Nepali Deserts – Got Altitude?


Living in a desert is very hard. In addition to dealing with the lack of water and vegetation, living in a high-altitude desert has the challenge of the extreme cold! Nepal’s high-altitude desert stretches across Mustang, one of the country’s 77 districts. Because of the harsh living conditions, it is very sparsely populated. So how do the people who live in Mustang survive? They must use their few resources carefully and always wear a lot of layers of clothing!

What makes this environment special or different?:

Deserts are usually low in elevation. The Mustang district of Nepal, though, is part of a high-altitude desert that stretches across the rain shadow of the Himalayas. A rain shadow is an area that is very dry because the mountains block most of the rain. Therefore, there are hardly any trees or vegetation in Mustang that grow on their own. Like all deserts, in Mustang there is a big difference in temperature between day and night; since the air is very dry, it cannot hold onto warmth once the sun goes down. However, the elevation makes it even colder in a high-altitude desert than in a normal desert. The higher it is, the colder it is. Villages in Mustang district are around 8,000 meters.