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20 fascinating facts about the deserts of China

    The deserts of China are absolutely fascinating! Yet, surprisingly, most of us know very little about them! So what exactly makes the deserts of China so interesting? Read on to find out…

    Facts you Should Know about the Deserts of China

    20 fascinating facts about the deserts of China

    There are many fascinating facts about deserts, and the deserts of China are no exception! The deserts of China are home to incredible rivers, mountains, and forests. Whether it’s vast green lands or spectacular wildlife, there’s a lot to explore in these deserts.

    Here you’ll find the world’s largest desert basins, unique sand types, jaw-dropping sunrise and sunset views, a starry blue sky at night, large fossil fuel deposits, and much more. Apart from these, many exciting desert activities take place here. This is why people across the world love these deserts of China.

    So, if you want to know more about these deserts or want to come here and explore them, read these 20 fascinating facts about them. They will surely add much to your knowledge before coming here.   

    1. The Gobi Desert’s Massive Coverage

    The Gobi, meaning the “waterless,” is Asia’s largest and the world’s 5th biggest desert. It’s a massive desert that is spread across both China and Mongolia. This is one of the most visited deserts of China, and is a popular stop on a Silk Road tour.

    This 1000-mile-long desert is believed to have only 5% sand; the rest is bare hard rock. There are over thirty mini deserts in its area, some in China and the rest in Mongolia.

    Visitors can witness giant mountains covered with lush green valleys and random dunes. This giant desert is home to beautiful oases, rivers, lakes, and historical sites. You’ll also see some large barren steppes, grassy steppes, and tall mud cliffs.

    The landscape here changes every minute and every second. Sometimes, you’ll find it extremely hot, and at other times, you’ll find it extremely cold, keeping tourists dazzled by its ever-changing landscape.

    2. The Desert of Death

    20 fascinating facts about the deserts of China

    The Taklamakan Desert is the largest in China. It’s the world’s second-largest shifting sand desert, where its sand is always in motion like oceanic waves. It’s called “The Desert of Death,” which means “go in, and you will never come out.”

    The unique thing about this long desert is its shifting dunes of vast sizes and long heights. These sand dunes‘ shapes change dramatically; they often turn from big towers to feathers to fish scales. The most popular dunes here are called Mount Shengmu, having red and white color.

    This largest desert is covered by very high wind-eroded mushrooms, which can cover almost 1 dozen people under its shade. People often come under these mushrooms to rest and appreciate the breathtaking views of the desert.

    3. Bowl-Shaped Land in Taklamakan Desert

    On the east of the Taklaman desert, you’ll find small bowl-shaped land called Turpan Basin. Turfan means “low land” and is shaped like a spherical cap, having big curvy edges. This is a hot desert rich in melons, grapes, and cotton. 

    When the sun melts down on it during the hot summers, its silver sand becomes shiny and forms different shapes. The worth observing seamless curves and the awe-inspiring singing voice of the sand make it one of the desirable travel destination spots.

    4. Largest Stable and Semi-Stable Desert

    Located in northern Xinjiang, the Gurbantunggut Desert is the second-largest of the deserts of China. This largest stable and semi-stable desert is different from other deserts as you won’t find any mega dunes. But, you would find big swathes of arid and barren lands mixed with deep natural and man-made oases.

    While this unique desert is spread endlessly towards the horizon, it’s home to varying desert plant species sprouting.

    Moreover, this desert of China is not only covered by natural landscapes, but artificial landscapes also beautify it. Large barren lands with few plants and ancient natural ecology are on one side. On the other side are big roads, hotels, and electric chairs.

    The Chinese government also placed an extensive irrigation system to create green sceneries in the desert. To appreciate its breathtaking views, travelers often come here during the last three months of the year.

    5. Marvellous Views of the Taklamakan Desert

    20 fascinating facts about the deserts of China

    Regarded as the most mysterious desert, the Taklamakan desert is ranked as one of the five most beautiful deserts of China. This beautiful desert is covered by complex and tall dunes, with duplicate sand hills and ridges.

    While driving along this desert, you will witness towering dunes having honeycomb and feather-like shapes. Moreover, it’s surrounded by majestic mountains where you’ll find foxes, wolves, reeds, and a few other animals at their edge.

