Last Updated on August 12, 2022

The desert is by definition one of the harshest envinroments you can find on Earth. Whether insanely hot or or completely frozen, deserts are places where life is at struggle and danger lurks behind every corner. Extreme weather, dehydration, sunstroke and venomous predators are all threats that you will find in the desert.

Below, a list of the most dangerous deserts on our planet.

Satellite view of the Sahara desert

Sahara Desert – Northern Africa

The Sahara desert is a notoriously dangerous place which covers much of northern Africa. Despite being a harsh desert environment, much of its dangers are linked to human violence rather than the desert itself.

The Sahara crossing for decades has been recognized as one of the most dangerous migration routes in the world. Smugglers and human traffickers ambush, kidnap and murder people who are trying to cross the desert on a regular basis. Robbery and sexual assault are also common. Even not taking into account human threats, surviving in the Sahara desert is no easy feat.

Taklamakan Desert – China

Taklamakan is one of the largest deserts in the world, and allegedly one of the most dangerous. It is located in Southwestern Xinjiang in Northwest China, and its name is believed to translate to “Place of No Return” or “somewhere you get in and never get out“.

It is a very large sandy desert with extreme hot weather during the day, and freezing temperatures at night, inhabited by venomous snakes, subject to very strong winds and prone to sand storms, and with very little sparse oases and sources of water. It is also called the “Sea of Death” or “Place of Ruins“, so its reputation really precedes it.

Danakil Desert – Ethiopia

Among the most dangerous places in the world there is also the Danakil Depression, a poisonous desert located in Ethiopia. Beneath its surface, earth’s rocky rind is splitting, and underground magma chambers feed as many as 12 active volcanoes, capable of generating steaming geysers, bubbling basins and a fiery lake of lava.

Temperatures are as high as 50°C (122°F) on a regular basis. Boiling hot water beneath the surface bubbles up mixing with poisonous chlorine and sulphur gases, making it one of the most inhospitable places on Earth.

Dasht-E Lut, Iran

Dasht-e Lut Desert – Iran

The Lut desert in Iran is the hottest place on Earth, and because of that it is largely uninhabitable, with much of its area completely void of vegetation and water. Temperatures in the summer can reach unimaginable 60°C (140°F), with the highest recorded over 70°C (158°F).

If that wasn’t bad enough, dangerous scorpions, spiders and snakes lurk in the sand at night, when temperatures are more bearable. And because there really aren’t any towns or villages in this desert, camping there requires you to bring all the necessary precautions and should not be attempted without an expert guide.

Antarctica Desert

Antarctica Desert

The largest desert and coldest place on the planet is also a location where resources are extremely scarce and survival challenging. The desert of Antarctica puts you at risk of frostbite, hypothermia, snow blindness, sunburn and dehydration.

Aircraft accidents are very common due to the extreme and unpredictable weather, the most deadly was a commercial airplane crash in 1979 which left over 250 people dead and no survivors. Because of this, the preferred method of transportation to Antarctica is via cruise ship, although shipwrecks have also happened in the past.


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