Camel Trek in the Gobi Desert

One of my favorite things about China is just how diverse everything can be. One day you can be in an enormous city and the next you can take a quick train to a sprawling desert. I was so happy when I had a chance to visit the Mingsha Sand Dunes in the western Chinese city of Dunhuang. I arrived in Dunhuang by train and immediately took a taxi to Charley Johng’s Guesthouse. Because I was only in the city for the sand dunes, I didn’t mind that the hostel was about ten minutes from downtown. Much to my surprise, as I neared the guesthouse the park appeared in front of me. I couldn’t believe just how close our hotel was to the dunes!

Blue Skies at the Mingsha Sand Dunes

The main reason I was staying at Charley Johng’s Guesthouse was because I had heard great things about their Gobi Desert camel trek. I wanted to ride a camel and pretend for an evening that I was on the infamous Silk Road.

Camels Eating in the Mingsha Sand Dunes

I ended up being the only person on the trip to the dunes and I didn’t mind it one bit. It was just me, the guide and a camel named Ting. One surprising part of the trip was that I did not expect to be riding a camel when she ran down a sand dune! I didn’t expect to see those huge beasts running and I certainly did not expect to be riding one when it did.

Camel Prints in the Mingsha Sand Dunes
Mountains in at the Mingsha Sand Dunes

In the evening we rode through the desert until we came to a great camping spot right under a huge dune. I spent the evening taking photos, walking as far as I could and watching the sunset. The colors on the dunes changed so fast at sunset. I couldn’t believe just how peaceful it felt out there, where all I could hear was the wind moving the sand. The guide made a fire and we feasted on cup noodles and warm beer. I laid in my sleeping bag and I saw my first-ever shooting star, followed shortly after by roughly ten more. I’ve never seen a sky more beautiful.

Camping in the Mingsha Sand Dunes
Starry Skies in the Mingsha Sand Dunes

If you visit Dunhuang, I highly recommend a camel trek. There are parks inside the dunes that are filled with tourists doing noisy things like sand surfing. The camel trek helped me have a peaceful, re-energizing experience. I woke up at sunrise and repeated what I had done the night before. We rode back to town to finish up what was an incredible adventure.

Exploring the Mingsha Sand Dunes


Charley Johng’s Dune Guesthouse
Dunhuang Mingsha Shan Sha Sheng Zhi Wu Yuan
Yuequan Shan Zhuang, Dunhuang, China

Alex Blackwelder is a Tennessee wedding photographer who loves exploring new places and chasing the sun. In her spare time she’s usually eating some weird food or learning new Chinese slang.

Vacation Type


  1. Kate Avatar

    Hi Alex! I will be going to China to visit a friend this summer and we will be visiting Dunhuang. Could you connect us with the guesthouse there? Do you have any contact information for the desert trek/camp for a night? I couldn’t find any way of contacting them anywhere online. You’re pictures are absolutely beautiful, I am so excited for this experience. Thank you!

  2. Abigail Avatar

    Hi! Your trip sounds so amazing! I’m hoping to enjoy a similar trip myself and like you I have heard so much about Charley Johng’s Dune Guesthouse and their camel treks. However I cannot find information anywhere online about how to book this. If you could provide me with some contact info, costings and how to book that would be great!

  3. Mikaela Avatar

    Hi Alex! I am a young female traveller who will be travelling solo in China in March. I really want to head to a few cities along the silk road and Dunhuang is one on the list for me! I was just wondering how you arrived in the city? You said it was by train but I would love to know a few more details like from what city and how long it took as well as if you found it safe? Thanks!

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