A desert is a region with little to no rain. However, that is not the reason we should assume that there is no life of any type in a desert. It does, and just as there are barren deserts with essentially no plant or animal life, there are others that resemble orchards in some small sense.
In North Africa and a large portion of Asia, there is a pronounced concentration of deserts, as shown on the map of the world’s deserts. About 23 deserts or semi-deserts, some of which are old and others which are forming, may be found in Asia. The immense deserts of Asia are among the remarkable and well-known, nevertheless.
The Ordos Desert is situated in China’s Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region and is also referred to as the Mu Us Desert. The desert covers roughly 90,650 square kilometers. The Ordos Desert is comprised of the Kubuqi Desert in the north and the Maowusu Desert in the south. The Great Bend of the Yellow River and mountain ranges around the desert.
The vegetation in the area is made up of montane grasslands and shrublands. Here you may find Przewalski’s gazelles, Przewalski’s horses, Bactrian camels, snow leopards, etc. Small-scale farming is carried out in the desert oasis. Here, raising cattle is a significant industry. The Ordos Desert’s soda reserves are widely mined.
Gobi Desert, Mongolia
The Gobi Desert, the biggest desert in Asia, offers breathtaking sand dunes, dinosaur relics, friendly Bactrian camels, and warm hospitality from nomad households.
The desert, which covers an area of 1,295,000 square kilometers and runs from northern China to Mongolia through major trading centers along the ancient Silk Road, including Turpan, Hami, and Dunhuang, is located in the arid part of the Tibetian Plateau.
Stay in a ger (traditional Mogolian yurt) with a local family while visiting the Gobi Desert to see some of the long-standing traditions of the nomadic people.
Try to time your trip to coincide with the Nadaam celebration, which takes place on July 11 each year. The entire nation participates in sporting events, from Mongolian archery and horse racing to wrestling, to get into the holiday mood.
A desert called the Lop Desert may be found in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The desert is nearly flat, hence it seldom ever displays relief changes. Natural vegetation is scarce in the desert, which has minimal biodiversity.
Here, just 36 plant species are found. The Lop Desert is home to 23 animal species, 91 bird species, 7 reptile species, and 1 amphibian species. One of the only remaining havens for wild Bactrian camels is the desert.
In order to protect this camel species, the Lop Nur Wild Camel National Nature Reserve was established in 2001. During the spring, the area is prone to strong sandstorms.
The Arabian Desert
2.330.000 square kilometers of this vast desert stretch from Yemen to the Persian Gulf, from Oman to Iraq, and from Jordan. The Arabian Peninsula, in the Middle East and western Asia, is nearly totally covered by the desert. It is a dry day. Red sand dunes, loose sand, and melting-at-46°C daytime and freezing-at-night temperatures are all present.
Some plant and animal species have adapted to life here, while others have vanished as a result of the expansion of towns and ongoing human hunts. This Asian desert is abundant in reserves of sulfur, phosphates, natural gas, and oil, and it is believed that these activities may be what is thwarting efforts to conserve it.
The Dasht-e Loot, sometimes referred to as the Loot Desert, is the 25th largest desert on Earth and is situated in Iran. Its territory here includes a portion of the Iranian provinces of Sistan, Kerman, and Baluchistan. The desert was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2016.
A plateau, ravines, sinkholes, salt flats, a network of furrows and ridges, and wide swaths of sand may all be found in the desert. With a height of around 980 feet, the sand dunes in this desert’s southeast are among the highest in the whole globe. One of the hottest spots on Earth, Dasht-e Loot often sees land surface temperatures of 70.7 °C.
Karakum Desert, Turkmenistan
The Karakum Desert, which occupies around 70% of Turkmenistan, is a huge, sun-baked area of sand dunes in Central Asia. Turkmen make up the majority of the region’s limited population.
One of Turkmenistan’s most fascinating and bizarre sites is the Darvaza gas crater, popularly known as the “Door to Hell,” which is located in the middle of the desert.
Soviet scientists first lit the crater on fire in 1971 to stem the spread of dangerous methane gas, and it has been burning continuously ever since. Geologists are unsure how much longer the crater will burn, but it has been blazing for over 50 years.
Tatler insider’s tip: The fire crater is especially amazing at night, when the raging inferno resembles the gates of hell. In order to prepare you for the once-in-a-lifetime experience, tours are offered to arrange camping close to the location. These tours include warm and comfortable camping gear inside a traditional yurt.
Nearly 70% of Turkmenistan’s entire land area is covered by the Karakum Desert, which is situated in Central Asia. There are hardly any people living in the arid area. Oil and gas resources abound throughout the desert.
The gas crater or Darvaza is a major draw here “Geologists purposefully set fire to Door to Hell, a continually burning crater, to stop the flow of methane gas.
The Kara Kum Canal runs through the desert and is the second-largest irrigation canal in the world. The Karakum Desert is traversed by the Trans-Caspian Railway. The region’s oasis are known for their cotton farming.
Kyzyl Kum Desert
This Central Asian desert’s name translates to “red sand” in Turkish. It is situated directly between two rivers and now borders three nations: Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. It is 298 thousand kilometers square.
White sands make up the majority of this desert, and there are a few oases. There are some farming settlements on the banks of the two rivers that push it as well as in these oasis.
The central Iranian Plateau is home to the Dasht-e Kavir, sometimes referred to as the Great Salt Desert. It has a surface area of around 77,600 square kilometers. It is the 23rd-largest desert in the world. Large salt marshes, like the 1,800 square km-large Daryahcheh-e Namak, may be found across the Dasht-e Kavir.
