A desert adventure isn’t for everyone – it’s all sand and no sea. Deserts are dry and lifeless by nature, but this can be the appeal. They’re a chance to get away from civilisation and feel like you’re on another world. They’re also the opportunity for a challenge whether it’s a hiking adventure or a camel trek or a long roadtrip. Every desert has it’s unique character and comes with it’s own history. Here are some of the most scenic and intriguing desert destinations worth visiting.
Sonoran & Mojave Desert, USA
The Sonoran and Mojave deserts stretch across several states in America including Nevada, Arizona, California and Utah. It’s here that you’ll find many of the country’s most iconic desert sights. The Grand Canyon is the biggest attraction stretching 277 miles at a depth of a mile in some places. There are lots of different ways to see the canyon – you can kayak through it, take a helicopter trip over it and even walk over it in a glass walkway! This desert vacation is best combined with a trip to Monument Valley, the famous rock monoliths found in many Western films. Sedona meanwhile is another great sight in the region – here you’ll find some similarly impressive monoliths including Cathedral Rock and the nail-biting Devil’s Bridge.
The Sonoran and Mojave aren’t strictly escapes from civilisation given that there are many cities in the region – the most famous being Las Vegas and Phoenix. However, it can be the perfect desert destination for those that want to see all the natural sights but don’t want to travel too ruggedly (i.e. it’s great for families!).
Atacama Desert, Chile
The Atacama Desert in Northern Chile is the driest place on Earth, with some places barely receiving 3mm of rain per year. It’s arid climate means that there is very little life here, however it’s landscape more than makes up for this. Commonly compared to Mars, the Atacama desert is made up of dramatic mountains, crystal clear lakes and sizzling geysers. Moon Valley is a popular hotspot in which the sunset appears to cycle through every colour. The volcano Tatio meanwhile has many impressive geysers by it’s base, which attract a lot of tourists. Chaxa meanwhile is one of the most impressive lagoons, populated by flamingos.
Atacama does have some settlements including San Pedro, which is the most popular place to stay. This rustic cowboy-like town is pretty central when it comes to many of deserts major sights. Machuca meanwhile is another village worth visiting where you can taste homemade empanadas and see llamas.
Simpson Desert, Australia
The Simpson desert is located in central Australia. It’s known for it’s deep red sands and flat appearance with horizons that seem endless. Uluru (aka Ayer’s Rock) is one of the biggest sights in this desert and is the most popular reason for people visiting this region. This is a sacred site for aboriginals and has a striking appearance compared to the flat desert around it. Chamber’s Pillar is another popular sight in this area – a fifty metre column made of sandstone.
Most people visiting this desert stay at Alice Springs, which is the biggest settlement in the region. It’s worth renting a car here, so that you can get around and explore the neighbouring desert. There are many luxury hotels in this area which could allow you to explore the rugged exploration of the desert by day, whilst enjoying spa treatment and cocktails by night.
Namib Desert, Namibia
On the other end of the spectrum is the Namib desert, which is anything but flat. Here you’ll find the highest sand dunes in the world – some of which rise over 1000ft. Sossusvlei is one of the desert’s biggest landmarks. This salt and clay pan was once a lake but has since dried up and is surrounded by huge red dunes. There are then sight such as Spitzkoppe, which is a collection of rocky monoliths made from granite (it’s Africa’s own Monument valley).
For those that want to experience a Namibian Safari, there are plenty of tours that you can take that include staying in luxury accommodation. There are all kinds of active ways of seeing the desert from hot air balloon rides to treks on horseback.
White & Black Desert, Egypt
The white and black desert are both technically part of the Sahara, but they’re terrain makes them stand out as worth visiting. The White desert gets its name from it’s chalk rock formations that make it almost look like snow. It’s a common hotspot for camping trips and jeep safaris. The Black desert meanwhile is located a little north and is made up of black volcanic terrain.
There are not many nearby settlements other Farafra, which is inhabited mainly by Bedouin people. You’re best off planning a trip from Cairo – this could be combined with a trip of all the Cairo sights such as the Pyramids and Egyptian Museum. Certain trips may only be a daytrip, whilst others may include an overnight stay in the desert.
Salvador Dali Desert, Bolivia
You won’t find this desert advertised in many travel guides – it’s one of the more hidden gems on this list. The Salvador Dali Desert gets its name from the resemblance it has to the landscapes in many of Salvador Dali’s paintings. It’s largely a barren wasteland, but the volcanoes in the horizon give it a surreal feel, as well as the various rock formations dotted around the place.
The desert is fairly small and you won’t find many settlements nearby. Salar de Uyuni is a nearby impressive salt flat, which is a more popular attraction and there’s plenty of accommodation near here from which you could travel to the Salvador Dali desert from. Your best option may be to hire a car or get someone to take you on a private tour here.Follow and Share with Jetsettersblog.