Visiting the most beautiful deserts in Africa It will suppose you a great dose of adventure, but also to find yourself with impressive landscapes. Not surprisingly, some of these places are, despite their simplicity, among the most beautiful on the planet.
As if all this were not enough, deserts have a kind of magic for the spirit. Its simplicity and immensity help you to realize the unnecessary of material goods, they help you get rid of worldly concerns and connect with nature. But, without further ado, we are going to show you some of the most beautiful deserts in Africa.
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The most beautiful deserts in Africa: What can you see in them?
On every continent in the world there are spectacular deserts. It is enough that we mention, as examples, that of Atacama in South America (here we leave you an article about this desert), that of Gobi in Asia or that of Taverns (Spain) in Europe. Even, strictly speaking, places like Greenland they are deserts in which there is no sand, but snow and ice.
But of all places in the world, perhaps the greatest number of deserts are found in Africa. In addition, their respective extensions are so large that they occupy a good part of the surface of this continent. Anyway, to show you, the best thing is that we already tell you about the most beautiful deserts in Africa.
With almost nine and a half million square kilometers, this desert that we have so close is the largest in the world among the hot ones (the third after the Arctic and Antarctica). In fact, it extends from the Red Sea until Atlantic Ocean, occupying most of North Africa. Precisely to the south it reaches the region of Sahel, which serves as a transition to the Sudanese savannah.
As you can imagine, in such a huge area of land you have a lot to see. For this reason, we are going to tell you only about some really spectacular places that are among the best of the Sahara. Likewise, we will only do it for those who are in the Moroccan area. Those in southern Algeria or Libya could be dangerous due to the political instability in the area.
We will start with Merzouga, a small town located in the southeast of Morocco where you can see unforgettable sunsets. But we will talk about him, above all, because very close you will find Erg Chebbi, one of the most spectacular sets of dunes in the entire Sahara. Some of them reach 200 meters in height and, with their orange tones, offer you an extraordinary vision.
You shouldn't miss the draa valley, where you will find the desert as you have always imagined it. That is to say, large stretches of sand and, from time to time, an oasis with palm groves.
However, if you prefer the most inhabited side of the African colossus, you have an unavoidable visit in Ouarzazate, known as "the door of the desert" and also as "the Hollywood of the Sahara." This last name is due to the fact that numerous films have been shot in this place.
In Ouarzazate you have to see the impressive kasbah by Taourirt, an adobe fortress built in the XNUMXth century to protect the old gold route. But you should also visit its central market, full of locality; the Almouahidine square and the craft souk.
Finally, about fifteen miles from the previous town, you have another kasbah which holds the title of World Heritage Site. Its the Ait Ben Haddou, a great walled Berber fortress that is in a magnificent state of conservation.
Namibia It is one of the countries in Africa with the most deserts. Specifically, the Kalahari occupies part of its surface, but also wide swaths of Botswana y South Africa (here we leave you an article about the latter country), since it has an area of almost one million square kilometers.
The first time a foreigner crossed it was in 1849. His name will sound familiar to you, as it was about David Livingstone, the discoverer of Victoria Falls. And, as a curiosity, we will tell you that «kgalagadi» means «great thirst».
In this imposing desert you can see the Chobe National Park, characterized by its abundance of elephants, although it also has numerous buffalo, hippos, giraffes and impalas. However, to spot lions you must go to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
Also stands out in this desert the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, but, above all, the Makgadikgadi Salt Flats, which are among the largest in the world. They were formed when the huge lake of the same name dried up, which thousands of years ago occupied an area larger than Switzerland. They are so inhospitable that this has contributed to their conservation. The human being has hardly intervened in them.
The old Namib desert
Among the most beautiful deserts in Africa, the Namib also stands out for its age, since it is considered the oldest in the world. In fact, it is believed to have already existed 65 million years ago. And this is one of the reasons why it has been declared a World Heritage Site.
As you may have guessed from its name, it is also found in Namibia and it has an area of about eighty thousand square kilometers. If you visit it, its reddish sands will catch your attention, but also some of its most interesting points.
To begin with, at one end is the Cape Croos, the first place Europeans arrived in 1486. Currently, it is home to the largest reserve of sea bears in all of Africa.
Close to the previous one, you also have the famous Skeleton Coast, which is one of the most inaccessible areas by land in the country. It owes its name to the number of stranded boats and whale skeletons in the area.
But perhaps the most attractive is the Namib Naukluft Park, where you can see dunes up to three hundred meters high. Finally, as a curiosity, at one end of the Namib desert is the ghost town of Kolmanskop, a mining town built in the early twentieth century by the Germans to shelter diamond seekers.
Danakil, another of the most beautiful deserts in Africa
Located in the southern part of eritrea and in the northwest of Ethiopia, In full Horn of Africa, This desert is considered one of the lowest and hottest places on the planet, with temperatures above fifty degrees Celsius.
It has an area of almost two hundred and twenty thousand square kilometers and stands out for its volcanoes, large salt flats and lakes formed by lava. Among the first, the Dabbahu, with its 1442 meters high, and the Erta Ale, smaller, but still active.
However, the most curious thing about this inhospitable desert is that it is the homeland of the Afar people, an ethnic group of nomadic shepherds who are characterized by their large curved knives and their hair with ringlets. They build their temporary homes or aris with branches and fabrics forming towns called storms.
Tenerife Desert, an extension of the Sahara
We have left for the end another of the most beautiful deserts of Africa that, in reality, is an extension of the Sahara in its southern part. But we treat it separately for its many peculiarities. In fact, "teneré" means "desert" in the Tuareg language.
At about four hundred thousand square kilometers, it stretches from the west of the Chad to the northeast of Niger. And, before continuing to tell you about him, we can't resist telling you another of his curiosities. It housed the call Tree of Ténéré, which held the singular recognition of being the loneliest in the world, since it was the only one in many kilometers around. In 1973, it was demolished by a truck and, today, a metal sculpture that recalls it occupies its place.
But Ténéré is among the most beautiful deserts in Africa for other reasons. To begin with, because of the huge and desolate landscape of sand that it forms. But also for the many archaeological remains it houses. Perhaps ten thousand years ago its climate was different because it was inhabited.
In fact in Tassili n'Ajjer, a plain within the area, is one of the most important rock art sets in the world. No less than fifteen thousand samples of paintings and engravings from the Neolithic era have been found that represent the life and customs of the natives of this area. They correspond mainly to the kiffian culture.
On the other hand, in the area corresponding to Niger there are the spectacular mountains of Aïr, a massif with a Sahelian climate with peaks that reach 1800 meters of altitude and that have striking geological formations.
And, between these mountains and the desert itself, the city of Agadez, capital of one of the fiefdoms of the Tuareg culture. You could be tempted to think that this small town has nothing to offer you. Nothing is further from reality. Its historic center has been declared Heritage, an award that he shares with the entire Tenerife desert.
In fact, historically it was a transit point for numerous trade routes. Even today it is the exit of the one that leads to Sabha, one of the most inhospitable routes in the world whose transit is not available to everyone.
In conclusion, we have shown you some of the most beautiful deserts in Africa. But we could mention others like that of Lompoul, in Senegal, with its orange sand dunes; the one of Taru, in Kenya, near Kilimanjaro, or that of Ogaden, in Ethiopia. However, not all of them are affordable for us to visit.