What surprises people the most about the Gobi Desert is that it is not all sand. The term desert conjures images of vast rolling dunes—and the Gobi certainly has these—yet this splendidly tranquil ecosystem covering more than half-a-million square miles contains fertile tracts as well. Perhaps more surprising still is that this arid landscape was covered in conifer forests and lush with lakes and streams about 80 million years ago.
For the first-time traveler to Mongolia, spending a couple days in the capital of Ulaanbaatar prior to visiting the Gobi allows you to first appreciate the history of Mongolia through visiting its rich cultural centers and museums. Within a brief drive of the capital there are also opportunities to get a glimpse of the broader natural beauty of the country.
The temperature in the Gobi in the south of Mongolia reaches −40 °F in the winter, and as high as 113 °F in the summer, making this one of the most forbidding lands in the world. Yet Bactrian camels have thrived here for millennia, supplying the nomadic herders with valuable wool for textiles, milk for sustenance, and transportation throughout the region.
The ger (pronounced ‘gaire’) presents a lovely window into the history and culture of Mongolia’s nomadic people. Ger is the Mongolian name for the portable, round tent dwelling used by distinct nomadic groups in the steppes of Central Asia. Also called a yurt (from the Turkic lnaguages), ger are traditionally constructed of a supported crown (roof ring), roof poles, wood latticework walls, and covered with felt—the dome skylight is open, with a woodstove chimney, and the door faces south. A marvel of ingenuity, the ger heartily withstands harsh winter winds, and radiates warmth within its insulation. The following facts about the ger are yet more intriguing.
For Mongolians, the concept of “environmental protection” is not merely a name for protecting nature from external influences, nor is it a name for seeking ways to rehabilitate nature after it has deteriorated. Instead it is the values of taking the necessary measures to adapt and protect nature wisely to prevent that potential degradation. It is a culture of respecting the earth, treating it with humanity, loving its animals and plants, and preserving its resources with high ecological ethics.
Located in the vast and stunning Gobi—the Three Camel Lodge naturally lends itself to social distancing with our open blueprint and low bed count. Mongolia is also one of the countries with blessedly few confirmed cases—less than 1,400 total in a country of more than 3.27 million—and zero cases in the Gobi per current reporting.