Sahara Desert

A group of camel riders touring the desert

Sahara Desert, World’s largest hot desert

The Sahara Desert is the third largest desert of the world and why do we say that? That’s because there are two types of deserts found on earth, one is cold while the other is hot. The cold desert is found around the polar region located at the most northern part of the earth, or otherwise known as the Arctic region. Weather is extremely cold around this part of the world with minimal rain, though snowfall is very common due to the high wind especially in winter. The second type of desert is the hot desert. This type of desert is extremely warm and can get very dry. The temperature of the area can reach to a level making it difficult for human to survive, not to mention that these types of deserts get very little to no water from precipitation.

Sahara is the biggest HOT desert in the world measuring approx. 800 miles (1300km) by 1200 miles (1950km) from it’s north point to south, and almost 3000 miles (4850km) from it’s east end to west. The beginning of Sahara is very interesting to note. About 10,000 years ago, green vegetation was actually quite common in this now “dead” territory. However, due to critical climatic changes, it slowly turned the land into a vast desert which then expanded to such a shocking size that we see today.

People walking up the sand dunes

The average temperature of this great desert is over 30 degrees celsius. However, during the summer season the temperature of the land can rise up to, and even slightly over 50 degree celsius making it almost not possible for any animals, insects and creatures of any kind to stay alive, let alone humans. The temperature during the cooler months though can get below 0 degree and can also get quite cold at night time. All in all, you can expect a great fluctuation in temperature on this desert in any 24 hour day.

A group of camel riders touring the desert

The Sahara Desert is scattered with different types of sand dunes and sand sheets including the pyramidal dunes, transverse, tied and blown out dunes. The tallest of them all would be the pyramidal dunes which can reach up to 150 meters in height. Archaeologists have been studying and scratching their heads wondering how the sand dunes are created but unfortunately still couldn’t find the answers even today. Yes, it remains a mystery to many scientists.

In order to survive in the hottest region in the world with almost no water, plants have learnt to adapt to the environment. The flora and fauna has made some changes in their daily life according to the climate, with some plants growing very small leaves and very long roots in order to reach down to the deepest damp soil for access to water. Talking about plants, you may be happy to know that the dates palm tree is one of the major trees of Sahara Desert and it is a great food that brings energy and freshness to the body, so definitely a knowledge worth knowing if you ever get lost or stuck in the desert (We sincerely hope not).

The Sahara Desert is made up of largely rocks and gravels.

Since generally, people view the Sahara Desert as by and large gently sloping sand dunes but actually, it is made up of only 25% sand. Most of it comprises of geological features and gravels such as harsh plains, rocky Mountains and the parched plateaus. The eastern part of the desert includes Libyan area that is considered as the driest part of the desert. The area normally exhibits sand dunes and sandy wastes with almost no water at all but one can find few oases. Now in case you may be wondering, Sahara is so large that it actually touches many countries including Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sudan, Tunisia and Morocco.

These people are enjoying the smooth sand

Source: Lombardi

Most part of the Sahara Desert region receives rainfall less than five inches yearly, in fact there are parts where no rainfall is recorded for the whole year. The soil of the Sahara is in nature inactive and is brackish, hence the major reason why vegetable cultivated area does not exist. In areas of oases however, you will be able to find dates, corns as well as other fruits which has been a life source for many animals that inhabit the desert including deers, foxes, hyenas, jackals, camels, baboons and more. Some of these animals such as mongoose, antelopes and gazelles knows what it takes to survive in this unforgiving weather and you may be interested to learn that there are also three hundred different species of birds that resides around this desert.

This guy is ready for a camel ride adventure on the Sahara Desert

Source: Lambert-Gorwyn
* Looks like this guy is all geared up ready for a camel ride adventure. Notice how he is wearing long sleeves, sunglasses, head scarf and long pants? This is a wonderful idea because the sun can get rather aggressive inside the desert so you will want to protect your skin as much as possible from the constant exposure of UV ray.

There are many different tours specially designed for the Sahara Desert and you will often be taken on a camel ride with a whole group for an enjoyable and SAFE exploration. It is also the best way to explore the desert because the tour guide will be able to offer you lots of information about the land as you explore it bits by bits. For example, you may not know what SAHARA means? Well, it actually means “desert” in Arabic.

Costs of these tours varies and you may be able to find some local tours which are cheaper than the ones you find with your own travel agencies. Just remember that if you’re planning to travel to this land, it is wise to make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months and you will need to get a visa unless you’re traveling to Egypt, which pretty much already gains you a visa entry. While those who plans to travel to only Libya, you may need to apply for a visa seperately and of course this rule only applies to foreign tourists and does not apply local residents around the country. Like any trips, just make sure you plan well ahead and consult with your travel agent for any legal entry requirements that you may have missed.