The Gobi Desert is the largest desert region in Asia and the fifth largest in the world. Commonly called the Gobi Desert, the region is technically a mixture of desert and semi-desert. It is, also, the windiest non-polar desert in the world. The climate that the area experiences varies greatly depending on the specific location due to the topography, which varies from plain, desert and mountain climates. The area annually experiences temperatures of up to 40oC / 104oF in the summer and has been known to drop to -24.4o C / -11.9oF in the winter whilst receiving only 27mm / 1 inch of rainfall annually. The area selected for the Gobi March 2012 has been closely guarded by the Chinese government due to its border position and distance from Beijing and as a result there have been very few outsiders freely exploring the area. In places vegetation-free dunes rise above the plains in golden mounds smooth as skin or gently rippled and shaped like reclining nudes.