Taklamakan Desert

The Taklamakan Desert is the second largest shifting sand desert in the world, with most of it made up of shifting sand dunes. It looks like a desert landscape like the one you watch in the movies… and Chinese people in the city of Dunhuang knew how to use it for their own profit. The city is right next to the desert, but you can’t walk by yourself to the dunes: there is a door and a wall separating you from the nature. They transformed it in a desert theme park, with ticket office, lockers and a place to rent orange shoe covers to avoid sand entering your shoes. The place is packed with Chinese tourists, most of them arriving there in big groups.

taklamakan desert
This is the platform from where tourits are launched to the Taklamakan desert. They don’t do it in spaceships, but in camels, hundreds of camels lining up one after another carrying a Chinese tourist with orange shoe covers.
Climbing up a huge dune of the Taklamakan desert, barefoot, feeling the soft and fine sand, was a great experience. It was hard to go up though!
You can see the line of camels carrying tourist to the right side

Dunhuang
My foot is there, yes, but you can also see some people walking along the crest of the dune in front of it
This 2.000 year-old small oasis is one of the main reason why tourists go to Dunhuang, a city next to the Taklamakan desert. This fresh water spring, called Crescent Lake because of its shape, was an important place to stop along the Silk Road, at its pass near the Taklamakan desert. As the city grew and the water table levels declined dramatically, the lake was getting dry, from having a depth of about 5 metres in the 60’s to 1 metre in the 90’s. Then the government acted, restoring and filling it in 2006. Tourism in the area made the city grow and created the water problem, but tourism also saved the oasis from disappearing. Funny.

Un precioso mar de dunas

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