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10 driest places on earth

Do you remember the last summer you spent? Remember the hot jets of air that were blowing past you as you walked on the road or drove a vehicle, lashing at your fingers and face? How many times have you experienced moments of extreme dryness around you, with no moisture in the air outside your body and a parched throat inside your body? How many times have you felt that you have been walking or driving on one of the driest places on earth?

I am sure you must have experienced this kind of weather not much long before. But if you consider it as a dry weather or one of the driest places on earth, you are perhaps mistaken. Or no! You are certainly mistaken!! For if I take you on a journey through some of the driest places on earth, you will definitely be able to feel loads of moisture in the environment around you during summers which you otherwise consider dehydrated.

Wondering, if I am lying? Well, I am not! And you will realize this when I take you on a tour to driest places on earth. Let me caution you that a journey through any one of the driest places on earth is going to be tough. So are you ready? Pack your bags, take hundred bottles of water and hop in my globetrotting vehicle. Let’s begin our trip to the some of those places where it is easier to find needle in a haystack than to find moisture in atmosphere.

Caution! Dryness and dehydration ahead in one of the driest places on earth!!

10. Callao (Peru)

 

Our first stop is in the country that houses the famous wonder of the world, Machu Pichu. The country is famous for its historical buildings and archaeological sites. This is the land of one of the most celebrated early human civilizations on earth, the Incas. The country shares a significant part of its international boundary with the largest water reservoir of the world, the massive Pacific Ocean. Incidentally, the country also boasts of being the land of one of the driest places on earth.

And here is a shock for you all! One of the driest places on earth, which I am talking about, is a city. And this dry city is, by the way, the chief seaport of Peru. Yes, you read it correct. The driest place in Peru is a seaport! And it is none other than Provincia Constituciona, or Callao. Callao is located west of Lima, the capital city of Peru and is a part of Lima Metropolitan Area. The seaport which is one of the driest places on earth, surrounds Lima from the east, north and south, but borders Pacific Ocean on the west.

However, apart from being one of the driest places on earth, Callao also has a vibrant history, whose roots can be traced back to colonial era. It was founded as El Callao by Spanish colonists in 1537. It had just two years since Lima had been founded and within a very short span of time, one of the driest places on earth had metamorphosed into the hub of Spanish commerce. No one knows the origin of the name that came to represent one of the driest places on earth since centuries. Although both Indian and Spanish sources are credited, yet it is well established that the name had been into existence since 1550.

This region is home to a number of islands, some of them being San Lorenzo, the Cavinzas and the Palominos and El Fronton. Any tourist will be taken aback to learn that he is actually walking in one of the driest places on earth. These islands are said to be in their pristine state till date. It is really surprising to see the group of islands, which must otherwise be fully hydrated, constitute one of the driest places on earth. So what is the main reason that accounts to make this group of islands stand in the list of the driest places on earth?

The main reason for the driest places on earth is the extremely low rainfall in this area. The average rainfall received in the region is merely12.192 mm. It is very rare for people to witness rain here and due to transpiration and evaporation rates, it is nearly impossible to grow any plant here. Despite of such a dry weather and its status of being one of the driest places on earth, El Callao is a famous and thriving tourist destination. A historical fortress and an affluent residential area seems to be in total contrast of what is generally expected out of a place that is one of the driest places on earth.

The place has also found mention in famous works of literature. La Ciudad y los Perros by Mario Vargas Llosa talks a lot about this place. In the poem, The Broken Men by Rudyard Kipling, this place is the refuge of the poet even though it is a part of driest places on earth. From the Adventures of Tintin to The City and the Dogs, Callao is an integral part of all of them.

 

9. Aoulef (Algeria)

 

The ninth position in the list of the driest places on earth is Aoulef of Algeria, courtesy the rainfall rate of just 12.19 mm annually. This is one of the one of the driest places on earth, in an already dry country. Will you believe my words when you read that it is a kind of oasis in the huge desert that surrounds it? It is literally impossible to imagine that an oasis can just be one of the driest places on earth! A couple of palm trees separate the town that is home to 21,723 people, from the vast expanse of the Sahara desert.

