The Kharidian Desert is one of my favorite areas in Runescape, and after such a long break it was a pleasure returning there for some exploration.
This desert has a unique survival system where you must carry waterskins in your inventory to remain hydrated and wear white desert robes to keep as fresh as possible. Run out of water and you'll start losing health until you either find a safespot, such as a town or cave, or until you die.
It's home to a blend of egyptian and arabian themed villages, camps, ancient pyramids and wildlife. The local population worships deities inspired of egyptian mythology. There are even flying carpets you can use for 200gp a ride.
I went for the first quest you come across when entering the desert, The Tourist Trap, and it was one hell of a good quest. It's started by speaking to Irena just outside of Shantay Pass, who is crying because her daughter has gone missing. As with most quests, it's presented in a humorous tone:
Following her footsteps I quickly found out she was kidnapped by local slavers. Crossing the desert is an immersive experience, even for a game with such graphics. It's made me wonder why I've so rarely seen desert themed areas in MMOs.
I had a lot of bribing and persuasion to do, it was the main theme and difficulty. It got quite tricky a few times as I had to not only figure out which dialogue options were the correct ones, but in some cases also explore the environment and speak to other NPCs to unlock those options.
Selecting the wrong options would sometimes cause me to get jailed, and I'd have to break out and run all the way back to the slave camp. Wielding any sort of weapon within the slave camp would also get me jailed, which prevented me from just killing the guards and making it through some parts of the quest easily.
Rescuing Ana wasn't all that easy until I figured out what I had to do. It came with some fun, humorous dialogue as I put her in a barrel which then appeared in my inventory as "Ana in a barrel".
Right after rescuing her and having her reunite with her mother, she immediately decided to become an adventurer and set out to explore the desert. The quest came with the ability to craft darts and some experience in Smithing and Agility (which I could have distributed on two other skills).
The Kharidian Desert is one of the most immersive areas in this game and I've had great fun during this first adventure. There's plenty more desert quests out there and I know I'll enjoy the next ones, namely the very difficult Desert Treasure.