Walking across a desert doesn’t seem like fun to most people. Common belief has taught us misconceptions about these geographical structures such as their absence in water resources, presence of wildlife, and extreme heat. Worse, they associate it with shady business deals gone wrong, where people are kidnapped and left out to die. Never use TV as a source for information, unless it’s the History or National Geographic Channel.
Contrary to popular belief, not all deserts are strictly hot terrains lacking life. Some are very lively, teeming with creatures known and unknown. Their landscape has even been made habitable by natives, encouraging tourism. Deserts have increasingly become tourist attractions over the years, offering up some of the most unique environments, formations and biodiversity ever seen. Check out these 10 majestic deserts to travel across this year!
10 The Sahara Desert
One of the most famous features of the African-outback is The Sahara Desert. Known for its torrid temperatures, desert storms with winds strong enough to eat through metal, and incredible biodiversity, this desert is a must-see. Tourist can tour the great Sahara Desert by camelback and even 4-wheel drive.
The best time to book a trip to walk across the vast desert is near November to February, when temperatures are as low as 20 degrees. Travelers should also consider booking a tour in December when The Festival of The Sahara takes place. An oasis that sits at the edge of the desert, called Douz, is where all the action happens. Douz has a population of just 12,000 desert dwellers, but that doesn’t stop them from reveling in the spirit of the Sahara.
9 The Antarctica Desert
While the Sahara Desert is the post-boy staple for just about every dryland in existence, the Antarctic causes a bit of confusion. In technical terms, it qualifies as a “cold desert” since perception is almost nonexistent and the below-freezing temperatures discourage the presence of most life forms. The fungi, lichens, and the Antarctic Hair Grass are just a handful of plants that thrive in the extreme cold temperatures of the desert. Travelers can also expect to find land and aquatic animals such as Penguins and Whales. With there being evidence of some life, there are also people native to the cold desert and have been known to be kind to tourist. With a spectacular view of snow-topped mountains, who wouldn’t want to walk across this unique desert?
8 The Sonoran Desert
Returning to the other side of the world where hot deserts are king comes the Sonoran Desert in Mexico. It has gone on record as the hottest desert North America has ever seen, a record that’s hard to beat. Not only is the terrain extremely, hot but the desert is so expansive that it stretches over Arizona, California, and parts of Mexico. It’s 280,000 square acres is home to over sixty species of mammals, 350 kinds of birds, and 2,000 native species of plants,” having the largest biodiversity in North America as well.
The Sonoran Desert is so diverse in ecosystems and climate that it’s one of the few deserts that has two rain seasons. The desert has many protected reserves that feature areas of interest to travelers, such as the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. It’s a zoo, aquarium and botanical garden combined into one building.
7 The Chihuahuan Desert
Another desert with a diverse climate and species list is the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico. It’s hard finding a place to go this year, especially with so many choices available. Walking across a desert isn’t the traditional vacation destination, but according to tourists, it’s one of the most rewarding experiences. For those who love exploring new territory, there’s plenty to see at this desert, given all the abundant species of plant life thriving there. The desert is nicknamed the “shrub desert” because it's home to several species of cacti than any other dryland. It’s also home to beautiful but rare reptiles such as the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard. The Chihuahuan Desert has it all!
6 The Thar Desert
The Thar Desert also has many exciting and thrilling features for tourists as well. With the coming times, India has changed over the course of 10 years. It’s nothing like Aladdin’s exaggerated tale of magic lamps, bandits, and talking desert dunes. Instead, India today is an immersion of the old and newer times. According to these travelers, the Thar Desert is a dryland full of great dunes and traditional practices, while simultaneously booming with new technology. There are several wind turbines located throughout the desert, which allows at least 500 million residents access to cell phones.
5 The Tabernas Desert
The Tabernas Desert in Almeria, Spain also provides for an unforgettable experience. Though this desert was once ocean land, it has since become a dryland with an unusual but uniquely shaped landscape. During the rainfall season, the downpour gives the desert surface a most unusual moon-like appearance. Tourists can take day walks or multiple-day trips out to the Spanish desert to see the natural-occurring event. They can also witness species that thrive there. Though temperatures in Tabernas are close to inhabitable, many species of rabbits, lizards, and rodents live in the desert. Visitors can even get a break from the desert and venture into the Tabernas Village. Historically, it was a place for Roman troops to stop and rest during military campaigns. Centuries later, the tradition continued, whereas, according to this tourism blurb, “many taverns were built throughout the village to welcome visitors, thus giving Tabernas its name.” Still, to this day, visitors still go to the village to unwind and go sight-seeing. A walk in the desert and back to our hotels in the Tabernas Village has to be worth paying for!
4 The Pinnacles Desert
While the Tabernas Desert has a magical geographic structure, the Pinnacles Desert of Australia is the dryland of our dreams. Australia isn’t just known for its great outback or Kangaroos anymore. Rather, it offers travelers a chance to visit another of its many wonders. The Pinnacles Desert is home to some of the largest sand dunes in the world. Tourists should know the best times to visit are July through October, which provides the greatest times to view many of the features the desert has to offer. In November and August, travelers can part-take on daily boat tours to collect lobster pots and indulge in fresh seafood cuisine. Another popular excursion is sandboarding along the Lancelin sand dunes. Not only is the walk along the Pinnacles Desert adult-friendly, kids can also get in on the fun, too. This Australian desert is one of a kind!
3 The White Desert
Known for its spectacular geographical landscape as well, the White Desert of Egypt is one of the best deserts to walk across this year. It’s as far as 2.8 million square kilometers, stretching from the western banks of the Nile River to the city of Libya. Here, travelers will discover five remote but existing oasis’s such as Kharga, Dakhla, Farafra, Bahariyya and Siwa. One of the biggest highlights of the White Desert are the unique rock formations that have formed over centuries of erosion and sandstorms. Some of these magnificent structures take after food shapes such as mushrooms and ice cream cones. More interestingly, these solid particles change colors as the sun moves across the skies. The light show is best seen at night, where travelers can witness the desert’s shimmery glow in the wake of the moonlight. Sounds way better than watching the Northern Lights!
2 The Namib Desert
The White Desert of Egypt may hold the top spot for being one of the best drylands to visit this year, but it’s got some serious competition with the Namib Desert. This South African beauty possesses one of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world, with its red desert dunes, vastness, and a night sky full of stars. This desert may have been one of the oldest drylands ever, but age certainly hasn’t taken away its appeal. Travelers will find lots of sight-seeing and recreational activities to do, such as walking the safaris, taking scenic drives, and discovering fauna and flora that can only be found in the Namib Desert.
1 The Wadi Rum Desert
Deserts aren’t just known for their extreme temperatures or impressive expanse. Rather, many have intriguing structures that are worth discovering. Hence the meaning behind some of their names. For example, the Namib Desert’s name means “a vast land” in Nama language. The Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan, Asia is known by residents as “The Valley of the Moon” due to its dramatic sandstones, basalt mountains, and rock wall art found throughout its many canyons. The desert is teeming with rich history, often taking travelers back in time to the days of an ancient Nabatean society. These indigenous people left behind a wealth of rock carvings and inscriptions for travelers today to discover. Visitors can end a day of traveling with sitting under the stars. Local tour guides will provide accommodations such as luxurious tents, live entertainment and dinner dishes that are common among the native residents that inhabit the land. Travelers will find themselves mesmerized by a world of storytelling and history when visiting the Wadi Rum Desert this year!