    It is a lifetime and unforgettable experience to drive in the middle of this desert as you’ll come across endless yellow sand with ever-changing sun rays showering down at you.

    6. The Hot and Cold Taklamakan Desert

    The Taklimakan desert of China is one of the hottest and coldest deserts in the world, with temperatures flaring up to 70 °F during a peak summer’s day and going down to 40°F at night. It has very few rain showers, with an average annual precipitation of no more than 38 mm.

    It’s often believed that tourists can not survive here for more than one day if they lose track. During the winter, which lasts for six months, the temperature can go as low as -4°F. You can also witness a thin blanket of snow here.

    7. The Most Beautiful Badain Jaran Desert

    The Badain Jaran desert, 3rd largest desert in China, is the most beautiful in the country. Colourful lakes, towering sandy peaks, clear springs, and vast green lands make this one of the most attractive tourist spots. This desert has over 144 colourful lakes, unique mountain shapes, and mysterious spring seasons.

    In addition to spectacular views, there are many things to do here in Badain Jaran. You can feel its singing sands, enjoy Chinese and Mongolian meals, campfire parties, and much more. The best time to travel here is from May to October, as the weather remains consistent in these months.

    8. The Great Sand Dunes of Badain Jaran Desert

    The dunes cover over half of the desert and present a marvelous spectacle. They are as tall as some of the tallest buildings in the world. This is why they are called  “Mount Everest of the Desert”, as the average dune has a height of 200 meters.

    They also have a reputation for being called “The World Kingdom of Singing Sands,” because these whistling sands or booming dunes make a lot of noise.

    9. Huge Hidden Ocean Discovery

    In 2015, a breakthrough discovery was unearthed by Chinese scientists. It was believed there could be a “terrifying amount of water” or an “ocean” hidden under the Tarim basin in northwestern Xinjiang province.

    Tarim Basin is home to China’s biggest Taklamakan desert. And underneath it, the amount of water is equivalent to 10 times the water in all five Great Lakes in North America. Many operations are being conducted to trace the origin of the water stream. But, the exact location of the source of the origin of the water is yet to be found.

    10. The Incredible Infrastructure in China’s Deserts

    20 fascinating facts about the deserts of China

    China is turning its deserts into a travelling hub. Fantastic infrastructure is being laid into these deserts. Whether in the Badain Jaran desert or the Taklamakan desert, you will find some unbelievable work done. Cable cars, desert hotels, big swimming pools, and long roads can be seen across the deserts of China.

    The government has introduced big train-shaped sand vehicles that surf across all the deserts. These sand vehicles can take dozens of travelers in one go and surf all through these deserts. Tourists can book these vehicles through mobile apps.

    11. The Artificial Reverse of Desertification

    As the deserts of China continue to grow nonstop, the government of China has planned to fight it by forming a great wall of trees. The rapid desertification of the Gobi desert in China’s northern region poses a big risk to its country as it’s transforming huge swathes of hospitable land into wastelands.

    To address this problem, the government has started the great green wall project, in which billions of trees are planted in deserts yearly. This project will continue till 2050 and aims to plant almost 88 million acres of land. Till now, 336 200 sq km of the desert have been reversed and turned into a green forest. 

    12. The Unique Shapotou Desert

    The Shapotou might not be very big, but it surely is as broad as the sky. Located near Zhongwei City, it’s often regarded as the calmest desert in the world, covered with huge sand banks, long slopes, and sunny weather.

    Unlike other deserts in China, this unique desert is formed by magnificent scenery. You can witness endless sands, rolling dunes, and crystal blue lakes. Every corner of the desert is the same.

    It often becomes difficult to find a certain route here. However, the road marks all over the desert can guide you. When you look around it, you will observe its sand flowing all over like water oceans.

    13. Different Sand Types

    The deserts of China are home to many types of sand. You will find red, white, yellow, silver, and blue sand. Different seasons, arid lands, droughts, low rainfalls, and extreme weather conditions are the reasons for the formation of unique types of sand. These types are mostly seen in the Gobi desert as it has extreme weather conditions.

    While the Gobi desert has an array of sand kinds, the Taklaman desert is home to the silver desert. This 2nd largest desert is covered with only one type of sand, i.e., silver sand that prominently shines when the sun rays hit the surface of this land.

