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Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

In Brief: We made a mission into the Alashan Desert, travelling by foot, camel, jeep, and boat (!) to find a temple in the middle of the dunes.

Following the footprints of other hikers to the top of a dune – a tough climb! - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

Hiking up a huge sand dune in the Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia.

For the May holiday we made a mission into the Alashan Desert, travelling by foot, camel, jeep, and boat to find a temple in the middle of the dunes.

You'd think that there would be no water in the middle of such a large desert, but on the four-day trip we found that the desert wasn't so dry after all.

On the way to the temple we stopped to take a look at the tiny settlements beside the oases deep in the dunes, and camped overnight as we headed further into the desert.

During the trip we passed by Moon Lake, an eco-resort on the fringes of the desert. For many, that's as far into the desert as they get. But with our jeep team and drivers who seemed to be able to tell the way by the shape of the dunes, we were able to get much further in, where it was truly sand dunes as far as the eye could see.

One of the lakes in the Alashan Desert - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

One of the lakes in the Alashan Desert.

A desert lake surrounded by grass and trees, with waves of dunes in the background - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

A desert lake surrounded by grass and trees, with waves of dunes in the background.

The water in the lake is very clear despite being surrounded by so much sand - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

The water in the lake is very clear despite being surrounded by so much sand.

Sheep at one of the tiny settlements by the lake - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

Sheep at one of the tiny settlements by the lake.

Shearing the sheep in a mud brick structure - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

Shearing the sheep in a mud brick structure.

Hiking on the ridge of a huge dune, heading for the next lake - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

Hiking on the ridge of a huge dune, heading for the next lake.

Following the footprints of other hikers to the top of a dune – a tough climb! - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

Following the footprints of other hikers to the top of a dune – a tough climb!

More sheep at the next desert settlement - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

More sheep at the next desert settlement.

And a baby camel! - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

And a baby camel!

They’re cute when they’re young … - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

They’re cute when they’re young …

Dunes as far as the eyes can see - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

Dunes as far as the eyes can see.

We hiked further into the desert - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

We hiked further into the desert.

From atop the dunes we spotted a shepherd with a flock of sheep - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

From atop the dunes we spotted a shepherd with a flock of sheep.

A helping hand to reach the top - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

A helping hand to reach the top.

Birds floating on the lake - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

Birds floating on the lake.

At the Moon Lake eco-resort we took a boat ride over the lake - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

At the Moon Lake eco-resort we took a boat ride over the lake.

We tried out an alternative mode of transport: camels, the ship of the desert - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

We tried out an alternative mode of transport: camels, the ship of the desert.

Heading further into the dunes - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

Heading further into the dunes.

More desert scenery - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

More desert scenery.

The camels dropped us here, and we hiked on to our campsite - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

The camels dropped us here, and we hiked on to our campsite.

Settling in at the campsite - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

Settling in at the campsite.

A perfect location for camping in the desert - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

A perfect location for camping in the desert.

Nearby the campsite we spotted some old buildings - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

Nearby the campsite we spotted some old buildings.

The colour of the dunes changed as the sun went down - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

The colour of the dunes changed as the sun went down.

As well as sheep, there were a lot of goats being raised in the desert - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

As well as sheep, there were a lot of goats being raised in the desert.

Feeding a wee sheep - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

Feeding a wee sheep.

A local child with a gorgeous smile - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

A local child with a gorgeous smile.

We borrowed the facilities at one of the desert settlements to cook up dinner - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

We borrowed the facilities at one of the desert settlements to cook up dinner.

After dinner, a bonfire at the campsite - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

After dinner, a bonfire at the campsite.

One of the aims of the trip was to visit a famous temple in the desert, reputedly built by the Sixth Dalai Lama - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

One of the aims of the trip was to visit a famous temple in the desert, reputedly built by the Sixth Dalai Lama.

The entrance to the temple - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

The entrance to the temple.

Nearby the temple were a few small dwellings - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

Nearby the temple were a few small dwellings.

Two cows in front of a house - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

Two cows in front of a house.

Windpower and a camouflaged dog - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

Wind power and a camouflaged dog.

From the temple we headed back into the dunes - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

From the temple we headed back into the dunes.

The hiking team - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

The hiking team.

After coming out of the desert, we drove to Yinchuan. On the way, we spotted Mongolian wild horses, an endangered species, on a cliff in the Helan Mountains - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

After coming out of the desert, we drove to Yinchuan. On the way we spotted Mongolian wild horses, an endangered species, on a cliff in the Helan Mountains.

More sheep, and the remnants of some Han Dynasty Great Wall - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

More sheep, and the remnants of some Han Dynasty Great Wall.

The remains of a line of rammed earth Great Wall - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

The remains of a line of rammed earth Great Wall.

An interesting shrub growing on rocks - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

An interesting shrub growing on rocks.

Another view of the Great Wall - Alashan Desert, Inner Mongolia, 2014/05

Another view of the Great Wall.

And that was the trip!

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