It’s no surprise that desserts are among the most daunting places on Earth. Some may think they’re best avoided. But some travelers are more excited to get unique experiences in a desert. So, here are the most enjoyable things to do in a desert.
Sonoran Desert, Arizona: Hiking
Top on the list of most enjoyable things to do in a desert
If you want a less intense desert experience and the chance to take in as much nature as possible, you need to get to Arizona.
One of the world’s most “alive” deserts, a slow-paced trek through the Sonoran Desert allows you to see coyotes, roadrunners, mountain lions, zebra-striped lizards, and more amazing desert-dwelling critters, as well as what hike organizers describe as a “botanical garden of desert plants.”
Some of the hikes across this region are more grueling than others — you can choose a level that suits your stamina.
The Namib Desert, Namibia: Horseback riding
Namib is an amazing coastal desert in Southern Africa. The best way to discover Namibia is to get in the saddle and walk around the Namib Desert. But, there are some more exciting things to do in there. Actually, galloping through the world’s oldest desert region is certainly not for travelers with weak hearts or thighs.
If remote landscapes are your thing, however, a bit of man-beast bonding in the Namib Desert should fill your Insta feed for a month.
Rides can take you through the bush savannah and the Hakos Mountains. And while passing canyons, coastlines and oases and ending up at the shores of the Atlantic Ocean at Swakopmund. Along the ride, you’ll see wildlife in its natural environment: mountain zebra, oryx, ostrich, springbok and maybe even desert warthogs.
Lahab Desert, United Arab Emirates: Dune bashing
Less than an hour’s drive from the bright lights of urban Dubai is a desert-lite experience for visitors who want the adrenaline rush of being out in the sands without too much effort.
You and your buddies can climb into a sturdy four-wheel drive and let your driver take on the might of Lahbab Desert sand dunes for you.
All you’ve got to do is sit tight and keep your eyes open. It is not easy when your stomach is rolling, sheets of sand are spraying against the windows and your driver is pumping nauseatingly upbeat chart hits from tinny speakers. And as another forward step, you can try skydiving in Dubai.
Nevada’s deserts, United States: Hang gliding
What better place to gaze at the endless rolling landscapes of a Nevada desert than from high above it? You won’t have to put up with intense heat, sandy winds or back-breaking dune climbing to get a decent view. It will all be laid out beneath you.
There’s an active hang-gliding scene in Nevada and plenty of centers that can get you airborne. Don’t worry, you won’t just be strapped into a harness and launched off a hillside.
Osaka Desert, Peru: Sandboarding
Yes, it is true. Sandboarding is similar to snowboarding. But, takes place on sand dunes. Snowboarding? Wakeboarding? Well, the last terrain you need to conquer by the board is the desert. You can do sand surf anywhere there are sandy slopes. All you need is a Sandboard and a lot of determination. And the hauling yourself back up the sand dunes after each run can be agonizing.
Many companies normally rent outboards and teach the basics as part of desert safaris so you can get a feel for the sport.
Suggested Reading: Travel Wadi Rum Jordan
Sinai Desert, Egypt: Quad biking
Quad biking might look a little on the rough-and-tumble side, but in fact, they’re much smoother to drive than they look.
A two-hour trip across the desert toward the Sinai Mountains takes you across open plains, dunes, valleys, and canyons, at the perfect speed to take in the surroundings.
Thar Desert, India: Camel racing
Running camels have none of the elegant power of horses or the raw grace of big cats. Their legs splay crazily out to the sides, Bambi-style. And they seem permanently off-kilter.
But don’t be fooled by their awkward appearance. Because camels can gallop at up to 64 kph (40 mph) in short bursts. At major racing events, big bucks are often at stake.
One of the most riotous racing events is the Bikaner Camel Festival, held each January in the Thar Desert of northwestern India. Here, you’ll also see camel processions, milking, and competitions for the best-decorated camel