Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park Mongolia

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Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park Mongolia

Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park Mongolia

Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park is Mongolia’s largest national park located in Mongolia’s southern Gobi in Omnogobi Aimag. It is a mountainous terrain with 2800m mountains rising out of the extensive desert plains and a region of incredible biological diversity that forms part of the Gobi Altai Range, the outer crumple zone of the Himalayan geological activity.

Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park

Within the park, Yolyn Am is probably one of the most heavily visited areas of the national park. Meaning Vultures Gorge/Mouth/Canyon, it takes its name from the Lammergeiers (Bearded Vultures) that you may see circling on the thermals. Yolyn Am is known for its sheet of ice several metres thick that forms during the winter in the narrow defile. Although the ice can be preserved until early summer (the overshadowing peaks of Yolyn Am ensure a slow melt), don’t visit expecting too much as it often melts into a grey residue.

Yolyn Am - Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park

Other gorge areas include Dungenee Am – named for the sound of the wind passing through it. This gorge becomes a road in the summer months over the high country along the crest of the Zuun Saikhan with its rare desert alpine meadows. Gegeettyn Am is another narrow gorge that cuts through the Western end of the Saikhan Range. For anyone following this route, you’re travelling in the footsteps of many as the ruined monastery at the southern mouth of Dungenee Am shows that the region has been in use by humans for centuries.

During history, the Gobi Desert has proved to be a bridge not a barrier – a stone/sand pavement crossed by humans (namely warriors, traders and bandits) using horses, camel trains, and motor vehicles – moving between wells, springs and oases. Research suggests that the Mongol Army cut through the Gobi Gurvan Saikhan on their way south.


Most visitors understand the national park to mean the three ranges of Zuun Saikhan (Eastern Beauty), Duud Saikhan (Middle Beauty) and Baruun Saikhan (Western Beauty). However, its boundaries include some 27,000 square kilometres and the national park stretches for 400km from east to west and approximately 80km from north to south. The Khongoryn Els sand dunes (known locally as Duut Mankhan – the singing sands) also form part of the national park.


When planning a visit to Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park, you will probably visit Dalanzadgad – the provincial capital of Omnogobi Aimag. (Dalanazadgad can be accessed by domestic flight by either Hunnu Air or AeroMongolia although these are seasonal routes. It is 572km from Ulaanbaatar and there are daily public buses.)  Dalanzadgad is home to the new Gobi Museum of Nature and History with its excellent presentation of the Gobi.


Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park Mongolia

The Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park has populations of Ibex (Capra sibirica), Argali sheep (Ovis Ammon), grey wolves (Canis Lupus), snow leopards (Uncia Uncia) and Eurasian Lynx (Lynx Lynx). However, the larger mammals are outnumbered (in species numbers, individual populations and sheer biomass) by rodents including species of hamster, jerboa, gerbils and the Mongolian Pika.

Mongolian Pika

A Mongolian Pika. Image: EL guest Marian Herz

Underfoot you will find plant species such as Juniper (arts in Mongolian, this is burned in Mongolia’s temples and monasteries to create a thick and fragrant incense), Asters, Siberian Mint and the Saikhan Poppy. Saxaul is a key species –it thrives in the sandy areas where there is some groundwater. Over 12 species of wild onion have been recorded and these wild onions are grazed by the livestock and lend a distinctive flavour to the meat and milk.


If you are interested in exploring the landscapes of the national park with Eternal Landscapes, look at our Gobi Explorer experience or get in touch with Jess for further details.

Jess @ Eternal Landscapes

Jessica Brooks
Jessica Brooks
I'm Jess Brooks, the founder of Eternal Landscapes Mongolia and the voice behind EL's blog posts. For more than a decade, since 2006, I've been based in Mongolia, working closely with my beloved Mongolian team to advocate for a tourism approach that brings about positive change.. What sets our blog apart is our deep understanding of Mongolia—our home. Unlike content from influencers or creators, our posts prioritise authenticity and firsthand knowledge as guiding principles.
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