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Lut Desert

Lut Desert (Dasht-e Lut)

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Lut Desert is a vast desert that covers about 10% of Iran. Lut Desert is one of the most extremely arid and warm regions of the world with an area of ​​120,000 square kilometers. This area is full of unknowns. For a long time, the central Gandom-e Beryan (or Rig-e Soukhteh) near this desert was considered the hottest spot on the planet, and of course, some people mistakenly consider it to be the largest desert in the world. There are 24 other deserts in the world that are larger than the Lut Desert, and more interestingly, the largest desert in the world is located in Antarctica.
But this does not diminish the greatness and wonder of the Lut Desert; Because this scorching and mysterious area has been so attractive that it is registered as the first natural monument of Iran on the UNESCO list of natural heritage. Join us to learn more about the Lut Desert, this ancient and enchanting land.

Introducing the Lut Desert

Lut Desert is located in the southeast of Iran and holds the title of the most pristine spot in Iran. “Lut” in Baluchi language, which is one of the languages ​​of northwestern Iran, means naked, waterless, thirsty, and empty of everything, and is on par with the word “lut”, which, with a bit of exaggeration, describes the characteristics of desert areas. The main part of this great desert is made up of sand and gravel and other parts of it have desert geography; Therefore, the two terms desert can be distinguished and their use used interchangeably.
Deserts are areas where the annual rainfall is usually less than 50 mm and has very poor vegetation, But deserts are called clay soils that have a very high salt content and are known as saline. Most of the deserts, which date back to the third geological period, included ancient lakes whose salts, which have evaporated over the years, now prevent any plants from growing in these areas. Therefore, scientists and geologists believe that the vast region of southeastern Iran should be introduced as the Lut Desert; Because the term Lut Desert refers only to a part of this vast desert.

Where is the Lut Desert?

Lut Desert is nowadays an essential part of Iran tours. The desert has a vast area that includes parts of the three vast provinces of Sistan and Baluchestan, South Khorasan, and Kerman. This scorching and lesser-known area, which extends from north to south, is bounded on the west by the Nayband fault and on the east by the Nehbandan fault. The average length of the Lut Desert in the north-south direction is 900 km and from west to east is 300 km.

The vastness of the Lut Desert has created different regions with different climates and geographical features; But those who are interested in desert tourism and enjoy the unique and different attractions of Lut desert, generally choose specific and well-known routes to travel to Lut desert and desert tour is usually done in these areas. Among these areas, we can mention the area of Shahdad and the clumps of Kerman. About 70% of this vast desert is located in Kerman province and the remaining 30% is located in the provinces of South Khorasan and Sistan and Baluchestan.

How to go to Kalut Shahdad?

To travel to the Kalut region, you must first get to Kerman and from there to Shahdad. If you are going to this area from Tehran, your land trip to Shahdad will take 10 hours, and due to the rugged road of Shahdad, moving towards Kalouta will add another two hours to your travel time. During the trip to Shahdad, you must pass through the cities of Qom, Kashan, Yazd, Rafsanjan, and Kerman. If you are thinking of using public transportation, you should keep in mind that there is no direct flight or train to Shahdad and you should choose Kerman as your primary destination
It is about 45 km from Shahdad to the beginning of Kalut region. Note that at the 20th kilometer of Shahdad Road towards Kalouta, you will encounter a highway that leads to the desert camp on the right side.

