In popular imagination, deserts often conjur up visions of vast, empty areas with no life in sight. But this isn't always the case. Despite harsh conditions, some are home to diverse animal and plant life, and they often carry a rich history that can be traced back millions of years! Even people often call the deserts of the world home, and the continent of Africa is no exception. Keep reading to discover seven amazing African deserts with unique landscapes that merge natural beauty and impressive geological phenomena!
The White Desert, Egypt
While Egypt's most popular tourist attractions are the Great Pyramids of Giza and Luxor's Valley of the Kings, the country has much more to offer than just those spectacular sites. Its lunar-looking White Desert is located west of the Nile River and is bordered by Sudan to the south, Libya to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north. The White Desert is home to chalky, surreal rock formations that look like natural sculptures from another planet! If you visit the White Desert, make sure to head to its northern portion to see the impressive Crystal Mountain, a large sparkling rock entirely made of quartz crystals!
The Namib Desert, Namibia
The beautiful Namib is one of the world's oldest and driest deserts. Its name means an "area where there is nothing" in Nama, a language spoken by some locals in Namibia. The desert stretches along Namibia's Atlantic Coast, but also crosses parts of Angola and South Africa. The landscape of this stunning region features the biggest sand dunes on the planet, granite peaks, and it's home to an impressive amount of wildlife adapted to the area's dry climate. It's possible to visit this incredible place on foot, horseback or from a helicopter to enjoy a panoramic view.
The Karoo, South Africa
South Africa's magical Karoo is a vast desert as large as Germany! The semi-desert hosts endless plains, covering a large part of South Africa's entire land area. You may think the Karoo desert is empty, but it's actually full of surprising features such as varied flora and wildlife, as well as steep mountains and unusual rock layers. Against all odds, 40% of the plants you will find in the Karoo desert cannot be found anywhere else in the world!
The Kalahari Desert, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa
The Kalahari Desert is one of the most well-known deserts after the Sahara. It's semi-arid and covers around 360,000 square miles across three countries: Namibia, South Africa and Botswana. The Kalahari's main feature is its large red sand areas, but it also hosts a variety of dry valleys and natural salt flats. The principal vegetation you'll find here are desert plants such as dry shrubs or cacti, but some surprising animals also call it home. If you visit, you might meet one of the numerous charismatic meerkats that live here!
Located in modern-day Sudan, Meroe used to be a wealthy metropolis of the ancient kingdom of Kush, a prominent civilization which was in close contact with and a rival of the Kingdom of Egypt. Meroe is located along the banks of the Nile River and there are nearly 200 ancient pyramids in the area. They were built between 2,700 and 2,300 years ago and are smaller in size than the Giza pyramids, but their unique Nubian style makes them impressive nonetheless! The archeological site of Meroe is also part of UNESCO's World Heritage list.