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Korean Air ies daily from London
Heathrow to Seoul. Flights from Seoul to
Ulaanbaatar depart six days a week (not
Tuesdays). An economy round trip costs
from £960, based on travel in September
2014. Flight time from London to Seoul
is 10h45 and Seoul to Ulaanbaatar is 3h35.
WHO TO TRAVEL WITH
Panoramic Journeys' six-day
overland Gobi Highlights Journey takes in
all of the places mentioned in this article,
as well as a scenic ight over the dunes and
accommodation at the Kempinski Hotel Khan
Palace in Ulaanbaatar. Group departures start
from £1,417pp. International ights are not
Exodus' 15-day Mongolian Adventure
encompasses the Gobi desert, ancient
Buddhist monasteries and the capital of
Genghis Khan's empire. From £2,449pp,
including hotel and ger accommodation,
most meals and ights. www.exodus.co.uk
WHEN TO GO
From June to October, before the
temperature plummets and the winter
snowfall. You'll also miss the wind and
WHERE TO STAY
Ulaanbaatar Kempinski Hotel
Khan Palace, a � ve-star hotel in the
Bayanzurkh District. Doubles from £103
(early booker rate) including breakfast
FIND OUT MORE
After six hours, we made camp, spending
our second night in western-style tents
beneath the towering Khongoryn Els - or
'singing sands' - dunes.
Before a boil-in-the-bag candlelit dinner,
we scrambled about on the dunes, trying
sand boarding and kite ying too, then
kicking back in the soft sand to watch the
sunset. The view was awesome: rows of deep
red dunes spreading for 30 miles each way.
It's hard to grasp the sheer scale of the place.
At night every star was visible and we slept
peacefully in the silence.
The next day brought another early start,
as we were to cross the Gurvansaikhan
national park. There are no particular routes
through the Gobi. Sometimes we drove for
hours, until the cruel joke of a road we were
following would run out of steam at the
dead-end of a canyon. When this happened,
we simply had to backtrack.
We made camp under the gaze of a
towering, unnamed mountain. A young
nomadic family of four appeared on a
smart-looking motorbike and showered
us with gifts of mare's milk and more
cheese. In return we gave them boil-in-thebag
beans and sausage, as well as spotted
dick - by far our most tasty rations.
Mongolia throws up some truly operatic
weather. Without notice, the boundless blue
sky changed into a red, raging sand storm.
Stunning lightning storms performed to a
thunderous soundtrack and torrential rain
created ash oods, � lling the dry riverbed
near our camp with a torrent of water - a
reminder that we were but guests of Mother
Nature here in the sheer, wild beauty of this
far- ung corner of the earth.