Desert Holiday: 7 Hidden Places to Visit for a Desert Adventure


A desert holiday is one of the most intriguing adventures you could ever have. These mysterious landscapes are famed for their vastness as well as their desolateness. They are known to be among the world’s most challenging terrains.

Beyond this however, they often hold incredible gems for the adventurous soul. The beauty and splendor of natural formations in these landscapes is often breathtaking. They also happen to be some of the world’s best destinations for sunset chasers and stargazers.

Photography lovers flock to deserts to capture the shifting dunes and remarkable moments. For thrill seekers, there are plenty of things to do in the desert to get your adrenaline pumping.

To help you plan the ultimate desert adventure, we have curated a list of the best destinations to visit. Our list consists of hidden gems across the globe that remain relatively undiscovered and unspoiled. Enjoy the ride.

The Best Desert Holiday Destinations in the World

The Chalbi Desert, Northern Kenya

If you are looking for an off-the-beaten-path African desert safari destination, look no further than the Chalbi Desert in Kenya’s northern frontier. The eerie landscape was once home to a vast lake and still fills up with water during the rainy season. However, the only traces of its historical roots are fossils of fish vertebrae and snail shells.

Volcanic hills surround this stretch of land which primarily consists of clay, salt pans and rock. Sandstorms and high winds are a constant here. Among the animals found here are the Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, African elephant, oryx, spotted hyena and Grevy’s zebra.

The arid area has a number of hidden gems that you have to explore. First, it is home to multiple scenic oases with beautiful palm trees and plenty of bird species. The local Gabra people flock to these areas to water their camels and take a break from the sweltering heat. You will also love the green landscape of Huri Hills, from where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the land.

Popular adventures here include camel riding and desert safaris in 4x4s. You may also immerse yourself in a cultural experience with the Gabra, Rendile and Turkana communities here.

Simpson Desert, Australia

Deep in the Australian outback sits one of the country’s most remote, untouched landscapes – the Simpson Desert. Spanning a remarkable 170,000 square kilometers, this area is renowned for its deep red sand dunes.

The more than 1,000 sand dunes come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the most remarkable ones are parallel dunes, some up to 200 kilometers in length while others are just four kilometers long. While some of the dunes are only 15 meters high, others rise as far as 40 meters. According to estimates, there are about 11 dune systems in total, each with varying features.

From time to time, heavy rains flood the area, giving rise to intriguing varieties of flora and fauna. These range from Coolabah trees and parakeelia to yellow daisies, spinifex and mulga. Bird watchers will appreciate the opportunity to interact with up to 180 avian species. These include barn owls, cockatoos and various water birds.

Enjoy a cultural experience with the local Aboriginal people who still reside here. The art centers in these communities are particularly enchanting. As night falls, this desert holiday destination turns into one of the best stargazing spots yet.

Black Desert, Egypt

Egypt is renowned for some of the best holiday experiences in Africa and the world at large. It is home to a number of deserts including:

  • The Sahara
  • Sinai Desert
  • The Eastern Desert; and
  • the Western (Libyan) Desert – home to the Great Sand Sea.

However, it also has a number of hidden gems to explore if you are keen on avoiding crowds on your desert adventure. The Black Desert is a particularly striking landscape consisting primarily of black sand and rocks. The black sand and stones are a product of volcanic action. They stand in sharp contrast to the underlying golden sand creating an otherworldly appearance. Small basalt hills jut out from the ground adding to the eeriness of the environment.

A number of oases such as the Farafra and Bahariya stand out in this setting with vibrant water springs and lush vegetation. Explore this dramatic terrain in a 4×4 excursion and take in all that it has to offer. Enjoy a unique stargazing experience at night in the pitch black of this remote landscape.

White Sands National Monument, USA

Just like Egypt, the USA boasts a number of popular deserts including:

  • The Mojave Desert
  • Sonoran Desert
  • Great Basin Desert

Adventurers who wish to venture off the beaten will however love the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. As the name suggests, the region has a characteristic landscape of glistening white sands. It is in fact the largest gypsum dune field in the world, spanning at least 275 square kilometers.


Interestingly, the desert floor here does not heat up; the white sands reflect almost all the heat keeping things cool. Despite the high daytime temperatures, a variety of flora and fauna thrive here. Plants include the Soaptree yucca and white sand verbena among others.

In view of the stunning setting of this park, there is plenty to do. Activities include full moon hikes, sunset strolls and tours of the lake – all of which promise astounding photo moments. A drive around the destination on one of the designated trails takes roughly 45 minutes. But if you choose to sand sled down the dunes, it could take a while longer. If you plan a nighttime desert tour, you might just enjoy one of the best stargazing experiences in the Americas.

Lencois Maranhenses, Brazil

This has got to be one of the most interesting and intriguing desert landscapes in the world. Technically, it does not qualify as a desert due to the high amount of rainfall it receives. But in some ways, it feels like one. It borders the sea on one side and vibrant green woodlands on the other. As a result of high ocean winds over a long period, sediments settled inland creating the white sandy dunes.

Unlike any desert landscape however, this one has sparkling emerald lagoons that fill up with water during the rainy months. These do not drain because underneath the sand there is an impermeable rock mass. Some of the larger lagoons are in fact home to crabs, turtles and fish.

As tourists flock to other popular Brazilian destinations like the Amazon and Rio, this UNESCO World Heritage Site remains among the unknown. This is certainly a desert holiday worth taking.

Huacachina, Peru

As one of the most fascinating desert oases on the planet, Huachachina is a spectacular destination. It consists of a serene lagoon nestled safely amidst towering lagoons. The contrast between the blue waters of the lagoon and the golden sands begs you to come closer.

The lagoon draws its water from a natural spring and is surrounded by beautiful palm trees adding to the dream-like scenery. Sunsets here are equally captivating and it is a popular evening ritual to sit on the dunes and watch the sun take a bow, beer in hand.

While you are here, you should enjoy taking a dune buggy ride, sandboarding and even taking a hike over the dunes.

Taklamakan Desert, China

Renowned as China’s largest desert, Taklamakan is the second largest in the world (among sand-shifting deserts). It is however one of the least visited and most isolated – ideal for anyone seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure.

Vast sand dunes dominate the landscape as far as the eyes can see, and these constantly shift in response to the wind. Amid the harsh terrain, it has a number of oases including the Khotan and Hotan. The area is home to unique flora and fauna, for instance the rare Taklamakan poplar tree.

For culture trip lovers, an immersion experience with the Uighur people is in itself an adventure. Their way of life, language and cuisine are unlike any other. Enjoy a tour of the vast expanse on a 4×4 or take a camel ride over the dunes. It is a great desert destination for camping trips and astro-tourism.

Explore Unknown Desert Holiday Destinations

If you are looking for exciting off-the-beaten-path adventures, these desert holiday ideas have got you covered. As the world flocks to popular destinations, venturing into these lesser-known hidden gems offers matchless tranquility and a deeper connection to nature.

Each of the above desert vacation spots has a unique landscape, a historical or cultural aspect or a unique adventure opportunity. Consider venturing into the unknown on your next holiday and uncover these hidden treasures firsthand.

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