Taklamakan Desert in Xinjiang is the largest desert in China and the second largest desert in the world. The whole desert is 1000 kilometers long from east to west, 400 kilometers wide from north to south with a total area of 3.3 million hectares. Taklamakan desert is called the “Desert of Death ” by adventurer in the past.
The annual rains precipitation is less than 100mm and the lest precipitation is only 4mm to 5mm. But the annual evaporation capacity is 2500mm to 3000mm. The fierce wind could form a 3 meters tall sand wall. Sand hills are spread here and there. And those sand hills move it location slowly because of the wind. There are only very few plant in Taklamakan Desert and all of them have very wide-spread and strong roots to get enough water for keeping them alive.
The wasted Taklamakan Desert is of much glorious history. The ancient Silk Road used to ran through the whole south part of the desert. The archaeological findings prove there are many ancient ruins buries in the Taklamakan Desert. There used to be 36 kingdoms in Xinjiang and at least three of them were established in today’s Taklamakan Desert. The Niya Site in deep desert area found in 1900s is regarded as the Pompeil in East. Many people travel for broadening their horizon and enrich their knowledge. Traveling through Taklamakan Desert will help tourists better learn about the ancient Silk Road. The legendary history of ancient kingdoms used to existed there make the waste desert much attractive and mysterious.
How did those kingdoms disappeared one after one? There are at least two reasons. First is the declining of Silk Road after the Yuan Dynasty. Most of communities appeared and developed because of the business trading and business travelers. After the Yuan Dynasty, China lost the control of this area and battlements happened frequently. Business dared not to earn money by risking their life. And the local people were pushed out of their hometown to save their life. Second if the worsen natural environment.
Driving or hiking through Taklamakan Desert is a much challenging and exciting thing to do. But never try to do it on your own alone. It would be very dangerous. Going with an experienced guide and driver will make the tour less difficult.