Living in a Desert: 7 Tips and Silks to Survive

Avatar of Shaimaa Olwan
Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

The desert is an arid geographical area characterized by scarcity of rain, as the rain rate may reach less than 25 mm annually. Therefore, the weather conditions in it are hostile to animal and plant life due to the lack of fruitful and seasonal plants and water level.

Scientists define deserts according to the amount of rain that falls on them, the prevailing temperature or the type of soil and the varieties of plants growing in it. Scientists may combine all these elements to define the desert. Some deserts are classified as cold deserts because they arise in polar regions with little rain.

Contrary to popular belief, deserts are not necessarily scorching, nor are they necessarily large areas of dunes. Still, the one common feature of all deserts is the lack of humidity. With the discovery of crude oil, liquid gold, and mineral deposits such as diamonds, silver, and uranium in some deserts, the desert has become a great attraction for industrialized and powerful countries.

Life in the desert

Life is less in the desert, and people who have adapted to its harsh conditions live in it. The following things characterize life in the desert:

Population in the desert

In the desert, nomadic shepherds who live in tents and on grazing sheep and cattle are distinguished by moving from one place to another in search of water.

Plants in the desert

Some plants live in the desert, such as cacti, where the thorns in the cactus plant form a barbed wire fence to protect them and prevent animals from eating them.

Animals in the desert

The desert contains many insects, spiders, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Some wild animals, such as deer, come to the desert when it rains. Among the most important animals that live in desert conditions is the camel; the camel’s hump is a storehouse of large quantities of fat and water. It can live and benefit from this energy for several days and weeks. The camel can drink more than 100 litres of water within 10 minutes.

Climate in the desert

High temperatures characterize desert areas because they absorb the sun’s heat. In summer, the temperature reaches 38 ° C. Then it decreases at night until it reaches 25 ° C. In winter, temperatures range between 10 and 21 ° C. The highest temperature was recorded. In the world in the desert region of Death Valley in California, the temperature reached 57 ° C.

What are the famous deserts in the world?

  1. Sahara Desert: It is a desert that forms the most significant part of the northern region of the continent of Africa. It is the hottest and largest desert in the world, with an area of about 9 million square km. It is a natural barrier between North and Central Africa.
  2. Australian Desert: The Australian desert covers about 1.7 million km2 of Australian territory and extends between 20° and 30° latitude.
  3. Antarctic Desert: It is an icy desert covered by about 90% ice. The average thickness of ice is 2 km, and its area is about 14 million km 2.
  4. Saudi Deserts: The majority of the lands of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are characterized by dunes, and some of its grounds may be covered by vast waves of sand.

Desert regions are among the geographic areas known for the abundance of emptiness and the lack of precipitation annually. Therefore life decreases in them, and people who have acclimatized to these harsh conditions live there. They are called Bedouins, who have particular customs and traditions.

The desert community is unique, with a set of customs, traditions and special celebrations, some related to different aspects of life, including seasons and months. In addition, there are other customs related to the arts of traditional cooking, i.e., drinks, famous food, and traditional desert dress.

In addition to the rituals of generosity, hospitality, and entertainment, the components and arrangement of the private dwelling (the tent or the modern house), the principles of education, the literature of solidarity with others, and the relationship with livestock and various animals, including mainly the camel, the distinguished ship of the desert that does not tire, tire, or betray the desert, whatever the circumstances.

Social life in the desert

The life of the inhabitants of the deserts is based on raising camels and goats. But their reliance on camels differs from that of the nomads. In the desert, camels are raised for natural food (milk and meat) and sale. In addition to the above, the inhabitants of the oases cultivate them for commercial transportation and travellers.

Most men work in running camel caravans to carry crops and foodstuffs and transport travellers between valleys, palm oases, coastal villages, and extensive city markets. The caravan trade is the primary source of income for most of its residents, whether for its owners or the tenants to graze and run it!

