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The World's Most Amazing Deserts

From Europe to Africa, America to Antarctica, there are deserts all over the world that offer hostile but often beautiful environments. From terrifying weather conditions to stunning rock formations, deserts hold some of the most unique features on our planet. We've picked some of the best to share with you.

Gobi Desert

The Gobi Desert, spanning northern China and southern Mongolia, is actually one of the wettest deserts on our list, with over 7 inches of rainfall annually. It has one of the most extreme, changeable climates on earth with temperatures spanning from -40C to 50C over the course of the year, and often changing by 35C over the course of a day. This is definitely not a desert you'd want to get stuck in without a jumper! Scarily, the Gobi Desert is expanding into China each year, prompting the Chinese government to plant a 'Green Wall' in an effort to protect their agricultural land.

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Perhaps the most incredible feature of the Gobi Desert are the 'Singing Sands' of Khongoryn Els. Found in Mongolia, the shifting dunes create haunting noises as the wind moves billions of grains of sand.

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The most terrifying inhabitant of the Gobi Desert is probably the Mongolian Death Worm - although scientists dispute its existence, expeditions to find it continue to this day.

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Death Valley

The lowest part of North America, Death Valley is one of the most famous deserts in the world thanks to its popularity as a Hollywood filming destination. With just 1.58 inches of rain annually, the shape of the desert valley acts like an oven, trapping heat and keeping the temperature at a constant, sweltering level. In 1913 the temperature was recorded at a staggering 57.1C.

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Despite the hostile climate, Death Valley is still home to a number of Timbisha Native Americans - the tribe have lived in the valley for at least the past thousand years.

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The weirdest feature of Death Valley is the abundance of 'sailing stones' - pushed along over the course of several years, these stones leave strange trails in the desert floor. It's thought that wind might play a part in the stone's movement, but no-one actually knows for sure what causes them to start 'travelling'.

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Monument Valley

Another desert with links to Native American peoples is Monument Valley - now part of the Navajo Nation Reservation. The amazing red/blue colours of this desert, along with the stark stone monuments dotting the landscape, have made this desert iconic in popular culture.

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Atacama Desert

The driest, and oldest desert on earth, the Atacama Desert in Chile was used to duplicate the Viking 1 and 2 Mars landings. Interestingly, the tests found no life, making this possibly a unique region on our planet.

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Continuing with the space theme, the desert is a fantastic place for astronomical observations, with two major observatories currently operating.

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Moving back to earth, the Atacama Desert is so dry that Inca mummies have been found almost perfectly preserved - 'Miss Chile' is probably the most famous.

Namib Desert

Second in age only to the Atacama Desert, the Namib Desert in Namibia and Angola is at least 55 million years old.

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Although it's barren, unpopulated and inaccessible, the Namib desert still holds some unique features, including the world's tallest sand dunes (at 300m high), and a species of plant that grows only two leaves during its lifetime. The Welwitschia is considered a living fossil

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Sahara Desert

At 3 million years old the Sahara Desert is a youngster compared to the Namib and Atacama, but it is the world's largest at 9million sq km.

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With diverse plant and animal life, as well as several distinct cultures flourising over the centuries, the Sahara Desert certainly isn't barren of life.

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Arabian Desert

Spanning much of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, the Arabian Desert gets just 1.38inches of rain annually. Despite this, it's home to several desert species of animal life including gazelles and sand cats.

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White Sands Desert

This desert is located in Tularosa Basin New Mexico. Its white sands are composed of gypsum and it is the world’s largest gypsum dune field. Unlike other desert sands, it is cool to the touch because the sands reflect the sun's rays.

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Tabernas desert, Spain

As Christina mentioned in the comments below, this desert is located in Southern Spain in the province of Almeria. It is not one of the most well known deserts in the world, however it has to be one of the most famous deserts as this is where Sergio Leone filmed his Clint Eastwood films!

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As with every blog, if you think I've left any amazing deserts from the list, then just let me know in the comments below and I'll get them added!

Community comments (6)

i'm just little girl i want to see and i want to go this place !!wonderful!!! :) <3

Hi Sally, may be you want to add the Desert of Tabernas too. It is located in Southern Spain (Europe) in the province of Almeria and it is famous too, because almost all Clint Eastwood Western, directed by Sergio Leone were actually shot there. The Tabernas desert is similar to the Mojave Desert in US, thus it was an ideal backdrop for many movies. You can stroll around the Desert of Tabernas (the only European desert) here:
http://www.unique-almeria.com/deserts-of-the-world.html

Hi Christina, thanks for your comment. I've added the Tabernas Desert to the blog now, I can't believe how many movies have been filmed there!

The deserts are the regions which receive the minimum amount of rainfall in the year. 20% of the land is covered by deserts on the earth. From the deserts listed, Atacama desert is the driest of them all.

I would like to see the white sands desert of New Mexico added. It really is an awesome desert.

Thanks for your comment Dave, I've added the White Sands Desert to the blog and you're right, it is amazing!