Mongolia – The Gobi Desert – Part 6

September 2015

The Flaming Cliffs, also known as Bayanzag  (Баянзаг) – Dinosaur fossils – Roy Chapman Andrews had been one of my heroes since childhood. A fantasy incarnate – our exploration of the Flaming Cliffs.

His Wiki states:


Roy Chapman Andrews (January 26, 1884 – March 11, 1960) was an American explorer, adventurer and naturalist who became the director of the American Museum of Natural History. He is primarily known for leading a series of expeditions through the fragmented China of the early 20th century into the Gobi Desert and Mongolia. The expeditions made important discoveries and brought the first-known fossil dinosaur eggs to the museum. His popular writings about his adventures made him famous.


It was late afternoon when we finally arrived at the top of the cliffs. Not many people were there, and those that were there were just leaving. It was hot and dry as I made my way down the narrow, crumbling ridge to the valley floors and ambled along. I remember reading stories of Andrews engaging in running gun fights with bandits as he drove through the desert in his open automobiles. It had been an age before jeeps and SUVs. I had the place pretty much to myself that afternoon and I made the best of it, walking hither and yon scanning the landscape for dinosaur bones or eggs.

It was hours later that I pulled myself away so that we could drive to a nearby Ger camp and secure our lodgings for the night.

Ger Camp

Ger Camp

A short walk away was a peculiar area of raised sandy scrub covered with bushes and stunted trees twisted like bonsai. It was near sunset when I walked over to explore. Along the way I crossed a pan of dried mud, cracked and strewn with horse skulls.

I spent the waning light hiking through the sand and brush.

The next morning we had Mongolian fry bread for breakfast, and the owner of the Ger Camp stopped by with his 15 month old grandson. One of his old friends drove up on his motorcycle as we packed to leave. Many herders in the Gobi now use bikes instead of horses to tend their flocks.

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