Desert calls

Wine tasting amid the sands, fossil hunting in the footsteps of Genghis Khan and an isolated Namibian hideaway – adventure into the desert dunes with Lucy Kehoe

Finding splendid isolation in Namibia Africa

Perched under a jagged yellow rock in the Namib Tsaris Conservancy, within the vast 81,000sq km Namib Desert, you'll find The Nest at Sossus. In one of the world's least densely populated countries, the villa is shaped like surrounding rock inclines and has a design inspired by tree-hanging nests. Inside, four bedrooms and cosy communal spaces blend modern comforts with a warm Namibian colour palette. Sossusvlei's red sands and Deadvlei's tree graveyard are just a 45-minute drive away, while hot-air balloon rides and local game drives can be organised by on-site staff. From £740pp pn. expertafrica.com

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Stargazing in Chile South America

Potholed with vast salt flats and bubbling geysers, the uninhabitable environment of Chile's Atacama Desert, with its clear, cloudless skies and mind-bogglingly high altitude, provides perfect conditions for star-spotting. At this superstar destination on the astro-tourism circuit, nebulae and galaxies await your observation. Take a peek at the universe's inner workings – and the world's largest radio telescope – with a tour around ALMA Observatory before heading to the isolated villas of Awasi Atacama for some serene stargazing in luxury surrounds. Contemplate celestial skies from your villa's private patio, before heading inside to interiors rich with local craftsmanship. From £1,425pn. awasi.com

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Photo by Diego Jimenez/Unsplash

Wine tasting in Israel Middle East

A verdant oasis between the low-slung slopes of southern Israel's Negev Desert, Nana Estate Winery sits at 800m above sea level in the Mitzpe Ramon region, the blousy-leafed vines growing in rude health amid a barren landscape occupied only by the odd herd of wandering ibex. Despite the landscape, Eran Raz and his team are producing some of Israel's most exciting wines. Drop in for a tasting and you'll discover that the mineral-rich soils and extreme temperatures, which starve the vines of water, produce small but flavourful grapes. The result? Bold, citric chenin blanc and boisterous cabernet sauvignon with a touch of desert chalkiness. Tours from £27pp. nanawine.com


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Photo by Sophia van den Hoek

Birding in Australia Oceania

Listen out for the tuneful chirp of dusky grasswrens, spot the forget-me-not blue flash of a Rufous-crowned Emu-wren and focus your binoculars on hurtling grey falcons as you adventure into the lands around Alice Springs on a six-day birding tour of Australia's red desert. Bellbird Tours' Red Centre itinerary includes a visit to the mighty Uluru and the bulbous Olgas rock formations. An all-inclusive tour costs from £1,473pp. bellbirdtours.com

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Photo by Peter Waanders/Bellbird Tours

Adventuring in Morocco Africa

Experience a taste of nomadic life inspired by the wandering Berber tribes at this safari-style camp
in Morocco's Agafay Desert. Ringed by the ghostly silhouettes of the distant Atlas Mountains and the near-at-hand arid sands, the elegant Scarabeo Camp sits a 45-minute drive from Marrakech. Fresh from a sidecar ride to the camp – courtesy of Insiders – new nomads are welcomed with mint tea and baklava. Amid the desert pitch of 15 tents is your own canvas enclave, filled with curios of eras past – woven rugs, heavy travel trunks, mahogany writing desks and Moroccan lanterns. Days pass in a warm, dusty haze, cresting dunes on contemplative camel rides and catching thrills during buggy adventures. Nights, met with flickering campfires, roll to the beat of a tabl drum, as Berber musicians serenade guests at tagine-fuelled feasts around the flames. From £185pp. scarabeocamp.com


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Photo by Sophia van den Hoek

Fossil-hunting in Mongolia Asia

Once a playground for paleontologists, the hillocked sands of the Gobi Desert are alive with a millennium's-worth of historical intrigue. Visit the old stomping ground of Genghis Khan on Trailfinders' 15-day tour and you'll be searching for dinosaur eggs and the skeletons of spiked ankylosaurs during a luxury camp-out at the Flaming Cliffs. Named by renowned dino-digger Roy Chapman Andrews, the anglicised name references the reddish tint of Mongolian sunsets on terracotta rocks. The Steppes, Deserts and Nomads tour costs from £2,449pp. trailfinders.com

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Photo by Joe McDaniel/Unsplash

Desert dining in the United Arab Emirates Middle East

Try an opulent Emirati dining experience at Sonara Camp, in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. Kaffir-marinated lamb and citrus fish soup are served to the strumming of an oud, while falcon displays and a fire show entrance guests. nara.ae


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Photo by Sophia van den Hoek

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