Daytime temperatures reach 50 degree Celsius in summers and nighttime temperatures are consistent above 30 degree Celsius. If you ever plan to visit this one of the driest places on earth, please don’t be worried about rain spoiling your trip. The sky in this region is always clear. It is a rarity to find any cloud in the sky. The place is the hottest in the month of July, with average temperatures approaching 46.8 degree Celsius, earning it the coveted status of one of the driest places on earth.

The hot and dry winds from the desert suck all the little moisture that the land of Aoulef has, making it further parched and hence one of the driest places on earth. If you ever happen to go to Aoulef, remember to take refuge under the palm trees growing in the oasis.

 

8. Pelican Point (Namibia)

 

The continent of Africa is home to another place, which deserves a place in the records of the driest places on earth. Let’s take a dive into the Atlantic Ocean and dock our vehicle at the coast of Namibia to explore one of the driest places on earth. Namibia, an African country that shares its coast with the mighty Atlantic, is also the land of one of the driest places on earth. And this one of the driest places on earth is also a famous surfing spot. Yes, my fellow readers, it is a surfing spot. And surfing here has the same meaning as riding the waves in the ocean.

So how can a place which is so much lauded as an ideal surfer spot can be termed as one of the driest places on earth? The reason is that this place is like an oasis in the dry country of Namibia in Africa. 8.13 mm – this is the abysmal figure of rainfall in this area. It is really amazing to find the driest places on earth at such remarkable tourist spots where we also have surfing spots sought after by surfers across the globe.

If you ever plan to visit this one of the driest places on earth, don’t forget to pack your surfing suits and surfing boards. The waves will never let you realize that you are reveling in one of the driest places on earth.

 

7. Iquique (Chile)

 

Let us turn our vehicle towards the border region of Peru, where it slightly touches another awesome country called Chile. This narrow strip of land in the massive continent of South America is sandwiched between Andes mountain range to the east and Pacific Ocean to the west and happens to stand proudly in the list of the driest places on earth.

The land of Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas, Republic of Chile is nature at a colossal scale. And while nature can give bounties of flora and fauna, it can also brutally deprive a land of all this, making it one of the driest places on earth. Don’t be shrouded in disbelief, for one of the driest places on earth really exists in the country of Chile. And like El Callao, this city is also a famous port city. The commune of Chile I am talking about is Iquique that is situated on the Pacific coast and shares its boundary with that of Atacama Desert. This port, which comes at seventh position in the list of the driest places on earth, is also one of two free ports of the nation.

In July1835, Charles Darwin visited this one of the driest places on earth. During his voyage on the Beagle, he described this driest place on earth as a town “very much in want of everyday necessities, such as water and firewood”. These were some necessary things that had to be brought in from considerable distances.

The city boasts of a long history, apart from its eminence of being one of the driest places on earth. The port city contains evidence of habitation by Chango people as early as 7,000 BC. However, much is unknown about that period, although in the colonial times, it was a part of Viceroyalty of Peru. Till the end of 19th century, Iquique was very much a part of Peruvian territory. Discovery of mineral resources, particularly sodium nitrate, led to the speedy development of this one of the driest places on earth.

Iquique also has a very important position in the history of the continent. The Battle of Iquique was fought at the harbor of Iquique on May 21, 1879, which is now celebrated as Navy Day. The annual rainfall in this area is just 5.08 mm. The driest places on earth have been observed from such scanty levels of rainfall.

Although the region is one of the driest places on earth, this area attracted a lot of foreigners and a lot of housing projects during the exportation of Chilean saltpeter. The place has also been the home of some greatest Peruvian heroes like Alfonso Ugarte, Ramon Zavala and Guillermo Billinghurst to name a few. An earthquake measuring 8.2 on the Richter scale shook and damaged the city on April 1, 2014, adding to the already existing woes of one of the driest places on earth.

