HOW TO SURVIVE being lost in the desert
While low deserts like the Sahara are extremely harsh and contain few survival aids,
the more common high desert – anywhere above 762m (2500ft), such as Joshua Tree
National Park, much of Utah and the Atacama Desert – has everything you need to
survive, if you know where to look.
1 Cover up. Before you do
anything, build a shelter and/
or cover exposed areas of
skin. Makeshift sunscreen
can be made from mud,
ground-up roots or the white
powder found on Aspen trees
– use anything that creates
a barrier between you and
2 Keep your cool. Evaporative cooling is
one of the most efficient ways to regulate
temperature. Lightly wet some fabric and wrap
it around your neck so it has direct contact
with your jugular blood flow.
3 Drink up. Your body uses up to 2L of water
per day, so begin to preserve the water you
have and start hunting for fresh supplies.
Whatever you do, don’t over-ration – instead,
drink small sips throughout the day.
4 Take up dowsing. To find water, survey the
landscape – water travels from high to low
ground. Also, look for a spot where the tracks
of several animals converge or where the
vegetation changes from dry scrub to a
5 Make your own watering hole. If you can’t
find water, don’t panic – plants drink during
the day, often depleting whatever water is
present. At night, the water table rises again.
Dig a large hole at a likely spot and water will
begin to pool inside it.
6 Bed down. Finally, do what you can to stay
warm at night. The key is to create a barrier
between you and the ground. Air is a terrible
conductor, so the more ‘airy’ the layer, the
warmer you’ll stay.