A Tourist's Perspective on the Lut Desert
The Lut Desert, or Dasht-e Lut, is one of Iran’s most distinct natural regions. It is recognized as Iran’s first UNESCO World Heritage natural site and is a unique testimony to ongoing geological processes. Between the months of Khordad to mid-Mehr, the desert experiences tropical winds and sandstorms, creating natural formations reminiscent of those found only on Mars, making it a singular natural attraction. Located in southeastern Iran, “Lut” in Baluchi means barren, devoid of water and vegetation. The desert mainly consists of dunes and is spread across three provinces: Sistan and Baluchestan, South Khorasan, and Kerman. It is among the world’s most extensive Deserts, spanning a vast 900 kilometers in length and 300 kilometers in width. One of its major attractions is the Kalout Shahdad, the only accessible route into the Lut Desert. To reach Kalout Shahdad, one must first enter the city of Kerman.
This area is divided into three colors, with only the green section accessible without a permit and guide. Depending on its geographical features, the Lut Desert is segmented into three areas: the northern Lut, with volcanic hills; the central Lut, boasting magnificent dunes and salt flats; and the southern Lut, which was the cradle of ancient civilizations and is relatively more fertile. Intriguingly, the Lut Desert is recorded as the hottest spot on Earth, with a temperature of 70.7°C in 2005. Central sections lack flora and fauna, but resilient plant species and occasional wildlife can be spotted during cooler seasons. One of the desert’s highlights is the massive “Nabkhas” or sand pots holding numerous Ghaz trees. While these reach up to three meters in the African Sahara, they can be found towering up to ten meters in the Lut Desert. This phenomenon appears exclusive to Iran’s central desert. Though vast sections of the desert seem untouched by man, artifacts and signs over 3,000 years old have been discovered, hinting at an ancient civilization’s presence. Another fascinating aspect is the existence of a lake in the desert’s heart, a surprising feature given its arid nature. However, due to its proximity to the Kerman mountains and the flowing waters during the rainy seasons, parts of the desert become saturated, giving birth to these water bodies that further enhance its beauty.