Dunes of the Gobi

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Dunes of the Gobi

In constant flux, the shape and size of sand dunes are determined by their interaction with the wind. The majority of dunes are longer on the windward side, where the sand is pushed up the dune. While the shorter side (sheltered from the wind) is known as the 'slip face'. What's more, the 'valley,' or trough, between the dunes, is known as a 'slack'.

Furthermore, when an extensive area is blanketed by dunes, a dune field is formed. Large dune fields are known as ergs and are commonplace on Mars and the equatorial regions of Saturns' gigantic moon, Titan. Although those otherworldy dunes are composed of dark hydrocarbon grains thought to look something like coffee grounds.

Back here on Planet Earth, the most widely distributed dunes are those associated with coastal regions. However, the largest complexes are inland. Generally found in dry regions, they are typically associated with ancient lakes or sea beds.

Well, that's the boring stuff out of the way. Sorry, needed it in there for Alta Vista, Bing and that other search engine.

The Khongor Sand Dunes of the Gobi Desert

Ebbing and flowing their way around southern Mongolia are the Khongor dunes. Found 790 kilometres south-west of the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar and covering an area of 965 square kilometres. These dunes stretch for more than 180 km along the northern side of the Sevrei and Zuulun mountain ranges.

These so-called 'Singing Dunes' are quite a sight to behold. A mountainous backdrop is at odds with the preconceived idea of a desert-like landscape. This however only adds to the allure.

Photographing the Dunes of the Gobi

Boundless, captivating landscapes and endless horizons are what this region of central Asia is all about. A complete lack of permanent human settlement adds to a truly memorable experience. Needless to say, getting here isn't realised by simply boarding a plane and slipping into a slumber for a few hours. This is a destination that will require time and patience.

Being a long way from recognisable society, the dunes of the Gobi are an arduous yet breathtaking journey across some of the most sparsely populated regions on earth. Aside from a small local temporary settlement and depending on the time of year, you could well have the dunes all to yourself. A truly magical experience.

So pack your wide-angles, polarizers, arse cushions, SPF 50+ and enjoy.

PRO TIP: Beware of sand finding it's way into precious moving parts. Don't forget to protect your camera too.

Boring factual stuff about the Dunes of the Gobi

  • Most of the Gobi Desert is free of sand, only 5% is covered by dunes.
  • When the wind whips up, the dunes sound like a jet engine, hence their nickname 'Singing Dunes'.
  • The highest point of the Khongor dunes can reach up to 800 metres. Statistically, it's a mountain.

Have a wemooch elsewhere...

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Fancy doing a roly-poly down those sand dunes?

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