Africa & Middle East

The 9 Driest Places in the World

With floods and record rainfalls throughout the world in the past few years, thanks to El Nino, it seems like everyone has been talking about the wettest places on earth, but what about the driest? There are numerous places all over our world that receive less than an inch of rainfall annually and even some that haven’t seen rain in years. Whether you want to explore these because you are an adventurer or just want to read about them, here are the nine driest places on the planet.

9. Aoulef, Algeria

This small town located in the country of Algeria and is covered all around with miles of desert. The hot winds from the surrounding deserts make it the hottest and driest place in the country. Receiving less than 12.19mm of rain per year, it is hard to get any relief from the scorching heat.

Thank goodness this town is home to palm trees that provide refuge from the desert heat. Daily average temperatures during the long summers are about 50 degrees Celsius and the sky is nearly always clear throughout the year.

8. Pelican Point, Namibia

This tiny jetty in the sand-dune filled African country of Namibia comes as a surprise to many who learn that indeed it is one of the driest places on earth. Because Pelican Point also happens to be an incredible surfing spot. Pelican Point only receives about 8.13mm of rain annually, but that doesn’t deter surfers who come to catch big waves here.

It seldom gets very hot or very cold here and features the very rare mild variation of the arid climate, due to the cold offshore currents near the bay.

7. Iquique, Chile

This city is actually a port city, which most people assume is cursed with humungous humidity. This is not the case when it comes to Iquique in Chile. This port city is surrounded by the Atacama Desert and receives a mere annual rainfall of 5mm. If you do want to see some rain, plan on being here in January or February, when the small amount of rain does manage to fall.

This town boasts a number of beaches for escaping the dry air and a number of premier beach resorts. The big draw here are waves, which offer some of the best surfing around. With a duty-free status and thus a chaotic duty-free shopping zone along with a beachfront boardwalk and numerous activities, it doesn’t seem to bother anyone that there is practically no rainfall here.

6. Wadi Halfa, Sudan

This picture perfect desert town located dead center in the Sahara and it is one of the sunniest and driest places on Earth, with little to no rain falling every year. About 15,000 people call this place home and it is the point of entry into Sudan for those coming in from Egypt.

This small town is a typical border town full of hassle, paperwork, and dirt; a town most people don’t choose to stay a long time in. What makes this town so dry is the rigorous evaporation and transportation and the dry air of the subtropical desert has a strong influence on the climatic conditions here.

5. Ica, Peru

Having an average of 1 inch of rainfall every year makes Ica, Peru one of the driest climates in the world. Located on the southern side of Lima and bordering the Atacama Desert, this dusty region wasn’t always so dry. Back in 2007 scientists actually found fossil evidence of a species of penguin that used to inhabit the area. The city of Ica attracts people with asthma who say that their symptoms are much better in the dry air that is found here.

Tourism is the main money maker here and Ica is the site of an excellent museum that houses exhibits such as prehistoric artifacts to pre-Colombian funerary bundles and mummies. Huacachina oasis, set in the midst of the sand dunes is another huge tourist draw for international travelers as well as resort seekers from Peru.

4. Luxur, Egypt

It is the first of two cities in Egypt that get the nomination for being one of the driest, hottest and sunniest places in the world. Rainfall doesn’t occur every year here and summertime is unbearably hot with blazing sunshine. The air is mainly dry here but more humid than in Aswan, the second Egyptian city on this list. The sandstorms here can be nasty, lasting for up to two days with winds whipping up to 90 mph and raising the air temperature 20 degrees, which means any raindrops are immediately evaporated into the air.

Luxur also happens to house a good chunk of the world’s antiquities and is referred to as the world’s greatest open-air museum. Thousands come to visit the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, and the Valleys of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens.

3. Aswan, Egypt

It is one of the hottest, sunniest and driest cities in the entire world where average high temperatures are consistently above 40 degrees Celsius. Aswan sees less than 1mm of average annual precipitation and some years doesn’t see any rainfall at all. Aswan also happens to be on the driest inhabited places in the world, as despite unfavorable climatic conditions, it is a favorite tourist spot because of its proximity to the Nile River.

It’s closeness to the Tropic of Cancer contributes to its high temperatures and dry weather and winds that blast the sand at over 100 mph are common around here. It is said that the stones used to build the pyramids at Giza were originally from Aswan’s dry valleys.

2. Atacama Desert, Chile

This desert is situated in South America and the plateau is said to be one of the driest places in the world. Some weather stations here have NEVER received rain, while others have not received any significant rainfall from the 16th century to the 20th century. The region here is so arid that the mountains are totally glacier free. What makes this desert so dry though? The cold water that is transported from Antarctica by Humboldt currents actually prevents the formation of large rain-carrying clouds.

Many have termed this as “the ideal location to forget there is any such thing as water on Earth. A fun fact about this desert, every 5-10 years they have a flowering desert when a historic rainfall happens and causes the desert to flower and bloom with brightly colored flowers and vegetation. This beautiful display of color only lasts a week or so but it truly is an incredible display of what mother nature can hold back from us.

1. Dry Valleys, Antarctica

When you hear the word Antarctica one rarely thinks of anything but ice and glaciers but to everyone’s surprise, Antarctica’s Dry Valleys are actually considered to be the driest place on the planet. These valleys are the largest ice-free region on the continent and receives no rainfall and the climate is devoid of any humidity. The presence of high mountains blocks any ice from the valleys as well.

Scientists have compared this valley’s ecosystem to that of the planets Mars and scientists can be found hard at work here trying to learn more about it. This isn’t a place where you can just fly into and visit, but it is one of the most fascinating places on the planet.