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Lop Nur

Lop Nur
Lop Nur (luó bù bó 罗布泊) is is a group of small, seasonal salt lakes and marshes between the Taklamakan (tǎ kè lā mǎ gàn 塔克拉玛干) and Kuruktag (kù lǔ kè tǎ gé 库鲁克塔格) deserts in the southeastern portion of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous region in northwestern China. It has been called China's Bermuda Triangle. It has been a forbidden land since the area's waters dried up more than 100 years ago.

Located in the northeast of Ruoqiang County (ruò qiāng xiàn 若羌县), Lop Nur is nearly 780 meters (2,560 feet) above sea level and occupies an area of about 3,000 square kilometers (1,160 square miles). Once it was the second largest inland lake in China and an important station along the Silk Road.

Location of Lop NurRecorded in "Shanhaijing (shān hǎi jīng 山海经)(Classic of Mountains and Seas)," a Chinese geological document written before the third century BC, what is now the Gobi was then the largest lake in China and around it were populated oases. For a millennium after the Western Han Dynasty (xī hàn 西汉)(206 BC-24 AD), the Lop Nur area was the centre of China's western regions and the hub of communications on the Silk Road, which linked the East with the West.
Historical documents show that many kingdoms existed in the area in that millennium. Explorers - including Sven Hedin, Sir Marc Aurel Stein, Huang Wenbi and Wang Binghua - found remains or made trial excavations of remains of the Loulan (Kroraina) Kingdom, the city of Milan, the Xiaohe site and the city of Haitou.

Since the Yuan Dynasty (yuán cháo 元朝)(1271-1368), Lop Nur has got its name. In Uygur, 'Lop' means a place having a vast expanse of water. In Mongolian, 'Nur' refers to a lake. 'Lop' and 'Nur' together means a vast lake. In the Han dynasty, Lop Nur was such a vast lake that it was often mistaken as the source of the Yellow River. Nevertheless, over deforestation and Lop Nurenvironmental deterioration caused by human activity curtailed the lifespan of the lake and during the 4th century A.D. codes and regulations had to be introduced to control the use of the insufficient water. When Marco Polo reached Lop Nur in 1275 he found nothing more than sand. Its contraction continued and Lop Nur finally it dried up in 1972.

In the broad sense, Lop Nur refers to the Lop Nur desert area which spans Xinjiang and Gansu Provinces. The Spectacle of the Gobi Desert and some historical sites are also scattered in this area, including the dragon-shaped Yadan Landscape, Rose-Willow Valley, the Peacock River, a dead forest of diversiform-leaved poplar (populus diversifolia), a Han Dynasty (hàn cháo 汉朝) (206BC-220AD) Beacon Tower (fēng huǒ tái 烽火台), the Sun Tombs (tài yáng mù 太阳墓), the Milan Farm (mǐ lán nóng chǎng 米兰农场) and the Loulan Ancient City (lóu lán gǔ chéng 楼兰古城).

Lop NurTemperatures there varied between 40°C during the day and -5°C at night. Sandstorms and high temperatures have changed Lop Nur into the 'Sea of Death'. In 1996, a famous traveler named Yu Chunshun lost his life on his expedition to Lop Nur. 16 years ago, Peng Jiamu, a Chinese scientist, also faced the same destiny. Only a few desert plants and animals can survive there, among which are rose-willows, camel thorns, diversiform-leaved poplars, wild camels, wolves, hares and dzerens (procapra gutturosa). Among the animals, the wild camels are the rare and endangered species. China's biggest natural reserve of the wild camels is located in southeast of Lop Nur.

Without doubt, Lop Nur is a fantastic place for adventure.

Admission Fee: Free
Opening Hours: All day
Best Time to visit:
the middle of April and October (to avoid strong sandstorms)

1. Bring sunglasses, gauze mask, suntan oil, rubbish bag, enough food, water and necessary medicines.
2. Bring layers of clothing because of the drastic change of temperature in the daytime and at night.
3. Satellite phones, GPS or other communications tools are preferable.


Last Updated on Sunday, 29 August 2010 21:39

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