At present, Shahdad and Shahdad huts are the only access route to the Lut desert for those interested, and traveling to different areas of Lut, except for the huts on the outskirts of Shahdad city, does not have any necessary safety factors for tourism.
It is important to note that a complete visit to the Kalutha area also requires a permit from the relevant authorities. The clods of Shahdad are actually divided into three parts: green, orange, and red. Visiting the green area is open to the public, but being present in the orange and red areas is prohibited, and to enter this area you will need the presence of a guide and the necessary coordination with the relevant devices. It is worth mentioning that the desert is very deceptive and even experts and professionals may get lost and get into trouble. The best time to travel and visit the cliffs of Shahdad is autumn and spring.
Shahdad address: Kerman province, Kerman to Mahan road, Shahdad exit

Different Parts of the Lut Desert

Lut Desert is mainly a lowland area that is asymmetric in terms of altitude and geographical features; Therefore, due to the shape of the roughness and the distribution of geographical features, geologists naturally divide it into three parts:

Northern Lut

Northern Lut is full of mountains and sedimentary and volcanic hills
The northernmost region of Lut, most of which is in the province of South Khorasan and around Birjand and is also known as “Lut Khorasan” and “Lut Birjand”, is a large area that reaches a height of 1000 meters in the northernmost points and progresses towards South, the height is reduced to 500 meters.
Northern Lut is a sandy and sandy area, the southern part of which consists of irregular cuts that lead to the “Birjand Salt River”. The mountains and sedimentary and volcanic hills that have caused numerous earthquakes in northern Lut are most striking in this area.

Central Lut

The most distinct part of the Lut desert can also undoubtedly be considered its central part. This area, which is 162 km long and 52 km wide and is also known as “Lut Hole”, is covered with huge and interconnected sand masses. In the central Lut, salt and gypsum deserts can be seen in a scattered manner, among which we can mention the “King Mohammad” desert in the west of “Rig Yalan”.

Southern Lut

The southernmost region of the Lut Desert is more fertile than other parts of the country in terms of vegetation and remnants of ancient civilizations. This region is known as “Lut Zangi Mohammad”, it covers most of Kerman province and northern Sistan and Baluchestan and is divided into three separate parts in terms of geology or geomorphology:
Dasht-e-Sar: This part, which is located in the center of the Lut desert, has many enthusiasts. Dasht-e-Sar leads from the west to the place of Kaluts, from the north to the connection route of Shahdad to Nehbandan and the upper areas of Zard and Pozeh Kal, from the east to Rig Yalan, and from the south to Hamoon Shoor and South Lut. This area, referred to in foreign sources as Hamada, is covered with large and small stones as if they were put together by capable masters. That is why Dasht-e-Sar is also called desert paving. The reason for such an area, which lacks any vegetation, has been wind erosion, severe temperature changes, and erosion by running water.

Kaluts: Kalut is a local term and refers to deep ditches and massive sand pyramids that have been formed by soil erosion and are considered to be a unique phenomenon in the world. The area where the Lut desert clusters are located is located 42 km from Shahdad and in an area with a width of 80 and a length of 145 km. The reason for the appearance of these spectacular clumps, which are perhaps the main attraction of Lut, is the erosion by the Shoor River and the 120-day winds of Sistan.
Sand dunes: In the eastern part of Central Lut and in an area of ​​50,000 hectares, which is covered with sand dunes. The height of some of these crescent-shaped or Barkhan hills is estimated up to 500 meters

Is the Lut Desert the hottest spot on Earth?

Temperature is a relative and variable phenomenon, and it is certainly not easy to attribute the title of the hottest spot on Earth to one place. Quotes about the hottest spot on earth and the Lut Desert are very different; However, according to available reports, in 2005, NASA’s Aqua satellite infrared radiometer measured the temperature in the central Lut Desert at 70.7 ° C.
Also, a similar temperature was reported between 2004 and 2009 by the Madis sensor satellite in the Lut Desert, which is attributed to the Gandom-e Beryan (meaning grilled or burnt wheat) area in the province. Of course, this has not been confirmed by scientific sources. On the other hand, Parviz Kordavani, a prominent geographer, claims that the central hole of the Lut Desert, located 75 km east of Shahdad, is the hottest spot on Earth. However, although the recorded temperature seems to be 70.7 ° C, the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth, there has been no scientific report since 2009 that this temperature has continued or repeated.

In general, the iron compounds on the ground and the dark sands of lute compared to other areas are considered to be the cause of its high temperature. However, the 120-day winds of Sistan in summer are a factor in stabilizing and adjusting the temperature of this region.

