Gobi Mirage

Local news, 23.03.2022

There was a post office in a tiny village in the Gobi, abandoned since early 2000, that was featured in a famous movie once. Camels wandered on the outskirts of a village in a stunningly beautiful Gobi with antelopes and ibex aplenty, where sands were broken by saxaul and elm. 

Gobi Mirage place
Gobi Mirage place ©SDC

Many tourists passed by the village to see Tsagaan Suvarga—rock formations resembling white stupas, Khoshuu Khurliin Khiid—the remains of “Porcelain City”, and a cliff known as Senjit Khad, which looks like a handle laying in the next soum. No one really stopped in the village; it was bleak and insignificant, with only a few remembering the old post office building from the movie. 

Herders from Khuld soum in Dundgobi Province took action to bring excitement back to the village, co-funded with 20,000 CHF from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Gobi Mirage was born in 2020 under a community-based tourism support programme. The former post office is now a coffee shop themed around the 1980 movie “Gobi Mirage” transformed by the villagers to serve as a tourist information centre.

Coffee and hot camel milk are served with Gobi Mirage chocolate, and if you’re hungry and need to fuel up, you can order some khuushuur. Visitors can get info about organized tours, camel trips, camel festivals, and even camel beauty pageants happening nearby. If you’re looking for a place to stay for a night or even a week, the staff will provide directions to the camps of herder families who host guests in their ger.  

If you or your family would like to stay with a camel herding family, they may have a separate ger for you built next to their own. It’s a perfect opportunity to be immersed in the daily life of an ordinary camel herding family. You can help with their daily chores if you wish, or you can just stay in the ger and be a guest. Perhaps you want to wander around the Gobi on a camel’s back, go horseback riding, or just hike around the Gobi while being stationed at a local camp. As for food, you can cook with the family or separately, on your own stove, or order lunch and dinner. Fancy having a go at milking a camel or cow? You should try it! Join in on daily milking and help with the baby camels. Just make sure you have your boots on; a camel hoof can crush your toes, even baby hooves.  Maybe, you don't want to hike or ride without a purpose. Why not accompany a herder while they are camel or sheep herding? 

In the wintertime, herder families get together at the information centre to discuss their summer plans, the tourist services they’ll be providing, and to exchange stories about the different visitors they’ve hosted. Herders use the coffee shop as a drop-off point for camel milk and mutton traditionally prepared and frozen for shipment to Ulaanbaatar, so the coffee shop still serves as a post office.

Now a local hub, this movie set has been brought back to its former glory, complete with one of the tractors driven by the movie’s hero, Arslan. The all-in-one post office/information centre/coffee shop offers movie memorabilia, local products, and warm hospitality. They didn’t have many guests last year but drop by this summer. For more information, please visit Gobi Mirage!