11 Dreamy Desert Destinations You Never Knew Existed

The best way to traverse the desert is by camel
The best way to traverse the desert is by camel | © Homo Cosmicos / Shutterstock
Jenn Parker

It might surprise you that one third of our beautiful earth is considered to be desert. Not all deserts have sand or dunes, though, or are blazing hot. The common feature of all deserts is rainfall, or rather the lack thereof. There is something mystifying and captivating about the desert world, which is why some of us seek them out on our travels. If you are a desert devotee, here are some dreamy destinations to add to your wish list.

Arctic Polar Desert, above 75 degrees north

The Arctic Polar Desert takes up parts of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia, the highest point being the North Pole. While a vast icy world may not be what comes to mind when you think of a desert, this high point on our planet is just as much a desert as the Sahara. The Arctic Polar Desert is home to a surprising collection of hardy residents, including polar bears, Arctic foxes, multiple species of seals and whales, walruses, and millions of birds.

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CentralAmerica

GORGEOUS GUATEMALA

Gorgeous Guatemala

5 days . Mini
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1. Guatemala

An express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.

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CentralAmerica

BEACHY BELIZE

Beachy Belize

5 days . Mini
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2. Belize

A quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
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CentralAmerica

COLONIAL MEXICO

Colonial Mexico

5 days . Mini
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3. Mexico

An exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
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SouthAmerica

ADVENTUROUS ECUADOR

Adventurous Ecuador

8 days . Epic
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1. Ecuador

A remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.

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SouthAmerica

ANCIENT PERU

Ancient Peru

9 days . Epic
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2. Peru

An alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
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Europe

SEDUCTIVE SOUTHERN ITALY

Seductive Southern Italy

10 days . Epic
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1. Italy

The ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.

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Europe

EDINBURGH AND THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS BY TRAIN

Edinburgh And The Scottish Highlands By Train

7 days . Culture
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2. Scotland

Embark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
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Europe

COMPLETE PORTUGAL BY TRAIN

Complete Portugal By Train

8 days . Culture
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3. Portugal

A wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
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Asia

SOULFUL SOUTH KOREA

Soulful South Korea

10 days . Epic
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1. South Korea

Discover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.

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Asia

THAILAND, CAMBODIA & VIETNAM

Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam

11 days . Epic
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2. Thailand

From Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
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SECRETS OF SRI LANKA BY TRAIN

Secrets Of Sri Lanka By Train

10 days . Culture
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3. Sri Lanka

A fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
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Africa

EPIC MOROCCO

Epic Morocco

11 days . Epic
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1. Morocco

An epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!

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Africa

ULTIMATE EGYPT

Ultimate Egypt

9 days . Epic
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2. Egypt

From Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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Africa

IMMERSIVE KENYA

Immersive Kenya

8 days . Epic
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3. Kenya

An immersive blend of culture and wildlife for first time travelers to Africa. Learn about Nairobi, sample local coffee in the Aberdares and finish up with a fantastic safari stay in the Masai Mara.
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An endless search for food in an endless desert

Nk’Mip Desert, British Columbia, Canada

Nk’Mip Desert is known as a “pocket desert.” It is located in Canada’s western province of British Columbia. It generally receives less than 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rainfall a year, but occasionally receives downpours of snow and rain. This unique ecosystem is home to bears, coyotes, deer, snakes, scorpions, cactus, and enchanting wildflowers. While you’re here you can visit the strange Spotted Lake, which is a sacred lake in Osoyoos believed to have healing powers due to its high mineral content.

Check out those spots

The Wave, Arizona

The Wave is an otherworldly geological formation in North Coyoto Buttes on the border between Utah and Arizona. The undulating reds, oranges, and yellows of ancient sandstone create a psychedelic phenomenon that resembles fiery waves. The sandstone that makes up the Wave dates back to the Great Pangean Desert of the Jurassic Period. You have to win, via a lottery system, a hiking permit before you can make the long trek in to witness this mesmerising desert scene for yourself.

Ride the desert wave

Black Rock Desert, Nevada

Most people who have heard of, or visited, the Black Rock Desert in Nevada have done so because of the world-famous Burning Man Festival that takes place every year in the fall. However, the Black Rock Desert is also home to an extraordinary geological work of art. The Fly Geyser is located on the privately owned Fly Ranch and is a polychromatic display of geothermal energy from deep in the heart of the earth. The Black Rock desert, while as harsh and dry as deserts come, still supports a variety of plant and animal life, and the immense space of this place has a strangely comforting effect.

Nevada

Patagonian Desert, Argentina

The Patagonian Desert is the largest desert in Argentina and the seventh-largest desert in the world. It is also home to the world’s most exquisite collection of petrified trees. This vast landscape was once covered by dense rainforest until catastrophic volcanic activity covered this slice of earth in lava. Around 200 different species of mammals and over 200 species of birds thrive in this spectacular desert ecosystem now. Temperatures typically stay in the range of three to 12 degrees Celsius and it rarely rains.

Serene scene

Salvador Dalí Desert, Bolivia

Located in Bolivia’s Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Abaroa, the Salvador Dalí Desert, or sometimes called the Dalí Desert, was named for its resemblance to one of Dalí’s famous dreamscape paintings. While Dalí didn’t actually paint any scenes set in this particular desert, a walk through the arid environment will surely make you feel as if you are in the backdrop of one of his works. The Arbol de Piedra, or Stone Tree, is one of the most famous landmarks here.

Just like a real-life painting

Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Brazil

Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is a white-sand desert that has become famous for its seasonal oases. During the brief rainy season, water pools in crystal-clear freshwater lagoons. The contrast between the sugar-white sand dunes and the electric-turquoise water in the middle of a desert is surreal. The dunes and pools of Lençóis Maranhenses National Park are quite remote, but not totally inaccessible, especially now that more and more tour operators are taking intrigued visitors there.

Take a dip in the middle of the desert

Huacachina, Peru

Five hours from Lima, surrounded by giant sand dunes, is Huacachina, a surprising desert oasis. Here, you can fully appreciate the gorgeous desert landscape while also having access to amazing amenities. It feels as if this place shouldn’t even exist; it seems more like a mirage. It’s the site of a great range of exciting desert adventure tours, including dune buggy driving and sand boarding.

It’s not a mirage

Simpson Desert, Australia

Simpson Desert is a massive desert that stretches across the corners of three states in Australia: Northern Territory, Queensland, and South Australia. The immense sand dunes are a vibrant rust color, which makes it one of the world’s most unique desert scenes. The Simpson Desert Conservation Park is located in the center of the desert and is a perfect example of a parallel dune desert.

A red-hot landscape

Danakil Desert, Ethiopia

Dallol is the hottest place on our planet and it’s located in the Danakil Desert in Ethiopia. It is the very epitome of a desert. The landscape is made up of active volcanoes, geysers, and geothermal springs. It is a rather hellish place, but the hot springs make it quite alluring and vibrantly prismatic. There are no paved roads leading into this hostile environment, so the best mode of transportation is by camel, which really adds to the desert experience.

Danakil Desert

Black Desert, Egypt

The Black Desert is a totally deserted orange and yellow landscape where black mountains covered in ancient volcanic matter dot the earth. It is the total opposite of the White Desert, which it neighbors. It is quite a surreal scene that feels almost apocalyptic. It is a fascinating place to photograph, and a desert that deserves a passing visit if you are travelling around Egypt.

A land before time

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