Dunes, Dinosaurs and the Flaming Cliffs: Mt. Biking the Gobi Desert

8 Days, 7 Nights

Explore the Gobi Desert with unfettered views, expansive sky’s, and a kaleidoscope of colour only found here. The Gobi Desert’s awe-inspiring immensity is felt even more vividly traveling by bike. With 27.5 front-suspension Giant bikes as your main mode of transport, you’ll visit a world-renowned dinosaur fossil site and Mongolia’s largest sand dunes.

Trip Highlights

  • Trek to Eagle Canyon, a desert gorge that creates its own microclimate
  • Explore the Flaming Red Cliffs, a world-renowned dinosaur fossil site
  • Climb or ride a camel along Khongoryn Els, Mongolia’s largest sand dunes
Price
$2400 USD per person
Trip Activities
Cycling
Trip Length
8 Days, 7 Nights
Physical Level
Enthusiast
Start/End
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nights)
Yurt (4 nights)
Camping (1 night)
Age
Minimum 16 years of age
Meals not included
Lunch, Breakfast Day 1
Lunch, Dinner Day 8
Flights Included
Ulaanbaatar to Gobi
Gobi to Ulaanbaatar

Day-by-day Itinerary

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Day 1
Arrival in Ulaanbaatar (UB), Guided City Tour
Activities
None
Transfers
  • Van: 0.5
Description

Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. We’ll meet you at the airport and drive you to your 4-star hotel. After you’ve settled in, you can choose to join us for a guided city tour of Ulaanbaatar, called “UB” by locals. If not, just feel free to relax or go on your own exploration of the capital city. Over dinner we’ll gather, meet our fellow travelers and get a briefing on the coming adventures.

Meals
  • Dinner
Accommodation
Day 2
Fly to the Gobi Desert, Visit Eagle Canyon
Activities
  • Cycling: 50 km
Transfers
  • Van: 1.5
Description

This morning after breakfast we’ll catch a short flight to the Gobi Desert. Upon arrival, we’ll meet the support team and drive to Eagle Canyon, also known as “the Vulture’s Mouth,” a gorge that creates its own microclimate. Here, snow and ice remain frozen until late July. At the entrance of the canyon is a natural history museum with taxidermy displays of the local wildlife, as well as petrified wood and dinosaur eggs.

Next we’ll hike 1.5 hours into the heart of the canyon and, with a bit of luck, spot wild mountain goats scaling the steep cliffs and bearded vultures soaring above. After a picnic lunch, we’ll drive out of the mountains and begin our first ride. Today’s route will be a good warm-up before the more serious days of biking ahead. A 20-kilometer gentle descent into the vast plains of the Gobi will be followed by a 30-kilometer steady rise that brings us to our ger camp for the night.

Tonight, take a hot shower and relax under the stars before dinner. Our accommodations will be traditional felt-covered yurts, known as ger in Mongolian.

Cycling Distance: 50 km, with 310 m of climb Transfer Time: 1.5 hrs Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodations: Ger Camp

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Yurt
Day 3
Daytrip to the Flaming Cliffs
Activities
  • Cycling: 45 km
Transfers
None
Description

After breakfast we’ll bike to the Flaming Cliffs, one of the world’s greatest dinosaur fossil sites. In the 1920s, a series of expeditions here led by American scientist Roy Chapman Andrews unearthed the first unhatched dinosaur eggs the world had ever seen, along with several new species of dinosaurs and the fossils of early mammals.

Our biking route takes us over hard but smooth desert soil with just a few short loose sections. Although the route has no real ascents, a possible headwind can be a challenge, while a tailwind will send you flying! When we reach the cliffs (you can’t miss them—they’re called “Flaming Cliffs” for their vivid red colouring), we’ll explore them on foot. Here’s an archaeologist’s tip: After a torrential rain, the eroded sandstone can still yield dinosaur fossils, so you can still hope for a discovery!

Next we’ll take a short ride to see a small but interesting display of fossils that were unearthed at the Flaming Cliffs. After a picnic lunch by the cliffs, we’ll mount up again and bike back to the ger camp.

