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.
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.
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.
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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