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Blank crossword grid

Letters from Gladys are geography-themed standalone crosswords. Each puzzle has five thematic answers, which are places, sights or landmarks in or around a certain location (in this case, a desert). Each thematic answer is notable enough to have its own article in the English Wikipedia, although not necessarily under the same name that is used here. The goal is to fill the grid, identify the thematic answers and guess the name of Gladys’s destination, which is not indicated in the grid.

Dear Puzzling,

If I have counted correctly, I have now actually visited 50 different countries in these puzzles. Many more to come, I hope! This time I am in an area dominated by desert, yet for some reason many of my destinations revolve around water. Can you guess where I am?

Wish you were here!
Love, Gladys.

Across
1. Domino's pizzas contain these compounds (4)
3. Plant whose leaves are chewed in Ethiopia, a small part of Rwanda, and Arabian Peninsula (5)
6. After retirement, he gives orders regarding dry river bed (6)
12. Child's shooter Jack's dream: Naked pop singer (7)
13. Wild fauna drinking blood regularly seen around British capital city (9)
14. A lion, as in disguise, missing imperator overseas, originally (5)
15. I have to follow mother back after short hide and seek (6)
16. Aurally stimulate to the max (4)
18. Religious leader's retreat, a place in the 26 across west, tracked by a young fellow (5,4)
19. That is impossible without the elements of carbon monoxide in the periodic table (2,3,2)
21. Protagonist in old book was brought up here – he played with Tarzan (8)
24. Members of crew: "Stu's obviously recalled an archaeological site" (8)
26. Locked in a prison, Friday is like several entries here? (7)
27. Suddenly he's adrift at sea (9)
30. Sunset Boulevard – U.S. kinematographic piece (4)
32. Refrain from going out, essentially trusting letter from 21 across? (4,2)
33. Law in film associated with a place containing 21 across (5)
35. Area of dry land is not a shape that's 5 down (6,3)
36. Inner layers of atmosphere starting to spread early enough (7)
37. Explosive endings from the Cunningham gambit – mating's involved (6)
38. Irish singer standing behind top of Kilimanjaro, a high 16 across (5)
39. Old Middle Easterner from Arabian country going west to get pinch of salt (4)

Down
1. Destination for redirecting messages on irregular sand ridges (10,7)
2. Pioneer and revolting tribal leader in Lahijan opposing Shah after revolution (11)
4. Lacking tail, carnivorous dinosaur found in part of the Old World shows 5 down anatomy (7)
5. A bee left circling woman? That's unusual (8)
7. Oi, mate! Gladys dropped Australian national symbol! (4)
8. Bank's senior executive's term interrupted by critic of capitalism (5)
9. Lothlórien perhaps welcomed into the entrance to Mordor with gold and cake (5,6,6)
10. Name of town consists of 1,000 Chinese characters (6)
11. Authorise a motor vehicle to proceed to waterway (8)
17. Shade of Croatian seen in Croatia and 26 other countries (4)
20. Ravaging Sudan, a 31 down reveals long-dead Frenchman (11)
22. Like Pablo Escobar in psychiatric hospital? (4)
23. Maybe Tiger Woods ultimately received premium-quality sports clothes? (4,4)
25. For example, Little Rock is a US state capital (8)
28. Decapitated man in EU city regularly received payments (7)
29. North of India, Jack dug into rich and aromatic first course of meat cooked with onions and capsicums (6)
31. Mutant monster rampaged, striking two cardinals (5)
34. You brought up expensive earphones, hotpants and 23 down? (4)

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1 Answer 1

6
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Gladys is in

Kalahari Desert

Grid

Clues

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1
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Nicely done :) I had 5 to go! Got to say I especially enjoyed the double LotR reference in 9D - very clever! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    May 12 at 9:31

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