DESERTS -AN AREA WHICH recieves less than 25cm of rain a year – cover 25% of the earth’s land mass. There are rocky desert and mountain desert, hot and cold, even polar. With wildlife like oryx, snakes, fox, and mice, and plant life which has adapted to find moisture where none seems to exist, it is a great fallacy to say there is nothing in the desert. And yet, that “nothing” is often the great attraction.
Many of the world’s most fabled lands, names which conjure up images of bleaching fierce sun, and weeks without water, are deserts: Sahara, Gobi, The Empty Quarter, Taklamakan. While Australia does have several of the world’s largest deserts, many of its famed sites like Uluru lie in semi-arid areas, not desert.
A view of the road into the Las Geel rock art site. With civil unrest over the border in Somalia proper, such an isolated but open area did make me question my being there. However the security situation in the two countries are worlds apart.
Somaliland is a harsh, dry place. Making a living here as a farmer would be extremely insecure.
Palmyra, Syria's Roman arches which have stood for almost 2000 years, probably destroyed by ISIS.
The White Desert (Sahara el Beyda) is 45km from the town of Farafra, Egypt.
Dakhla, Egypt, averages 0.2 days of rain per year, with an average of 0.0mm annually.
A dry crust covers the ground at the base of the hils, Dakhla oasis, western desert, Egypt.
At sunset, with no vehicles about, we questioned our wisdom of hitching out to the White Desert, in an area with high security. We got back OK though.
Tracks in the desert, Wadi Rum, Jordan.
Wadi Rum Protected Area rquires a permit for tour operators. As we found out, those operating out of Petra probably don't have one, and can't take visitors into the Protected Area itself.
Horseman ride along the walls of Sauran, Kazakhstan, a silk road city at least 1000 years old. It reached its height in the late 1300s under Timur.
Most of Western Australia is pretty arid, and its flora has adapted to dry conditions. Lesueur National Park.
190km north of Perth, Western Australia, Nambung National Park, The Pinnacles are a scattering of rock formations.
Although the visitor numbers aren't too high, arriving early is always best.
Roughly half way between Port Augusta and Coober Pedy, Lake Hart, South Australia, is a dry lake bed, which fills on rare occaisons of heavy rain in the north, or even rarer local rains.
The rest area at Lake Hart might be basic, but the scenery is really hard to beat. The flat white surface appears like a flat, blue lake from a distance.
A lookout point on the Stuart Highway, South Australia, just past Lake Hart.
Ethiopia's Danakil Depression contains some of the world's most surreal natural landscapes.
Impossibly hot, expensive to visit, open to attack by hostile tribesman. Despite this, the area sees a steady trickle of visitors.
To visit the Danakil, you must engae a tour company, who must must engage armed escort. The risks and costs reward you with views unimaginable.
3 or four days is needed to visit the Danakil from nearby Mekele.
The roads will shake the fillings from your teeth. The heat will make you melt. A good cook and a good sense of humour are indispensable, but Ethiopia's Danakil is worth experiencing.
Gum trees in a dry river bed, 18kms west of Alice Springs at Simpson's Gap, central Australia.
Just off the north-south Stuart Highway which bisects central Australia, Karlu Karlu (Devil's Marbles) are about 400km from Alice. The area is sacred to the local aboriginal people, who believe the rocks are goannas eggs.
One of the more famous sights in Australia, Uluru sits in the semi arid land of the Anungu people.
The moments after the sun has gone down can produce the deepest colours, as this shot of Kata Tjuta in Australia's centre attests.
A section of Uluru views on a walk around the base.
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) are equally as impressive as their sister rock, Uluru, and the walking trails there actually more interesting.
Cold desert spring fed water hole, Serpentine Gorge, in the arid centre of Australia.
The dry bed of the Finke Rive cutting through West MacDonnell Ranges National Park, Australia.
Crossing a river on a walk through Redbank Gorge, central Australia.
The Mount Sonder walking trail leaving from Redbank Gorge, in the West Macs, takes in several hours of arid scenery.
Another raging torrent slices its way through the West Macs.
Escape the crowds. Few of the campers at Redbank Gorge venture past the swimming hole.
Ormiston Gorge is a popular camping spots in the West Macs, but again, few people tackle the longer walks. Their loss is your gain.
The Pound Walk is a 3-5 hour round trip from Ormiston Gorge.
And you'll be enjoying all these views on your own.