Most people are drawn to bustling big cities that are filled with energy and charm, but few know the pleasures found in the desert. The still, quiet, effortless stretch of raw beauty.
Perhaps many believe there isn’t much to see or do in a place of ‘nothingness’, but there’s really a whole new world to be discovered, if only they’d explore! But the great thing is most of deserts are located very close to (and sometimes in) these big cities, giving you the chance to enjoy all the desert has to offer, without venturing too far into its vast expanse.
Take a look at our list of the world’s most beautiful deserts, where extraordinary sights and experiences await.
1.The Namib Desert, Namibia
The Namib Desert is a coastal desert found in the Southern African country of Namibia. It is one of the most charming deserts in the world for many reasons: It meets the ocean along the Skeleton Coast of Namibia – a rare combination, and, of course, a mesmerising sight. The sand is also a deep red hue, which glows spectacularly during sunrise and sunset. But the best part about the Namib Desert is that it’s easily accessible, and offers extreme activities for all. Sossusvlei, situated in the Namib-Naukluft National Park is the place to go to enjoy a true desert adventure with activities such as dune hikes, sandboarding, quad-biking and more. What’s great about Namibia, though, is that you can enjoy the desert from the towns and cities too. You needn’t venture out too into the vast expanse of wilderness – it’s also right on the doorstep of your hotel in Swakopmund.
2.Arabian Desert, UAE
The Arabian Desert stretches across most of Western Asia and the UAE, and is one of the most well-known deserts for tourists to explore. It’s also the fifth largest desert in the world. Here again, it’s easily accessible from bustling cities like Dubai, parts of Qatar and Jordan, making it a go-to for travellers looking for some adventure, while staying in the city. From Dubai, for example, you can take camel rides out into the desert, and even watch belly-dancing shows under the stars. Desert camps are also now available to those wanting to escape the city and spend a few nights out in the unique landscapes of the Arabian Desert.
3.Atacama Desert, Chile
The Atacama Desert is one of the harshest deserts in the world because it’s the driest place on earth. But that doesn’t mean one cannot visit – there is too much to be discovered in the Atacama to turn down the opportunity! It’s not only a fantastic place for avid-hikers and nature lovers enthralled by unusual typography, but it’s a place so unique that it truly moves visitors. You have not known silence until you’ve been to the Atacama, nor have you known extreme terrain. From sand dunes, to jagged mountains that look like the spines of dinosaurs, to volcanoes and desert oasis – Atacama seems otherworldly. In fact, some parts had me feeling like I was on Mars!
The Sahara Desert in Africa is the largest hot desert in the world – its size can be compared to that of China or the United States! It stretches across more than 10 Northern African countries including ‘tourist hotspots’ Morocco and Egypt. Morocco is certainly one of the best places to enjoy all the Sahara has to offer including 4x4ing, camel-back trips and desert camps. Egypt is another favourite access point to the Sahara, especially because it engulfs most parts of the big cities such as Cairo. Remember the Great Pyramids of Giza are in Egypt too, making Egypt it a must-do for history lovers and nature enthusiasts alike.
5.The Gobi Desert
The Gobi Desert, situated in northern China and southern Mongolia, is one of the most unusual deserts in the world. It’s not just all sand, sand dunes and mountain ranges – it’s also home to some rare wildlife species such as the snow leopard and rare species of camel. There have also been many dinosaur fossils discovered in the region, and it as now become a paleontologist haven. There are also many folk stories that come out of the Gobi, influenced by ancient Mongolian cultures and communities. It is said the desert sands of Khongoryn Els sing when the wind blows.