The Karakum Desert where it is located on the map, photos, animals, plants

Kara-Kum (or another pronunciation of Garagum) translated from Turkic – black sand. The desert, which occupies a significant part of Turkmenistan. The sand dunes of Kara-Kum are spread over 350 thousand square kilometers, 800 kilometers long and 450 kilometers wide. The desert is divided into Northern (or Zaungus), South-Eastern and Central (or Lowland) zones.


Kara-Kum is one of the hottest deserts on the planet. Summer temperatures can reach 50 degrees Celsius, and the sand heats up to 80 degrees. In winter, temperatures can drop, in some areas, up to 35 degrees below zero. Precipitation is extremely low, up to one hundred and fifty millimeters per year, and most of it falls mainly in the winter period from November to April.


Surprisingly, there are more than 250 plant species in the Kara-Kum Desert. In early February, the desert is transformed. Poppies, sandy acacia, tulips (yellow and red), wild marigold, sandy sedge, astragalus and other plants bloom in lush color.


Acacia sandy


wild calendula

sandy sedge


Majestically rise at a height of five seven meters pistachios. This period is short, plants in the desert mature very quickly and shed their leaves until the next gentle spring period.


During the daytime, most representatives of the animal world rest. They hide in their burrows or in the shadows of vegetation where there is shade. The period of activity begins mainly at night, as the sun stops heating the sands and the temperature in the desert drops. The brightest representatives of the order of predators – fox corsac.

fox corsac

It is slightly smaller than the usual fox, but the legs, in relation to the body, are longer.

Velvet cat

Velvet cat – smallest member of the cat family.

The fur is very dense, but soft. Legs short and very strong. Rodents, snakes and bihorks (also known as phalanges or camel spiders) live in large numbers in the desert.

camel spider


Feathered representatives of the desert are not so diverse. Desert sparrow, aquatic warbler (a small, very secretive desert bird that holds its tail over its back).

desert sparrow

aquatic warbler

Location and map of the desert

The desert is located in the southern part of Central Asia and occupies three quarters of Turkmenistan and is considered one of the largest. In the south, the desert is limited by the foothills of Karabil, Kopetdag, Vankhyz. In the north, the border runs along the Khorzeim lowland. In the east, Kara-Kum borders the Amu Darya valley.In the west, the border of the desert runs along the ancient course of the Western Uzboy River.


The relief of the Northern Karakum is significantly different from the relief of the South-Eastern and Low. The northern part is located on a sufficient elevation and is the most ancient part of the desert. The peculiarity of this part of the Kara-Kum is sandy ridges, which are elongated from north to south and have a height of up to one hundred meters.

The Central and South-Eastern Karakum are very similar in relief and, due to the milder climate, they are more suitable for farming. The terrain is more flat than the northern part. Sand dunes up to 25 meters high. And a frequent strong wind, shifting the dunes, changes the microrelief of the area.

Takyrs can also be observed in the relief of the Kara-Kum desert. These are areas of land, predominantly consisting of clay, which in drought forms cracks on the surface. In the spring, takyrs are saturated with moisture and it is impossible to pass through these territories.

There are several gorges in the kara-kums: Archibilskoye, in which the virgin areas of nature have been preserved; The rocky winding canyon Mergenishan, which was formed around the 13th century.

Interesting Facts

The Karakum desert is fraught with many interesting facts and mysteries. For example:

  1. there is a lot of groundwater in the desert, which in some parts of it lies quite close to the surface (up to six meters);
  2. absolutely all the sand of the desert is of river origin;
  3. on the territory of the Kara-Kum desert near the village of Dareaza are “Gate to hell” or “Hell Gate”. This is the name of the gas crater Darvaza. This crater is of anthropogenic origin. In the distant 20s, gas development began at this place. The platform went under the sands, and the gas began to come to the surface. In order to avoid poisoning, it was decided to set fire to the gas outlet. Since then, the fire here has not stopped burning for a second.
  4. about twenty thousand freshwater wells are scattered across the territory of the Kara-Kum, water from which is extracted with the help of camels walking in a circle;
  5. the area of ​​the desert exceeds the area of ​​such states as Italy, Norway and Great Britain.

Another interesting fact is that the Kara-Kum desert has a full namesake. This desert is also called Karakum, but has a small area and is located on the territory of Kazakhstan.

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