The Middle East, usually defined as stretching across the Arabic-influenced world from North Africa all the way to the end of the Arabian Gulf, is home to some of the most diverse landscapes in the world (this article also includes the country of Iran, although it is a Persian country with Farsi as its national language). Though some of the greatest deserts in the world are in the Middle East; there are also tropical forests, vast rivers and lakes, and snowy mountains that shouldn’t be missed. Here are the most awe-inspiring natural wonders of the Middle East that will make you want to pack your bags for your next adventure!
Every traveler’s dream, the Sahara Desert is just one of those places that you absolutely have to see at least once in your lifetime. The majestic beauty of this enormous desert is indescribable.
Home to the ethnic Berber peoples, this mountain range has it all: snow-capped peaks, lush forests, tumbling rocky cliffs, and rich wildlife. If you want to experience the diversity and beauty of North Africa in one go, visit these captivating mountains.
Surrounded by stark rocky mountains and deserts, this oasis is a lush green haven in southeastern Morocco. Ponder the mysteries and raw beauty of the earth as you enjoy this soothing break from the desert.
Located in northern Tunisia, Ichkeul Lake is truly enormous — stretching out almost as far as the eye can see. The surrounding national park is also a majestic backdrop to the lake, offering hikes, camping, and tours through its colorful forests.
A charcoal-black volcanic field and caldera in the southern part of Libya and located in almost the exact middle of the Sahara Desert, Waw an Namus is the place to go for the more adventurous travelers. Visit its three salt lakes and walk along its cooled dark lava remains for an awe-inspiring look at the might of Mother Nature.
Perched along the emerald-green coastline of northern Algeria, Gouraya National Park is a UNESCO recognized biosphere reserve. Boasting green forests, hiking trails in the mountains, dazzling beaches and a rich wildlife; this national park has everything for the nature-lover.
Another one of those places that all world travelers just have to see, the Nile River runs like an ancient bloodline through Egypt’s capital Cairo (although it can be visited all the way down to its source in Rwanda). The Nile brings life, according to the Egyptians, and it’s no wonder considering one of the greatest civilizations in the world was built alongside the mother Nile.
Jutting out of the desert as if reminding us all of its historic and religious importance, Mount Sinai is considered a holy site for the Abrahamic religions. Located in the very south of the Sinai Peninsula, it stands as a stark reminder of the interwoven connection between natural wonders and human spirituality.
The lowest point below sea level on dry earth, the Dead Sea is famous for its deep blue mud that’s thought to have miracle-like benefits for the skin, and its high levels of salt in its waters that allow you to easily float while swimming. Visit this natural wonder for a salty appreciation of nature’s mysterious creations.
Also known by its more romantic name of the Valley of the Moon, this wadi in southern Jordan is a must-visit to experience the country (and region’s) most breath-taking wonder. With its bright red sand and enormous canyons, Wadi Rum will leave you dreaming of 1,001 nights in the desert.
This picturesque black and white sand beach alongside the sparkling coastline of Syria remains one of the favorite places in the country to enjoy the beauty of nature. With the contrast between its sheer rocky cliffs and its warm blue waters, Wadi Qandil will leave you mesmerized.
The largest uninterrupted stretch of desert sand in the world, the Empty Quarter is the place to go to ponder the depth of the rolling sand dunes and the endless horizon. Stretching across four countries in the Arabian Peninsula, this enormous desert is the perfect place to go to get lost in thought (but not too lost!).
Often brought up in conversations relating to politics or national border disputes, the Strait of Hormuz is the only sea passage from the Arabian (or Persian, depending on who you stand with) Sea to the open ocean. But more and more travelers are visiting the area not because of the politics but for the wild beauty of deep dark water and blinding white rocky shores of the Strait.
Meaning “Gorge between the Cliffs” in Arabic, this brilliant oasis in the middle of the Omani desert is a treasure trove of beautiful natural wonder. Bask in its sparkling clear pools of water or hike along its ancient cliffs for a true experience of Arabia.
Located in the very north of the country, Musandam is one of those dream-like places. With its emerald green waters and dancing dolphins, white sand beaches and rocky caves; this is the perfect place for a relaxing date with nature.
An archipelago of four islands in the middle of the Arabian Sea, Socotra (the largest of the islands) seems like it’s been preserved since time immemorial. Alien-looking tropical plants and exotic sea and land animals gives you a peek into what you can imagine the Earth looking like millions of years ago.
The home to millions of tropical marine animals, the Farasan Islands lay peacefully off the southwestern coast of Saudi Arabia in the Red Sea. These islands boast rich and vibrant ecosystems, and the tropical beaches — they have to be seen to be believed!
Towering over Iran from its wintery location in the northwest, the Sabalan Mountain is the third highest mountain in the country and is actually an inactive volcano. The rocks on this mountain are more than 5 million years old — and according to some nomadic Zoroastrian beliefs, when all the snow on ancient Sabalan melts then the end of time will come.
Another volcano in Iran, Mount Damavand is actually the highest peak in the Middle East. Holding a special place in Iranian folklore and mythology, this mountain has enticed climbers and tourists alike for centuries with its wild and snowy mysteries.
Nestled between the lush green mountains of northern Iraqi Kurdistan, the Rawandiz Canyons and waterfalls, the most famous of which is the Bekhal Waterfall, are a breath of fresh air from the arid desert of the south. Traveling here is like exploring nature at its most raw and beautiful.