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Deserts typically have hot, arid climates, and can be dangerous regions for inexperienced hikers. Desert trekking, however, is a popular activity in these types of regions, especially in Africa. Desert trekkers need plenty of fluids and a plan for carrying and purifying water on their trip. It is also important to take proper clothing and other gear for the harsh desert environment. Another tip for desert trekking is to train properly for the grueling experience.
Hydration is most important while trekking in a desert. Dehydration can cause some serious physical problems. Most doctors recommend a person should drink about 2 quarts (1.89 liters) of water each day. Desert trekking, however, drastically increases this need, and most trekking experts would recommend that a person consume at least 1 gallon (3.7 liters) of water each day. Water is very heavy to carry, so most desert trekking enthusiasts use camels or all-terrain vehicles in these regions.
During a desert trekking expedition, it is easy to run short of water. This can happen if hikers are separated from the main group, or if the main water supply is spilled. Knowing where to find water in these kinds of emergency situations is important.
The most obvious place to find water in a desert is at an oasis. In some cases, an oasis can be found by looking for flocks of birds or animals moving in one direction, usually toward a water source. Water can sometimes be found by digging a few feet below the surface of the ground, especially in dried stream beds, at the base of rocky cliffs, and near green vegetation. The fleshy pulp inside most species of cactus is also excellent sources of water.
Dressing appropriately for desert trekking is also important. Experts typically recommend that trekkers wear light colored clothing, which reflects sunlight. Exposed skin can easily become damaged by the sun, so most desert trekkers do not wear shorts or short sleeves. Instead, they opt for long sleeves and pants made from a light, breathable fabric. A hat and sunglasses can help keep the sunlight out of a trekker's eyes and face.
Proper footwear is stressed because walking over sand or rough terrain is one of the largest parts of desert trekking. Desert boots are considered ideal, but any lightweight boots that allow air to circulate are acceptable. Desert trekking can cause a person's feet to sweat a lot, so packing extra socks is also recommended.
A lightweight comfortable backpack should also contain the essentials that a person will need while desert trekking, including sunscreen and lip balm. Bottles of water are a necessity, and it is also a good idea to carry chlorine or iodine tablets for purifying naturally found water. Small snacks, such as protein bars, are a good way to keep hunger at bay and give a person a boost of needed energy. The desert tends to be cool at night, so many trekkers also include a blanket, extra layers of clothes, matches to start a fire, and a lightweight tent.
Evening and morning temperatures in deserts are typically cool, so many desert trekking groups walk during these hours and rest during the hot afternoon. A tent that is able to be set up quickly can make a nice shady place to rest. Tents, like clothing, should be a light color so they will reflect the rays of the sun.
Treks are physically demanding, so a person should be in good health for this type of activity. Training before a desert trek is also important. Experienced trekkers will sometimes train for months before setting out on a trek. Most trekking organizations will offer a training guide, along with tips.