It’s called the black desert, not because of the colour of its sand but because of the untoward things that befall those who attempt to traverse it. Mystical or felonous, the yarns over the centuries have made many in Turkmenistan very superstitious about venturing into this wasteland that occupies 80% of the country.
It certainly is daunting, 500kms of baking desert makes the biking a bit tough. And the road/track/sand path that is our way certainly conspired to test our resolve and riding skills. The potholes and the occasional approaching, swerving truck made it all the more entertaining.
At night ours was Fairydown city as we broke out the tents and the sleeping bags. And believe it or not it poured with rain!! 5 years equivalent rainfall in one night. Without those motoring across this expanse it is left to the nomads who still occupy it grazing their goats and using their camels to carry their yurts.
We are into a past century now, that’s for sure. These days the nomads are outnumbered by the government servants resident in Ashgabat or the people huddling around the oasis towns to the south of the desert, but there remain a few at least whose tough way of life we are able to marvel at. See the photo album on it.