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Mongolia: Bayanzag

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Bayanzag | Mongolia | Asia

[Visited: October 2016]

After getting rid of our bags in yet another ger (yurt), we first explore the desert area close to camp. It has an abundance of shrubberies, among them the saxaul shrubs. The very name Bayanzag actually means saxaul shrubs. Naturally, all dry, although the amount of waste here is alarming, and the sky is filled with clouds. We assume they will lift before we leave: most camps are quite far from the cliffs, and our driver will take us there. But when we leave, the sun has a serious problem burning through the clouds; when we are finally at the foot of the cliffs, we get off, and our driver continues. We now walk the valley floor, under the marvellous formations around us. At the same time, we also keep a hopeful eye on the sky; there are only rare moments for the sun to appear.

Picture of Bayanzag (Mongolia): The Flaming Cliffs of Bayanzag at the end of the day

We realize we cannot wait forever, and there is more to explore here, so we walk up the canyon, and climb up to the top of them. Behind the car park, we walk on top of the cliffs, and can now enjoy the spectacular views from here. The top of the cliffs is quite flat, so the going is pretty easy. It is only when you want to get close to the egde that you have to be careful, also because there are plenty of collapsed pinnacles. The cliffs protrude towards the plains on one side. I clamber over the earth for the best spots, and eventually walk all the way to the end of the cliffs. By now, I have stopped looking at the sky: it is clear the sun will not be seen today anymore, and we will not have time to wait for the sunset of the next day unfortunately.

Picture of Bayanzag (Mongolia): Cliffs of Bayanzag under a cloudy sky

The cliffs of Bayanzag were dubbed the Flaming Cliffs by palaeontologist Roy Chapman Andrews, who was searching for dinosaur fossils and eggs here - and succeeded. In fact, the earth is so reddish here, that even without the setting sunlight, the cliffs have a deep red hue. We can only imagine what they would look like with the proper warming light of the setting sun. The formations themselves are spectacular enough, with pillars, holes, are narrow and wide. Deep cracks in the dry earth show how water would run down into the plains below. When we get back to camp, to our surprise, it not only starts to be cold, but it also starts to rain, and the rain actually builds during the evening. We will put Bayanzag back on the list of places to visit for a next time, with an unblocked sunset.

Picture of Bayanzag (Mongolia): Canyon of Bayanzag under a cloudy sky
Picture of Bayanzag (Mongolia): Formation of red sand at Bayanzag
Picture of Bayanzag (Mongolia): Badlands of Bayanzag seen from above
Picture of Bayanzag (Mongolia): The badlands of Bayanzag at the end of the day
Picture of Bayanzag (Mongolia): View over the plains below from the top of the Flaming Cliffs of Bayanzag
Picture of Bayanzag (Mongolia): Cloudy day over the Flaming Cliffs
Picture of Bayanzag (Mongolia): Flaming cliffs of Bayanzag under a cloudy sky

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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