Sven Hedin's Expeditions

1983 -1935

Death March through the Taklamakan
17 Februar-21 June 1895

Google Map 2

To view his route click on the Google Map

Hedin's next expedition was an ill-planned visit to the Tarim (Yarkand) River and to the north-south Khotan River. The intervenig desert stretch had never been explored, the Russian maps were fanciful approximation to the terrain. The desert march was variouly estimated to be a six-nine days march - but he had only one guide who claimed to know this quarter.

It turned into a disaster: They lost their way in ranges of high dunes; a Buran (winter storm) robbed them their sight; They could not find the waterholes in the Khotan River bed.... All his men but three died, and only one camel survived the ordeal. Hedin, near death found a pond of river water. Shepherds rescued Hedin and his three men, and a caravan of merchants provided them with a few camels for the precious instuments.

It became a severe lesson in desert travel for Hedin.

On the Way to Maralbashi
17-23 Feb 1895

It began with a ride in an arba from Kashgar to Maralbashi

Our caravan consisted of two large arbas or arabas on high iron-rimmed wheels, each drawn by three or four horses. The straw roof of the first, in which I drove with Johannes, was lined on the inside with a kighiz (felt carpet), and the opening at the back was also closed with felts, to keep out the dust as much as possible. The bottom of the arba was covered with felts, cushions, and furs, to make a soft, comfortable seat; but over the bad roads the vehicle jolted to such an extent that we might as well have been on a rough sea, and the noise it made was deafening.

February 22rd. We drove the whole day through a forest, which was said to be the haunt of tigers, wolves, foxes, deer, antelopes, and hares. The station of Chyrgeh was rather more than four miles from the Kashgar-daria.

February 23rd. The forest ceased some distance before reaching Maral-bashi. From the point where it did cease the road was bad, and the country bare and uninteresting. We crossed the Kashgar-daria a second time, at a spot where it was dry, by a small wooden bridge, and drove past the Chinese fort of Maral-bashi, with its battlemented walls of kiln-made bricks and small towers at the corners.
Sven Hedin, "Through Asia" 

Maralbashi - Tales of a Lost City
24 Feb 1895 - Departed 2 March 1895

The most important difficulty was the procuring of camels. I had been rather misled by the merchants in Kashgar, who told me that Maral-bashi was the best place to get good camels. We hardly ever saw a camel there. I had no resource except to try and procure some from Kashgar. This mission I intrusted to Mohammed Ya-kub.

From the beginning the expedition was, considering the severity of the desert, poorly planned.

Islam Bai was despatched to Yarkand on horseback to buy several things that were required for our desert expedition— for example, iron tanks for water, bread, rice, ropes, and a number of tools, such as spades and hatchets. I also instructed him to bring a supply of sesame oil (yagh) , and the chaff from the crushed seeds of the same plant (kynchyr) , etc. The oil was intended to feed the camels on in the desert. A jing (not quite one pint) of oil will sustain a camel for a month without other food; though it is always a great advantage to find supplies of herbage during the march, so that the animals may to some extent freshen up and recover from their exertions. In March and April they cannot well go longer than three days without water; but in the winter, and on level ground, they can last out six or seven days if necessary.

Having sent these two out I had no choice but wait. He explored a number of close places and observed the local life. Unfortunatrely Maralbashi was an terribly filthy town.

In the morning a Chinese official and four begs came to welcome me in the name of the amban (governor of the town). The begs were extremely civil and communicative, and considered that my plan of crossing the Takla-makan Desert was feasible. They told me that there once existed a large town called Takla-makan in the desert midway between the Yar- kand-daria and the Khotan-daria, but for ages it had been buried in the sand. The whole of the desert was now known by this name, although it was sometimes shortened to Takan. They reported further that the interior of the desert was under the ban of telesmat (an Arabic word, meaning " witchcraft," "supernatural powers "); and that there were towers and walls and houses, and heaps of gold tacks and silver jambaus (tack and jambau being Chinese coins). If a man went there with Sven Hedin, "Through Asia" 

I7 -19 Mar 1895

Eventually I decided to move to Lailik. But the arba I took was too heavy to cross the frozen Yarkand River. We finally rode. Lailik became for some time our headquarters, as considerable preparations had to be made for our expedition across the desert.

