Whether you like cold or heat, the deserts on our earth all offer a completely different climate, so it’s up to you what you want to experience. A desert is an area that receives little rainfall and deserts can therefore be hot or cold. Most deserts are quite barren because the arid conditions are too hostile for most plant and animal life. However, deserts are also very special and often offer the most beautiful landscapes and special flora and fauna. Would you like to take a trip through a desert yourself, but you don’t know where? Read more below about the most beautiful and largest deserts in the world and plan your next trip.
Of all the deserts on Earth, this is the largest sandy desert in the world. Located in North Africa, it covers large parts of the continent. This largest heat desert in the world has an area of 9,200,000 km², comparable to China or the US!
Hottest desert in the world
The Sahara is the hottest desert in the world with one of the most difficult climates. The average annual temperature is 30°C, while the hottest temperature ever recorded was 58°C. The area receives little rainfall, in fact half of the Sahara Desert receives less than 1 inch of rain each year. Despite many considering the Sahara to be a consistently warm climate, temperatures drop dramatically at night due to the lack of moisture and can reach as low as -6°C.
The Sahara is much more than just sand because in fact the majority of the Sahara consists of barren, rocky plateaus, as well as salt flats, sand dunes, mountains and dry valleys. The rivers and streams in the Sahara are all seasonal except for the Nile River.
There are more than 20 lakes in the Sahara, most of them are saltwater lakes. Lake Chad is the only freshwater lake in the desert.
There are several activities you can do in the Sahara, such as quad biking, stargazing, sandboarding, camping or hiking! You can book a tour and watch a beautiful sunrise, sleep under a blanket of stars and in general have a very special experience.
Antarctica is the largest desert in the world. Located around the South Pole, it is the driest, windiest and coldest continent on Earth. Antarctica is a desert as a whole as the continent receives less than 200mm of precipitation each year. Temperatures in Antarctica are generally very cold and can drop to -89°C in winter. Partly due to these extreme temperatures and a lack of water, there are no permanent inhabitants in Antarctica. The Antarctic Desert covers a total area of approximately 14,000,000 km².
If you want to see this largest desert in the world for yourself, it is best to do this via a cruise. Most cruises depart from Argentina and these sail to Antarctica in about 3 days. During your trip you will mainly see vast polar plains, icebergs and glaciers. But not only nature is beautiful. You can also spot different animal species such as whales, penguins and sea lions, which offers a great view. The landscapes are unlike any other landscape in the world, what makes a trip to this largest desert in the world so special.
3. Gobi desert
The Gobi Desert covers parts of northwestern and northern China, as well as southern Mongolia. It covers about 1,295,000 km² of the total land area. The Gobi Desert is also referred to as the “rain shadow desert” as the desert’s proximity to the Himalayas blocks rainfall. The mountains prevent the rain from reaching the Gobi. Most of the Gobi’s surface is not sandy but rather exposed, bare rock. It is a cold desert and occasionally snow accumulates in the dunes.
This famous desert allows you to discover its history, scenery and much more and is easily accessible from Mongolia’s capital and main tourist hub, Ulaanbaatar. A camel ride is a must for visitors to the Gobi Desert. You can admire the vastness of the desert from a camel, an experience you will not soon forget. Furthermore, staying in a Ger Camp is one of the most popular things to do in the Gobi desert. A ger is a circular house of traditional origin in Mongolian history. They are also referred to as “yurts” in other countries in Central Asia.
4. Great Sandy Desert
The Great Sandy Desert is the second largest desert in Australia and covers approximately 284,993 km². The Great Sandy Desert stretches across the coast of the Indian Ocean in northwestern Australia and it lies between the Tanami Desert, to the northeast, and the Gibson Desert, to the south. Those three deserts converge near the geographic center of the continent, at the famous bare red sandstone dome of Ayers Rock, or, in the native language, ‘Uluru’.
The Great Sandy Desert falls into the classification of a ‘hot desert’. This means that in a typical year it receives little rainfall and experiences high temperatures and low humidity levels.
Although it is not the largest desert in Australia, it is the most beautiful and has the most famous landmark on the continent. There’s a lot more to do than just stare at a big red rock. You can spend days here exploring not only Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, but also some of the highlights in the nearby area.
5. Patagonian Desert
The Patagonian Desert is the eighth largest desert in the world and the largest in Argentina. It covers an area of approximately 670,000 km². It is mainly located in Argentina, but it also extends to parts of Chile . The Patagonian Desert is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Andes Mountains to the west. It is a cold desert with temperatures rarely exceeding 12 degrees Celsius. The average annual temperature is only 3 degrees Celsius. The desert is windy because of the descending mountain air.
Patagonia is known for its beautiful landscape and you can take the most beautiful walks and hikes here. Would you rather go by bike? That is also possible! You can’t rent a bike everywhere in Patagonia so find out in advance where you would like to cycle. You can also opt for a tour by kayak. With rivers, fjords and coastlines galore, kayaking in Patagonia is an adventure.
As you have read yourself, there are many options to see and experience the largest and most beautiful deserts for yourself. Each continent has a desert that suits the climate, allowing you to discover completely different landscapes. So consider in advance whether you would rather go for the cold of, for example, the largest desert in the world, Antarctica, or rather go to the heat of the Sahara.
Whatever desert you choose, always prepare well. The weather conditions are almost always extreme and it is therefore better to opt for a guided tour than to set out on your own. One thing is certain, you will not soon forget a trip through the desert!