how to cope with the heat in the desert

5 Tips for coping with desert heat

We won’t lie, it’s hot, very hot in the desert.

Here are some tips you can follow, mostly learned from nomads living in the desert, to allow you to enjoy your desert trek with ease, despite the heat.

The basics

Let’s start with the basics of sun protection :

> Protect your head with a hat, head scarf or cap

>Protect your eyes with Category 3 or 4 sunglasses

> Protect y our skin if it isn’t covered with Factor 50 sun cream

Tuareg Bedouin from the Moroccan Sahara

1- Protecting yourself from uv light

During hot weather, we tend to want to take our clothes off, this is a very bad good idea! The skin is then exposed to ultraviolet rays and becomes especially exposed to burning and heat stroke.


The whole body must be protected. Indeed, Bedouins usually cover themselves in two layers, including a dark outer layer. There are two reasons for this:

- their skin is almost entirely covered by the fabric so they are protected from UV light

-a refreshing breeze is created by the air moving between the 2 layers of clothes 

It’s worth noting that not all clothing offers the same UV protection. A basic, thin t-shirt will let through a lot of UV rays to pass through and will not protect you as well as a garment with a guaranteed UPF of 40 or 50.

‘UPF 40’ means that the fabric only lets in 1/40th of UV rays. 

So, cover up when going out in the desert!

sunset in the Sahara

2- Avoid walking at 2 pm

When in the desert, you have to learn to take your time and live according to the rhythm of the sun. The best time for walking is: in the early hours of the day and at sunset. 

In the meantime, do as the nomads do and take a nap.

We aren’t accustomed to this, but taking a break in the shade of a tree lets you recover and lets your body temperature drop to enable you to set off again once the temperatures are more favourable!

Bedouin from the Sahara serving tea

3- Drink a lot and often

We’re not teaching you anything you don’t already know: in extreme heat, it is advisable to drink a lot, but especially taking small sips!


And that’s where we can learn a lot from Bedouin rituals: having hot drinks is more refreshing. In fact, having hot drinks makes you perspire and when this perspiration evaporates, it lowers the body temperature.

So, the tradition of drinking green tea in the Sahara has real benefits!

meals in the desert

4 – eating salty foods

When you perspire a lot, the body loses a lot of mineral salts. It’s this loss of salt that can sometimes causes undesirable effects such as muscle cramps, dizzy spells etc 

So, choose salty snacks
(salted dried fruits, for example) to increase your salt intake.

a night in the desert under the stars

5 – cover up in the evening

As amazing as it may seem, as soon as the sun disappears, you can feel a little chilly. In fact, temperatures do drop at night! Add to this mild sunstroke during the day and you will soon find yourself shivering.


In this case, the best remedy is to add a warm layer (fleece or down jacket) but also get closer to the wood fire that the nomads make every evening.

Here again, it’s not just a tradition, it’s also the fact that everyone is looking for a little warmth in the evening after a day’s walk in the desert.

Dehydration: how to detect and treat it?

An extra tip

If you pass close to a watering place, make sure you immerse your hat, cap or headscarf: when the water in the soaked fabric evaporates, it refreshes the head!

More advice on the desert



So, you have finally decided to go and explore the desert!Yes, but where should we start?Start with reading this article.

Desert trekking organisation Morocco


Do you want to go trekking in the desert ?We explain what it's all about in our guide!

Desert trekking how to wear a tagelmust

How to wear a tagelmust?

Do you have a tagelmust but you don't know how to tie it? Our video will teach you put it on easily!