In the end of 2003 I read an article in the GEO Special magazine about the Badain Jaran Desert with beautiful pictures. In 2006 our travel agency offered for the first time a trekking to this mysterious place. I immediately knew that I want to go there and I didn't have to convince my wife to come with.
The desert is located in China's Inner Mongolia (approx. 40°N/102°E) and has the highest sand dunes in the world (over 400m). The inner of the dunes is moist, this explains why they resist wind erosion and transportation and why they could grow higher than 400 m. The annual rainfall is only 40 mm, but the water evaporation from the dunes is much more. The source for the replenishment comes from snowmelt in the Qilian Mountains, which lie 500 km away to the SW. This water also feeds the 72 lakes between the sand mountains. My wife and me started the trekking in Shugui together with a national guide, a local female! cameleer and 15 camels. 5 camels were loaded with equipment, food for 9 and water for the first 4 days, the other camels had just to be transferred to another place. At the beginning the sand dunes were quite small, but every day they became higher. After the 5. strenuous day we reached the first lake, as salty as all the other ones we passed (100-250 g/l), but there was always access to freshwater nearby. Every following day we were camping beside another lake, together with thousands of mosquitos. After 9 days, a walking distance of 131 km in southwestern direction and a total elevation gain and loss of 3000 m we reached Nuoertu lake, our final destination. If you intend to go there and like to find a silent and intact desert, go very soon! This is now the no. 1 desert in China and will become very popular. Already a few modern chinese tourists do the same trip in a 4WD, in just 3 days. If you see my slide show you can imagine how spectacular, impressive, extraordinary and unique this trekking has been. Enjoy it too.