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Yolyn Am ("valley of eagles")

Wednesday 6th July

Gabi and Peter disembarking from the plane
We got up at 2.30am and were picked up at 3.30am by the Nomads Tours' van with our guide Bolormaa (who was also one of Gabi's fellow teachers). Our plane, a Fokker 50, took off at 5.30am and were soon at the Jurchiin Gobi ger camp, which is in the Gobi some 30km north of Dalanzadgad and has its own little airstrip.

We settled in and sorted out supplies — Nomads had given Bolormaa money for water on the assumption we would buy it in Dalanzadgad, but here it was over 1000 tögrög (US$1) for a 0.5L bottle! Then we hopped into the van with our driver, Gaana, and headed for Yolyn Am.

at the park entrance
28mm, f/8.0, 1/125s, ISO 100

heading down the gorge
We stopped at the National park entrance to visit the museum and browse the shops, then drove up into the hills. We passed one eagle perched on a ledge by the site of the road and did a short side trip to check out a herd of yaks.

It's a pleasant walk down the flat bottom of the gorge, following a little trickle. Where the gorge constricts, the winter ice is still in place, with a channel through it cut by the water.

There was only a bit of clambering to get through ice section of the gorge, but when I got to the other side I realised the others weren't following. Eventually Peter came through, then we had a quick lunch and then went back.

17mm, f/10.0, 1/25s, ISO 200
14mm, f/11.0, 1/125s, ISO 100

Alashan ground squirrel, Spermophilus alashanicus
pika, Ochotona dauurica
Snow Finch, Montifringilla nivalis
There were sheep and goats up on the hillsides — and leaping around dramatically — but no ibex or argali. And I saw only one eagle, soaring in the distance. But there were ground squirels and pika all over the place, a good number of small birds, and some interesting plants. It would have been a lovely place to explore if I'd had more time and maybe a tent — the gorge kept going and there were some tempting tracks heading up into the hills.

We drove a little way into Dumagee canyon on the way back, and stopped again at the shops. Then it was back to the hot dry plain, getting back to Jurchiin Gobi at 5.30. There wasn't much to do around camp, but dinner was ok.

I had a swollen finger, with some kind of infection; the camp staff offered to drive me into Dalanzadgad to see a doctor, but I decided to wait it out (and it eventually went away).

There was Dutch group of a dozen or so in little gazebo, listening to someone, presumably a preacher, delivering a rousing speech that we could only guess was a sermon.

There was a storm overnight, with a tiny bit of rain — the staff pulled the cover over the chimney opening in our ger.

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