Desert Travel

For experienced world travelers, finding the adventure of a lifetime can be quite a challenging experience. After traveling through Europe, Latin America and Asia, writer Antonio Graceffo decided that his next journey would be Crossing the Taklamakan Desert by Rickshaw.

“The Taklamakan Desert, also called The Desert of Death, is located in China’s Xinjiang Province. It is the second largest desert on Earth. Scientists consider it to be the most dangerous desert in the world. My plan was to travel 544 km, under my own power, along the famous Silk Road, from the oasis town of Aksu to the oasis town of Kashgar.

07/23/2003 Atuchi, Taklamakan Desert

I made it over 500 KM! The first day I rode for four hours. It was around eight o’clock, and I needed to get out of the sun. But in the desert, there was no shade at all. There wasn’t even anything that cast a shadow. I found a power pole with a brick base. The base was one meter wide by one and a half meters high. If I lay on the ground, and curled up in a fetal position, the shadow just about covered my body. I stayed like that till sundown. The sun doesn’t set until about 11:00 PM in the desert. So, I had a long wait. I was eaten alive by mosquitos, and spent a fitful night. The second day, I got the hang of riding the bike, and rarely went off the embankments or ran into cars. A construction crew invited me to their camp to eat lunch, and take a nap.

I learned to sleep in drainage tunnels under the highway or under the railroad. I ate the food I brought from Aksu, dried sausage and Uyghur bread. Almost every day I managed to buy water and one hot meal in a Uyghur village. Usually the Uyghurs eat bread and goat meat or goat meat soup.”