The Sahara Desert. Could It Be Your Next Vacation?

by TessaSchlesinger

A vacation in the Sahara Desert is completely different to any other vacation experience you have ever had.

As unlikely as a holiday or vacation in the Sahara Desert could be, it is a fascinating place. Read here about the Sahara Desert climate, the many different animals in the Sahara Desert, the different countries in the Sahara Desert, the oasis, and many other interesting facts about the Sahara Desert. It could be the holiday or vacation of a life time. You might even get to ride a camel!

Largest Desert in the World

Sahara Desert is Largest Hot Desert in the World

The Sahara Desert stretches from the Atlantic Ocean on the west side of North Africa to the Red Sea on the east side of Africa. It covers 3.5 million miles and is the largest hot desert in the world. Its landmass is greater than the United States and slightly smaller than the Europe.The largest cold desert in the world is Antarctica! A desert is defined as a land that receives neither snow nor rain. The desert is known by the Berber people as the Garden of Allah.

Number of People Who Make Their Home in the Most Arid Place on Earth

Two and a Half Million People Live in Sahara Desert

This magnificent desert is inhabited by approximately two and a half million people. The more populous groups are the Moors, Tuareg, and the Tebu, generally a mixture of Berber and Arab ethnic people.

Number of Countries that Comprise the Desert in Northern Africa

Eleven Countries Surround Sahara Desert

Eleven countries are touched by the Sahara Desert. These are Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Chad, Mali, Niger, Tunisia, the Western Sahara, and Mauritania. You could visit any of these countries and see the Sahara Desert (or the Sahel, which is part of this desert). You could even travel by camel.


Climate of Sahara Desert

The climate of the desert is hot and dry. Water is found in small oasis where water comes bubbling up from underground springs. Most people of the desert will settle close to these oasis and use the water to grow crops. Other people will wander as nomads through the desert and stop by the oasis to draw water.

The climate of the Sahara was not always hot and dry, nor was it a barren land of sand. Instead, it was populated by a vast array of animals with rivers and lakes dotting the green vegetation. The change came about five thousand years ago but science has not yet definitely determined what caused this change. It is thought that it has something to do with the tilt of the earth, as these shifts are known to affect climate.

Lybyan Desert, The Sahel, and More...

Many Deserts in One

Different sections of the Sahara have different names. The western side is known as the Sahara Proper. The land mass in this area comprises dunes and black stony planes. The center section of the Sahara is called the Tenere. It has several mountain ranges which are covered in rocks, but not much else. The Libyan Desert is the east section of the Sahara Desert. It is not a friendly place and is acknowledged as being the most dangerous in terms of little water and hot sun. Yet another section of this mighty Sahara is the Arabian Desert. This lies between the Nile River and the Red Sea. The Arabian Desert is known as the Nubian Desert by those living in the Sudan.

Deadly Winds Will Bury You

Dangerous Winds Change Geography

The winds of the desert shift the shape of the sand dunes frequently and so it is not a set geographical entity. These dunes can reach a height of one thousand feet and stretch many thousands of miles. Dunes can also rise and vanish in a few days due to the wind. Sometimes the sand of the desert can be confused with the fine granules of rock which have been worn down through wind activity. This is called Fech fech and is very dangerous. It is difficult to see where it is, and camels and cars can disappear into it.

The land area of the Sahara is slowly creeping southwards into the grasslands on the edge of its southern borders. The area that borders the Sahara Desert is called the Sahel and it is constantly changing where it is

Animals In the Sahara Desert

Most would think that there are no animals in the Sahara Desert, but this is not true. When the Sahara was lush with greenery about 10,000 years ago, many animals lived there. Today, the animals that live there are very small and have developed special features in order to survive the desert heat and hot sands.

Small Animals in Sahara Desert

Small rodents, carnivores, cats, antelopes, gazelles, mountain sheep and small birds populate the desert. For most of these animals, the food they eat provides the water their bodies need. They have also adapted in special ways. For example, desert animals often don't sweat because their bodies would need to replace the water, and water is a scarce commodity in the desert.

Camel train in the Sahara Desert
Camel train in the Sahara Desert
Adaptation to Sahara

The rodents are specially adapted for the desert. For instance, Jerboas have long back legs in order to run quickly over the hot sand and to be able to jump long distances. Keeping cool during the day is done by burrowing underneath the sand, or if there is rock, hiding in the crevices. They hung for seeds and insects during the night when it is cool and sleep during the day.


Some animals eat other animals in order to survive. These are the carnivores. The fennec is a type of fox and weighs under two pounds. They have very long ears which grow to just under half their body length. Their ears enable them to hear the sounds of other small animals in the desert. Their fur is quite thick to protect them against the cold of the desert at night time, and is it is the same color as the sand in order to provide camouflage during the day. 

Cats with Nine Lives in the Sahara Desert

The sand cat is a very small species of cat. They have small bodies with short legs, and like the fennec, has large ears in order to hear the desert sounds. They have adapted to the hot sands of the desert by growing a thick layer of fur over their foot pads. This prevents sand burn. Like all cats, though, they prefer to sleep much of their time!

Antelope in the Sahara Desert

Graceful addax, a type of antelope, also live in the Sahara desert. They live in small herds, and like all the other animals, their bodies have evolved to survive in the hot heat, travel across the burning sand of the day, and survive the cold nights. Their hooves are larger than the hooves of animals not living in the desert, and this helps them to gain a solid foothold on the sand. Addax eat the plants that are found in the Oases. They are unusual in that they can sense when and where rain is coming and will travel across the desert sands in order to reach the rainfall area of the Sahara. They can sense the rain from about 125 miles away. 

The Sahel Desert

Herds in the Sahel Desert

Small herds of gazelle are found in Chad, Niger, and Mali. They migrate to the Sahel during the dry months and move back into the desert when the rain comes. There are several types of gazelles, and the smallest type, the dorcas, do not need water as their bodies are adapted to take it from food.

Many animals die in the desert and the desert vulture is there to scavenge their carcasses. Other birds, like the houbara, hunt for lizards and rodents.

So, while the Sahara Desert may appear to be lifeless, the reality is that it, too, is populated with animal species, just like any other region in the world.


Best Parts of Your Sahara Desert Vacation (Well, maybe the things I liked).

Riding on a Camel

I'll tell you right now that riding a camel is an awesome experience. There is something about sitting between the humps of the camel and the gait that rocks you that is incredibly comforting. Of course, when you first start, you have to get accustomed to some less-than-ordinary things like the camel making noises in its throat, etc. You should get accustomed to the camel's habits within fifteen to thirty minutes, and from there on, it really is one of the most unique experiences. I totally recommend it. Also, one of the things I love about  the white sands is the sense of desolation. I picked that up in the Namid Desert in West Africa as well. It is very peaceful. 

The Sahara Desert Holiday

Sahara Desert Vacation

The Sahara Desert is the largest hot air desert in the world and is part of many different countries. It supports many different types of life despite it having very little water. It is an adventurous and unique place to spend a vacation or holiday. In addition, as many different countries comprise the Sahara Desert, visiting the different cultures and different countries would be the holiday or vacation of a lifetime.


Updated: 01/23/2013, TessaSchlesinger
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


TessaSchlesinger on 01/24/2013

Thank you Elias

EliasZanetti on 01/24/2013

I am fascinated by the Sahara desert & especially by riding a camel! Great article, Tess! Cheers!

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