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Bayanzag dinosaur cliffs + Saxaul forest

Having driven from the Khongoryn Els sand dunes pretty much without a break, we were glad to stop in Bulgan, where we had lunch sitting next to the fields irrigated by pipe from the spring. It was overcast -- there were even a few drops of rain — and quite pleasant.

We then visited another spring nearby, where a windbreak of trees protects a small cultivated area. From there we hared off across country to the Bayanzag cliffs, with only minor navigational problems.

Gaana asks for directions
kids drinking from the spring

The striking red Bayanzag cliffs have dinosaur fossils all over the place -- there are simply no resources to excavate them. There were tables of them for sale and the dinosaur eggs were tempting, but taking fossils out of the country is illegal. The skies had cleared and it was now very hot, so we didn't stay as long as I'd have liked to.

a dinosaur fossil (over a metre long)
Bayanzag cliffs

Next we visited a nearby "forest", made up of stunted saxaul trees Haloxylon ammondendron and in which there was an abundance of cheeping ground mammals - possibly jerboa - and small birds - possibly Henderson's ground jays. It was a weirdly magical place, though damn hot in the midday sun with little shade from the saxaul. I would have liked to have spent an hour or so there anyway, but the others had bundled themselves into the van and were eager to head off. So back to Jurchiin Gobi ger camp it was.

On the way back we picked up three hitchhikers on their way to Dalanzadgad. North of our camp we passed a serious windbreak — three lines of trees in just the layout Mike had told us was necessary for a proper windbreak — which we guessed was part of the "Green Wall" the Chinese were funding to try to reduce duststorms in northern China.

We got back around 5pm and had plenty of daylight, but it was pleasant sitting on the restaraunt verandah drinking cold juice and reading Gabi's Guardian Weekly. After a good dinner I climbed the water tower with Bolormaa and we stayed up there a while talking and admiring the view. It was apparently possible to get mobile phone reception at the top of the tower, from Dalanzadgad 30km away.

the ger camp from the water tower (five image panorama)

Some local boys were kicking a hedgehog around so a Japanese tourist could photograph it. Fortunately they relented and it crawled to the side of a hut and hunkered down; it was gone when I passed by later on my way to the showers.

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