This day marked the beginning of a long period of waiting, extremely trying to my patience. Day after day went by, but no camels arrived. I would gladly pass over these twenty-five days altogether.

18 March 1895. Late today Islam Bai returned from Yarkand, bringing with him four ehelleks (iron tanks) for water, six tulums (goatskins for water), sesame oil and seed-husks for the camels, petroleum, bread, talkan (toasted flour), gunman (macaroni), honey, sacks, spades, whips, bridle-bits, bowls, cups, and divers other requisites
Sven Hedin, "Through Asia" 

Yarkand -Tarim River
8 March 1895

On 8 March 1895. From Lalik I walked through the young forest as far as the river in order to take some observations; and found a ferry-boat, which was punted across in seventy seconds, and which could carry seven horses, six donkeys, and twenty men at once.
Sven Hedin, "Through Asia" 

19 Mar-10 Apr 1895

The Merket Bazaar

On March 19th we moved over to the large village of Merket, on the right bank of the Yarkand-daria, whence the caravan was to make its start for the desert.

On March 21st I visited the bazaar. It was very spacious, and every trade and calling had a special alley allotted to it. Nevertheless, there was no trading done except once a week— namely, on the bazaar-day, when stalls and wares are brought out of the houses and arranged on platforms built in front of them. At the time of my visit there were a number of women sitting on the platforms sewing. The women were always unveiled, generally bareheaded, and wore their thick black hair in two long plaits.

At last, on March 22d, Mohammed Yakub came back from Kashgar, bringing a bulky mail-bag, but no camels! I was thus left precisely where I had been at the beginning of the month. Now I fell back upon my excellent Islam Bai, and on the next day sent him off to Yarkand post-haste with peremptory orders not to come back again without camels.

A few days afterwards I fell a victim to a very bad and painful sore throat. After I had tried the beg's prescription, which was to gargle my throat with warm milk, but to no purpose, he proposed that I should give the peri-bakshis or spirit-exorcisers a trial. I told him that I did not believe in such nonsense; but that the peri - bakshis were welcome all the same.

After dark, when there was no light in the room save what came from the glowing coals on the hearth, the peri-bakshis were introduced—three big, bearded men, in long white cha- pans (cloaks). Each carried a drum (doff) of extremely tightly stretched calf-skin, and on these they proceeded to perform by tapping them with their fingers, beating them with the flat of the hand, and thumping them with their fists.The performers beat the instruments at an incredible speed, and all three in exactly the same time. After tapping the drums with their finger-tips for some time, all three would give a bang at one and the same moment, and then follow it up with half a dozen hollow whacks with their fists. Sometimes they sat still ; sometimes they were so carried away by their peculiar music that they got up and danced; and sometimes again they tossed their drums into the air and caught them with a bang. At every round, which lasted five minutes, the beating recurred in a certain order, which explained the fact that all three were able to keep time so well together. The full measure of rounds for putting evil spirits to flight is nine; and once the exorcisers have begun, it is impossible to stop them until the "full tale of bricks is told !"

