Last Updated on April 22, 2022

Finding food in the desert is more difficult than in any other environment, especially in hot sandy deserts like the Sahara. If you are planning a hiking trip to the desert, it’s best to think ahead and bring your own food. But if you find yourself in a desert survival situation, it is possible to rely on your bushcrafting, foraging and hunting skills to find food in the desert.

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Foraging for Food in the Desert: Prickly Cactus

Foods you can find in the desert

Prickly Pear Cactus

In the American deserts, you can find edible prickly pear cactus, which are commonly eaten in some cuisines such as Mexican. Every part of the cactus is edible, including the fruit and pads, making sure you have removed the thorns. Cacti can be eaten raw and are a good source of hydration.


Date palms are undoubtedly the most iconic type of tree in the desert. Dates are considered a superfood in the desert, rich in nutrients and natural sugars that provide energy. You can recognize ripe dates by their aspect: pick fruits that are brown and have wrinkles, they should also be slightly soft to the touch.

Bird Eggs

In rocky deserts and canyons, with a little luck you can find bird nests in the crevices of higher rocks. If you find eggs you can eat them, taking care to cook them to reduce the risk of salmonella. Cooking an egg in the desert is quite simple, just find a rock or large stone exposed to the sun, crack the egg on it and it will cook in no time as if you were using a frying pan.

Rabbits and Hares

You can find rabbits and hares in most hot deserts, from the Sonoran desert in the US to the Sahara in northern Africa. Cottontail rabbits, jackrabbits and Cape hares are available for game meat. After hunting a rabbit, remove the head and skin it with your knife. Remove the insides and cook the meat before eating.


Desert snakes are also edible, including those that are venomous (provided you get rid of the head which contains toxins). They are easier to hunt at night since they are nocturnal predators. Hit them with a rock to stun them and then attack the head with your knife or a large stone. Remove the scales and cook the snake meat in the sun before eating it.

Desert Bushcraft Gear

Desert Bushcraft Gear

Bushcraft Knife or Multitool

In any survival situation, holding a sturdy two-bladed knife or multitool can be extremely practical. It has a multitude of potential uses including hunting, foraging, cutting, cooking, and so on.

LifeStraw Water Purifier

When you are stranded in the desert without water, you are gonna have to rely on whatever source of water you may encounter in order to stay hydrated. This can be risky because a stream of water may be contaminated and make you sick, which in turn will make you more dehydrated. LifeStraw technology allows you to remove 99.99+% of all bacteria, viruses and protozoa in water found in nature, e.g. streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, etc.

Tinder-quik Fire Tabs and a bunch of Lighters

Finding wood and other dry material to burn for setting up a campfire can be challenging in a desert where vegetation is scarce. Tinder-quik fire tabs make for a great addition to your desert survival kit, as nights in the desert can get very cold and you will also need a source of heat for cooking your food.

First Aid Kit

A desert first aid kit must include wound care items and treatments for burns and scalds, as well as all the essential travel medication you would find in a traditional kit. In addition to that, a Snake Bite kit with a venom extractor sunction pump may be useful.

Desert Camping Essentials Checklist

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