When you think about deserts, you instantly think of an enormous sandy area, a few camels, probably some cactuses and the warm sun burning your skin as you desperately keep searching for a shadow and some water. Now, even though you might be right about this, you have to know that many deserts don’t completely fit this description.
The world is amazing and sometimes you might come across things that you didn’t even know existed or are different than what you’ve known them to be. Well, that’s the problem with deserts. They might be exactly what you have always thought them to be or entirely different. In order to clarify, check out the following deserts which are considered to be some of the coolest deserts in the world:
Atacama Desert – South America
Talking about extremes, this desert is known to be the driest non-polar desert in the world. It is located on the Pacific coast of South America, west of the Andes Mountains and it is a part of Argentina, Chile, Peru and Bolivia. Because of its soil being compared to that of Mars, this desert has been used several times as a filming location for movies that had scenes showing some activities on Mars.
An interesting thing about this desert is that it’s not the typical only-sand desert. It has some evolved flora, counting over 500 species within the border of the wilderness. Due to the specific climate conditions, unusual types of plants tend to grow, adapting to the extreme environment. Even rare rainfalls can cause the flowering desert phenomenon to happen.
San Pedro de Atacama is a city in Chile which is located in the heart of the Atacama Desert. Because of the specific climate conditions, the city is not that populated, although it attracts many visitors.
Things to do: During the daytime you must go floating, but not swimming, in the Cejar Lagoon. This natural pool is located south of San Pedro and it contains big quantities of salt. That is why you can only lay in the water and relax, but definitely not swim. If you want to feel some adrenaline rushing through your body, try sandboarding in Death Valley. Before night time, go watch the magical sunset west of San Pedro at the Valley of the Moon (Valle de la Luna). There you will get to see the perfect sunset behind the Andes, enjoying the enchanting colors and sights. Also, if you are a passionate stargazer, there are plenty of opportunities for you to enjoy the night there.
Simpson Desert – Australia
This red beauty is occupying the territories of Queensland, Northern Territory, and South Australia. It’s not the largest desert in Australia, but it’s the world’s largest dune desert. Its red dunes can be found even in 40 meters of height. Being popular for its magnificent color, this desert is attracting tourists every year, especially during winter. But be aware that we’re talking about an extremely hot and dry desert climate, where rainfalls are relatively rare and massive sand storms are common.
Things to do: If you’re interested in having an organized tour through the Simpson Desert, then I suggest you take a look at the tours offered by Alice Springs. Probably the most exciting activity you can do is to take a four-wheel drive through the desert. Also, don’t forget to visit at least one of its national parks
- Simpson Desert National Park
- Simpson Desert Regional Reserve
- Simpson Desert Conservation Reserve
- Witjira National Park
Sahara el Beyda – Egypt
Also known as the White Desert, this famous attraction is a part of the Farafra depression. The White Desert is actually a national park of Egypt and is located 45 km north of the town of Farafra. The reason why the desert is called white is because it has massive chalk rock formations, created as a result of occasional sandstorms in the area, leaving an impression of snow fallen on the desert sand. The rock formations such as mushroom and limestone are quite amusing, looking like they were made by humans and not by nature itself.It’s interesting how this desert had become the central star in the music video of the band Klaxons for their song “Echoes”. You can watch the video on the following link.
Things to do: Take a ride through the White Desert and grab your time to look around to find the most unusual rock formations. Also, when you’re there, check out the sun setting down the desert – it’s beautiful!
Lençóis Maranhenses – Brazil
Even though it looks like a desert, it’s not an actual one but it’s still on this list so why not read about it? If you google the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, you would think that it’s a place for your dream vacation. Covering an area of 1550 km², this “desert” is actually made of white, sweeping dunes and blue lagoons. Looking at the area, it may associate you a lot with a natural desert, but what makes this one different than standard deserts is the amount of rain that drops over the dunes, this way creating ponds of crystal clear water on the depression between the dunes. During a period of drought, it may happen that the lagoons will evaporate, becoming completely dried up. On the other hand, when rain is pouring and filling up these lagoons, they become a home for numerous and various water animals like turtles, clams and different types of fish. How they appear in the water after a certain lagoon had been dried and then filled with water? Well, that remains a mystery, but for sure there are theories stating that the eggs of these animals maintain alive in the sand and then explode when water comes back.
Things to do: For some people, it’s enough just to go there and worship the beautiful sights of the national park. However, if you go there, you must try to swim of course! Also, do a little trekking across the dunes and simply enjoy your time there.
If you love animals, then you’ll be surprised of the various species you’ll meet in these deserts. And as you can see, there is plenty of stuff to do while you’re in the wilderness. If you want to explore then take long walks into these sandy areas, but if you’re more of an organized and right to the point person, then have a look at the tours offered in the cities nearby these amazing deserts.