Strictly speaking, we should not speak of the Gobi desert, as the term identifies zones of salty, semi-desert steppes. There are apparently around 33 zones (Mongol Gobi), defined by the composition and colour of the soil. This zone covers nonetheless a third of the whole country area, so to say the whole southern part, over 1,300 miles from the east to the west. But don't expect to see boundless expansions of dunes as the sand covers only 3% of its surface. The only inhabitants are the nomads who travel with the help of the Bactrian camels. The Dundgov province (Central Gobi) presents flat landscapes with rocky formations here and there emerging as by magic, and some sea fossils, proving the existence of some now vanished lakes. The eastern Gobi is the zone cut across by the Trans Mongolian, it has a few dunes on its southern border with China, in Burden Bulag and Argalant Ulaan Els. The subsoil is rich in mineral and oil resources, but it is the petrified forest and the giant dinosaur cemeteries which will astonish you. Proof of human presence was found in the southern Gobi dating back to over 150,000 years. It has been confirmed that the region was already inhabited over 4,000 years ago. You can already feel the presence of the close-by Altai mountains and their 6,560-foot high peaks, it is however the most desert part of the country. Khongoriin Els sand dunes are as high as 65 feet. Another curiosity: Yol valley canyon where you can see ice blocks in July.