The beauty of one place is not defined by the number of tourists it gets. Despite having the harsh environment, deserts have a unique beauty that can be found nowhere else in the world. They are sometimes desolate, sometimes dense with life, but always stunning! Believe it or not, about 20%, or 1/5 of the earth is made up of deserts and they exist on every continent! In fact, even Antarctica itself is a desert. Surprised to learn that? Read on for more deserts in the world that you should add to your bucket list!
1. Sahara Desert
Spread over a vast region of West Africa, the Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world. It is almost as large as the United States, covers 13 countries and is famous for being extremely hot in the day and freezing at night. The best time to visit the Sahara is between May and October. During this period, daytime temperatures are milder. Beyond riding camels and stargazing, you can also hunt for fossils, play on the sand dunes, visit semi-nomadic families and enjoy campfires at night!
2. Arabian Desert
Located in Western Asia, the Arabian Desert stretches among Yemen, the Persian Gulf, Oman, Jordan and Iraq. At its center is the Rub ‘al-Khali or Empty Quarter, which is the largest continuous stretch of sand in the world. Its allure has attracted travellers to Arabia for centuries. Marco Polo and T.E. Lawrence are among the famous explorers who took on the challenge of the barren desert. Thankfully, modern explorers no longer need to risk life and limb to venture into the wilderness. Roads and camps make visiting this inspiring landscape possible for all!
3. Gobi Desert
The Gobi Desert lies in Northwestern China and Inner Mongolia. The largest desert in Asia, it is home to various famous cities of the old Silk Road. The best time to visit is when the climate is milder, either in late spring or in autumn. Highlights here include the Flaming Cliffs, Yol Valley and staying with a local herder family in a traditional ger! You may not have hot water, power outlets or the internet, but you will most definitely gain some unforgettable memories.
4. Kalahari Desert
Arguably one of the most interesting deserts in the world, the semi-arid savannah of the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa covers part of Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. It is known for its desert plants, scrub vegetation and sole permanent river, the Okavango. Kalahari’s red sand is better than most deserts at retaining water, and therefore allows for more plant life. Also home to many wildlife and game reserves, the best time to visit Kalahari Desert for game viewing is in the early summer.
5. Great Victoria Desert
The Great Victoria Desert is the largest in Australia, spread of the south and west of the country. It is known for its sand hills, salt lakes and grassland plains, as well as its thunderstorms. When people talk about the “Australian outback,” this is usually what they’re referring to. It is a vast, arid land filled with exotic desert animals and a great place for a bit of adventure! There are parks and conservation sites where tourists can get up close with the reptiles, and you can even visit Aboriginal communities in some parts of the desert.
6. Great Basin Desert
The largest desert in America, the Great Basin Desert borders the Rocky Mountains in the east, Sierra Nevada range to the west, Sonoran and Mojave Deserts to the south, and Columbia Plateau to the north. It is a cold winter desert, which means long, dry summers and cold winters with substantial snow each year. Lehman Caves is the major attraction here, but you can only visit with an organised tour. Besides that, the desert is a playground for hiking, camping, skiing and snowshoeing!
People are often surprised to learn that Antarctica is a desert. More accurately, it is a polar desert that receives very little precipitation. At first glance, Antarctica looks like it’s just snow, ice, and rocks. Truth is, there’s much more to the White Continent than meets the eye. A hub for climatologists, oceanographers, marine biologists and astronomers, Antarctica is also an eco-tourism destination for those who wish to explore this far flung part of the earth. December is arguably the best time to visit. Temperatures are at their warmest, there are long hours of daylight and wildlife active everywhere!