Deserts offer some of the most thrilling adventures in the world. Beyond the perception of vast emptiness, these out-of-this-world destinations reveal dramatic mountain ranges, unique wildlife, ancient cultures, diverse landscapes painted with an array of colours, and pristine natural pools. Moreover, the starry skies above these desolate lands are nothing short of breathtaking. Embark on a desert holiday to escape the dreary winter, and immerse yourself in the wonders of these remarkable places.
Here are five of the greatest desert destinations on Earth:
Located on the southern Atlantic coast of Africa, Namibia, three times the size of the United Kingdom, boasts an arid landscape. The Namib Desert stretches along the desolate Atlantic shore, with its northern part famously known as the ‘Skeleton Coast’. Marvel at the striking orange sand dunes around Sossusvlei, while also encountering elephants, oryx, and lions in the desert regions. The coastal strip is home to flamingo and seal colonies, offering immersive experiences with Namibia safari tours.
Much of Kazakhstan’s landscape is dry steppe or grassland, with Siberian forests in the north and Central Asian deserts and oases in the south. Discover the Altyn Emel National Park, nestled between the Ili River and the Ak-Tau Mountains in the northeast of Almaty. This park spans 4,600 square kilometres of rock and desert, featuring breathtaking red rock formations in the Charyn Canyon and the 3-kilometre-long, 120-meter-high Singing Sand Dune. The sand’s vibrations, caused by the wind, create a range of enchanting sounds.
Embark on a journey to explore the multi-coloured Aktau Mountains and the mysterious ‘singing sand dunes’ of the Altyn-Emel National Park on our Cycling Adventure in Kazakhstan and the Mountains and Deserts of Kazakhstan trekking holiday. These adventures offer diverse landscapes and cultural highlights in Southeast Kazakhstan.
When you think of deserts, you probably imagine the dramatic vistas and lunar landscapes immortalized by Lawrence of Arabia. Jordan’s second jewel, after Petra, is the desert of Wadi Rum, also known as the Valley of the Moon. Towering red rock formations and deep crevasses interrupt the endless sands, with Jordan’s highest peak, Jebel Um Adaami, standing at 1 832 meters.
Home to one of the world’s largest hot deserts, the Sahara, Morocco’s epic lands boasts creamy dunes, glowing sunrises, fiery sunsets, and rich Berber culture in the desert camps. One of the most awe-inspiring aspects of a Saharan desert trek is the nightly show, as one of the world’s largest dark sky reserves unveils a vast and beautiful clear sky adorned with countless stars.
Take a trek along the Edge of the Sahara to immerse yourself in its wilderness, or enjoy a cycling holiday in Morocco’s desert world, Jebel Sahro, the rocky desert mountains in the south of Morocco. Families can also delight in desert trekking, exploring Marrakech, camping out, and joining a traditional camel caravan, regardless of age.
5. The Canary Islands
Beyond being a beach pilgrimage for many holidaymakers, the Canary Islands, particularly Lanzarote, offer a rich and varied terrain, including desert landscapes. The Rubicon Plain, an impressive lava field on the island’s southwest coast, features breakers crashing ashore and distant mountains. Moreover, the Central Desert’s sandy fields present a different desert setting.
Go on a walking holiday on the Island of Eternal Spring to explore these sandy wonders and more. Follow the GR131 long-distance path that flows across Lanzarote, taking in the desert plains, volcanic peaks, pretty flora, and the Timanfaya National Park, home to the Fire Mountains. Alternatively, discover the Saharan-style desert landscape of sand dunes, oases, and the spectacular volcanic knives of Fuerteventura, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve since 2009.
Follow us on social media for more travel news, inspiration, and guides. You can also tag us to be featured.