|Leaving the dunes marked the beginning of the homeward part of the trip, but the day's events were far from over. On top of a rise we stopped at a metal tower and got out to look. This was the highest point for miles around, and there was a spectacular 360 degree panorama. The tower had been erected by the Soviets for use as a lookout post, in case the Chinese invaded.
From here it was all down hill, literally, to the next stop, which was the saxaul forest. Saxauls are a type of bushy tree that grow in the desert. This place was good for them for reasons we could see immediately on arriving: the ground looked like a dry lake bed, covered with a pattern of cracked mud. It was the lowest point around, and after a rainfall the water gathers there until it evaporates.
The trees ranged up to 2 meters high, and stretched away into the distance about as far as we could see. They were well separated, there was no trouble walking between them. Though we saw none here, camels apparently really like snacking on saxaul.
The Saxaul Forest