Whether it’s the Sahara in Africa, the Gobi in China, or another world-famous desert, you realize just how big the world is when you’re standing in the middle of a desert surrounded by miles and miles of open land.
The opportunity to trek to a desert, for most people, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. While you may get caught up in the excitement of traveling to such an awe-inspiring sight, there are some things you need to do ahead of time to make sure you’re prepared and stay healthy during your trip. Remember – this is a desolate, barren place, and it can be dangerous.
What you need to plan
Before you head out into a desert, you must plan well first – know where you are going, who you are going with and when you plan to return. This is information you need to share with someone who is staying behind.
You should never go into a desert alone. Having at least one other person with you increases the chance of survival in case anything happens.
It can be easy to get lost in a desert, which is why it’s so important to bring maps, a compass and a GPS with you.
Make sure you watch the weather forecast before too – sometimes weather can change suddenly in a desert and you’ll want to be prepared for that.
What to bring
You already know to bring a companion, maps and a GPS, but that’s not all you need. It’s critical that you have access to water in a desert environment. You should always carry extra water with you and it’s recommended that you drink at least one gallon of water per day, especially in the summer season.
It’s also important to bring some food with you – it not only boosts your energy, but also your morale. Pack emergency food, like energy bars or granola, just in case.
What to wear
Deserts are notorious for their extreme temperatures – high heat during the day and cold temps at night. This means there is a high risk for heat stroke and hypothermia. It’s important to protect yourself with a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen for the sun. And bring an extra jacket in case you’re out in the desert after dark when the temperature can plummet.
When to go
This is when you should also factor in the highs and lows of desert temperatures. If you want to walk or hike in the desert, you should plan to do so before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. – any time in between is going to be dangerously hot. When you’re walking or hiking, be sure to keep a slow, steady pace and take regular breaks. But don’t sit on the ground – it’s hot!
You should also be aware of flash floods. If you travel to a desert in the summer, it can be very hot with sudden rain storms and flash floods. If you’re out in a desert and see lightening or any other signs of a storm, seek shelter.
Watch where you walk
Most desert creatures are nocturnal, so you might not see any. But, some deserts are home to venomous snakes, spiders and scorpions. To avoid getting bitten, be careful and watch where you walk, where you put your hands and where you sit. If you do happen to get bitten, seek medical attention immediately.
Traveling to a desert can be the trip of a lifetime. Just make sure that you plan ahead and practice caution every step of the way.
Photo from Maps of World.com.