My first views of a desert was my explorations at the end of my street when I was a kid. When I passed the neighbour houses surrounded by green grass, at the end of the street the desert lay waiting. The compact brown earth was dry and sandy, the home to sagebrush, cactus and the occasional reptile.
I never thought of it as unique or beautiful – but I’ve learned how amazing the desert is – in all its forms. For travellers who want to consider a new kind of landscape to become enamored with – head to the desert.
The area of Kamloops, British Columbia is referred to as semi-arid desert, located between mountains, rivers, and lakes, north of the Okanagan in central British Columbia.
Sagebrush, easily found anywhere around the valley, is a prickly silvery green plant, revered by the local Aboriginal people and yet ignored by the residents, except when trying to plant non-indigenous plants. The heady scent is a welcome reminder whenever I return to my hometown.
Tumbleweed, dust in the wind and endless sunshine is the norm for residents, and anyone visiting this unique area always comments on the extreme heat. This area boasts many lakes, lots of hiking, mountain biking and ski trails and plenty of space to kick back no matter what the season, but its the endless clumps of sagebrush that make this part of BC distinct.
Middle Eastern desert:
When I got older I got to see the desert of Arabia – huge swaths of soft sand, with small rocky areas and an occasional group of palm trees to break up the endless vistas. The dust was constant, and the ground was always changing, the winds creating shifts in the landscape as the sand revealed and concealed its charms.
During a trip to Abu Dhabi, I went for a dune ride, sliding and slipping down the slopes of the sand in a small SUV. I was up front with the driver, and maybe the lack of anticipation made it more fun than scary, compared to my fellow passengers in the backseat, whose limited view convinced them it was a roller coaster ride of the desert.
I marvelled at the colour of the sand and the interplay between sand and sun, creating a glow that made the earth seem luxurious and soft. Despite the minimal vegetation, the desert here is just as alluring, with its unique textures and occasional oasis for a place to cool off.
A recent trip took me to the American desert – to the valley of the sun, Phoenix, Arizona. A desert city with a surprising wide range of lush vegetation – lots of trees, flowering bushes and plenty of plants, all surviving in the clay soil.
A visit to the Desert Botanical Gardens fueled my need for this desert’s stereotypical symbols – cactus. From small ground-hugging plants to multi-story tall sticks of green, the succulents showed me their full range.
With Camelback Mountain’s ochre presence within view almost anywhere in this city, the desert here was a welcome reminder of the extremes – dusty and hot, yet casting unique shades of cream, red, yellow, orange and gold on everything and everyone.
Like many travellers of the past, I've been captured by the desert and its unique revelations. As said by writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery..."What makes the desert beautiful is that somwhere it hides a well."
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I'm a Toronto-based freelance journalist, writing about travel, design, cuisine and people who are passionate about what they create. I’ve written for newspaper, magazine, websites and blogs since 2000, love taking photos and happy to share what I've found wandering our planet.
Located: Toronto Canada
Likes: Pacific rim, Middle East, Caribbean, islands, pop culture, art, architecture, cuisine, photography