21 Best Deserts in the World

One of my favorite photo motifs is: deserts. I never get tired of looking at them or visiting them (not that this happens on a daily basis, but if I have the chance, I take it). It seems that despite the lack of precipitation, they are always picture perfect. Surely some are prettier than others. but somehow they fascinate people all over the world. When I am in Dubai I try to visit the desert each time (read my posts on my Desert Dubai Safari) and I would love to visit each of the deserts listed below.

While I was doing some research for this post, I actually looked up the definition of deserts, and found this at Dictionary.com

“A region so arid because of little rainfall that it supports only sparse and widely spaced vegetation or no vegetation at all.” And though it was what I had in mind, I was – admittedly, a little gullible – surprised to learn that the biggest desert was not the Sahara. For some reason, I have always had it in my mind that it is the Sahara (the Sahara and Gobi were the only deserts I had known as a child), but there are two bigger deserts, which are different than most other deserts. Lay back and enjoy 24 pictures from the most 21 stunning deserts in the world.

21 most gorgeous deserts all around the world.
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21 most gorgeous deserts all around the world.

Where to Find and See amazing deserts Around the World

Best Deserts in Africa

Sahara

The Sahara Desert is the third largest desert in the world and the biggest “hot” desert (this is a hint as to which ones are the biggest deserts). Its size is equivalent to the size of the US. The Sahara spreads out mostly over North Africa (Morocco, etc.) There is rarely any rain and, in central Sahara, there is no vegetation at all. The Nile River is the only constant river across the desert, with others that are only seasonal.

Riding a camel in the Sahara and spending a night in the desert (but not in summer, for sure) is one of my biggest travel goals.

Read more about a Sahara Tour here.

View of Erg Chebbi Dunes - Sahara Desert - at sunrise, in Morocco
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Erg Chebbi Dunes – the Sahara Desert, in Morocco @shutterstock

where can I find the best deserts in the world?
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Where can I find the best deserts in the world?

Namib Desert

The Namib Desert has to be on my list – I cannot wait to visit and spend some days at the national parks, which are also located in the Namib Desert. It is considered to be the oldest desert in the world (older than 80 million years) and, to me, it is one of the most beautiful ones.

Namib Desert in Namibia
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Namib Desert in Namibia @shutterstock

Kalahari Desert

Another huge desert in Africa (the sixth biggest in the world) is the Kalahari Desert, which is located in Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa.

Beautiful landscape in Kalahari with big red dune and bright colours at sunset time
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Beautiful landscape in Kalahari with big red dune and bright colors at sunset time @shutterstock

Danakil Desert

The Danakil Desert can be found in northeast Ethiopia, southern Eritrea, and northwestern Djibouti, and is known as one of the hottest places in the world.

The natural salty rivers of Assal Lake in Ethiopia, Africa
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The natural salty rivers of Assal Lake in Ethiopia, Africa @shutterstock

Best Deserts in Asia

Wadi Rum

Thanks to Instagram (at least I can say that about myself), I know Wadi Rum in Jordan pretty well, though it has become very popular with the movie Lawrence of Arabia and is one well-visited tourist destination now.

View through a rock arch in the desert of Wadi Rum, Jordan, Middle East
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View through a rock arch in the desert of Wadi Rum, Jordan, Middle East @shutterstock

Arabian Desert

The Arabian Desert is the fourth biggest desert and covers, among other things, part of Oman, Yemen, Iraq, and Jordan. The center of the desert is Rub ’al-Khali, also known as the “Empty Quarter.”

People with tents and cars among dunes in Rub al-Khali desert, Dhofar region (Oman)
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People with tents and cars among dunes in Rub al-Khali desert, Dhofar region (Oman) @shutterstock

Gobi

As mentioned above, the first two deserts I heard about were the Sahara and the Gobi Desert. So it surprised me to see that it is only the fifth biggest desert in the world and is located in parts of China and Mongolia. Unlike the Sahara, it is not a sandy desert, but rather, bare rock.

Gobi desert @shuttersock in China and Mongolia
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Gobi desert @shuttersock in China and Mongolia @shutterstock

Dasht-e Lut

Dasht-e Lut is a large salt desert in the Sistan and Baluchistan Province in Iran and the 25th biggest desert in the world. In 2016, it was listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Desert in Iran. Bafgh Sand dunes near Yazd. Central Iran, Dasht-e Lut
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Desert in Iran. Bafgh Sand dunes near Yazd. Central Iran, Dasht-e Lut @shutterstock

Thar Desert

The Thar desert, also known as the Great Indian desert, is located in India and Pakistan and is in the 17th biggest desert in the world.

