wind was so nuts that it sounded like the tent was going to rip in half at any moment. It actually scared me. Felix even woke up in the middle of the night and was convinced that the tent had actually collapsed. It didn’t really, but the wind was so strong that half of the tent was directly on top of us. We also weren’t able to block the top bit of the tent where sand was coming in, so we had to cover our faces all night and just accept the sand…

There are really few people in the world that you can share such precious moments with and still have a smile on your face :) That’s why I chose to travel with Felix ;)

We woke up to a clean slate- no footprints anywhere. Some of the dunes had changed shape a bit and our tent was buried under about a foot of sand on one side.

We watched the sunrise, took a nap, cooked breakfast and hot coffee, then walked around the dunes and made this little birthday photo for my aunt :)

It says, “happy birthday, Masha!”

We watched the sunset one more time, then rolled off the edge of the highest dune and ran to the Ger camp. We felt like kinder in a giant sandbox.

Isn’t that what life’s all about anyway? :)

Total expenses of Day 21 in Mongolia:
$0

Total expenses so far of 21 days in Mongolia (including the price of getting to Mongolia):

$260.00

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