11 Famous Deserts Around the World

Whenever you think of a desert, you think of a barren landscape that comes across as a contrast to the lush green vegetation that usually catches your fancy or inspires poetry. But then these famous deserts have their own beauty and just like the desert flower that makes the barren landscape beautiful, similarly they also dot the earth with their own beauty and charm.

Today, we are going to list down 11 most famous deserts around the world that will entice you with their sheer charm.

1. The Gobi Desert, Mongolia

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The word Gobi means "desert" in Mongolian. This famed desert spans across China and Mongolia and forms as an integral part of the historic Silk Road which facilitated travel and business in the past. One of the popular deserts in Asia, this desert is not a sandy one but bare rock. Unlike many of the world’s deserts, this is a cold desert that even sees snow and frost occasionally on the dunes. This desert might come across as bleak, vast and silent but then this isolation has its own charm that cannot be compared to any other natural beauty in the world. Colossal sand dunes, ice-filled canyons, dinosaur fossils and the camel treks will make up your itinerary if you visit it.

2. The Sahara Desert, North Africa

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Perhaps the most famous desert in the world, the Sahara Desert has been featured many times in movies, stories, and songs. The third largest desert on Earth, it’s the hottest desert and its landscape varies greatly from one section to another. The dunes here have been shaped by strong winds and rain to create valleys, flats, and oases. Its vast terrain spans 8.6 million square kilometers covering Northern Africa, most of Mauritania, Western Sahara, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Niger, and Mali. We always imagine the Sahara as populated with sand dunes but its landscape is not only made up of that. There are large areas of shifting sand dunes, with some of some of them reaching 590 feet (180 meters). Most of the Sahara is characterized as rocky hamada, a type of desert landscape that has very little sand and is made up of primarily barren, hard, rocky plateaus.

3. Atacama Desert, Chile

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The Atacama Desert is considered to be the driest place on Earth because it receives only about 0.0004 inches of rainfall each year. This famous desert spans over 41,000 miles and is located more than 8,000 feet above sea level. However, do you know that this vast landscape offers as an excellent place to view the constellations and try your hand at some star photography because of the clear skies and lack of light pollution. This desert is populated by weird shaped snow and ice formations that exist in the high altitude regions and appear to visitors as an ice forest in the middle of a barren wilderness with very little vegetation able to survive nearby.

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4. Painted Desert, Arizona, USA

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Who would have imagined that deserts would have varied hues other than brown or white? The Painted Desert of Arizona got its name from the vibrant red, orange, blue, and purple colors that give this landscape a picture perfect canvas for photography. This desert receives less than ten inches of rainfall each year and the colors here were created by minerals in the clay and sandstone rock. This famous desert in the US spans from Grand Canyon National Park to the Petrified National Forest in Arizona and through Navajo Native American reservations. The adventurers here would find great trails to hike through this desert, especially at sunset when the colors are at their resplendent self.

5. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia 

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Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt desert and a truly mystical place to visit. As per the archaeological survey, tens of thousands of years ago, this region was part of a prehistoric lake. However, these lakes dried up and left behind two new smaller lake and these expansive salt flats. An estimated 10 billion tons of salt can be found in this beautiful desert, which ultimately reflects the sun to create the mirage effect. Sheer beauty!

6. Taklamakan Desert, Central Asia

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Located in central Asia, Taklamakan is a rare desert as it has become covered in snow in recent years. It is one of the world’s largest non-polar deserts and covers an area of over 100,000 square miles. Two branches of the historic Silk Road pass through this desert, and although snow is rare, the desert experienced its largest snowfall in 2008.

7. Mojave Desert, Nevada, USA

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The Mojave Desert occupies a significant portion of Southern California and parts of Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. Named after the Mohave Native Americans it occupies roughly 54,000 square miles in a typical Basin and Range topography. The Mojave, like all deserts in general, is known for its summer heat, however, it also receives significant winter cold as well. The Mojave Desert contains a number of ghost towns, the best popular of them being the silver-mining town of Calico, California. This desert is also known to contain Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park the hottest, driest, and lowest place in North America. For U.S. travelers, this is an accessible travel destination that feels surreal and completely out of this world. As this desert is in close proximity to Las Vegas, it is one of the most popular travel destinations in the country.

8. Pinnacles Desert, Australia

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Pinnacles desert gets its name from the stunning pinnacle-shaped spires made of rock that rise from the sand dunes. The rock formations here have been weathered so much over time to undeniably stand out among the gentle yellow sand dunes. These amazing natural limestone structures, some standing as high as five metres, were formed approximately 25,000 to 30,000 years ago, after the sea receded and left deposits of sea shells. Over time, coastal winds removed the surrounding sand, leaving the pillars exposed to the elements.

9. Thar Desert, India

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Bordering India and Pakistan, the Thar Desert is known to be home to many lizards and snake species. Although the Thar Desert is significantly smaller than some other deserts in Asia, but since there is so much of cultural engagement here that it has become one of the most visited tourist destination in India. The areas of Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, and Gujarat and the cities of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, and Bikaner are located in the Thar Desert and offer a beautiful glimpse into local Indian culture. Colours that find a perfect backdrop against this stunning desert!

10. Namib Desert, Namibia

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Considered  to be the world’s oldest desert, dating back to between 45 and 80 million years ago, the Namib Desert is located along the southern coast of Africa and is home to diverse wildlife species that live nowhere else on earth. When you visit, you can often find whale and seal bones that have washed up onto shore, as well as the remains of shipwrecks from Atlantic voyages. The sand dunes of this desert reach the Atlantic Ocean, where the cold ocean waves carve shapes into the neighbouring sand.

11. Tabernas Desert, Spain

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Its not very often that you would associate Europe with deserts. However, there is only one desert on the whole continent that makes the European landscape variable. The Tabernas Desert in Spain is a semi-desert that is dry, rugged, and surprisingly wild. This region receives less than 10 inches of rainfall each year and has temperatures that range from -5 to 48 degrees Celsius. This beautiful desert in Europe has also been a backdrop of many Wild West movies in recent history.

Which one of these famous deserts around the world would you like to capture in your camera?

  1. The Gobi Desert, Mongolia
  2. The Sahara Desert, North Africa
  3. Atacama Desert, Chile
  4. Painted Desert, Arizona, USA
  5. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
  6. Taklamakan Desert, Central Asia
  7. Mojave Desert, Nevada, USA
  8. Pinnacles Desert, Australia
  9. Thar Desert, India
  10. Namib Desert, Namibia
  11. Tabernas Desert, Spain

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