Camels are the backbone of their lives and the field of daily concerns of the population. It is the centre of their economic, social and cultural activities, in addition to being the reason for pride and a basis for the strength of the tribe.

Natural pastures are among camels and goat herds’ most important food sources. In periods of drought, water is scarce, the nearby ranges are narrow, and sheep and camels are weary, which financially exhausts camel owners.

Good management of the reproductive cycle of camels is of great importance to the entire tribe, to provide milk and its derivatives, which along with dates, are an essential part of the table of Bedouin families!

In addition to domestic tasks, women raise goats and release them to pastures and handicrafts made of camel hair and sheep wool. Spinning woollen threads and hair is an essential source for many families, while weaving quilts, winter covers, exits, squares, and drapes are women

‘s most critical products.

Mastering the skills of living in a region located in the world’s harshest areas is not only necessary for the individual’s life, but over time justifies their being, their social values, and then their attitudes and relations towards the tribe.

It is linked in people’s memory that social life in the desert is as barren as a place surrounded by nothing but complete emptiness on earth and in the sky. It was reflected, in their opinion, in social life and human creativity, and they forgot that the memory, fertile with poetry, folk tales and legends, is the product of the desert and nothing else.

Culture in the desert

Some think there is no place for the Bedouin to enjoy the soul in light of his constant struggle with the environment. And here they are also mistaken! The desert nights are full of festive scenes, shades of fun, storytelling and folk legends about heroics and glories that are never exhausted.

At the foot of the dunes, boys and girls alike gather to sing, recite, dance, and play sari by the moonlight. On the beat of the drum, the girls dance, and the boys join them in expressive movements that reflect people’s lives, their ways of living, and their suffering.


The desert man’s relationship with the camel is an ancient relationship that has its roots in the depths of history. It is an ideal description that applies to it entirely due to its unique ability to endure hardships and its patience with enduring thirst in desertion and scorching heat as it crosses deserts and deserts as a companion to its owner in his travels and travels.

Camels have a prominent place among the inhabitants of the desert, and they still have great luck with that among many people in the present era. Whatever the matter is today, no one forgets the role of the camel, which was everything in the ancestors’ lives. A source of pride, as it continued to occupy an important pillar and an important place in the socio-economic life of the Sahrawi community.

Camels are patient animals, highly adaptive and adaptive to live in the harsh conditions of the desert according to a primitive or semi-primitive pastoral system. They generally enjoy calm natures with distinct intelligence that have unique characteristics. They are known for patience, fortitude, endurance of hardships, and a sense of indifference when exposed to harsh climatic factors. They continue their work Under the most severe conditions until their last breath.

They also share the fear of their owner, so if he gets scared, he panics, and if the camels feel the need for their people to leave for fear of impending danger, they hang their ears and stretch their necks to touch the source of the threat and its destination. Only the disturbances appear on it, so its owner realizes that an enemy is coming, so he prepares for it, making this animal a special place in the life of nomads and the desert man in particular. This behaviour makes the camel the most loyal and beloved companion.

Joy among the Bedouins without a camel race is not considered joy. Feasts, marriage, and the return of the absent are manifestations of joy that are not complete if shows of beauty accompanied by tweets do not accompany them.


Sheep farming alone is attributed to its advantages, as it has the highest reproduction rate. Therefore it constitutes a great source to which it is referred to ensure the basic needs of the family, whether sold in the areas of population centres on holiday occasions or benefiting from the availability of milk and its derivatives.

Tips to save your life in the desert

  • Calmness and poise

Your nerves mustn’t get out of control, as confusion distracts the mind and wastes a lot of energy from your body. If you can think about the problem and be calm, you will avoid the strong impulse and the urge to walk in search of a way out, and this can worsen matters if you do not know your location.

  • Sun protection

The first enemy here is the sun. If you forget your hat, do not protect your head from the sun’s rays by any other means. Try to cover your body and head with fabrics to avoid extreme heat during the day and extreme cold during the night.

