Desert Riding certainly has its attractions. One of them is that the footing is often favorable for a fast paced ride. Another is that desert country is sparsely populated with few fences and little traffic which has denied many places to horsemen in modern times.
Austere desert landscape can also be very beautiful and since it is usually away from big population centers it has clear air and long views. Another big advantage is that you can usually leave your raincoat at home and count on sunny weather. Many a trip in Ireland has been dampened by incessant rain which is unlikely in the Kalahari.
Perhaps the Sahara in southern Morocco best personifies the classic image most of us have of a true desert ride with camels and towering, golden sand dunes. The spectacular windblown sand dune of Erg Chebbi near one of your camps rises 500 ft. above the desert floor. This was the southernmost point reached by Roman civilization and inhospitable treeless desert stretches over a thousand miles to the south. This is the kind of country where Arab and Berber horses had their origins so your horses are well suited to carry you through this rugged and beautiful countryside.
A quintessential desert ride is from central Namibia to the sea covering about 250 miles in nine days of riding. It is the most demanding of Equitours rides from the point of view of stamina. This area is so harsh and arid that there is little game, but one does see the occasional oryx which can survive for long periods without water. The Kalahari ride traverses flat salt pans which used to be a huge lake. Now it provides wonderful footing for long, relaxed canters. It is not as harsh and arid an area as the Ride to the Sea and one often sees wildlife like wildebeest, hartebeest, zebra and ostrich which migrates through seasonally.
The Nagaur Fair ride in northwest India takes you across part of the Thar Desert which stretches on into Pakistan. The start of the ride is more camel than horse country and riders can visit the National Camel Research Station in Bikaner at the start of trip. There are oases on the itinerary and somehow a few local people manage to grow meager crops here and there. In some places wells used for irrigation have had to be abandoned as the water table sinks from overuse of the aquifers from modern pumping techniques. Nights are spent in tented camps and there is a vehicle accompanying with showers and toilets. The local Marwari horses will give you some brisk canters on the sandy tracks used mostly for camel carts.
In the US the Navajoland Ride certainly qualifies as a desert ride. Agriculture is only possible with irrigation and water for that purpose is scarce. This area is the former home of the highly developed Anasazi culture which disappeared a thousand years ago, probably due to climate change which reduced the available water supply. The terrain here is often too rocky for fast paces, but stream beds like the Canyon de Chelly often offer good spots for cantering.