I don’t know why but I have a thing for deserts. I like being able to see forever and wonder about the variety of life that manages to survive in such a seemingly inhospitable environment. A little while ago I boldly proclaimed that I would like to visit all the deserts in the world…maybe this top ten list will suffice. Three I have already visited – that leaves only seven to go!
1. The Gobi Desert
The Gobi straddles China and Mongolia – two countries that seem about as ‘out there’ as you can get. Having recently followed Sherry from Ottsworld and Dave&Deb from ThePlanetD on their epic Mongol Rally I can see that it will be a challenging place. Their stories of driving with no map and no roads sound adventurous at best and crazy most of the time! But the barren-ness and grasslands have a haunting beauty about them that seems so compelling.
2. The Sahara Desert
The Grand-daddy of them all. Its name alone conjures up images of great sand dunes as far as the eye can see; strings of camels loping across; and nomads making their way. It is huge; stretching across thirteen African countries; taking in some 3.5 million square miles. I certainly couldn’t see all of it…but one day I want to see part of it.
3. The Atacama Desert
The driest place on earth. And it rained while we were there. Seriously! We arrived in Iquique to find overcast skies and a slight drizzle coming down. Not at all what I expected from a desert town – but it is a desert town on the coast and coastal patterns still play a part. In truth the driest place is farther inland and south in the Antofagasta region. We spent four days on a bus traveling through the Atacama Desert. It most often resembled a moonscape; flat, devoid of features, with only small rocks scattered on the surface as far as the eye could see. It was surreal.
4. The Thar Desert
In the Rajasthani district of Northern India, the Thar Desert in inhospitable and yet still people eke out a life here. It was a scrubby, barren looking landscape punctuated by small villages and herders along the way.
5. The Great Western Desert
Stretching through the ‘outback’ of Central Australia, this desert is also home to Uluru (Ayers Rock). I really don’t have much desire to visit Australia but this large desert filled with folklore, myths and legends makes it a possible destination in the future.
6. KaU Desert
There is a desert in Hawaii! I have long wanted to visit Hawaii, not for its beaches, but for the volcanoes. Learning that there is a desert on the island of Hawaii that lies in the shadow of the great volcano Mt. Kilauea puts the tropical island near the top of my must see list. Volcanoes and deserts – now that would be a dream destination!
7. Wadi Rum
Visiting Wadi Rum was like taking a trip back in time. True enough, we raced around the flat sandy expanses in an dilapidated jeep rather than on horse back or camel, but it was easy to imagine a time when camps here were filled with Bedouins doing trade rather than with tourists seeking an experience. The steep walls of the mountains and their pink hued sandstone coloring made for dramatic sunsets. The desert is still almost completely uninhabited and so, sitting on a rock watching the sun sink below the horizon, it was easy to feel as though we were the only people in the great expanse.
8. The Mohave Desert
This desert is part of a dream Western USA road trip that has been cooking in my mind for some time. Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana; kind of a ‘wild west’ trip that would take in deserts and canyons, plains and Big Sky country. That’s the problem when thinking of leaving my ‘home and native land’…there are still so many places nearby that need to be seen!
9. The Arctic
The Arctic is indeed a desert. With its snow and glaciers you might not think so but it meets the definition with its limited yearly precipitation. Having spent many months in the tropical regions of Asia, I am much more inclined to heat than cold but my first chilly winter in Calgary, Alberta is just about upon us so maybe I will be prepared for a visit sooner than I think! Norway, Sweden and Finland are all within the Arctic zone lending some civility to the thought of visiting the coldest place on earth.
10. The Chihuahua Desert
Okay, mostly I like the name but this second largest desert in North America might just be a reason to visit Mexico again. Although straddling the drug war fatigued US/Mexican border it may not be the safest place to be out in the middle of nowhere!
Seems that people either love deserts or hate them…what about you? Which have you visited?