  • Take shelter and ambush

The important thing is that you are protected from the sun. You can take shelter in the shade of your car, some desert plants and pastoral shrubs, or on the north side of any large rock. You can search for food during the cool morning or evening hours.

  • The water you carry only when necessary

Due to the scarcity of water in the desert, you must ration your drinking water. Where you can suffice with a few sips of water throughout the day, try to lick the air from your nose and not from your mouth so that this does not cause you to dry out the mouth and throat, and try not to drink water in hours In extreme heat, this will increase the rate of sweating. Thus you will lose more water from your body.

Slow down when you find water in the desert. The water may be polluted and unsuitable for drinking and cause problems in the digestive system, making things worse. I want to warn you about mirages common in the desert. It is a kind of optical illusion. You can see it.

A distant pool of water in the width of the desert, and when you approach it, you will find nothing but dry sand. The reason for this phenomenon is the refraction of light as it passes through layers of air at varying temperatures.

  • Eat as little food as possible.

It is known that eating will increase thirst, and you have a limited amount of food as well as water. You can look for some desert plants that have edible parts, and here you should be aware that some types are poisonous.

  • Leave a mark

You can set a car tire on fire, for example, or with some pastoral bushes, and the purpose of that is the release of thick smoke that can signify that someone is crying out. Try to use the existing rocks to leave a phrase or word; it is customary to write the comment “SOS”, which is an abbreviation for the words (Save Our Souls).

  • Backup procedures

It is advisable not to make the trip alone, and to use a four-wheel drive car, take an additional battery for the mobile phone or a power bank. Don’t forget to install the GPS global positioning program, try using authorized communication devices Thuraya, and try as much as possible not to move away from the car in case of wandering. It serves as a waypoint for you. It is best to take a map or compass with you.

How to know your direction in a desert?

If you know your location and the direction of the area you intend to head to, you need to know the laws. Recommendations have been recognized since time immemorial by cosmic phenomena such as the sun and stars. Then use the compass. Today modern means of communication are used to determine location and directions.

Compass use

Stand away from magnetic and iron influences. When using a compass, the direction of the needle points to the north. In case you do not carry a compass, or there is no transmission to use a compass in mobile programs or applications, or there is no mobile charging to use satellites. Here, the following must be relied upon:

Make your compass

In case you do not have a compass with you, you can manufacture it in several ways, and this is one of them:

  1. Bring a glass, plastic, or ceramic cup, avoiding a metal bowl
  2. Put two-thirds of the water in it
  3. Place a small piece of paper about an inch square on the water’s surface.
  4. Take a needle or a pin, hold it from the side of the head, and rub it on a silk cloth in one direction.
  5. Place the needle or pin on the paper on the water’s surface. You will see its rotation and the direction of the pointed head towards the magnetic north.
  6. Put the watch on your palm.
  7. Make the hour hand point towards the sun.
  8. Visualize a line connecting the hour hand at noon time (in case you do not know the exact time of noon, the hour hand refers to the number (hour) 12 approximately, depending on your latitude), and take into account daylight savings time.
  9. Mark the angle between the hour hand facing the sun and the imaginary line passing through the hour hand at noon. This bisection indicates the direction south (when you are in the northern hemisphere). But in the southern hemisphere, the bisector points north.

Finding directions from the sun

When you are in the northern hemisphere, noon is when the sun is in the middle of the sky, and the sun’s direction is the direction of the south.

The sun’s path at the equator passes through the middle of the sky. However, in the northern hemisphere, the route deviates to the south. The deviation increases as we move away from the equator. The opposite is true for the hemisphere, where the sun’s path differs in a northerly direction.

The path deviation increases and decreases with the year’s seasons but remains deviant in the same direction. Therefore, the direction of the shadow on the ground is used to indicate the approach to the south. The method for using the shadow is similar to the same idea of using the clock.

