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Tengger Desert Lakes trip, 2013/05

In Brief: Photos from our two days in the Tengger Desert, part of a four day trip in Inner Mongolia.

For the May Day holiday we made a special trip to the Tengger Desert in Inner Mongolia, the fourth largest in China. We spent two days in the desert – hiking, driving in jeeps, and riding camels, with an overnight stay in tents by one of the desert lakes.

The average rainfall per year in this region is less than 40 millimetres, but there are over 140 natural lakes spread throughout. You'd think that this place is not suitable for humans to live in, but actually it is full of life. There is fresh underground water that keeps nature and the Mongolian nomads alive, who all rely on this special place.

Our jeeps took us for a drive from the edge of the desert region to the higher sand dunes area, where we hiked from one oasis to the next. Birds, sheep, camels and lizards made the journey interesting. After hours of hiking and driving, we arrived at a beautiful lake. We camped not far from a nomad family's seasonal dwelling and settled in for the night. Behind our tents were tall sand dunes, and we climbed up on top to view the sunset.

In the early morning it was rather chilly and we woke up quite early, ready to watch the sunrise. After breakfast we drove on to another region for more hiking. After nearly two hours of hiking through the dunes we ended up at a beautiful lake, where our camels were waiting for us.

The desert trip finished at the Moon Lake park, a developed area for ecotourism – quite a contrast to the places we'd been, deep in the desert.

a Tibetan Buddhist temple, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

On the way to the desert we stopped to visit a Tibetan Buddhist temple built in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).

the monks have just left, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

The monks had just left and we had the temple to ourselves.

Very colorful Tibetan style fresco, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

Colorful Tibetan-style murals on the wall.

a local nomad family, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

In the desert, we passed a local nomad family who were shearing their sheep.

Salt Lake, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

We passed several lakes while in the desert. Some were freshwater, some were saltwater. In the photo are salt crystals left as the water receded.

A lizard , Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

A lizard in the sand.

A type of vegetation, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

The tips of a plant named Suoyang, reputedly an aphrodisiac.

Our camp, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

A view of our campsite from the high dunes behind.

A steep walk , Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

A steep walk up the dune's ridge.

the ridge, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

Hiking through the dunes in the desert.

Beatiful landscape, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

The beautiful desert landscape.

A flock of sheep, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

We spotted a flock of sheep wandering through the dunes.

enjoy the sunshine, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

Lie down and enjoy the sunshine.

Walking though the sand dunes, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

Walking though the sand dunes.

Hiking along the ridge, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

Ridge walking, with one of the lakes in the distance.

Sheep pen, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

The sheep were put in the pen each night to keep them safe.

Taking a break on the ridge, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

Taking a break on the way up the ridge.

Beautiful Sunset, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

Sunset light on the sand dunes.

a nice bonfire, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

Our bonfire at the campsite.

the Sun rise, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

Early dawn in the desert.

Paking our tents, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

Breaking camp.

a beautiful lake, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

We were stopped for a look at this lake.

Camel ride begins, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

It's time for a ride on the camels.

we are ready to go, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

Ready to go.

A nice family, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

All aboard.

We are ready, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

Ready for a peaceful (!) camel ride.

Good mood, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

All set to go.

Wild goose, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

Near one of the lakes we saw many different birds. Here, wild geese.

, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

Geese flying away.

A Heron, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

A heron.

Camel herd in the distance, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

A herd of camels in the distance.

Our camel group, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

The train of camels heads on through the dunes.

Group photo, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

We took a photo with our jeep drivers and support team.

A big jump , Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

Jump!

, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

A map that shows the region where we went into the desert.

Ming dynasty, Beijing Hikers Desert Trip , 2013/04/28

On the last day of the trip, we stopped to take a look at a section of the ancient Great Wall from the early Ming Dynasty.

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