Ranging from vast, lifeless expanses to great plains, which are home to many people, deserts are so much more than the typical stereotypes award them in our mind’s eye.
Roughly 33% of planet earth is desert. From the icy stretches of the earth to towering sand dunes and salty stretches, these are ten amazing deserts in the world to visit.
For those looking to, quite literally, get off the beaten track, deserts are a great place to discover. Read on to learn about ten amazing deserts in the world to visit.
The World Bucket List’s top facts about the world’s deserts:
- The Mojave Desert is home to Joshua trees. These iconic yucca plants live for hundreds of years.
- A total of 11 countries are crossed by the Sahara: Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, Tunisia, and Western Sahara.
- Despite the extreme weather conditions, many animals have adapted to live in the Antarctic Desert, including penguins and seals.
- The Gobi Desert was the source of many important fossil discoveries, including the first dinosaur eggs and fossils of early mammals.
- Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the world. It covers 10,000 over square kilometres (3,900 square miles).
10. Painted Desert, USA – for colourful landscapes
As the name implies, this Arizona desert in the United States is almost a painter’s palette. The brilliant landscape is scattered in various colours as far as the eye can see.
With little rainfall each year, the colours are caused by sandstone rock and clay minerals. Neighbour to the Grand Canyon, this is a fabulous stop on a West Coast road trip of America.
9. Thar Desert, India/Pakistan – the desert home to many
Deserts are often portrayed as deserted landmasses, sterile and empty of life. The Thar Desert, however, challenges this notion.
Many communities and towns thrive in this region and give fantastic local insight into traditional life for travellers seeking an authentic experience.
MORE ON THIS: We include the Thar Desert in our guide to desert safaris.
8. Pinnacles Desert, Australia – the coastal desert
For those craving a little bit of beach life while they enjoy a desert adventure, we suggest you look to the Pinnacles Desert in Australia.
This desert is denoted for its natural rock masses, which point up to the sky like fingers from the earth, surrounded by sand dunes.
7. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia – for salty stretches
Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is another one of the amazing deserts in the world to visit. It is the world’s largest salt desert, and many recognise this unique landscape for its vast expanses of parched salty terrain.
In fact, an estimated ten billion tonnes of salt lies in this Bolivian desert.
6. Gobi Desert, China/Mongolia – for ice-capped sand dunes
When we think of a sandy desert, we expect immense heat and relentless sun. What may not come to mind is ice-capped dunes. However, this is quite the case with the Gobi Desert that stretches between China and Mongolia.
It is one of the largest deserts in Asia, and one of the amazing deserts in the world to visit, no doubt.
5. Rub’ al Khali, Saudi Arabia – the desert of dunes
If sandy settings sound to your liking, there’s no better place to explore than the Rub’ al Khali in Saudi Arabia.
This is the world’s largest sand desert. It is bound to impress with over 583,000 square kilometres (225,000 square miles) of dunes.
4. Antarctica – the ice world
For true explorers, the ice world of Antarctica awaits. This is one of the most intriguing destinations on the planet and has been attracting adventurers for centuries.
Today, for a pretty penny, you can enjoy tours of this epic region of the earth. Here, you will get to enjoy some of the world’s most majestic creatures.
3. Namib Desert, Africa – the world’s oldest desert
The Namib Desert, which lies along the coast of South Africa, is the oldest desert in the world.
With brilliant red earth that hugs the South Atlantic Ocean, this spectacular sight is one that won’t be soon forgotten.
2. Sahara Desert, Africa – the most-famed desert
The Sahara Desert is perhaps the world’s most famous desert. It is the largest hot desert in the world and only smaller than those in the icy tip and tail of the planet (Antarctica and northern Arctic desert).
Dominating North Africa, this desert spans 9.4 million square kilometres (3.6 million square miles). Plus, it is coined as being one of the harshest environments for survival on the earth.
1. Mojave Desert, USA – for cultural and natural attractions
The Mojave Desert in the United States touches on the states California, Arizona, and Nevada. It is home to various towns and communities, as well as Death Valley – one of the lowest and hottest places on earth.
Given its proximity to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and the Californian coastline, this is one of the most amazing deserts in the world to visit. It is particularly popular with road trippers.
READ MORE: Our guide to the three deserts of California.
Your questions answered about amazing deserts in the world to visit
In this section, we answer some of our readers’ most frequently asked questions about amazing deserts in the world to visit. We also include some that appear often in online searches.
Which is the hottest desert in the world?
The Sahara is the hottest desert in the world.
What is the coldest desert?
The Antarctic Desert is the coldest desert in the world.
What are the five largest deserts in the world?
By area, the five largest deserts in the world, in reverse order, are the Arabian Desert, the Great Australian Desert, the Sahara Desert, the Arctic Desert, and the Antarctic Desert.