So, you’ve decided to go on a desert tour, right?
Hooray! I promise 2 things: one, you won’t regret it, and two, I’ll help you.
The sand dunes, the night sky, the silence. It truly is a life-awakening experience; I’ve had time to think about it, and I’m positive this is one of the most incredible experiences a person could have. But my first question / concern as a fair-skinned Canadian was, “what do you pack when heading into the desert?! ”
After my three day experience in the Sahara I have created a short list of Desert Must-Haves to make sure your experience goes as smoothly as mine did.
Here are 8 things I am truly happy I had in the desert:
I would hope that this one is obvious, but in case it isn’t, sunscreen is a must. The sun is ruthless in the desert and there is little shelter from it, so having sunscreen is essential. I used a SPF 60 on my face and a SPF 30 for the rest of my body and am happy to report I didn’t get a single burn the entire time, even after hours in the sun / camel riding / dune surfing.
The desert heat will literally suck all the moisture out of you and that includes your lips. I would highly recommend not only bringing LipChap, but make sure it contains SPF to keep your lips protected from sun as well.
These were a life saver. I usually travel with wipes wherever I go and I am so happy I had them on this desert excursion. Depending on the type of tour you sign up for, access to water of might be limited – it is the desert, right?. Therefore, wipes are a necessity. I used them at night on my entire body before climbing into bed and they made a world of difference. They also double as emergency toilet paper is the need should arise.
Even after traveling many warm climates, this was a first for me. In the desert, the humidity is almost non-existent, so your sweat is instantly absorbed by the dry desert air. You could be producing gallons of sweat and never have a wet T-shirt… this is a new sensation for most people I’ve talked to. Water is truly your lifeline.
If you have a great tour company, your guide will have all the water you need and more. But as you should for life in general – think for yourself. Andy is a water fanatic and the thought of being even slightly parched for a portion of our tour was not an option. Get a guide you trust, and when in doubt, bring extra.
“Driving through the desert, there are lots of places to stop for a snack”.
This of course is not reality. You do know the desert can look like this, right?
You do not have the option to grab a Mars bar if your sugar level dips and you get ‘hangry‘ (hungry-angry) like me. Therefore, I suggest grabbing a few snacks in case of emergencies. We were well fed throughout our tour, but I am happy I had a few granola bars for the long car ride and late night snacks.
When you think of the desert you naturally think of the hot, sunny climate. What you don’t think of is when the sun goes down, all of that heat from the day disappears into the clear blue sky in a hurry. We didn’t have a problem with the temperature dropping and were well prepared for it, but many of our ‘tent neighbours’ said they were really cold over night and had a hard time sleeping. Therefore, make sure you have some warmer clothes to avoid a sleepless night.
Scarf / Turban
The turban is far more then a fashion statement; it is an absolute necessity in the desert. It protects your head from the sun, your face, ears, and mouth from the sand. As a girl who has never had one before, please listen: you NEED to buy an authentic turban. I had a scarf I assumed would work just fine for the desert, but quickly learned that it was just not long enough or tough enough to complete with the desert wind and sand. If you are heading out on a desert tour, ask your guide to assist you in buying a proper scarf that you can make into a turban. From here, you can turn it into all kinds of life saving shapes.
After the turban, my next favourite defence from the sun was a nice big sunhat. When on an epic 5 hour camel ride, I wore my sun hat in combination with the turban, which shielded me from the elements. If you are fair skinned like moi, you can never be overly protected in the desert environment.
Do you have any Desert Must-Haves? Please share!