Despite being one of the driest places on earth, the commune of Iquique, according to 2002 census of National Statistics Institute, had an area of 2,835.3 km2 (1,095 sq mi) and 216,419 inhabitants. By 2008, the populace had grown to 226,204 habitants. An astonishing piece of data for one of the driest places on earth!

 

6. Wadi Halfa (Sudan)

 

It is as if the African continent is home to the most of the driest places on earth. Let’s return to Africa in our globetrotting vehicle. I am going to park it at Sudan. The country of Pyramid of Meroe, is the place where you will find one of the driest places on earth. Let me take you there in a second. Welcome to Wadi Halfa, that is situated on the shores of Lake Nasser and happens to be one of the driest places on earth.

The town, which is one of the driest places on earth, is located amidst the numerous Nubian antiquities, which attracted a lot of archaeological work by teams striving to check the damage to these artifacts by the flooding caused by the completion of Aswan dam.

With the sands of Nubian Desert, which forms the eastern edge of Sahara, the city of 15,000 people stands at sixth rank in the list of the driest places on earth. The region receives a terrible 2.45 mm of rainfall in a year. To add to the woes of this region, rigorous evaporation and transpiration rates siphon off all the little moisture of this place. The sand dunes of Sahara and the dry climate have a strong influence on the climatic conditions of this one of the driest places on earth.

Archaeological evidences have suggested that this one of the driest places on earth was also the home of many inhabitants in the ancient era and during the Middle Kingdom period. The city came into existence in the 19th century, when the steamers from Aswan used it during their journey on Nile. Moreover, during the Turko-Egyptian conquest of 1820, this one of the driest places on earth was used as a transit point for troops moving to the south. The region also entered a period of violent turbulence in 1885, after falling under the Mahdiya regime.

The highest temperature recorded in this one of the driest places on earth is 53 degree Celsius, which is around the month of April. Even though it appears in the list of driest places on earth, agriculture and fishing industry are booming in this region.

If you ever plan to visit this one of the driest places on earth, don’t be bothered about lack of seafood. Although it is extremely difficult to digest the fact that one of the driest places on earth can also be a big market for seafood, but don’t worry; Wadi Halfa won’t let you starve even if it is known as one of the driest places on earth.

 

5. Ica (Peru)

 

Home comes calling!! Remember, we started our journey from the lands of Peru? It is time to return to the place again. Founded in 1563, by a Spanish conquistador named Gerónimo Luis de Cabrera, this capital of Ica Region is situated on the banks of Ica River and is also the home to one of the driest places on earth.

Excavation of fossil remains of prehistoric penguins and discovery of the remains of an ancient civilization forces everyone to raise eyebrows in astonishment on learning that Ica is today one of the driest places on earth. The remains of people from societies of Inca and Paracas have given gravity to the fact that this place was once habituated by people. The desert coast of Peru is adjoining the city of Ica. With 2.29 mm of rainfall received on an annual basis, Ica stands as one of the driest places on earth.

But don’t be mistaken that this place is useless. Although it is one of the driest places on earth, yet it observes a windfall in the number of tourists. The main tourist attraction in this one of the driest places on earth is Museo Regional de Ica. It is a regional museum which houses several exhibits ranging from prehistoric artifacts to the Spanish colonial era. The prolonged periods of sunshine have made Ica as an ideal place for growing crops like cotton, grapes, asparagus and olives, regardless of the city holding the title of one of the driest places on earth.

Famously called as the ‘Land of the Sun’, this one of the driest places on earth has to rely on aquifer fed by glacial melt water. Since human remains never decompose without humidity, existence of pre-Columbian mummies holds relevance in this one of the driest places on earth.

 

4. Luxor (Egypt)

 

Let’s go down the lanes of time and end up visiting the land which had a lot of prominence during the time of the pharaohs. Apart from being one of the driest places on earth, it is also the site of ancient city of Thebes. Although the place has been a failure in attracting precipitation, yet it has attracted a lot of tourists from around the world since decades. When it comes to the question of natural showers, this one of the driest places on earth has to be content only with an average of 0.862 mm of rainfall in a year.

