13 Desert Shots You Would Die of Thirst For

Think deserts are monotonous stretches of sand? Well, they are – but sometimes they’re so much more.
By Josh Sampiero

Received wisdom suggests you cannot equate 'beauty' with the desert – but as long as you're not dying of thirst or sun poisoning, there's plenty of beauty to behold. We've picked out some amazing images from dunes all over the world (despite the fact that the Namib Desert in Africa can justify a gallery of its own) to show the incredibly diverse scenes deserts have to offer.

Like this stuff? Check out the world's most mysterious places.

Shadows and Sand – Namib Desert, Namibia

Shadows and sand dunes © Peter Adams / Getty Images

On the 'Skeleton Coast' of Namibia in Africa, the Namib desert is a photographer's dream. Close to dusk, low light makes the shadows stretch long across the dunes.

Solo Over the Sand – White Desert, Egypt

Solo across the sand © Harald Tauderer/Red Bull Content Pool

As part of the Ocean Floor Crossing, athlete Christian Schiester grinds his way towards a far-away horizon. He came in second in the race, which is a 162-mile slog that takes 48 hours to complete.

Salt and Speed – Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Racing across the sand in the Uyuni Desert © Frederic Le Floch / DPPI / Red Bull Content Pool

The Salar de Uyuni, better known as the "Bolivian Salt Flats," are one of the few places Dakar Rally racers can truly let it rip. Here, a rally car speeds across the flats in the 2015 edition of the world's toughest petrol-powered race.

Pyramid Paragliding – Meroe Pyramids, Sudan

Paragliding over pyramids
Paragliding over pyramids © SEARCH Productions

It's easy to assume all pyramids are in Egypt, but they're actually spread out across northern Africa. These are in Sudan, just one of the spots Tom de Dorlodot stopped on his round-the-world adventures in the Search Project. Read more about it here.

Mars on Earth – Namib Desert, Namibia

Salt and sand in Africa © Moment RF / Getty Images

We've already mentioned the Namib Desert for its surreal scenery, which often comes straight out of a sci-fi movie. Think this one is cool? Then check out the shot below, which we swear is a real place that you can actually go to.

Dead Vlai – Namib Desert, Namibia

A tree in the middle of noowhere.
Alien landscape © Patrick Galibert

The perished trees of the Dead Vlai are thought to be about 900 years old. When the water dried up, the trees died, but the dry air keeps them from decomposing, while constant sun scorches them black. Want to see more unbelievable locations? Check out these.

Dune Driving – Abu Dhabi, UAE

Dashing over desert dunes © Kin Marcin / Red Bull Content Pool

Desert racing has spread to the Middle East. The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge sends trophy trucks screaming over the sand in the United Arab Emirates.

Sand and Surfing – Ceara, Brazil

Competitors performing at Red Bull Rally dos Ventos in Brazil.
Sailing over a sea of sand © Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

The wind-swept dunes of northern Brazil are home to shallow flat-water lagoons perfect for kiteboarding. The Rally dos Ventos is a kiteboarding race that goes over and between them, as competitors navigate the 18-mile course using only their kites, boards, and legs as propulsion.

Black Desert, Egypt

Egypt's Black Desert © Juergen Ritterbach

Thanks to a centuries-old volcanic explosion, the tops of mountains in this northern Egyptian desert bear the colour black. But if you get bored of black, you can always go explore Egypt's White Desert, where limestone rocks stand above the desert sand.

A Monument to Beauty – Monument Valley Park, Utah

A monument to beauty © Getty Images

Monument Valley Park is part of the native Navajo Nation. Geologically, it's part of the Colorado Plateau, but it's in Utah. Thanks to constant presence in film and television, it's often what people imagine when they envision the "American West."

Sand and the Sea – Namib Desert, Namibia

Sand by the sea © Auscape / Getty Images

The biggest sand dunes in the world (some reaching 1,640 feet in height) jut up against the Atlantic Ocean on the Skeleton Coast in Namibia.

Endless Maze – Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Stunning scenery of the Canyonlands National Park.
Easy to get lost in Canyonlands National Park © Michael Clark

This part of Canyonlands National Park is known as The Maze, and with good reason – once you're in, it's easy to see how you wouldn't get out. It's regarded as one of the most remote and inaccessible areas of the entire United States.

The Road to Nowhere – Namib Desert, Namibia

Endless dunes in the desert.
Endless Namibian desert dunes © Patrick Galibert

If one so desired, one could spend quite some time driving over these dunes, which stretch for 1,243 miles between Namibia, Angola and South Africa. An extra tank of petrol might be a great idea.

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