Islam and Yakub came back from Yarkand on April 8th with 8 fine camels. How little we foresaw that only one camel—namely. Chongkara (The Sven Hedin, "Through Asia"

The Caravan gets on its Way
10 Apr 1895

A Bactrian camel in its heavy winter coat

We needed yet another man. Niaz Beg found for us another Kasim Akhun from Yanghi-hissar. He had every spring, for six years past, gone on a ten to fourteen days' journey into the desert in quest of gold, taking his food on the back of an ass. He was skilled in getting water by digging. To distinguish him from the other Kasim, we called him sometimes Yollchi (the pointer out of the road). He was brutal and of a violent temper; and the other men, whom he attempted to tyrannize over, soon came to hate him. He conceived that his experience of the desert warranted him in assuming a domineering tone; and he entertained an especial grudge against Islam Bai, because Islam was appointed karavan-bashi, or caravan-leader. I thought we had lighted upon a treasure-trove, for he was the only man in the place who knew anything of the desert. Our menagerie of live-stock embraced three sheep, which we intended to kill one after the other, and half a score hens and a cock.

On April 9th we made our final preparations; we packed the two or three bags of bread etc. filled the four iron tanks with fresh water from the river. Add to all this water supplies for 25 days, and it will be clear that each camel had a pretty heavy load to carry.
Sven Hedin, "Through Asia" 

Earthly Paradise
20 Apr 1895

SH's tent under the three trees (painting after a photo by SH)

Advancing a short distance farther, we found the marsh terminated in a long lake extending towards the north. We skirted its eastern side, keeping along the flanks of the tolerably high sand-dunes which sloped down to the edge of the pure blue water. The forest was still dense, in many places so tangled with thickets that we were compelled to make detours so as to get out into more open ground. The lake, which was nearly a couple of miles wide in its widest part, although it narrowed greatly towards its northern and southern extremities, has no doubt been formed by a branch of the Yarkand-daria, and fills during the season of the summer overflows.

After considerable labor we managed to struggle out once more on to the level steppe. There, on the summit of an isolated dune, whose horns pointed to the south and southwest, we pitched our camp.

April 2Oth. Our camp was so pleasantly situated that we could not resist the temptation to indulge ourselves with another day's rest. It turned out a broiling hot day, despite a fresh breeze from the northeast all night and all the morning. The radiation rose to 146.3° Fahr. (63.5° C.), and at two o'clock in the afternoon the sand was heated to 126.9° Fahr. (52.7° C).

Mount Masar all day lay northwest of us, and between it and our camp, and stretching round to the northeast, was a steppe of moist, luxuriant grass, thickly studded with glittering pools and marshes. While I sat admiring the scene from the top of the hill in the cool of the afternoon, the wind gradually died away, the sun set, steppe and lakes became enveloped in a light stillness and peace reigned over the scene. The only sounds my ear could catch were the gentle hum of the mosquitoes and midges, the croaking of a frog or two in the marsh, the distant scream of a wild goose, and every now and again the tinkle of the camels' bells among the reeds. It was a glorious spot.

Believing that this was the last place in which we were likely to obtain fresh water, we gave up the following dav, April 226, to rest. The camels and sheep were given their last good meal off the reeds which grew beside the lake.

Yollchi assured me that the Khotan-daria was only four days distant to the east. The best Russian maps I had made the distance about 78 miles, and at the rate of about 2 miles a day we should reach the river in six days; but at two davs' march from its bank we ought to be able to get water by digging. I bade the men take sufficient water to last ten days—that is, to fill the tank: half full, so as not to overstrain the camels in the deep sand.

With such a margin I felt perfectly safe against all risks; indeed there would be a sufficient supply to water the camels twice during the six days. Yollchi and Kasim were told to fill the tanks. They were at it a long spell in the evening, and all the time I heard the precious fluid pouring into the iron vessels. All the loads were got ready that night, so that we might start early in the morning.
Sven Hedin, "Through Asia" 

Lost in the Dunes
23 Apr 1895

The dunes increased rapidly in height (painting by unknown artist

The dunes increased rapidly in height, the maximum being some 60 to 70 feet. It was terrible work getting over them. The camels slid cleverly down the steep slopes. As a consequence of this, our track was very zigzag. A strange and inexplicable feeling came over me when I encamped for the first time in the dreariest desert there is on the face of the earth. The men spoke but little; not one of them laughed.

