Desert Adventure: 7 Fun Things to Do on Your Desert Vacation

Deserts are some of the most unique landscapes on the planet and a desert adventure is the best way to uncover their secrets. These seemingly barren landscapes are in fact intriguing places begging for a closer look.

But in view of the predominantly harsh conditions that characterize them, how can you make the most of your desert holiday?

This guide contains are some of the best things to do in a desert to turn the daunting environment into your playground. We have skipped some of the obvious activities such as sand surfing, dune buggy riding and camel riding. Whether you are planning an African desert safari or or a once-in-a-lifetime desert bucket list trip, these are some of the best adventure ideas.

Read on to discover unique activities that you will definitely enjoy on your next desert holiday:

Things to Do on Your Desert Adventure

Take a Nighttime Tour


One of the best ways to experience the environment minus the sun is by taking an evening safari and nighttime tour. This often brings out some of the top highlights of these destinations.

To start with, deserts are known to have some of the best sunset views anywhere on the planet. Rocky outcrops and dunes provide the ideal backdrop for the most picturesque moments. The view is often panoramic, covering the full brilliance of the sky, the desert floor and the horizon. These landscapes also have some of the best dark sky settings, perfect for stargazing and moon watching.

Best destinations for a nighttime desert adventure:

  • Sonoran Desert, USA
  • Sahara Desert, Morocco

Enjoy a Hot Air Ballon Ride

Soaring above the desert in a hot air balloon is a great opportunity to take in the breathtaking panoramic views. From this vantage point, you will enjoy an unobstructed, 360-degree view of the fascinating environment.

As you drift across the desert, you will get to see the different types of sand dunes bathed in a warm, golden hue. You will likely spot various species adapted to the harsh conditions. It will be a chance to take in all the beauty of the vast landscape without breaking a sweat.

Popular desert destinations in the world for balloon rides:

  • Namib Desert, Namibia
  • Atacama Desert, Chile

Watch Desert Wildlife

Wildlife watching is a desert adventure unlike any other. It brings you into contact with some of the planet’s strangest creatures. These have essential survival tactics to withstand the extremes of desert life.

These include scaly reptiles, strange insects, rare bird species and various small mammals and rodents. A majority of native wildlife in these environments are nocturnal. Others are crepuscular, meaning that they come out at dusk or dawn.

In some unique ecosystems, you might come across plenty more species. The Kalahari Desert is a great choice for wildlife lovers. It is home to a vast population of meerkats, lions, cheetahs, hyena, antelope and elephants.

Top desert vacation destinations for wildlife watching:

  • Kalahari Desert, Namibia
  • Negev Desert, Israel

Discover Hidden Oases


Nothing is quite as enchanting as discovering a hidden oasis in a barren landscape. The lush greenery of these little villages stands in complete contrast to the surroundings. They are almost always the heart and soul of these landscapes – where people and animals come to gather.

The first sight of an oasis in a parched land feels like a mirage. Cool air, towering palm trees swaying in the wind and crystal-clear water pools are among the remarkable features you might see. Desert flowers, birds and insects all thrive in this vibrant settings.

Hidden Desert oasis destinations – Nature’s Best Kept Secrets

  • Huacachina, Peru – Atacama Desert
  • Wadi Bani Khalid, Arabian Desert

Soak in Minerals at Desert Hot or Cold Springs

If your idea of a vacation involves a therapeutic and relaxing day at the spa, take advantage of the natural spas in your desert adventure. These usually come from underground aquifers and are renowned for their healing and wellness properties. They also offer a welcome break from the sun-scorched conditions.

Hot spring pools are characterized by gently bubbling water and rising steam. Due to the high concentration of minerals, the water is typically more buoyant than your regular pool. The pleasant warmth against your skin is likely to melt all your stress away as you soak in the mineral goodness.

If you prefer your mineral soak cold, nothing beats the refreshing feel of a cold spring. The contrast between the cool water and the desert heat has a revitalizing effect.

Best destinations for desert cold springs:

  • Sahara Desert – Siwa Oasis, Egypt
  • Kalahari Desert – Eye of Kuruman (the Southern Hemisphere’s largest natural spring)

Best destinations for desert hot springs:

  • Mojave Desert, USA – Tecopa Hot Springs
  • Atacama Desert, Chile – Puritama Hot Springs

Desert Photography

Whether you are a seasoned photographer or a novice in the art, deserts offer some of the most spectacular photo moments. These landscapes come in a wide variety of colors and textures and have stunning natural formations. The scenes appear otherworldly, presenting endless options.

On clear nights, you can capture the best starry nights and get stunning shots of constellations. During the day, capture the plateaus, dunes, canyons, rock formations and rare plants. Sunrise and sunset moments are almost always breathtaking. If you love storm chasing, this is one of the best settings to get unforgettable shots.

Great Desert Destinations for a Photography Vacation

  • Arizona Desert, USA – Antelope Canyon
  • Wadi Rum, Jordan – renowned for its deep, red sandstone landscapes
  • Desert of Tatacoa, Colombia – great for astrophotography

Take a Cultural Desert Tour


For anyone who loves cultural trips, a desert adventure is a great way to experience the world’s most unique cultures. Most deserts have small populations of indigenous communities with unique languages, lifestyles and cuisines. Some of these are nomadic communities whose way of life completely differs from what we know due to the harsh conditions.

A cultural tour in this setting is a chance to immerse yourself in a life of herding camels and mobile homes. It is an opportunity to learn about how these communities have tried to tame their surroundings. This reflects in the architecture and traditions. Living a day in the life of these intriguing communities is a great adventure in itself.

Desert communities to visit around the world:

  • The San – Kalahari Desert
  • The Tuareg – Sahara Desert
  • Bedouin Communities – Arabian Desert and parts of North Africa
  • Navajo Nation – parts of Mojave and Sonoran Deserts, USA
  • Aboriginal Communities – the Australian Outback
  • Atacameno People – Atacama Desert, Chile
  • Uyghur Communities – Xinjiang, China
  • Himba People – Namib Desert

Uncover a Blend of Beauty and Resilience on Your Desert Adventure

The mysterious landscapes that make up our deserts offer some of the best adventure destinations on the planet. They are a delicate blend of beauty and resilience, outstanding masterpieces that illustrate the power of nature.

Whether you are an avid explorer looking for a thrill or a laidback adventurer seeking respite from the rigors of life – these epic destinations are the stuff of dreams.

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