Most holidays revolve around sunshine and the ocean, yet a once overlooked destination seems to be getting a resurgence of late (most likely thanks to Instagram). Enter the desert vacation, yes, that’s right, those places with the endless dunes, dry rock, and miles of sand. Whilst some of those deserts might have some water in sight, the attraction of desert locations is definitely not in the H2O. Here’s our top picks of the world’s best desert locations, guaranteed to make you forget about the beach and pack your sand shoes.
WHITE SANDS NATIONAL MONUMENT, USA
Yes, the sand might be the whitest of white, but the colours it reflects are all the shades of the rainbow throughout the day. Located in the northern Chihuahuan Desert in the U.S. state of New Mexico, White Sands National Monument is known for its rare white gypsum sand dunes, naturally attracting people from all over the world to get a glimpse of this rare sight.
*White Sands images via Mowry Journal, Wallbg and Getty Images.
JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
Another magnificent desert hailing from the States, it’s easy to see why Joshua Tree National Park is a hot tourist attraction. Hiking, rock climbing and camping are just a few of the things tourists can get up to, not to mention the plethora of Instagram worthy photo opportunities. Located in southern California, Joshua Tree straddles the cactus-dotted Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert.
*Joshua Tree images via Trip2, Getty Images and Wallpaper 13.
ATACAMA SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA, CHILE
If hiking, hot springs, horseback riding and stargazing are on your bucket list for your next holiday, then look no further than Atacama San Pedro De Atacama in Chile. Beautiful one day, magnificent the next, this desert is also the driest in the world, meaning you’ll need to bring all those things to keep you moisturised and hydrated.
*Atacama images via Labicicletraverde, Amazon and Pinterest.
NAMIB DESERT NAMIBIA, AFRICA
Talk about glorious vast landscape that seemingly never ends, the Namib is a coastal desert in southern Africa. Stretching for more than 2,000 kilometres, it touches coasts of Angola, Namibia, and south Africa, and further extending from the Carunjamba River in Angola, through Namibia and to the Olifants River in Western Cape, South Africa. The name literally means ‘vast place’ and considering its size and grandeur, it’s easy to see why.
*Namib images via Pinterest and Traveller.
DUBAI DESERT, DUBAI
It was probably the first desert that sprang to mind when I first suggested it, yet I like to keep people guessing (of course I was going to include it). As with everywhere else in Dubai, the Dubai desert comes with its fair share of over the top grandiose – Think hot air ballooning, desert safaris, glamping (glamourous camping) and plush hotels.
*Dubai images via Desert Life Tourism, Getty Images and Trip2.
SALAR DE UYUNI, BOLIVIA
Pink flamingos in the desert? Say no more. Salar de Uyunic is possibly the most iconic and photographed deserts in the world. It also happens to be the world’s largest salt flat, the legacy of a prehistoric lake that went dry. This 11,000 square kilometre desert consists of light reflecting white salt, unique rock formations and cacti-studded islands. Whilst wildlife is very rare, Salar de Uyuni is home to many pink flamingos, making it by far my favourite, top rated desert.
*Salar de Uyuni images via Lufthansa, Lellu, Pinterest, Take Us Anywhere and the Telegraph.