My men set out in the morning full of hope that before evening we should reach a part of the desert where the dunes were lower, and where we should be able to find water, and, maybe, pasture for the camels-, and fuel for a fire as well. But no such thing. The sand-hills grew higher and higher, and we drifted farther and farther into the unknown terrors of the desert.

We saw no glimpse of a mountain, and so gradually bent our course round to the east, under the belief that that was the shortest way to the Khotan- daria. Islam Bai was our pilot now, and excellently well he did the work. He went on a good distance ahead, picking out the easiest path, and holding the compass in his hand all the time. Down he went behind a dune, and became lost to sight; but he soon reappeared on the crest of the next ridge, then down again; and so it went on, time after time. The caravan followed slowly in his footsteps.
Sven Hedin, "Through Asia"

24 Apr 1895

Part of the caravan in the storm, (painting by unknown artist)

April 24th. I was awakened at half-past three in the morning by a hurricane-like wind from the west. Clouds of sand were swept into the tent. The storm whistled and rattled among the tent-ropes and tent-pegs, and the tent itself shook to such an extent that I expected every moment it would be blown away. The wind struck us from every quarter, for our camp was pitched in a sort of hollow, surrounded on all sides by dunes of drift-sand. There was one gigantic ridge on the north of us, another on the east, and yet another on the west. Notwithstanding the violent gale, the sky was perfectly clear.
Sven Hedin, "Through Asia"

The Camels break down
25 Apr 1895

The first camels are dying, (painting by unknown artist)

When morning came I made a most unwelcome discovery. I had noticed the day before how the water washed very noisily to and fro in the water - tanks, and I looked into them to ascertain the cause. They contained only water enough to last two days! I asked the men why they had not obeyed my instructions, and put in sufficient water to last ten days. They answered that Yollchi was responsible for the quantity of water brought. When I reproached Yollchi he answered, " We might be perfectly easy; for it was merely a four days' journey from the last of the desert lakes to the place where we could get water by digging for it." This statement agreed with the maps I had. Consequently I relied upon the man, all the more since his information hitherto had invariably turned out to be correct. However, we all agreed to watch over the water we had, and husband it like gold. Privately, I instructed Islam Bai not to let the two water-tanks out of his sight for a single moment. From that morning the camels never got a drop more water to drink.

Up staggered the camels, their eyes dull and lustreless, like the dying gleams of the setting sun. It was a look of resignation, a look of indifference; all desire for food had gone out of it. Their breathing was labored and slow; their breath more disagreeable than usual. There were only six of them, led by Islam Bai and Kasim. The other two men had remained behind with Babai and Chong-kara. Even at the beginning of the day Chong-kara's legs had failed him. " They would come on to camp," said Islam, " as quickly as they were able."

It was evening when Yollchi and Mohammed Shah struggled into camp, tired and thirsty, supporting their steps on their hand-staves. Thev came alone. The two camels refused to go any farther, and so they had left them to their fate. As soon as it turned a little cooler I sent a man to fetch them. He found that they had picked up a bit, and towards midnight brought them in.
 Sven Hedin, "Through Asia"

The last Water
29 Apr-1 May 1895

April 29. We started at daybreak with the five camels which still survived. Just as we were starting, Islam Bai came and with a heavy heart told me he had found one of the iron pitchers empty, and that he and the other men suspected Yollchi of having drunk the water, for they had heard him moving stealthily about and fumbling in the dark. However, we had no proof that he was guilty.

The going that day was fearful. We could not get a glimpse of our surroundings; we did not know which way to go. But the air was cool, and that and the gale made us forget the cravings of thirst. All we could do was to stick close together, men and animals in a clump. If you once get separated from your companions in such a storm as that, it is utterly impossible to make yourself heard by shouting, or even by rifle shots. The deafening roar of the hurricane overpowers every other sound.