During the “cool” season in the city, a hot wind known as khamsin occasionally blows in from the nearby Western Desert and may bring a sandstorm with it. The storms have the capacity to keep whipping the lands of Luxor for two days continuously and increase the temperature by 20 degrees. It is not difficult to digest the fact that any raindrop that cares to fall on Luxor is immediately evaporated by the hot air. I am sure now you have no doubts about how Luxor became one of the driest places on earth.

However, this one of the driest places on earth has been frequently characterized as the “world’s greatest open air museum”. Guess why? It is because the ruins of the temple complexes at Karnak and Luxor stand within the premises of the modern city. And if you venture out to immediately opposite, across the River Nile, you will come across the monuments, temples and tombs of the West Bank Necropolis, which includes the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens.

During the New Kingdom, Luxor was the ancient city of Thebes. It was also renowned as the magnificent city of the god Amon-Ra. By the start of 11th Dynasty, the town grew into a thriving city, famed for its high status and luxury. According to Wikipedia, “the city attracted peoples such as the Babylonians, the Mitanni, the Hittites of Anatolia (modern-day Turkey), the Canaanites of Ugarit, the Phoenicians of Byblos and Tyre, the Minoans from the island of Crete.” The climate of Luxor is extremely dry throughout the year. It receives average rainfall of less than 1 mm annually. This city in the deserts of Sahara is one of the driest ones in the world. Rainfall here is not a phenomenon that occurs every year. The air of this city beats Aswan in humidity but not in dryness. Who would have ever thought that it will be one of the driest places on earth?

The city, these days, has the hottest summer days of any other city in Egypt. According to Wikipedia, Luxor is one of the hottest, sunniest and driest cities in the world.

 

3. Aswan (Egypt)

 

To know the third driest place on earth, we need not travel across international boundaries of Egypt this time, for the third driest place on earth lays in the city of Aswan in the country of Egypt itself. Although the city is situated on the east bank of river Nile, yet the weather makes it quite dehydrated.

The city of Aswan, despite of being at the third rank in the list of driest places on earth, is a busy and flourishing market and tourist centre. The modern city is actually the contemporary version of the ancient city of Swennet. Swennet faces south and was the frontier town of Ancient Egypt. Since the Ancient Egyptians oriented towards the origin of their lifeline – the waters of Nile, Swennet automatically became the first town in the country of Egypt. This one of the driest places on earth was conceived to be the opening or beginning of Egypt.

Swennet was a military station as well. Each dynasty used this one of the driest places on earth as a garrison town. Any boat going northward or moving southward, had to pay toll fee at this location. Aswan, along with Luxor, is also one of the hottest, sunniest and driest places on earth. Winters are periods of bliss in Aswan as they bring pleasant warmth. But the winters don’t last very long. Summers are unbearable in this one of the driest places on earth, with sun scorching over the surface of earth accompanied with dry heat of desert.

What makes matters worse is the fact that Aswan is one of the least humid cities on the planet. It has an average relative humidity of only 26%. The maximum mean of 42% humidity is reached during winter and a minimum mean of 16% during summer, making it quite evident why Aswan is rated to be one of the driest places on earth.

The region observes only 1 to 2 mm of rainfall in every 5 years. Talking about annual precipitation, it is a pathetic 0.861 mm. It is reportedly one of the driest places on earth that is inhabited. Yet again, like Luxor, this city is certainly bereft of rain but not devoid of enthusiasm. Tourists keep flowing in the third driest places on earth, due to presence of Nile nearby. The region does not get an iota of cool breeze from the ocean. Thanks to the proximity to the Tropic of Cancer, high temperatures and dry weather are unavoidable in the third driest place on earth. It is a common phenomenon to observe hot winds lashing the sand at 100 mph.

 

2. Atacama Desert (Chile)

 

Let us end our journey in the country of pharaohs and let’s wave goodbye to Egypt. Please allow me to take you back to Chile. Another terrestrial expanse in the narrow strip of land in South America awaits your arrival, as it is also one of driest place on earth. This plateau, that covers 1,000 km ribbon of land, lies on the Pacific coast, west of the Andes Mountains. This is a terrain of stones, salt lakes, and sand and felsic lava.