Additionally, it is home to the Kavir National Park, a protected natural area. Despite having minimal precipitation, the desert has vast marshes, playas, and transient lakes because to runoff from the nearby mountains. The soil of a desert is made up of sand and stones.
The most prevalent plant here is mugwort. Here, you may find birds like sandgrouses, larks, ground jays, etc. The Dasht-e Kavir’s mammalian population includes camels, goats, Persian gazelles, Asiatic cheetahs, and other animals. There are hardly any people living there.
Taklamakan Desert, China
Taklamakan Desert, appropriately titled “place of no return,” is the second-biggest shifting-sand desert in the world and the largest desert in China “one of the world’s most hostile and unpredictable landscapes, to use Uyghur.
But don’t let that deter you from seeing the desert; you can do so in safety with a reputable tour operator who will pick you up from Kashgar, one of the oasis cities along the old Silk Road, travel across the dry region on a camel, and then stop in the town of Yarkant for a typical Uyghur meal.
Tatler tip: The ancient city of Dunhuang, one of China’s most well-known desert monuments, is located on the edge of the Taklamakan Desert. It’s an oasis surrounded by sand dunes that never dries out owing to the unusual physical landform that surrounds it. It’s worth seeing for its crescent lake and echoing-sand mountain.
Southwest of Afghanistan is where you’ll find the Registan Desert. Sandal plains, rocky outcrops, clay-covered terrain, and little sandy hills can all be found in the sandy desert. This desert is inhabited by nomadic tribes.
Recently, it has been seen that the desert is moving westward into agricultural regions. This movement brought up a catastrophe in the area, uprooted communities, and destroyed settlements.
Takla Makan Desert
This desert is located in China’s mostly Muslim Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Mountains encircle it to the north and west, while the Goni Desert itself encircles it to the east. It has a 337 thousand square kilometer size, and more than 80% of its dune area is continually moving, causing the scenery to change.
A roadway connecting the cities of Luntai and Hotan has been developed in China. The Himalayas, like the Gobi desert, block rain clouds, making the desert relatively dry and allowing wintertime temperatures to drop below 20 oC. Water is scarce, thus oasis are important.
Al Thar, sometimes referred to as the Great Indian Desert, is a dry region that serves as a boundary between India and Pakistan. It is a subtropical desert, covering 320 thousand square kilometers, and if we talk about percentages, more than 80% of it is on Indian territory.
The Thar is divided into two sections: a dry section to the west and an eastern semi-desert section with dunes and a bit more rain. This Indian desert is primarily made up of moving dunes. Due to strong gusts, they travel significantly more before the monson season.
The Luni River is the sole source of water for this desert, and it only flows between July and September when there is any rain. Some saltwater lakes swell with rain and vanish during the dry season. Some regions have been declared as “Protected areas or natural sanctuaries” by both Pakistan and India. It is home to antelopes, gazelles, snakes, wild asses, red foxes, and numerous bird species.
The Thar is unique in that it is the world’s most populous desert. With 83 persons per square kilometer, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Sindhis, and Kolhis are devoted to farming and raising cattle. They also have a vibrant cultural life that includes traditional festivals.
Indus Valley Desert
Northern Pakistan has the lonely and harsh Indus Valley Desert. In the nation’s northwest Punjab Province, the desert spans 19,501 square kilometers. The climate of the desert region is tremendously variable, with scorching hot summers and icy winters.
The prominent mammals of the Indus Valley Desert include the striped hyena, caracal, urial, Indian leopard, and Indian wolf. There isn’t much grazing or farming going on in this area. The region has a high rate of hunting, therefore the wildlife is always under danger.
The greatest sand dunes in Japan are found in the coastal prefecture of Tottori, which is only a short flight or bullet train trip from Tokyo. They stretch for around 16 kilometers along the Sea of Japan shore.
The Tottori Sand Dunes may be explored in a variety of ways, including camel and horse-drawn carriage excursions, paragliding, and sandboarding, but the observation deck of the Sakyu Center offers the greatest views of the dunes.
The local specialties of Tottori, such as red queen snow crab, beef bone ramen, Tottori wagyu beef, and nashi pear soft serve, should not be missed by foodies.
There are 26,300 square kilometers of the Cholistan Desert, which stretches from Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakistan, to the Thar Desert, India. Numerous Indus Valley Civilization villages may be located along the Hakra River’s banks, which flows through a desert.
Semi-nomadic tribes that live in the desert move through it in search of food and fodder. This desert is the location of the annual Cholistan Desert Jeep Rally.
Taean, South Korea
The sole sand dune in Korea, Sinduri Coastal Sand Dune, is situated on Sinduri Beach in Taean, a county three hours by car from Seoul. It was built about 15,000 years ago after the last ice age.
The Taeanhaean National Park connects the Sinduri Coastal Sand Dune to Mallipo Beach, one of the country’s most beautiful beaches, as well as trekking chances along the coast, despite the fact that it may lack the majesty of enormous sand dunes.
Tatler tip: In April each year, Taean hosts the World Tulip Festival, which offers a month of traditional folk events, light displays, and amazing photo opportunities of millions of colorful tulips in full bloom.
The Polond Desert, sometimes called the Mozaffari Desert, is a desert that may be found in the South Khorasan Province of Iran. The Mozaffari Protected Area includes it.
Visitors to the region may enjoy breathtaking views of the mountains, sand dunes, and sandy hills of the Polond Desert. The Cheetah’s Tail, a sand dune that resembles a cheetah’s tail, is one of the area’s tourist attractions. This desert also has the geological landmark Ferdows Hole-in-the-Rock.