Just deserts: 4 of the world’s most unusual deserts

With the return of the Great British Bake Off to our screens, it’s about time we had a look at some unusual desserts from around the world… Oh wait, we’ve already done that?

Well, let’s settle for the nearest thing and take a look at unusual deserts from around the world.

It turns out they’re not all just large areas of sand with the odd Tusken Raider. I mean, these things cover one third of the Earth’s surface, so there have to be some interesting ones out there. Aside from the one with the singing sand dunes which we’ve already had a look at.


Painted Desert | Arizona, USA

When you picture a desert, you probably summon an image of sandy dunes, wave upon wave of beige stretching all the way to the horizon (like a physical representation of the personality of a Premiership manager). But that’s not really true of most deserts. For example, the Painted Desert in Arizona features bands of bright vibrant colours throughout the mesas and rock formations. These are exposed layers of different types of sediment, brought forth by millennia of erosion by wind and the occasional rain shower.

It reminds me of the souvenirs you used to get from the Isle of Wight full of coloured sand.

Salar de Uyuni | Bolivia

It turns out that deserts don’t even need to be made from sand and rock. Quite a few of them, like the Salar dr Uyuni in Bolivia, are salt deserts. This one is the largest in the world and looks like a huge mirror, reflecting the sky perfectly due to its insane flatness.

It also contains a multitude of different lakes, each with a different colour, thanks to their unique mineral compositions.

Salar de Uyuni

Credit: Mickaël T.

Current estimates place the amount of salt found in this desert at around 10 billion tonnes, and even though 25,000 tonnes are extracted each year, it’s not likely to run out any time soon.

Carcross Desert | Canada

While they can be made from salt, sand, rock or ice, deserts are surely vast areas of harsh conditions, right? You’ve probably guessed that that’s not the case here.

In Canada’s Yukon region, you can find the Carcross Desert, which is officially the world’s smallest. It’s approximately a single square mile.

Carcross Desert

Credit: James Cross

Sounds like more of a sandpit than a desert to me.

Lençóis Maranhenses | Brazil

If there’s one thing deserts lack, it’s water. That’s why the number one thing to do in deserts is to stagger around gasping for water while holding at your throat, right?

Not in this Brazilian desert. Well it’s not technically a desert, as it does have a regular rainy season of almost 47 inches (deserts need to have less than 10 inches of rain in an average year to count, if you’re curious). However you’ll be forgiven for thinking it was one. After all, it’s full of pale, alabaster dunes, many of which cradle a nice little lagoon of fresh water. While these pools of water are temporary, some of them can be up to 300 feet long and over 10 feet deep.

Well at least there’s less chance of Mary berating you for a soggy bottom in most of these places.

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About Russell Wallace

Russell Wallace

My fondest holiday was definitely spending two weeks in Texas last Halloween, where I got to shoot guns, doze in the sun and worry about spiders all day. It was much less arid and dry than I was expecting and everyone was so friendly. Southern hospitality is a real thing and it’s amazing. I also found out that a swimming hole is a lot nicer than it sounds.

Russell works in our customer service team

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