Mongolian tour guide

About Mongolian Gobi desert, Altai range and Khinggan range

Mongolian Gobi Desert

Gobi (Cyrillic, gowi) in Mongolian refers to gravelly or sandy desert, drier than the grassy steppe and uninhabited by marmots but still with some vegetation and human habitation. (Totally uninhabited land is called tsöl.)

Mongolian Gobi desert

The Gobi Desert occupies roughly the southern third of Mongolia proper, and while the term is not so commonly used in Chinese geographical classification, it also includes the land along China’s northern border from Sönid Left Banner (Sonid Zuoqi) in Inner Mongolia to Barköl in Xinjiang.


Khongor sand dunes

The Gobi Desert occupies about Seven hundred seventy-five thousand square kilometres (300,000 square miles), or about 1 million square kilometres (390,000 square miles) if the mostly tsöl-deserts of ALASHAN are included. The Gobi is a mostly level plain 700–1,600 meters (2,300–5,250 feet) Above sea level and entirely enclosed within the Central Asian inland drainage basin.



Annual precipitation is generally less than 150 millimetres (6 inches), and average temperatures range from 25°C (77°F) in July to –15° to –20°C (5° to –4°F) in January. Strong winds in the spring and fall create powerful dust storms.


The core of the Gobi along southern Mongolia and Urad and northern Alashan banners is gravelly with Scattered thickets of deep-rooted xerophytic trees and bushes such as saxaul (Haloxylon ammodendron), eaumuria soongarica, and Ephedra przewalskii.



To the north and east there are zones first of Gobi feather grass (Stipa gloriosa) and grey sagebrush (Artemisia xerophytic), and then of steppe needle grass (Stipa krylovii) and pasture sage (Artemisia frigida; Mongolian agi), and finally genuine steppe. The Gobi zone south of the ALTAI RANGE is called the Trans-Altai Gobi. Gobi herding emphasizes meat and semi-fine-haired sheep, goats, and two- hump camels.


The desert’s few towns are mostly small administrative and retail trade centres; Sainshand and Saikhan Tal along the TRANS-MONGOLIAN RAILWAY and the mining town of Bayan Oboo are the only ones with populations more than 20,000.


Mongolian Khangai Range

The main body of the Khangai Range runs northwest to southeast through west-central Mongolia, with the ridges at an average height of 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) above sea level.

In Mongolian khangai means mountainous forest-steppe, which the northern Khangai exemplifies. The southern slopes facing the Gobi, however, are drier and scored by seasonal rivers.

Terelj national park

Branch ranges north of the main range, such as the Bulnai and Tarwagatai, run east-west or northeast. The highest peak in the Khangai and the only one with perpetual snow is Otgon Tenger (4,021 meters; 13,192 feet).


Mongolia wild steppe

The Khangai’s high ridges receive about 400–500 millimetres (16–20 inches) of precipitation annually and are the source of many of Mongolia’s major rivers.


Orkhon river

Rivers flowing northeast (including the ORKHON RIVER, and the Tamir, Khünüi, Chuluut, and Ider Rivers) join the SELENGE RIVER and eventually drain into the Arctic.


Those flowing south (including the Zawkhan, Baidrag, Tüi, and Ongi) drain either into the GREAT LAKES BASIN or disappear in the GOBI DESERT.


Mongolian Altai Range

Forming the traditional western border of Mongolia, the Altai Range and associated ranges extend more than 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) from northwest to southeast. The name is of Turkish origin and means “golden.”


To the north in Russia’s Altai Republic, the Altai system is about 350 kilometres (220 miles) wide, tapering to the southeast to about 150 kilometres (90 miles). In the central Mongolian Altai, the ridges have an average altitude of 3,000–3,500 meters (9,800–11,500 feet) above sea level.


Mongol Altai Mountains

High peaks include Belukha (4,506 meters; Fourteen thousand seven hundred eighty-three feet), on the Russia-Kazakhstan frontier; Khüiten(4,374 meters; 14,350 feet), at the meeting of Mongolia, China, Russia, and Kazakhstan; and Mönkh-Khairkhan(4,231 meters; 13,881 feet), south of KHOWD CITY.



These peaks and many others are glaciated. In the aridGobi-Altai Range, the peaks diminish toward the southeast from around 3,500 to 1,700 meters (11,500–5,600feet) above sea level. The Mongolian Altai presents relatively gentle slopes to the northeast toward the GREAT LAKES BASIN and steep Slopes to the southwest toward Xinjiang’s Zünghar (Junggar) Basin.

The transverse Siilkhem/Sayluygem Range along the Russia-Mongolia frontier divides the Ob’drainage from the Great Lakes Basin inland basin. The Mongolian Altai shares the Irtysh drainage and theZünghar inland basin to the west from the Great Lakes Basin to the east.


Greater Khinggan Range (Da Hinggan Ling, Khingan Range, Ta Hsing-an Ling)


The traditional eastern boundary of Mongolia, the Greater Khinggan Range runs northeast to southwest through eastern Inner Mongolia. Independent Mongolia touches the Khinggan foothills only in the far east. (The Lesser Khinggan Range lies farther east in Manchuria.)


Mongolian forest camping

The Greater Khinggan Range About 1,400 kilometres (870 miles) long and 200–450kilometers (125–280 miles) wide. The ridges have an average altitude of around 1,000–1,600 meters (3,300–5,200feet) above sea level; the highest peak is the Khonggo Peak (Honggaoliang or Huanggangliang, 2,029 meters, or 6,657feet) near the range’s southern end.

The eastern slopes are relatively steep, while those in the west slope gently toward the MONGOLIAN PLATEAU. Nowhere slopes exceed 500 meters (1,640 feet) in height, and the range bridges are rounded and indistinct, with flattened summits. The range separates the Manchurian drainage basins of the


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