    Although different sand types add to the beauty of deserts, they have also become the source of huge dust clusters in northern parts of China. Combined with high winds, these clusters of dust have caused havoc in the agricultural lands of China.

    14. 28 % of China is a Desert

    20 fascinating facts about the deserts of China

    China is a country that has large chunks of barren land. The deserts of China cover 28% of the Chinese territory. It is a staggering percentage, as only a few counties have more barren land than China.

    Although China is trying to find new ways to reverse its desertification, turning its wasteland into fertile land will take time. Moreover, 58% of China is covered by big mountains. And only 15% is a fertile land.

    15. The Ever-Expanding Deserts

    Desertification has become a global and serious problem for China. Each year 12 million hectares of fertile Chinese land are lost annually to increasing desertification.

    Although the whole of China’s region is suffering from desertification, semi-arid regions have suffered the most. These semi-arid regions are experiencing continuous expansion and a drying trend recently, making more and more lands unable to be irrigated.

    Moreover, the Gobi Desert, the world’s fastest-growing desert, is ever-increasing. Each year it’s growing around 3,600 square kilometres, causing havoc in China as millions suffer from its consequences.

    16. Adverse Effect of Climate Change

    Climate change is destroying the deserts of China. The flaring temperature, droughts, and fast melting of glaciers have increased the growth of the deserts. Although the high temperatures in the deserts increase the vapor pressure, the rains are less often seen here.

    Until 2010, over 57 percent of Ningxia’s territory was affected by increased desertification. Dust pollution and sand storms have caused devastation on agricultural land in China. And this is why China is planting 66 billion trees to fight desertification.

    17. The Extremely Cold Gobi Desert

    20 fascinating facts about the deserts of China

    The Gobi desert is one of the coldest deserts in the world, where you can witness frost and snowfall during peak winter. Here, visitors can also see big long glaciers. But, the glaciers are melting at a very fast rate due to the threat of climate change. The temperature is nearly freezing in this desert, which can cause frostbite if you’re not fully covered.

    During the summertime, moving across this desert is like sailing across high rivers with big and small tides as the bright sunlight and clear blue sky pave the way for an extraordinary adventure.

    18. Mesmerising China’s Tarim Desert Highway

    Tarim Desert Highway, which runs across the Taklamakan desert, is one of the 10 most beautiful highways in the world. Having a total length of 562 km, this long highway connects the cities of Luntai and Minfeng, located on the northern and southern sides of the Tarim basin.

    Continuous shelter belts, guest houses, hotels, and sea sand along the way create wonderful memories for visitors here. While traveling through this road, you would come across log mountains, vast green lands, and incredible wildlife.

    19. Shrinking Wildlife

    In the last 40 years, wildlife has been shrinking in the deserts of China. Chinese reptiles and amphibians have declined by 97 percent. Moreover, the Primates are reduced by 84 percent.

    From 1970-2010 China lost 50% of its land-based vertebrates. The situation is growing darker as the increase in the length of deserts in the fertile land makes it hard for small living creatures to survive.

    So, to protect its wildlife, China is building national parks to save its ecosystems and endangered animals. There have been 10 national parks created till now, including national parks for giant pandas and tigers.

    20. Large Fossil Fuel Deposits

    The deserts of China are home to large fossil fuel deposits. The Kubuqi desert has coal, oil, and gas reserves. Projects are still going on in this desert to extract these fossil fuels. The Turban basin has also been home to large fish and dinosaur fossils since ancient times. The Turpan-Hami basins have 10.9 trillion m3 of gas and 20.9 billion t of oil.

    Moreover, the Gobi desert has many dinosaur fossils. A large dinosaur egg has also been discovered there. The remnants of dinosaurs contribute to fossil fuel extraction in the world.

    The Deserts of China- To Conclude

    The deserts of China were previously considered extensive infertile wastelands with no water. But the work done in the last 50 years by the Chinese government has made them one of the most attractive tourist spots in the world.

    Breathtaking views, glowing sunshine, man-made landscape, exquisite wildlife, and crystal blue lakes compel millions of tourists to come here. So, if you’re planning to travel and explore these deserts, read these 20 fascinating facts about the deserts of China. They will help you a lot before coming here.

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