Lut Desert Flora and Fauna

There does not appear to be any plant or animal life in the central parts of the Lut Desert; But in some times of the year when the weather is more favorable, temporary and temporary life can be observed. For example, in the Dasht-e-Sar region, in the spring, after limited seasonal rains, grasses grow and burn and dry in a short time.

Unlike the central regions, which are devoid of vegetation, the Rig region of Gilan includes several species of sand-loving plants, including Skanbil, Hawthorn, and Nessie. The density of this vegetation is much higher in the east of Lut. In addition, turmeric trees and shrubs can be seen within 20 km of the Shahdad region.
The sand pots of the Lut Desert are considered to be the tallest Nebka species in the world
Undoubtedly, one of the most diverse views that can be seen in the Lut Desert is the Nebka or sand pots. This amazing phenomenon is one of the unique attractions of the Lut desert. The sand dunes, which surround the teak bushes like a pot, are up to 10 meters high.
By analogy, the tallest nebula in the Sahara is only three meters high. This amazing natural phenomenon occurs when a smooth, sandy surface has sufficient moisture. Apart from this, there are larger, more complex specimens with more cones than Nebkhas called “Robdo” in Lut, which can be seen in only a few parts of the world.

Drought-resistant animals live in areas near the Lut Desert. These animals include snakes and carnivorous birds, squirrels, foxes, sand cats, and agamas. About 70 species of birds have been seen in the Lut Desert, all of which have white in common to absorb less heat. These birds get their water from insects or dew, which is formed by the difference between day and night temperatures.

Lut Desert at Night

Night is a highly anticipated event in Iran desert tours​. As expected, the difference between day and night temperatures is noticeable in the Lut Desert. One of the reasons for the decrease in desert temperature at night is the lack of suitable vegetation; Because plants play a decisive role in influencing the climate of any region, and since no photosynthesis takes place in these areas, the temperature decreases. The second reason can be considered that the heat of the day is not absorbed in the desert; Because sand is not a good insulator to maintain the temperature and heat storage of the sun.

Of course, the issue that makes a significant difference between Lut and other desert regions of the world is the presence of 120-day winds in Sistan in summer, which makes the temperature not increase during the day and does not decrease at night. These winds actually play the role of regulating the temperature of the lute. Despite all this, the night sky of the desert is a paradise for astronomers, and Lut is more pristine than other deserts in Iran, inviting photographers, astronomers and researchers.

Secrets of the Lut Desert

The clumps on the outskirts of Shahdad are full of the secrets of Sarbehmehr. Some consider this place to be the cursed city of the “Lut people” who turned to stone and consider the name of the Lut desert to be the same. Parts of these clods have never seen human footprints and are full of many unknowns; But around these clods and other areas of the Lut and Shahdad deserts, traces of ancient civilizations dating back to 3000 BC have been discovered, including pottery and stone vessels.
On the other hand, the central areas of the Lut Desert have similar characteristics, and parts of the central desert are said to be so hot that even bacteria cannot live in them; However, in an area called “Zangi Ahmad”, where there is no trace of water and development and life, there are ruins in the form of a ruined tower, around which broken pottery and stained glass have been discovered. Thus, in popular belief, the central Lut is closely related to supernatural tales. In addition, dinosaur nail fossils are said to have been discovered in the Lut Desert in recent years, which needs further investigation.

However, what makes the Lut Desert mysterious and distinctive is its profound and unknown historical background. It is safe to say that none of the residents of the outskirts of Lut have passed through it, and you will rarely find anyone who gives you more information than reminding you of potential dangers. These many unknowns and lack of sufficient information have led to many myths and fantasies about the Lut Desert and especially its central regions. The most important reason for the difference between the Lut Desert and other desert regions of the world and its impassability and inaccessibility is the severe lack of vegetation in the region. This is while the water resources of the Lut desert are not enough; But within a radius of 500 km, not even a single debris plant can be seen.

