The Tengger Desert is located in the Southwest of Alxa Left Banner, Alxa League, in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
It is the fourth largest desert in China, bordering Gansu Province and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
Tengger means “sky” in Mongolian language. The locals name the desert Tengger, as they think the desert is as wide as the sky.
We flew from Beijing to Yinchuan (银川), capital city of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region (宁夏回族自治区), from where we traveled to the town Bayanhot (巴彦浩特) by bus for about 2 hours, driving along the Yellow River (黄河) and through the Helanshan Mountain (贺兰山), the natural provincial border of Ningxia and Inner Mongolia.
Arriving in late afternoon, we had the chance to visit the Bayanhot Ancient Town with about 300 years history. In the walled compound, we took a leisurely walk at the lama temple Yanfu Temple (延福寺), which used to be the private temple of the Tibetan Buddhist Alxa Kings.
Riding in the Jeeps for about 40 minutes from the hotel, we arrived at the edge of the desert. For many of us, it was the first time to hike in the desert so everyone was super excited.
It was not easy walking in the sand, especially with the wind blowing sand into our faces and eyes. Luckily we were prepared and protected by the head scarfs and gaiters provided by Beijing Hikers.
We were lucky to have a cloudy day on the first day in the desert.
After two hours hiking in the desert, we started getting near our campsite at Swan Lake.
At night, we camped close to local nomad Shitou’s house and set up a bonfire. For those who stayed up until midnight, the desert treated them with a spectacular starry night. Or if they got up early, a dazzling sunrise.
Camel riding was perhaps the highlight for many of the hikers during this trip, especially the little ones who were so looking forward to it.
It was not just the camel riding that excited everyone, but also the jeep riding. Experienced local drivers made the roller coaster-like ride not just safe but also fun.
After the exciting morning, we took a little boat and had a late lunch at the UNESCO listed Moon Lake, one of the most beautiful lakes spotted in the oases of Tengger Desert.
After two days of hiking, camping, camel and jeep riding in the desert, we returned to the much-needed hotel room and bath in Bayanhot town to wash away the sands and fatigue. At the gigantic dinner, we planned a surprise birthday party and cake for the little boy who celebrated his ninth birthday.
On the last day, we took the opportunity to visit the local Alxa Museum (阿拉善博物馆) in Bayanhot Town before driving back to Yinchuan.
On the way back to Yinchuan, we stopped at the dirt ruins of Sanguankou Great Wall (三关口长城)for a short hike for about an hour. The Sanguankou Wall can be dated back to Ming Dynasty which is about 600 years old.
At our final stop before heading to Yinchuan airport, we visited the mysterious Western Xia (Xi Xia) Imperial Mausoleum (西夏王陵), which is about 800 years ago.