Spend the evening relaxing with a book or talking over the day’s adventures with your fellow cyclists.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Yurt
Day 4
Bike to Dundus Valley
Activities
  • Cycling: 69 km
Transfers
None
Description

Today at breakfast we’ll fuel up for a challenging ride across a midsection of the Gurvan Saikhan Mountain Range, which rises up out of the Gobi. Our route runs on an elevated plateau between two parallel ridges, with short and at times steep ascents that are followed by exciting descents. Our riding surface will be mostly smooth, but some brief sections of sand will need some negotiating.

With its good ventilation and cooler temperatures, the plateau is used as a summer grazing site by local nomadic herders. We’ll pass some large flocks of goats and sheep, and perhaps even some herds of horses and camels. On our route, we’ll also spot the characteristically white and round Mongolian ger standing out against the wide stretch of desert. It’s a great wide-angle glimpse of a way of life that’s changed very little over hundreds of years.

Tonight we’ll make camp by some spectacular rock formations and enjoy the hushed tranquility of the desert under the stars.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Camping
Day 5
Bike to Khongoryn Els (Singing Sand Dunes)
Activities
  • Cycling: 89 km
Transfers
None
Description

Today is our last cycling day, and it’ll be appropriately action-packed. It starts with a 3-kilometer trudge along a dry riverbed, then switches to a series of undulating humps with a smooth, packed surface that continues throughout the morning. Around midday we’ll exit the Gurvan Saikhan Mountain Range and reach an open plain. This is where we’ll catch our first glimpse of the Khongoryn Els Sand Dunes.

These iconic dunes are the picture-postcard image that many of us conjure when we think of “desert”: vast, towering dunes of golden sand that touch the horizon and stretch out for 100 kilometers. Rising up out of the flat, arid land, the tallest of these dunes reaches 200 meters from its foothill. Locals sometimes refer to them as the “singing dunes” due to an eerie humming sound they produce on windy days. The cause of the humming? The collapse of the fine ridges of sand that build up on the dunes’ crests.

We’ll stop for a picnic lunch at the edge of the plain with the majesic dunes as our backdrop. When we’re sufficiently sated and rested, we’ll load up our bikes into our support van and drive to a cozy ger camp.

Take the afternoon to relax, and later, when the heat subsides, we’ll make an excursion to the dunes. Try climbing the dunes (it’s not as easy as you’d think!) or take a short camel ride along the lower slopes.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Yurt
Day 6
Return to Gobi Airport
Activities
None
Transfers
  • Van: 4
Description

Today marks the end of our cycling adventure in the desert. We’ll take the day to make our way back towards the airport, taking our time to enjoy a leisurely morning. Near the airport, we’ll settle into a cozy ger camp and you’ll have the afternoon free to spend at your leisure. In the evening, take the chance to watch the stars over the desert one last time.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Yurt
Day 7
Return to Ulaanbaatar
Activities
None
Transfers
  • Van:
Description

Today after breakfast we’ll catch our return flight to Ulaanbaatar. After you’re settled into your hotel, you’ll have the day to spend as you wish, either relaxing, exploring, checking out Gandantegchinlen Monastery, wandering through the National Museum, or just following your whim. For our last night, we’ll all gather for dinner to recount our adventures together.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
Day 8
Departure
Activities
None
Transfers
None
Description

Today we’ll take you to Chinggis Khaan International Airport and wish you a safe return flight or onward journey.

Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
None

Trip Information

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Inclusions

2 nights in 4* hotel (twin+breakfasts)

1 night in tents (twin)

4 nights in ger resorts (twin/triple)

Camping equipment including portable pressure shower and seat-on toilets

Cooking equipment and utensils

Sleeping bags and mats

Indicated meals & drinking water

All visits, sightseeing, national park and permit fees

Support cars

Domestic airfare and airport transfers

English speaking cycling guide(s)

Expedition cook(s)

Advanced quality, well maintained mountain bikes

Mechanical assistance and parts

Exclusions

Travel insurance

Excess baggage fee on domestic air travel

Personal cycling accessories and clothes

Meals not indicated

Drinks & alcohol

Gratuities