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Gurvan Saikhan National Park/Mongolia

Introducing Gurvan Saikhan National Park

With its iconic sand dunes, ice canyon, striped badlands and stunning mountain vistas, this is understandably one of Mongolia’s most popular national parks. Most travellers only see a fraction of it, sticking to the main sites. With more time it’s possible to drive to the remote western area – an eerie landscape so lacking in life that you may feel as if you’ve landed on the moon.

Gurvan Saikhan (Three Beauties) is named after its three ridges (though there are four). Besides its spectacular natural beauty it contains more than 200 bird species, including the Mongolian desert finch, cinereous vulture, desert warbler and houbara bustard. Spring brings further waves of migratory birds.

The park also has maybe 600 or more types of plants, many of which only bloom after (very infrequent) heavy rain. The sparse vegetation does manage to support numerous types of animals, such as the black-tailed gazelle, Kozlov’s pygmy jerboa, wild ass and endangered species of wild camel, snow leopard, ibex and argali sheep.