April 3Oth. While the men were engaged in loading up for the start, Islam Bai caught Yollchi with his back to his comrades and the pitcher at his mouth. There ensued an unpleasant and painful scene. Islam Bai and Kasim, boiling with rage, flung themselves upon Yollchi, hurled him to the ground, struck him in the face, kicked him, and would assuredly have killed him had I not intervened with my authority, and compelled them to let him get up. He had drunk half of what there was, leaving about one- third of a pint. From the very start almost Yollchi was missing. The other men believed that he was unable to keep up with us any longer, but would die on our track. They were all embittered against the man.

At night nothing was heard of Yollchi. There were still a few drops of water left for the morning, about a tumblerful in all. Half of this was used in moistening the men's lips. The little that remained was to be divided equally between us all in the evening. But when evening came we discovered that Kasim and Mohammed Shah, who led the caravan, had stolen every drop! We were all terribly weak, men as well as camels. God help us all!

The 1st of May! Early in the morning Yollchi, whom we all looked upon as dead, once more put in an appearance in camp. He had recovered, and was so bold as to prophesy that we should certainly discover water before the day was over. The other men refused to speak to him, but sat silent and downcast, drinking the last few drops that remained of the camels' rancid oil.
Sven Hedin, "Through Asia" 

Camp of Death
3-4 May 1895

The death camp, (painting by unknown artist)

In the mean time my strength left me, and as the caravan slowly struggled on, ever towards the east, my legs failed and refused to carry me farther. In the still atmosphere the funereal camels' bells rang out clearer than ever before. Islam Bai went on first, compass in hand. The five camels were led by Mohammed Shah and Kasin. Yollchi followed close behind the last camel and urged on the string. Dead tired, and tortured by a consuming thirst, I staggered on a long way behind in the rear of the caravan.

It now became clear to us all that it was impossible to go on any longer groping our way in this fashion in the burning heat; especially as Mohammed Shah was perfectly delirious, laughing to himself, weeping, babbling, playing with the sand, and letting it run between his fingers. He was absolutely unable to go any farther, and we could not, of course, abandon him.

We resolved, therefore, to remain where we were until the hottest part of the day was past, and then continue our journey in the cool of the evening and during the night. We let the camels remain where they had thrown themselves down, but took off their loads. Islam and Kasim once more put up the tent, so that we might get a little shade in the inside of it.

Thus I lay all day long, wide awake, with my eyes open, staring at the white covering of the tent, without fixing my gaze upon any one definite object, but seeing everything in a blurred, confused chaos. Once or twice only did my vision grow dim and faint, and my thoughts muddled; that was when I dropped off in a half-slumber.

Shortly afterwards something happened which I can only look upon as a miracle. As the sun drew nearer and nearer to the horizon, so did my strength gradually return ; and by the time he rested like a glowing cannon-ball on the tops of the dunes in the west, I was completely recovered. My body had regained all its former elasticity. I felt as if I could walk for days and days. I burned with impatience to be up and doing. I would not die.

Islam Bai and Kasim both revived. I told them my resolve. They were both of the same mind as I was. Mohammed Shah still lay where he had fallen. Yollchi lay on his back in the shade of the tent. Both were delirious.

Islam, I, and Kasim packed a few badly needed items on the camels, the remainder, including the money (silver coins!) into the tent. They had a hard time to make the camels get up.

At 7 pm they left. Islam with the compass walked ahead.
Sven Hedin, "Through Asia" 

Khotan River
4 -6 May 1895

SH and Kasim (painting by unknown artist)

In the early morning Islam Bay collapsed. Leaving the camels with him SH and Kasim set out on foot to find water. During the next night Kasim collapsed. SH dragged on alone.

May 5th. I dragged myself on and until at half past twelve midnight, I sank down. There was a rustling in the sand. I heard footsteps. I saw a human figure gliding past in the darkness. " Is that you, Kasim ?" I asked. " Yes, sir," he answered. The coolness of the night had revived him.