Using the Shadow-Tip method

You can observe the shadow of a tree or a standing object, plant a stick in the ground, and then draw a line that matches the stick’s shadow. After a period, the sun will move, and the stick’s shadow will move. Draw another line that matches the shadow. Connect the vertices of the tangent lines (1) and (2). This line from the first point (1) to the second point (2) is a line running from west to east.

In the northern hemisphere, When you stand perpendicular to this line, your direction will be in the order of the stick. You will be facing south, and the other tip will be pointing north. In the southern hemisphere, the direction is north.

Knowing directions by moon and crescent

When the moon appears in the early hours of the night, the illuminated part indicates approximately the direction of the sunset. When the moon appears after midnight in the sky, the luminous part means about the direction of the east. Using this information, you can roughly identify the east-west direction, which can be relied upon when you walk at night.

The crescent method is as follows: imagine a line connecting the two letters of the crescent, then extend that line until it reaches the horizon, the meeting point pointing to the south. It works well when the crescent is high in the sky and not close to the horizon in order to avoid an error. In the southern hemisphere, the point of convergence points to the north.

Finding directions by stars

North Star

When you look at the stars, they rotate, and their locations differ in the sky. Fortunately, one star in the sky does not seem to move from its position. It is called Polaris or the North Star. This star points north.

The famous way to find the North Star is by finding the Polar Bear group of seven plough stars, which go by many names: the Plow, the Big Dipper to Americans, and the saucepan to many others. Within that group, you find the pointer stars in the direction of the North Star. The pointer stars are the two stars forming the outer pot’s letter.

Along the letter of the pot (the two stars) outwards, you find the North Star, and the distance to the star is five times the distance between the two leads, indicative in the direction indicated away and up from the pot. True north is directly below that star.

The polar bear orbits counterclockwise around the North Star. So, it will sometimes appear on its side or even upside down on top of it. But its relationship to the North Star never changes, and it will always refer to the star similarly. The North Star is important in natural navigation because it is located directly above the North Pole.

Other constellations, such as Cassiopeia (M, W), are essential and opposite the North Star from the giant bowl, often high in the sky when the bowl is low or obscured.

Now that you’ve found the North Star (north direction), something about its height above the horizon is worth knowing. Wherever you are in the northern hemisphere, the North Star has the same angle above the horizon as your latitude. Understanding the rise of its elevation in your location lets you know the latitude you are at.

It is measured accurately with a sextant, but you can use the fist of the extended arm to find the angle of elevation. Each ample grip is approximately ten bikes for most people. In a short time, you can determine the direction of the north and estimate the latitude of the place where you are.


Many intelligent and experienced people were lost in the desert because they were not prepared. Anyone in such a situation should think carefully and calmly decide what to do. Often, it is best for people who get lost in the desert to stay where they are.

Stay where the shade is, send signals, and conserve their water while waiting for the search and rescue teams (if there is a person or people who know your original destination, route and expected arrival time. The inability to contact you will raise their suspicions that you are in trouble and that they will report your disappearance to search and rescue teams and those teams will positively search for you.)

If the aforementioned conditions exist, your job is to hunker down and keep your head straight – your cars provide shade and proof of your presence. Finding a car is much easier for rescue teams than seeing a person lost in the vast desert. So, the rule is to stay under the car and wait. The presence of predators, reptiles, and insects may form another dimension to the story and its possibilities, the additional equipment that must be provided, and its impact on decision-making.

If you don’t have a compass, don’t know how to use it, and want to know the directions. If you are in doubt about your information, wait until noon, when the sun is in the middle of the sky. The sun at that time is in the direction of the south in case you are in the northern hemisphere.

To conclude, living in a desert is not easy; many experienced people were lost in it, often because they were unprepared for the unexpected. Anyone in such a situation should think carefully and calmly decide what to do.

You can also read about World’s 10 Most Amazing Deserts, Atacama Desert, The White Desert, Mountains, Rainbows, Hurricanes, Thunderstorms, Islands, Blizzards, Volcanoes and Continents.

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