Last Updated on January 18, 2024

Desert destinations all over the world have something truly magical about them.

From endless sandy dunes to otherworldly landscapes, these unique places offer something special for every traveler.

For many travelers, the appeal of the desert lies in its stark, unspoiled beauty and the sense of adventure that comes with exploring this seemingly inhospitable environment.

Experience the stark beauty, sense of adventure, and breathtaking sunsets of the desert, unique desert cities and towns, and enjoy once-in-a-lifetime activitie experiences.

The desert offers a wide range of desert activities to enjoy.

From desert safaris and camel rides to dune bashing, sandboarding, and camping under the stars, there are endless ways to explore and experience the desert.

Whether you are a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor, a trip to the desert is an adventure that you will never forget.

Below, a list of the most beautiful desert gateaways in the world and the best ways to discover and experience them.

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Top Desert Travel Destinations

Sahara Desert – Northern Africa

The Sahara is the most famous hot desert in the world and also the largest: it occupies about a quarter of the enormous African continent and crosses as many as eleven countries, while it continues to expand due also to climate change.

In such a vast area, you will find different landscapes: sand dunes, of course, but also rocky deserts, semi-arid areas and even steppes and forests.

The best way to experience the Sahara is certainly to participate in a caravan trip, on the tracks of the nomadic tribes of the past.

Desert Gateways: Sahara Desert

Sahara Desert Adventures

Gobi Desert – Mongolia

The legendary Gobi desert is located in Central Asia, between the countries of Mongolia and China.

It is characterized mainly by bare rock and famous for being historically populated by nomadic shepherds.

The Gobi desert is a cold desert positioned on a plateau, which means it is not unusual to see it covered in snow during the year, making it an interesting choice for desert travel.

Desert Gateways: Gobi Desert

Gobi Desert Adventures

Simpson Desert – Australia

The Simpson Desert is located in the heart of the Australian continent – the so-called Outback – and extends for almost 600 thousand square kilometers.

The sand, between which once flowed a long river, is formed here in gigantic dune systems, up to ten meters high.

Alternating with these are shallow clay depressions and Lake Eyre, the world’s largest salt lake, about fifteen meters below sea level.

If you manage to see it on one of the rare occasions when it is full, you can turn to the Lake Eyre Yacht Club, a group of friendly local sailors, for a tour.

Desert Gateways: Simpson Desert, Australia

Simpson Desert Adventures

Salar de Uyuni Desert – Bolivia

Covering more than ten thousand square kilometers, this gigantic

Bolivian salt desert is one of the most extensive deserts in the world, as well as being one of the most fascinating places on the planet.

The white spaces stretching as far as the eye can see create a surreal environment, where it is possible to take funny pictures thanks to the absence of perspective.

A unique way to cross it is the Wara Wara del Sur, a train that runs through four stations in a span of about fifteen hours.

Desert Gateways: Uyuni Salt Flat Desert, Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni Desert Adventures

Wadi Rum Desert – Jordan

Also known as the “Valley of the Moon,” the Wadi Rum desert in southern Jordan is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Characterized by sandy mountains of various colors, interspersed with deep canyons, this valley of granite rock has its highest point in Mount Jebel Rum, and even soft sand dunes for sandboarding.

Between rock carvings and castles in the desert there is no shortage of things to see, and it is definitely worth a tour of at least a couple of days.

In Wadi Rum many films have been shot on lunar landscapes, such as some scenes of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Desert Gateways: Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan

Wadi Rum Desert Adventures

Thar Desert – India

Also known as the Great Indian Desert, this desert region, mostly located within the borders of Rajasthan, includes predominantly sandy areas, with a transitional belt consisting of thorny savanna.

In the heart of the Thar desert lies the beautiful fortified city of Jaisalmer, surrounded by very long walls, where the Jaisalmer Desert Festival is held every year in February.

Desert Gateways: Thar Desert, India

Thar Desert Adventures

Namib Desert – Namibia

A desert of dreamlike charm, the Namib is considered among the oldest in the world.

Very high dunes of red sand, which change color and shape with the work of the wind, interspersed with skeletons of acacia trees that create surreal places.

An experience not to be missed is to fly over the desert with a panoramic flight in a hot air balloon or on board a small plane.

Desert Gateways: Namib Desert

Namib Desert Adventures

Kalahari Desert – Botswana

The Kalahari desert is made up of nearly a million square kilometers of red sand and is located in Botswana (and partly in Namibia and South Africa).

Within it are several nature reserves, such as the Central Kalahari Wildlife Reserve, the Khutse Wildlife Reserve and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

The Kalahari is one of the best desert safari destinations in Africa.

Desert Gateways: Kalahari Desert

Kalahari Desert Adventures

Sonora Desert – North America

This desert (sometimes also known as the Gila Desert) is located between the United States and Mexico, is characterized by a wide variety of plants that can withstand heat and drought.

For example, the the Saguaro cactus is a characteristic species of cactus typical of this desert that can reach a height of more than ten meters.

Everything can be better known thanks to the museum located on the edge of the desert, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: 400 thousand square meters (mostly outdoors) dedicated to the desert ecosystem of the area.

Desert Gateways: Sonora Desert

Sonora Desert Adventures

Rub’ al Khali Desert – Arabian Peninsula

The Rub’al Khali (“Empty Quarter”) covers most of Saudi Arabia, this sand desert of 650 thousand square kilometers.

This iconic desert offers dazzling yellow sand dunes which are extremely popular amongst desert dwellers and adventure seekers, above all in the areas of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman.

Desert safari tours in these regions include activities such as sandboarding, a camel ride, a dinner under the stars with a show and the adrenaline-filled dune bashing tour by jeep – just about anything the desert has to offer, you can find it there.

Desert Gateways: Rub' al Khali Desert

Rub’ al Khali Desert Adventures

Mojave Desert – United States

The Mojave is one of the best deserts to visit in North America.

Characterized by water-carved canyons, salt basins, leftover ancient lava flows, yucca forests and sand dunes, this desert region is situated on a plateau that spans four states: California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.

The Mojave Desert is full of surprises, here you can also find a landing base for the Shuttles returning from space missions.

Desert Gateways: Mojave Desert

Mojave Desert Adventures

Atacama Desert – South America

This desert between southern Peru and Chile is located in a region of great mineral wealth and is home to three protected natural areas: Pan de Azúcar National Park, La Chimba National Reserve and Pampa del Tamarugal National Reserve.

The Atacama Desert is considered the driest place on Earth, with areas that receive less than 1mm of precipitation per year, and some which haven’t seen any rain in hundreds of years.

Desert Gateways: Atacama Desert

Atacama Desert Adventures

Read also: Best White And Black Sand Beaches in the US

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