The nature of deserts ensures that the story of their exploration is filled with tragedy. Many expedition members met their deaths due to the harsh conditions. Unlike earlier naval exploration and later space exploration, there was little hope of financial reward, and desert expeditions were generally undertaken for scientific purposes, in search of earlier explorers who had vanished, or for the challenge alone.
The following sections list deserts around the world, and their explorers. Expeditions are listed by their leaders; details of other expedition members may be found via the links.
- Namib Desert
- Ripley Davenport - desert explorer crossed the Namib during his solo unassisted walk in 1998.
- Kalahari Desert
- Sahara Desert
- Heinrich Barth - crossed the Sahara during his travels in Africa and the Middle East during 1845-1847.
- James Richardson - explored the Sahara and Sudan he died in the notorious hamada (a stony desert) in the Western Sahara.
- Friedrich Gerhard Rohlfs - German geographer. First person the cross Africa north to south. Named a place Regenfeld near Dakhla Oasis in southern Egypt after experiencing a rare occurrence of desert rain.
- Karl Alfred von Zittel German palaeontologist who accompanied Rohlfs.
- Henri Duveyrier - He undertook a number of fossil-hunting explorations in the Sahara.
- Albert-Félix de Lapparent - Explorer of the northern and western parts of the Sahara.
- Victor Loche - first identified the Sand Cat (Felis margarita) while exploring the North Sahara.
- Joseph Ritchie - sent to find the course of the River Niger and the location of Timbuktu. He died in Murzuk.
- Helen Thayer - 20th Century walker and explorer.
- Jeremy Curl - youngest to walk across the Sahara. Explored areas of the Tanezrouft, Hoggar mountains and Adrar des Ifoghas, living with the indigenous Tuareg.
- Gobi Desert
- Ripley Davenport Desert explorer who crossed the Mongolian Gobi Desert, on two separate occasions, one, in 2010, on foot hauling 250kg of supplies on a specially made fabricated wheeled trailer and the most recent, a 1000 mile trek in 2011, with a caravan of bactrian camels and paying clients. Also along in the employ of Davenport were a local bi-lingual guide, a cook, a camel handler and a 4wd van which met the group with meals at lunch and dinner.
- Karakum Desert
- Ripley Davenport desert explorer crossed the Karakum Desert, Covering much of present day Turkmenistan, from South to North in 1998
- Rub' al Khali or the Empty Quarter of the Arabian Peninsula:
- Central Australia - general term covering the arid regions in the Australian interior
- Edward John Eyre - expeditions to Lake Eyre and the Flinders Ranges in the 1830.
- Charles Sturt - expeditions from Adelaide in the 1840s
- John McDouall Stuart - accompanied Sturt 1844-1845; expeditions 1859 & 1860 (South Australia), 1861-1862 (south-north crossing of Australia)
- Ludwig Leichhardt - expeditions 1844-1845 Moreton Bay to Port Essington, 1846–1847 and 1848 west from Moreton Bay, where the entire expedition vanished
- Burke and Wills (Robert O'Hara Burke and William John Wills) - south-north crossing of Australia 1860-1861 where both died on the return journey
- Augustus Gregory - searched for Leichhardt in 1858
- Ernest Giles - expeditions 1872-1876
- Gibson Desert
- Ernest Giles - crossed the desert in 1874
- Great Sandy Desert
- Great Victoria Desert
- Nullarbor Plain - desert plain on the western part of the south coast of Australia
- Edward John Eyre - expedition 1840-1841
- Tanami Desert
- Simpson Desert and Sturt Stony Desert
- Charles Sturt - expedition 1844-1845
- Cecil Madigan - expedition 1939 across the Simpson Desert
- Warren Bonython and Charles McCubbin were the first North to South traverse on foot in 1973 They pulled a cart with supplies and utilised two air drops of water and supplies.
- Louis-Philippe Loncke - unsupported expedition 2008 across the Simpson Desert on foot from North to South
- Western Australia - a large and generally arid region
Exploration and explorers by nation or region Explorers by country Explorers by type Exploration by region Exploration timelines World deserts Africa Asia
- Aral Karakum
- Badain Jaran
- Dasht-e Kavir
- Dasht-e Lut
- Dasht-e Margoh
- Dasht-e Naomid
- Indus Valley
- Kyzyl Kum
- Rub' al Khali
- Russian Arctic
- Ustyurt Plateau
- Wahiba Sands
Europe North America
- Baja California
- Black Rock
- Channeled scablands
- Forty Mile
- Gran Desierto de Altar
- Great Basin
- Great Salt Lake
- Great Sandy
- Jornada del Muerto
- North American Arctic
- Painted Desert
- Red Desert
- Smoke Creek
- Tule (Arizona)
- Tule (Nevada)
Australia South America Polar regions New Zealand
- Namib Desert
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