Lut Desert is the most difficult desert in the world

It is interesting to know that camels are able to withstand 20 days of dehydration, But the camel’s hunger tolerance period is only three days, and this has made it impossible to reach the depths of Lut throughout history. Another reason for the unknown nature of this area is the existence of severe storms that prevent people from reaching. This has led to insufficient information, maps, and images of the central areas of Lut, leaving superstitious stories among some desert dwellers. It should be noted that in recent decades, some areas of the Lut Desert have also become hotbeds of armed miscreants and fuel and drug traffickers, doubling the region’s dangers. Therefore, due to the increase in facilities and the advancement of science, the need to pay attention to the security of the region is felt more than ever.

Lut Desert Lake

It may be hard to imagine running water in the Lut region; But this is true and it is interesting to know that the number of these runoffs, especially in the desert fringes, is not small. The appearance of dry riverbeds and land erosion in the central hole of the river indicates the existence of ancient and watery rivers in the past of this region. Rivers probably still see little water during seasonal rains.
In the western regions of the Lut desert and due to the proximity of the high mountains of Kerman with this vast desert, several rivers enter the central hole from the heights. Most of these rivers have relatively enough water all year round. The Shoor River in the northwest of the region also has a lut of water. The waters of the Saline River eventually spread to the holes in the ground between the Kaluts, keeping the ground moist for most of the year.

Hossein Rajaei, an entomologist at the Stuttgart Museum of Natural History in Germany, who was on a research trip with a group of researchers to the central Lut Desert, reported some butterflies in the area and described the source of their water supply as soil moisture. he does. Rajaee believes that soil moisture is caused by groundwater aquifers.
Lut desert water resources are not limited to these cases; Because around Shahdad, two other large rivers flow towards Lut, a small amount of water of which is also allocated for agricultural purposes.
It is interesting to know that due to the significant seasonal rains in 1398, a lake has been formed in the Shahdad region, which amazes everyone. Lake Shahdad, named Javan Lake, is so beautiful that it attracts visitors and gives its turquoise color to the burning desert. This lake was formed on the way from Shahdad to Nehbandan and with the flooding of a large part of the road, the possibility of traffic in it has been eliminated.

Shahdad and the Imaginary City of Kaluts

The ancient city of Shahdad, the capital of the Arata tribes in ancient Iran, is considered to be the site of the discovery of the world’s oldest metal flag, the “Shahdad flag”. Although this ancient city suffers from insufficient tourist facilities, the unique phenomenon of the Kaluts and the attraction of the imaginary city offer it to those who are interested in the desert. However, due to the limited facilities and many dangers, the Lut Desert and the Shahdad Deserts are probably among the last choices for desert dwellers to enjoy this particular geographical phenomenon.
The clods of Shahdad date back to 20,000 years ago
Even after a thorough study of the clods of martyrdom, it is impossible not to remember the ancient civilizations after seeing them. The scientific name for this magical geological phenomenon, which in some surveys is referred to as the fourth most amazing natural artifact on Earth, is Yardang.
Lut’s people, paranormal elements, or even extraterrestrials do not seem to be involved in shaping this geographical phenomenon; Because lumps are a natural complication, the term actually refers to bumps that are located between ditches and U-shaped grooves. At the apex of these ridges is a right angle; But on the windward side of the yards, there is a steeply sloping surface.
The clods have been carved by wind and water during a 20,000-year erosion, and this art of nature has survived to this day. The reason for such a unique erosion is the presence of sand dunes and sand dunes around the Shahdad area; Because the sand that is blown by the winds and storms of the region, they have been polished by hitting the rocks for many years. The salt river of the Lut Desert, like the old and patient pottery, has played a role in surprising such troubles.

