- Encounters with locals
- Off the beaten track
There's not a lot to do in Dalanzadgad, or at least not in terms of tourist attractions. Nonetheless, I enjoyed wandering around its sandy streets and I got a little taste of local daily life. Nestled in the heart of the desert, the town resembles those in Western Mongolia rather than the lusher towns found elsewhere. It's an extraordinary place. For the simple reason that if you head 20 minutes out of town, in whatever direction, you'll find yourself in a desert wilderness.
Which makes Dalanzagdad an excellent departure point for touring its surrounds. There are some impressive sites to be seen in the area during your trip to Mongolia. I recommend you visit the gigantic Khongoryn Els dunes, which rise majestically above the steppe. Try to find someone who can take you there by camel, as it's the best way to enjoy the scenery. You've also got Yolyn Am (the 'Vulture's Mouth) as well as Bayang, an major archaeological attraction where dinosaur eggs and skeletons were excavated.
After an atrocious and never-ending journey south across Mongolia I only had two things in mind - to eat and get my strength up for the next stage, a trip to the Gobi Desert. To be honest, the moment you set foot in the town, the only thing you'll want to do is get out! It has to be said that Mongolian towns are ugly.
Unfortunately I hadn't really prepared my trip to Gobi; I needed to get to Yolyn Am. Worse still, I couldn't find any tourists with whom to share a Jeep!! Things didn't get off to the best start. So I was forced to spend an extra day in this hideous place. I managed to get away when I met a kind lady who offered to drive me to the site of Yolyn Am.
Mongolia is an amazing country, but if you want to make the most of it, don't solo travel. It's not dangerous to travel alone, but public transport is limited and the road network poorly developed. Only Jeeps can access the country's vast countryside and petrol prices are exhorbitant. By solo travelling you'll have to make a lot of concessions.