There are so many exciting places around the world that many of us have yet to check out. As much as the popular tourists traps like London, Paris and Disneyland are enjoyable, a lot of truly fantastic locations don’t get any attention. Some of these include the desert- one of Earth’s most interesting and beautiful features.

For many, the image of a desert might conjure up images of being hot, dry, and devoid of life. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. There is actually so much going on in the many desert spaces of the world. We would seriously be missing out on if we never got to see them. Until you see the intense colors of a proper desert sunset, don’t underestimate its power.

So without further ado, here are four of the most exciting deserts in the world (but of course, there are more incredible deserts in the world than just these):

Tabernas Desert

Did you know that there is actually a desert in Europe? More precisely, this gem sits up in Almeria, which is Spain’s southeastern province. Its area is about 110 square miles.

We classify the Tabernas Desert as semi-arid, which means that while it is dry (as most deserts are), it receives a bit more rainfall than its counterparts. It has this higher rainfall because it has a higher altitude and sits closer inland than other deserts often tend to. It gets around an average of 7 inches of rain each year, and because of this, it gets a bit more vegetation and plant life than other deserts.

The Tabernas has a wide array of reptile species and birds, but it tends to be a bit low on the mammal count. However, it’s home to the adorable Algerian hedgehog.

Namib Desert

This desert sits in a coastal area in the south of Africa. The name “Namib” actually means “vast place”, which it certainly is. In fact, this is actually one of the oldest deserts in the world that is still standing. It spreads across 990 miles.

This is also where Mad Max: Fury Road was filmed, so if you’ve seen that movie, you should have a taste of how beautiful this place is. The sand seas are unlike any other.

While other deserts have been formed and covered over the millennia by changing sides and other environmental factors, the ancient Namib desert is still around today. It’s a massive location for mining both diamonds and salt. 

And if that wasn’t exciting enough, it’s also home to fantastic desert elephants. The animals that live in the Namib Desert tend not to require that much water, because the location is pretty barren and they’ve been evolved to handle it. So these elephants can go a pretty long time without needing a source of water to sustain them.

Antarctic Desert

Many of us think that deserts are just sandy places that reach super high temperatures. But their classification actually comes from how much rainfall the areas get per year. So Antarctica (that big, largely uninhabited continent down south) is actually a vast desert. Being an entire, massive content, it’s about 5,500,000 square miles, so don’t worry, there’s plenty to see!

And it’s fitting too, as while the aesthetics are completely different, it brings about the same vibes as a traditional desert. When I think of deserts, I think of soft introspection, as well as community and teamwork, both of which can easily be found in its scenery and wildlife.

This location receives an extremely low level of precipitation at all. It pretty much just stays frozen all the time, and the temperatures don’t tend to fluctuate all that much. 

While many deserts also have a surprising amount of plant life, there is none in Antarctica except for sea-based plant life such as algae and moss. That said, if you do happen to make a trip there, you’re sure to see exciting animals such as penguins and maybe even polar bears.

“No place on Earth compares to this vast white wilderness of elemental forces: snow, ice, water, rock. Antarctica is simply stunning. Antarctica possesses an unnamable quality. Call it inspiration, call it grandeur it is simply the indescribable feeling of being a small speck in a vast, harshly beautiful land.”

Lonely Planet: Antarctica

Mojave Desert

That’s right, you don’t even have to travel far to find a great desert. If you’ve been to the western US, you may have already crossed paths with this stunning landscape. The Mojave desert covers parts of California and the south of Nevada, as well as parts of other states like Utah and Arizona. So due to its relative proximity to Las Vegas, this one gets a lot of tourists, for those looking for a much less artificial sight.

A Natural History of the Mojave Desert had this to praise for it: “the Mojave Desert has a rich natural history. Despite being sandwiched between the larger Great Basin and Sonoran Deserts, it has enough mountains, valleys, canyons, and playas for any eager explorer… This diverse topography gives rise to a multitude of habitats for plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else in the world… a combination of complex geology, varied geography, and changing climate has given rise to intriguing flora and fauna—including almost 3,000 plant species and about 380 terrestrial vertebrate animal species. Of these, one quarter of the plants and one sixth of the animals are endemic.”

One of the most defining features of this desert is its unique plant life. It’s home to Joshua trees, which are a fancy-looking protected species of fauna. One of the most critical features of this desert is the glorious Death Valley.

All in all, please don’t sleep on the desert. If the crowded beaches and urban areas aren’t your ideal vacation scene, then a desert could just be what you need. It’s really the purest example of Earthly life there is, as every small detail pops out like nowhere else.

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