Bayanzag Flaming Cliffs Mongolia
Here we introduce everything you need to know about visiting Bayanzag – Flaming Cliffs Mongolia – interesting facts, dinosaurs, tourist Ger camps and Gobi desert tours from Ulaanbaatar.
Bayanzag (the name means ‘rich in saxauls’) is known as Flaming Cliffs in the world proved to be the Djadochta Formation dating from the late Cretaceous period in paleontological field. It is situated in the northern part of Mongolian Gobi Desert in a vast sedimentary basin, 17km away from Bulgan soum of Umnugobi province.
How were the flaming cliffs formed
The escarpment at Flaming Cliffs, along which the Upper Cretaceous sediments crop out, comprises a morphological boundary between the desert steppe zone, over the escarpment, and the desert basin floor, below the cliffs. It consists of alternating sandy and calcareous beds. The Flaming Cliffs arenaceous sediments are almost invariably reddish-orange in color. All these red beds made the cliff look so red in sunset; resulted the derivation of its nickname Flaming Cliffs by Roy Chapman Andrews. No matter what time you visit there it will look beautifully red. But if you want to witness what Roy Chapman Andrews saw in early 1920s, you can revisit the Cliffs around sunset.
As you may know, the Flaming Cliffs was a famous spot for the archaeological and paleontologist expeditions since the early 20th century. With encouragement from his boss Henry Fairfield Osborn, who was a curator at the American Museum of Natural History, Roy Chapman Andrews led the biggest dinosaur skeleton hunting expeditions in Mongolian Gobi desert, in particularly, in Bayanzag in early 20th century. The reason why Mr. Osborn assembled the expedition team is that he was a proponent of the Out of Asia theory of humanity’s origins.
During his several expeditions in 1922-28, Roy Chapman Andrews discovered thousands of dinosaur skeletons and eggs. However the most important of all was the skulls of Zalamdalestes which was the first collection of early mammals. It was a great contribution to the study of mammalian radiation and human origins just like Mr.Osborn’s great expectation. One important discovery is fossilized eggs belonged to dinosaurs which was the first time human beings saw dinosaur eggs as a whole in 1923.
On top of a ‘nest’ of bits of dinosaur eggs, the Andrews team found the skeleton of a bizarre toothless dinosaur. Osborn subsequently named it Oviraptor philoceratops.
Flaming cliffs Mongolia Interesting Facts
Another great discovery and one of the interesting facts about Flaming cliffs Mongolia was evidences of human presence-flints, scrapers, stone drills, arrow heads, flakes of jasper and chalcedony, pottery, layers of ash and charcoal. The artifacts dated between 12,000 and 7,000 years ago. Andrews team named them ‘Dune dwellers’. They declared that these dune dwellers were the one who first discovered the dinosaurs by seeing their amulet made of ostrich-like dinosaur bone. The locality where these dune dwellers lived situated right in the north of the Flaming Cliffs- Saxaul Forest.
Bayanzag – Rich in Saxual
Saxaul or Haloxylon ammodendron is a woody plant of the Haloxylon group. It is belong to flowering plants Amarantháceae family of the group. It is a shrub or small tree with a height ranging 1.5-12 m, with forked branches, and the jointed and brittle young shoots. Leaves have the form of different small colorless scales or bumps (only green branches realize photosynthesis). The wood of saxaul is brittle and mainly used for firewood. Green shoots are good fodder for camels, sheep and goats. Saxaul is a surprisingly hardy plant; they can survive strongest drought, unbearable heat and saline soils.
During the dune dwellers time, there was a river. It poured over the valley and provided lush living for grasses, bushes, trees, animals and the dune dwellers themselves. After thousands of years, however the river drained out and the grasses cleared by desert wind and droughts. You can still see a beauty of this place.
In 20th century, The Flaming Cliffs was a paradise for paleontologists. They could discover life cycle of dinosaurs and mammals from embryo to adults. But number of expeditions in the Flaming Cliffs decreased greatly starting from 21st century, not because all skeletons are discovered but there are even bigger areas to discover in other parts of Mongolia. Mongolian paleontologists like to say that they are just scratching the surface. There are more in deep down the earth.
Bayanzag tourist ger camp
All the tourist Ger camps are located in 2 kms from the Flaming Cliffs- Bayanzag. Gobi Tour is the nearest property among tourist Ger camps in Bayanzag area. You can go for walking or cycling to the site. For seeing sunset there, you better drive by car unless you leave at least an hour ago before the sunset.
Apart from a bad wind and strong sand hurricanes, it is possible to visit here anytime between June and October.
Bayanzag Flaming cliffs Gobi desert Mongolia Tours from Ulaanbaatar
- Gobi Desert & National Park tour – 8 days small group Gobi desert tour from Ulaanbaatar
- Gobi Desert & Grassland tour – private tour with internal flight to the Gobi desert tour from Ulaanbaatar
- The Heartlands of Gobi Desert – 4 days short tour with return domestic flight
- Wonders of Gobi Desert tour – 9 days winter and spring tour of Gobi desert