Would Sandshrew be waiting for us among the sand dunes?

Living in Tokyo, we realize we’re sort of spoiled by having such easy access to some of the world’s greatest Pokémon GO hunting grounds. Sure, it’s nice to be able to fill up big chunks of our Pokédexes so quickly, but can we really call ourselves Pokémon Masters when living in such a densely populated area means we’re essentially playing the game on easy mode?

And so we decided to test our skills in a more challenging environment: the Sahara Desert.


After hopping on a plane and flying to Morocco, we eventually reached the village of Merzouga. After sweeping our gaze over the dunes that seemed to stretch infinitely into the distance, we turned our eyes to our smartphone and fired up Pokemon GO.


As we’d expected, the map was a vast expanse of nothingness. No roads. No landmarks. Just our Pokémon Trainer, standing all alone in the desert.

But wait, what’s that in the corner of the screen?


There was a Pokémon somewhere in the area, a Machop, to be precise! Now that we knew it was, in fact, possible to catch Pocket Monsters nearby, we decided to use some incense, rather than go wandering around the desert in the midday heat.


And just 10 seconds after we selected the item, a fiery Ponyta sauntered up to us!

▼ He even seemed to be nuzzling us, as if to say “Sorry to keep you waiting all by yourself.”


Unfortunately, the Ponyta broke out of the Poké Ball we tried to capture it in. However, before our incense’s effect ran out, we managed to catch five other Pokémon species: a Growlithe, a Sandshrew, an Ekans, a Cubone, and a Machop.



The game also told us that there were Rhyhorns and Charmanders in the vicinity, though sadly we weren’t able to track them down.

▼ Like Ponyta, we’re guessing Charmander has no problem coping with the heat of the Sahara, given that he’s perpetually on fire.


So it turns out that, in terms of variety, the Sahara Desert actually isn’t such a bad Pokémon GO venue. However, there are two things we should point out. First, there are absolutely no PokéStops to be found anywhere, so you’ll have to procure your Pocket Monster-hunting supplies elsewhere and be very careful with your Poké Ball tosses. Second, make sure you keep an extremely close eye on your phone’s battery level. Pokémon GO is a notoriously power-thirsty app, and should you run out of juice in the desert, not only might you not find the Pokémon you were about to catch, search parties might not find you if you get lost and can’t call for help.

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