It is good to know that the lowest point on the plateau of Iran, with a height of only 56 meters above sea level, is located in the Shahdad region, and this is one of the miracles of the region.
The clods of Shahdad are in an area of ​​11,000 square kilometers, a mysterious, unknown, and terrifying herd; Because fewer signs of life are found in this area. In 1965, the body of a 15-year-old cow was discovered in the area, which had survived for many years. This is because the corpse had dried without decomposition due to the high temperature of the area. The salinity of Shahdad soil can also be considered as one of the reasons for this. There are also unconfirmed reports and evidence of the discovery of fossils of some sea creatures in the Shahdad area.

Shahdad Desert Camp

The Shahdad Desert Camp opened in the mid-1980s on the western edge of the Lut Desert. The facilities of this camp, which has a capacity of 40 people, include capers made of palm leaves, drinking water, electricity, essential supplies store, a toilet, and a bathroom. The camp also communicates with local law enforcement agencies wirelessly for added security.

To access the camp, you must enter the Nehbandan road at the second kilometer of Shahdad to Mahan road, and after a distance of 15 kilometers, enter the desert camp road. The desert camp after Shahdad will be visible after 10 km. Depending on the location of this camp, various climatic phenomena may cause problems to this camp; Therefore, before traveling to this area, make sure that the Shahdad Desert Camp is in service.

Loot Star Ecocamp

Lut Star Ecocamp was opened in 1397 and can accommodate 80 tourists. This eco-camp is located 18 km northeast of Shahdad and the village of “Malekabad”. In addition to the usual facilities, it is also equipped with parking, internet, a tour guide, and a coffee shop and provides services to tourists in suitable seasons of desert tourism.

During your trip to the Shahdad region, you can also stay in the numerous eco-tourism resorts of this region. These include Aghik, Kalut, Gandum-e Beryan, Kashkilo, Nebka, Yadegar, Toranj, Darfsheh, and Starry overnight eco-tourism resorts.

Loot Desert Recreation

Although the amenities and recreation facilities of the Lut Desert are not as large as the central desert of Iran, this region has so many unique and different attractions that it attracts the interest of tourists. In addition to watching the legendary clowns and drowning in the heart of the dreams of this region, in recent years, various diverse and side entertainments have been prepared for tourists.

Safari and Motorcycling in Lut

If you are interested in off-roading and adventure in the pristine nature and unique scenery of Lut desert, you can enjoy exploring the desert by renting suitable vehicles.

Camel Riding

It seems that a trip to the desert is not pleasant without watching the lovely camels or maybe even taking a little ride with them. In the desert of Lut, you can seize this opportunity.

Hiking and Photography

Do not miss the mystical views of the desert and the pleasure of just walking in the marginal and protected areas. Photographing Lute’s unique clowns and Nabkas is something that will not happen to you anywhere else on earth.

Watch the Night Sky of the Desert

Observing the stars and the green field of the sky at night is undoubtedly the most important feature of traveling to desert areas. If you have the opportunity to spend the night in Lut, do not miss it. Remember that staying overnight in the desert alone is very dangerous; So use one of the camps to stay.

Sights Around Lut Desert

Shafi Abad Castle

Shafi Abad Castle, which was originally used as an inn, is located on the edge of the Lut Desert. This caravanserai, which has unique brick decorations, forms the main part of Shafiabad village.

Shahdad Waterfall

The historical reservoir of Shahdad city, whose original name is Haj Mohammad Taghi Reservoir, is one of the attractions of this city. This reservoir has been used as a place to store perishable materials in difficult desert conditions.

Common Questions

Where is the Loot Desert?

Lut desert is a large area that includes parts of Sistan and Baluchestan, South Khorasan, and Kerman provinces and covers 10% of Iran’s area.

What is the best time to visit the Lut Desert?

The best time to visit the Lut Desert is autumn and spring when desert camping camps also offer their best services.

Is the Loot Desert the hottest spot on Earth?

Claims about the hottest spot on earth and the Lut Desert are varied; But in 2005, NASA’s Aqua satellite infrared radiometer measured the temperature in the central Lut Desert at 70.7 degrees Celsius or 159.26 Fahrenhiet.

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