Deserts are vast, secluded and mysterious and vary from polar, subtropical or cold winter deserts. Whatever your chosen activity, each of these mighty deserts offer a memorable and exciting experience.
Gobi Desert in Mongolia
For a desert experience that throws you into the deep end, visit the Gobi Desert which is hugely vast and totally inhospitable. Lying within Mongolia and China, summertime brings harsh sandstorms and winters bring freezing temperatures in this cold winter desert. The Gobi is the fifth largest desert in the world at half a million square miles (1.3 million sq. km). Use the local accommodation of distinctive yurts and travel as nomads have for thousands of years on horse or camel back.
Great Basin Desert in the USA
One of four deserts in the United States, the Great Basin Desert lies within the states of Nevada, California, Oregon, Idaho and Utah. This cold winter desert is made up of forest and alpine terrain as well as traditional desert. The tenth largest desert in the world is also a National Park and offers visitors the opportunity to climb peaks that reach 13,000 feet, trek the forests and spot a diverse range of animals, birdlife and plantlife. In fact some 73 mammals and 18 reptile species live here. The desert is said to date back 5,000 years and is home to mountain lions, skunks, coyotes, eagles and hawks.
Sahara Desert in North Africa
The largest subtropical desert in the world, covering some 3.3 million square miles is the mighty Sahara Desert. Spanning 12 North African countries, the Sahara is almost as large as the USA, with sand dunes as high as 180 meters (590 feet) tall. In fact the saying ‘from here to Timbuktu’ (town in Mali) may make reference to the sheer size of the Sahara. You can take a three week trip into the Sahara but you’ll barely even dent these dunes.
The Antarctic is the largest polar desert on earth covering an almighty 5.3 million sq. miles. This great white desert draws travellers keen to witness spectacular glaciers, vast volcanoes and glacial lakes. Take an ice cruise around Antarctic and spot Weddell Seals, Orca Whales, Rockhopper Penguins, Blue Whale, Emperor Penguin and many more.
Thar Desert in India
Wedged between the India and Pakistan Border lies the Thar Desert, aka the Great Indian Desert, where tribes have lived a traditional life for centuries amongst the harsh environment of dunes and scrubland. Covering 77,000 square miles, travellers can start their subtropical desert adventure by first exploring Jaisalmar, aka The Golden City, in the state of Rajasthan. Jaisalmar Fort was crafted from sand when it was built in 1156. And then you can head into the That Desert by camel.
Kalahari Desert in Botswana
Tackle this subtropical red-sand desert in a fully equipped 4WD; the only way to travel across the harsh thorny scrub. Amongst the Botswana salt pans you’ll spot lions, cheetah, oryx, meerkats and springbok. The rich red Kalahari is the ancient home of the Bushmen and the unique lighting of the desert makes this spot ideal for a photography safari. Visitors can explore the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the wild flower meadows of Namaqualand and the vast Augrabies Falls which are amongst the biggest waterfalls in the world. The Kalahari spans 360,000 sq. miles and lies within Angola, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.
Atacama Desert in Chile
Laing at the very northern tip of Chile is the Atacama Desert, which is totally devoid of light pollution, which offers a fantastic option to really get back to nature. Stay at an eco-lodge in the heart of the desert. Watch the sun set as the sky lights up in a rich gold, crimson and orange. Enjoy an astronomy tour at night to witness the gleaming stars and trek the vast eerie desert by day on horseback, cycle or on foot. The Atacama is so dry that whole regions have never seen rainfall and the desert also lies in Peru.