2014 Travel Awards: Best Desert Trip
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The world’s oldest desert, the Namib, runs for nearly 1,000 miles along the Atlantic coast of Namibia and is among the most beautiful and isolated places on earth, with huge dunes and deserted beaches. Even better, almost no one visits. The reason? Outfitter Uri Adventures has one of only a few permits to access much of it. It’ll get you your own 4×4, and you and a small caravan will spend six days off-roading for 466 miles from the old German settlement of Luderitz to Walvis Bay. You’ll rumble deep through the Namib past martian dunes and centuries-old shipwrecks on the coast. From $702; uriadventures.com
Runner-Up: Oregon Desert Trail
More than half of Oregon is high desert, with rainbow-hued buttes, scratchy canyons, and so few people that state health officials still call parts of it frontier. Thankfully, the newly minted, 800-mile Oregon Desert Trail takes you past petroglyphs near Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, hot springs in the Alvord Desert, and native redband trout in the Owyhee River (onda.org). Focus on the 62-mile-long section through the Owyhee’s northern canyonlands. Load up on supplies in Boise and camp at Leslie Gulch, on the southern end of Lake Owyhee. From there you can swim through slot canyons in the summer and look for bighorn sheep on the ridgelines.
Video: 800 Miles on the Oregon Desert Trail