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5 Tips on how to Survive in the Desert

Updated on September 5, 2012


Have you ever been stranded in the desert?

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Have you imagined yourself being trapped in a desert? Although this kind of situation mostly happens only in the world of dreams, there is no assurance that you won't be facing the wrath of the desert at some point in your life. In order to survive this challenge, knowledge and skills are not enough. Luck is one thing you should never ran out of if you are stuck in the desert. Your main goal is to survive in the desert for as long as possible, enough for a rescuer to find you. Here are some basic but important tips you need to know while fighting your way to escape a hellish desert!


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It is never easy to find a water source in a desert. This is one problem you should face. Being resourceful is your main weapon here. Although it might seem impossible, you will certainly pull it through with perseverance. Always be on the lookout for any kind of water source. Here are three sources of water which you should look forward for.

  • Desert Oasis - Finding a desert oasis can be a very big challenge but it's definitely possible. Your best move to find one is to be the highest ground. By being on a higher point, you'll have a clear view on the things up ahead. It is also easier to search for an oasis on the said location. Try too look for places where there is vegetation. If there are plants, water deposits are certainly near. However, if an oasis suddenly appeared in front of you, you might be hallucinating. This is a common experience shared by most desert travelers especially with extreme exhaustion, hunger and thirst.
  • Cactus - This option should be one of your last resorts. It is true that cactus can store a huge amount of water on their barrel-like stems. Nonetheless, water from these plants often have high amounts of oxalic acid which can lead to diarrhea especially if you drink it with an empty stomach. Despite the dangers associated with this source of water, Native desert settlers and people who got lost in the desert regard these plants as one of the best sources of water in the desert.
  • Soil - Most of us are unaware that there are also muddy parts in the desert. You can usually see them behind the shade of big rocks or on places which were once an oasis and dried up due to climate change. You can suck out the moisture from the soil and drink from it. You can use your shirt for this matter. Although most of us might find this a bad option because of all the dirt that might come with the water, it's still better than dying out of thirst.
  • Desert Animals - Snakes and scorpions are common in the desert. Although they are very dangerous, their blood is also a good source of water. The only problem is on how you can catch these desert predators without being killed. Desert snakes are well adapted to the environment so they are most likely camouflaged. If you spotted one, get a long stick and hit it as hard as you can while targeting the head. As for scorpions, you need to disable their main weapon which is their tail. Remember to keep safe and only engage on such a life-threatening move if there is no other option.


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Avoid Mood Swings
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Maintain Cardiovascular Health

Do not overdo yourself. Having enough amount of rest after a long walk is very important to bring back the energy you just lost. Keep in mind that strolling in the park and walking your way on a desert are two different situations. The heat will drain all your energy and tire you ten times faster. Try to improvise a hat. You can use your handkerchief or a towel to do so. It might be very simple but it does the job in protecting your head from being directly exposed to the scorching heat of the sun. If you seen a shade, take some time to rest even if you don't feel tired at all. Search for anything which can serve as an umbrella. Here are some places in the desert which you can have a long rest.

  • Rocky hills - Aside from the possibility of finding a water source and having a good view to search for destination, rocky hills are perfect for resting. The shade produced by huge rocks offers a good place to have a rest. It is also the best place for you to sleep. Although it might also be dangerous as desert snakes and scorpions are most likely to live on these places as well, you just don't have any other choice. Setting up a fire is almost impossible in the desert given you have nothing to burn. Just find a comfortable place and pray that God will not put you in harms way.
  • Desert Oasis - As previously mentioned, desert oasis are hard to find but your search is definitely worth it. Not only will the place provide you with water, an abundance of vegetation and shade makes it the best place to rest. It's a good idea to pack up all the things you might need on the journey before leaving the oasis.
  • Build a Camp - This option is almost impossible but it can be done especially if you came with a parachute or a plane crash. Be creative and create a camp with enough shade and protection against desert predators. You can use the seats of the plane to keep you elevated from the ground while resting and the parachute as the roofing.


You are left with almost nothing while stuck in the middle of the desert. Be resourceful and collect things which can help you in along the way. You might think that the desert is empty but there are a numerous things which you can come across with that can be very helpful. Surviving the desert is not only a battle of will and strength but of strategy as well. Here are some things you should never disregard while on a journey to survive in the desert.

  • Long sturdy stick - Trees are rare in the desert that is why if you find a strong stick, grab it at once! You can use it to support yourself and aid you while walking. It is also a good tool to ward of desert snakes. scorpions and other threats. It can also serve as a weapon and a tool for digging. A long sturdy stick is certainly a must in the desert. The best part of all, you can find one and no one will charge you for it.
  • A piece of cloth - Being well protected from the heat of the sun is a must. By doing so, you can avoid sweating too much which can result to thirst. Covering your body with any cloth is a good idea to keep your body unexposed from the sun. Although it is quite rare to find a piece of cloth in the middle of the desert, it is still possible given there were desert travelers who journeyed on the same path before you.
  • Desert Snakeskin - If you are brave and skillful enough to kill a desert snake, you can use it's skin as a body covering. Snake skin has been regarded as a good material for clothes, bags and shoes. Although there is no way for you to make them fashionable on this kind of situation, their skin can be an alternative to clothing. Keep in mind that desert snakes have lived on such an environment throughout their lives so their skin offers one of the best protection against the heat of the sun.