The vast expanse of the desert is debated to be the driest place on earth. The average rainfall is 0.6 inches per year. And please don’t be shocked when I say that at some places the rainfall even reaches a nadir of 0.04 inches to 0.12 inches a year. Some weather stations are reported to have never received rain at all.

There is considerable amount of evidence to suggest that the Atacama may not have had any significant rainfall from 1570 to 1971. Adding to the shock you may have just got, let me also tell you that geological research suggests that in some fractions of the Atacama Desert, hyperaridity has persisted for the last 200 million years, i.e. implies since the Triassic period. Even most of the peaks in the mountain region, which are higher than 6,000 metres, are devoid of glaciers.

The Chad’s drought has left some river beds for the last 120,000 years. A phenomenon called antiplan winter occurs in January and February. It involves a little rain but a lot of thunderstorms, which lash this one of the driest places on earth.

Let me tell you something interesting about this place. Have you ever dreamt of visiting Mars at-least once in your lifetime? If yes, your dreams can come true once you visit Atacama Desert. Hey, don’t frown in disbelief. In a region about 100 kilometers south of Antofagasta, the soil has been compared to that of Mars. Owing to its alien appearance, there has been filming of many Mars scenes. One of the most memorable filming was in Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets.

In spite of its dryness and hyperaridity, Atacama Desert teems with a wide variety of flora. Can you imagine that currently 500 known species have evolved within the border of this enormous desert which is widely considered to be one of the driest places on earth? Talking about its fauna, the extreme harsh climate limits the number of animals that can survive in the driest place on earth. Outside of the extreme areas, some animals like sand-colored grasshoppers, desert warps and butterflies exist. The desert is also home to red scorpions.

No wonder this inferno is one of the driest places on earth.

 

1. Dry Valleys (Antarctica)

How about a place filled with water, yet be the driest place on earth? Unbelievable, right? If your answer was yes, please put some second thoughts on your response. Our last stop in this journey is the continent that is filled with water, but in a different state and solid form. Welcome to the continent of Antarctica! A place where you will find the driest place on earth!! The Dry Valleys of Antarctica are considered to be the driest place on earth. The largest ice-free regions of the continent, receive no rainfall and the climate is largely devoid of an iota of humidity. The high and formidable mountains block the incoming seaward flowing ice from the valleys, creating the driest places on earth.

They are rows of snow-free valleys located within Victoria Land, west of McMurdo Sound. And these regions constitute the driest places on earth. This region is a perfect example of paradox. Even with interesting features like Lake Vida and River Onyx, the longest river of Antarctica, this region is one of the driest places of earth and home to world’s most extreme deserts.

This driest place on earth mimics Mars in its ecosystem. Such unique conditions are caused, in part, by powerful katabatic winds blowing in these regions. These winds occur when cold, dense air is pulled downhill by the force of gravity. The stunning thing about these winds is that they can reach speeds of 200 mph (322 kph), heating as they descend, and evaporating all water, ice and snow.

Even in these sub-freezing temperatures under the Taylor Glacier, anaerobic bacteria live. Their metabolism is based on iron and sulfur. Part of the Valleys has been designated as an environmentally protected area since 2004. Scientists are now studying the ecosystem of this region to develop a better understanding of the surface of the Red Planet, i.e. Mars.

So now you have been on a tour to the driest places on earth. And you have also noticed that life exists, subverting all paradigms, in such dire situations as well. Many of the driest places on earth had been teeming with tourists from across the globe. Let’s end the trip here itself. I am sure that you must have enjoyed the tour to the driest places on earth. I wonder if your water bottles still have dregs of water in them!

So, the next time you are planning to go to some desolate spot for trekking or are looking for some romantic and cozy place to be with your better half, think of these places. May be you will end up exploring and unraveling many other facts about these driest places on earth which the entire population is still unaware about.