When the sun rose we turned our eager eyes towards the east. After going a little farther we perceived that the horizon was edged with a black border. What joy! What blessed fortune! It was the forest that lined the bank of the Khotan-daria. We were approaching it at last....

Once more we seized the spade; but we had not strength enough to dig. We were forced to struggle on again towards the east. We travelled at first across a belt of low, barren sand. But at half-past five we entered the thick, continuous forest. The trees were in full foliage, and their leafy crowns filled the forest beneath with gloomy shadows. After all, we were not to lose our spring, the season dedicated to hope!

By nine o'clock we were completely done up by the tropical heat, and dropped on the ground in the shade of two or three poplars. With my naked hands I scratched out a hole between the roots, and lay there, tossing and turning all day long from the heat, without being able to sleep a wink. Kasim was stretched out on his back, muttering deliriously and moaning to himself; nor did he answer when I spoke to him—not even when I shook him.

Sven Hedin, "Through Asia"

Water at last
6 May 1895

Hedin crawling to the Khokand river.

It was seven o'clock before I was able to dress myself. I called upon Kasim to come with me to the water. But he was beaten at last. He shook his head, and with a gesture of despair signed to me to go on alone, drink, and bring back water to him ; otherwise he would just die where he lay

Two Swedish boots of water for Kasim.

After going about a mile and a half, I was at length able to distinguish the dark line of the forest on the right bank of the river...
I was only a few yards from the bank when a wild duck, alarmed by my approach, flew up and away as swift as an arrow. I heard a splash, and in the next moment I stood on the brink of a little pool filled with fresh, cool water— beautiful water!

I drank between five and six pints. The tin box held not quite an ordinary tumblerful, and I emptied it quite a score of times. I felt my whole body was imbibing fresh life and fresh strength. It was a solemn, an awe-inspiring moment. Never did life seem to me richer, more beautiful, more valuable than it did that night in the bed of the Khotan-daria. Then my thoughts flew back to Kasim, whom I left lying alone in the forest, fighting death.

My boots! My Swedish water-proof boots! I filled the boots to the brim with the precious liquid. I threaded the spade- shaft through the straps, and carrying it like a yoke over my right shoulder, hastened back with a buoyant step along the track by which I came. The moon still poured her soft mellow light along the river-bed, so that I had no difficulty in following my own footmarks through the sand.

When I came to Kasim, he was lying in the same position in which I left him. He glared at me with the wild, startled eyes of a faun ; but upon recognizing me, made an effort, and crept a yard or two nearer, gasping out, " I am dying." " Would you like some water?" I asked, quite calmly. He merely shook his head, and collapsed again. He had no conception of what was in the boots. I placed one of the boots near him, and shook it so that he might hear the splashing of the water. He started, uttered an inarticulate cry; and when I put the boot to his lips, he emptied it at one draught without once stopping; and the next moment he emptied the second.
Sven Hedin, "Through Asia"

Shepherds and Islam Bai
6-21May 1895

May 6th. Hunger began to be importunate. It was of the first importance that I should find human beings as soon as I possibly could, both for the sake of food and also to enlist their help to return into the desert to the assistance of Islam, and to fetch such of our goods as might be saved.

At nine o'clock an extremely violent storm sprang up from the west, which drove clouds of sand and dust before it across the bed of the river, and darkened the sun so that I had not the smallest occasion to complain of excessive heat. But the thick haze completely shut out every view of the surroundings, so that I could see neither the forest on my right nor that on my left.

May 8th. The storm had ceased, although the atmosphere was still heavily charged with dust. I had been walking South. shortly before sunset, I perceived the fresh footmarks of two barefooted men who had gone that way, but in the opposite direction—that is, towards the north—driving four donkeys before them.

Twilight was beginning to spread its dusky wings over the silent scene when, as I was passing a projecting headland, I thought I heard a wonderful sound, an unmistakable shout; and it was immediately followed by the lowing of a cow, a voice which in my ears was welcomer than the singing of a prima donna.Through an opening in the forest I caught a glimpse of a flock of sheep grazing. A shepherd with a long staff in his hand was keeping watch over them. When he perceived me, in my tattered clothes and blue spectacles, breaking out of the tangled thickets, he was not a little startled and amazed...