Desert Name
Lowest Temperature
Highest Temperature
-0.5 °C
50 °C
50 °C
Great Victoria
53.1 °C
Great Basin
−9 °C
56.7 °C
−7 °C
54 °C

What most of us do not know, heat is not only the problem you are bound to face in the desert. At night, the temperature can drop tremendously. You can somehow easily survive a day in the desert but as the sun sets, you'll certainly freeze to death. This is the main reason why you should do your best to create fire. Debris, dried woods, and anything which you can find around you can be burnt to provide you enough warmth to survive the night. The main challenge here is creating a fire without a match or lighter. You can use the sun's heat to do so if you have a magnifying glass with you. Banging two stones to create a spark is also a good idea. Everything is totally dried up in a desert so burning them is not a problem. Start collecting things before the sun sets and immediately start a bonfire before you can't use the sun's aid to create fire.


In any given situation, prayer is still the best weapon one can have to survive in the desert. He will always be there at times of trouble. Amidst all the sufferings you are bound to encounter in the hellish desert, He will always give you comfort. The tools that you might find along the way are heaven sent. There is nothing coincidental in this world. The stick is meant to stay there so you can use it in your journey. Understand HIS plan and you will see the deeper meaning why you are left alone in the desert. Treat it as the perfect time to reach out and know Him better. Pray for guidance, protection and health. Trust in Him and do everything you can to survive and you'll find yourself in the arms of the one's you hold dear in no time.


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    • TomBlalock profile image


      6 years ago from Hickory, NC

      This was an interesting read, and gave me some food for thought. I'd add that there are some grammatical and spelling errors, but not too many.

      In regards to your comment about oxalic acid present in cacti, I wonder if it's possible to filter out the acid with any of the consumer water filters, or through another means?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      you don't spell that correctly the person who did this.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      ... You know your 'highest' temperature for Antarctica is inaccurate, right? You should switch the lowest and highest numbers.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      l,ve never been lost in the dersert give me same tips plz

    • Alma Cabase profile imageAUTHOR

      Alma Cabase 

      8 years ago from Philippines

      No problem! I'm really grateful my hub helped you in any way. Have a nice day!

    • profile image

      Lalon Shoeb 

      8 years ago


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      omg this web sit on the interweb is awesome.

      P.S you are a poo poo head.

    • profile image

      Mitchell Gallagher 

      9 years ago

      I live in Austraila and it is very hot and we are doing a school thing for desert and the info from here is a big help.

    • Woody Marx profile image

      Woody Marx 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I've never been lost in a 'real world' desert, but did have a dream recently where I was lost in a dream-desert, and I believe I would never have survived if I had not previously read your Hub. It provided me with enough information to find a dream-oasis and actually it was so pleasant, sitting by the palm tree and dangling my feet in the cool water that I didn't want to wake up! You saved my life--in a virtual sense anyway. Thanks!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      wow that is so interesting

    • Alma Cabase profile imageAUTHOR

      Alma Cabase 

      9 years ago from Philippines

      @Iguidenetwork Thank you very much for liking my hub...

    • iguidenetwork profile image


      9 years ago from Austin, TX

      Pretty interesting

    • skys profile image

      Samad Aslam Khan 

      9 years ago

      Took time to read but in the end very useful information I got. Some interesting facts were mentioned here too which were a bit astonishing for me.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      10 years ago from Wales

      Very interesting and I now look forward to reading many more by you.

      Take care


    • angemac23 profile image


      10 years ago from Canada

      Very useful Information!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      A traffic accent on a crowded street, enormous dust trails, close calls with many vehicles along the countryside, trespassing through an occupied quarry that is under construction, the destruction at the gas station, and let's not forget the motorbike cop who was brutally smashed.

    • Alma Cabase profile imageAUTHOR

      Alma Cabase 

      10 years ago from Philippines


      Yup. It's good to be prepared at all times. You will never know..

      Thank you for commenting.



    • Onechanceisenough profile image


      10 years ago

      I don't live near the desert, but this is good advise. Know I know what to do if that ever happens.

    • Alma Cabase profile imageAUTHOR

      Alma Cabase 

      10 years ago from Philippines


      Thank you for appreciating my work. I would love to visit California soon. Well, that is if my boss pays me a bit more. Haha..

      Take care.



    • BukowskiBabe profile image


      10 years ago from Somewhere in the middle of it all.

      Interesting Hub. I lived in the low desert in California, and it's very hot there. Hate to think of being lost in any desert...useful tips.


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