Silhouette of Camel in the Thar Desert during sunset. Thar Desert located at Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India.
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Thar Desert located at Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India. @shutterstock

Best Deserts in America

Sonoran Desert

How pretty is this shoot with all the cactuses? Sonoran is located in the US and Mexico and one place I would love to visit one day.

Saguaros at Sunset in Sonoran Desert near Phoenix
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Saguaros at Sunset in the Sonoran Desert near Phoenix @shuttertsock

Monument Valley

The South of the US has some amazing sceneries – among them Monument Valley, which is a gorgeous desert.

Monument Valley, desert canyon in USA
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Monument Valley, desert canyon in the USA

Death Valley National Park

Did I just say the USA has goegeous great landscapes and deserts? Anorther great looking desert is the Death Valley in California.

Sunset from Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California
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Sunset from Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California @shutterstock

 Salar de Uyani

Yes, another super popular Instagram place: The Salar de Uyani in Bolivia. Cannot blame anyone who posts pictures from there, though.

Salar de Uyuni (Salt Flat), Bolivia
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Salar de Uyuni (Salt Flat), Bolivia @shutterstock

Atacama

One of the biggest deserts is the Atacama desert in Chile. Does not look to bad, right?

Catarpe, Licancabur volcano, Atacama desert, Chile
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Catarpe, Licancabur volcano, Atacama desert, Chile @shutterstock

Lencois Maranheses

I had to do double check if this is really a desert – looks like a perfect beach area but apparently this dsert (and what an amazing desert by the way) is real and located in Brazil.

view of lagoa azul in desert white sand dunes of the Lencois Maranheses National Park in brazil
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Lagoa Azul in Lencois Maranheses National Park, Brazil @shutterstock

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21 amazing deserts in the world - Brazil
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21 amazing deserts in the world – Brazil

Best Deserts in Europe

Castildetierra at Bardenas Reales

The only desert in the list that only covers parts of one European state is: The Castildetierra at Bardenas Reales, Navarre , which can be found in Spain.

Castildetierra at Bardenas Reales, Navarre (Spain)
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Castildetierra at Bardenas Reales, Navarre, Spain @shuttersock

Best Deserts in Australia

Pinnacles Desert

Pinnacles Desert covers part of Western Australia.

Pinnacles desert in Western Australia
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Pinnacles Desert, Western Australia @shutterstock

Simpson

The second but not last Australian desert in my list: the Simpson Desert. I had never heard of it before but seems to be worth a visit – for sure.

Sand Dunes, Simpson desert
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Sand Dunes, Simpson desert @shutterstock

Central Outback

The fantastic, the majestic Uluru (or Ayers Rock) “close” to Alice Spring located in the Outback is probably the most famous landmark within a desert. Check out this guide to a trip to Australia´s red centre.

Majestic Uluru at sunset on a clear winter's evening in the Northern Territory, Australia
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Majestic Uluru in the Northern Territory, Australia @shuttersock

2. BIGGEST DESERT….

Arctic

The is the first cold desert on my list and second largest desert is in the north poles and covers some parts of Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. Since it is spread out widely, I have not put it under a certain continent above, and made an own section for it.

Arctic desert - cold ice desert @shutter stock
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Arctic desert – cold ice desert @shutterstock

Antartica

Antarctica is a huge desert and one of the most beautiful and different deserts I can imagine. It has been on my list forever and, unlike most other deserts, it is probably one of the few where I won’t melt like ice in the sunshine. This continent is the biggest desert of all, and tough to visit under these conditions (it is the most extreme continent of the world: the driest, windiest, and coldest).

Scientists Explore Antarctic Icebergs by Boat @shutterstock_570354943
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Antarctic – Biggest desert in the world @shutterstock

Iceberg floats in Andord Bay on Graham Land, Antarctica
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Andord Bay on Graham Land, Antarctica @shutterstock

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Where are the most beautiful deserts in the world? Find out about 21 amazing deserts.
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Where are the most beautiful deserts in the world? Find out about 21 amazing deserts.

Last but not least a modest picture of myself in the desert…almost as impressive as the stunning pictures from above, right? 🙂 For more pictures of me follow me on Instagram or check out my blog more regularly 🙂

Dubai Desert Safari - Best Deserts Around the World
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Best Deserts Around the World

I hope, you have enjoyed the pictures as much as I do.

Happy travels,

Arzo

Pictures of the Best Deserts Around the World

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