I greeted him with "Salaam aleikum!" Then I told him the whole story of my journey across the desert. When I asked them for a piece of bread, they led me to a hut close by constructed of branches, and scarcely five feet high. I sat down on a ragged felt carpet, and the younger shepherd brought out a wooden platter, with some freshly-baked maize bread. I spend some time at their hut.

Hearing the rattle of stirrups and the echo of voices, I hurried out again. It was three well-to-do merchants, each riding a capital horse, on their way from Ak-su to Khotan. They hastily dismounted, and advancing towards me, without hesitation, as though they knew I was there and had come to seek me, they politely greeted me. Then one of them, a well-dressed man with a black beard, told me some news which beyond measure delighted me. The day before, while riding along the left bank of the river, some twelve hours north of Buksem, they saw a man, more dead than alive, lying by the side of a white camel, which was grazing on the border of the forest. I soon understood, he could be nobody but Islam Bai. Islam then begged the three merchants to look for me; although, he said, he did not know whether I was alive or dead, for he had lost my trail two days before.

May 10th.At sunset I was awakened by the screaming of a camel, and hurried out. There came Pasi Akhun, leading Ak-tuya, the white camel, with Islam Bai and Kasim following behind him. My excellent Islam flung himself with sobs of joy on the ground before me, and clasped my feet with his hands. I at once lifted him up and bade him calm his emotion. In his own mind he had as little expected to see me as I had expected to see him.

The white camel was laden with two kurchins (double wallets of canvas). One of them contained all my instruments (except those for measuring altitudes), my drawings and itinerary notes, paper, pens, and such like; the other the Chinese silver money, the lantern, teapot, cigarettes, and several other things.
Sven Hedin, "Through Asia"

Caravans Passing
12 May 1895

May 12th. Shortly after one o'clock we perceived a small caravan approaching our camp from the north. They turned out to be a party of four merchants, belonging to Khotan. We pounced upon these four merchants like hawks, and in half an hour bought from them three first-rate horses. In the evening we had a visit from two young hunters. They were armed with long guns. They had come to the forests in pursuit of deer; they wanted the antlers - to sell to the Chinese. I instantly engaged them to accompany Islam and Kasim in the quest of the Camp of Death.

At dusk on May 21 Islam and the other men returned. Because of the heat they had not dared to go as far as the death camp. Neither did they find the camel Nahr, who carried the three aneroids, the boiling-point thermometer, the field-glass, two Swedish army revolvers, fifty cartridges, 200 cigars, besides several other things.

My original plan of travelling into Northern Tibet was completely knocked on the head. I had lost my instruments for measuring altitudes, and my equipment was sadly crippled. The only course now open to me was to return to Kashgar. and re-equip and repair my losses. Although it was a longer road, I chose the route via Ak-su.

May 23rd. At half-past seven we were all ready to start from the camp where I had spent such a long time....
Sven Hedin, "Through Asia"

From Aksu back to Kashgar
3-21 Jun 1895

Medresa at Aksu

On June 3 they reached Aksu, where the White Camel suddenly died. They stayed three days in Ak-su in order to organize their temporary caravan for the return journey to Kashgar.

We had a journey of 270 miles before us to Kashgar; but we were in no hurry, and resolved to take things easy. By June 7th all was ready for a start. I gave Islam Bai and Kasim a gratuity each for their faithful services, as well as dressed them out from top to toe in good new clothes. I had lost all my clothes, and bought myself a costume which was half Chinese, half Sart. This was the only occasion during my travels that I deprived myself of the prestige and respect which the European dress always inspired(!).

In the afternoon of June 21, we reached Kashgar
Sven Hedin, "Through Asia"