Tuesday, 09 June 2009 17:04
As travelers drive along Federal Highway 45 across northern Chihuahua State, just 50 kilometers south of Juárez, an extraordinary feature of the Chihuahuan Desert stands out in the distance - the Samalayuca Dunes.
White, imposing and towering, this huge tract of fine silicon dioxide sand is unique in Mexico, and a south-of-the-border sister to New Mexico's White Sands.
As habitat to 248 vegetal and 154 animal species, most of them endemic, the Samalayuca Dunes holds precious relicts of an long-gone era when the area laid under the Thetys Sea.
Now popular recreational destination for juarenses and a one-time movie setting for Dune, the old médanos saw the exhausted caravans of Spanish conquistadores trudging by during the early stages of Mexico's nation-building.
Last week, the federal government declared an area of 63,182 hectares of the Samalayuca Dunes a natural protected zone.