Lut Desert Trek:
This trekking expedition through Iran’s Lut Desert follows in the footsteps of Marco Polo and Thesiger and crosses the hottest place on earth. You’ll be trekking during the “cool” season and the adventure takes you to lunar landscapes, star dunes, and a cornucopia of geological phenomenon.
You’ll cross Lut from east to west and pass through an always-changing landscape. The imposing sand and star dunes (shaped like stars that radiate out across the planes), the salt plains cracked and dry from the relentless sun, and meteorites are just a taste of what you’ll encounter.
As you trek through miles of “moon and earth” as you pass kalut rock formations created by wind erosion you’ll witness just how harsh this desert can be.
Are you ready to:
- Walk in the footsteps of the greats like Wilfred Thesiger (crossing in 1964) and Marco Polo (north-south expedition in 1271)?
- Climb the most incredible sand dunes?
- Trek through parts of the old Silk Road and stop in Bam, a crossroads for traders from the 7th to 11th centuries?
- See a star dune for yourself?
- Visit Kerman, one of the oldest cities in Iran and an ancient trading point between Persia and India?
- See salt marshes and rare polygons as you cross the salt plains?
- Pass through the “Valley of Meteorites” outside of Dehsalm?
The Lut Desert has some difficult terrain to cross, which makes this adventure a challenge and the rewards amazing. The sand dunes here are among the highest in the world and the temperatures are deadly in the summer months. You’ll also get familiar with Kaluts, also known as yardangs). Like sand castles or broken teeth rising from the landscape as far as you can see. It’s a unique environment to say the least – definitely something you must see for yourself.
Though desert trekking may seem extreme at first, it’s an amazing way to discover Iran. You’ll become a part of the ancient history while seeing things that only the boldest get to see. You won’t be disappointed by the beauty or by the adventure.
BEST TIME: October-November-December
TRIP LENGTH: 13 nights
- full services of a professional expedition leader plus local guides
- 4×4 vehicle support as required
- all meals
- all transport as outlined in the itinerary
- all accommodation
- any specialist kit
- any local permits
- international flights
- local airport taxes and international visas
- tips to local guides
- beverages and any costs of a personal nature
- personal equipment (once booked you’ll receive a short kit list)
- travel insurance
The Dasht-e Lut is 200,000 km2 covering a region surrounded by South Khorasan Province, Sistan va Baluchistan and Kerman. It is deep, low-lying land, 185 m below sea level in parts and hosts a varied display of wonderful desert-related structural phenomena and features. It experiences deadly high temperatures in the summer months and very little precipitation (less than 50mm/year). Our route takes us over constantly varied terrain:
In the eastern Lut there are high sand dunes. The sand pyramids scattered about the landscape are amongst the highest in the world. The dunes are void of life and have ripple marks, created by the wind.
The Lut Desert has been highlighted as a high-potential area for finding meteorites due to its persistently dry climate. A small collection known as the “Valley of Meteorites” has been discovered approximately 100 km from the village of Dehsalm.
In the central Lut lie massive flat plains in various shapes. Salt water has accumulated and been evaporated by the ferocious sun leaving various shapes over the barren landscape. We do not pass over the salt plains as they are located in the far north and south of the desert but we do pass an inland lake that is very salty and its evaporated banks give you an idea of what the plains might be like.
Kaluts (also known as yardangs) stand like enormous sand castles, broken teeth punctuating the landscape as far as the eye can see. According to UNESCO they are the longest widespread system of kaluts in the world (120 km long in 80 km wide). They are formed by wind erosion and can reach heights of 80 m, although most are small hills and long elongated furrows. Between kaluts there are salty desert lands similar to plowed lands with a hard mineral base.
Hottest place on earth
Near our route lies the thermal centre of the earth. This claim is based on satellite data of land surface temperature and according to NASA’s, the hottest ground temperature on earth (70.7 °C) was recorded in the lowest area of Lut Desert in 2005. Although we will not be trekking in temperatures nearly as high, the Lut desert is an important research area for understanding and controlling most physical, chemical, and biological processes of the Earth and space.
Our route encompasses as many different terrains, environments and desert features and we can think of. It starts on the east side of the central Lut and works it’s way west towards the ancient city of Kerman. We will be right on the border between Iranian culture and Pakistani influences from the east. In fact the Lut desert was part of the ancient caravan routes from Pakistan to Bam and then onto Zahedan.
We are dropped off at our trailhead and let loose on the desert. Our first obstacles are massive sand dunes rising over 200m high. Our progress will be slow as the terrain is arduous. As we move east, we pass through the meteorite valley and onto flatter ground. We cross the salt lands to the star dunes, setting up desert camps along the way. West of the star dunes are the kaluts. Our route takes us around the southern tip of the array before arriving into Kashit, a small desert village and a welcome dose of civilisation after the expedition.
EXPEDITION GRADING (DEGREE OF EFFORT)
Due to the demands of this particular expedition it has been awarded a 270° rating.
- Distances: up to 25km a day
- Weight carried by each team member: approx. 15kg
- Terrain covered: steeper and more difficult underfoot with daily altitude gains of up to 1000m
- Climate: hot and humid, or perhaps at higher altitude
SUITABLE TEAM MEMBERS
Team members should be willing to be part of a team working together to achieve the goal of the expedition. They should have an adventurous and robust spirit. They should be fit and healthy as this trip involves 10 continuous days of trekking through sand and across rocks in remote and often very hot desert environments and distance of up to 25km per day.
The weather during the day will be very hot and dry. The wind will pick up during the periods of sunrise and sunset. The nights will be relatively cool compared to the days.
We will stay in basic guesthouses or small hotels in Tehran and Kerman will be camping while in the desert.
We will have a cook with us while in the desert who will prepare basic but filling local dishes. In towns we will eat in local restaurants and eateries.
Transport on this minimalistic expedition involves desert trekking (on foot) as described, plus 4×4 journeys to reach the expedition location.
KIT AND EQUIPMENT
When you join the team you will be sent a comprehensive kit list but in the meanwhile here is a basic overview.
Good pair of approach shoes (or walking boots if you prefer some extra support for your ankles)
2 pairs of lightweight woollen socks
1 loose lightweight long sleeve shirt
1 pair of long loose fitting trousers (zip off legs are a good idea)
Sun cream factor 50
Wide brimmed hat
Chap stick with SPF
Camera and extra battery
SAFETY AND SECURITY
On application to join this expedition you will receive full instructions including security information. We will outline the any risks attached to this area but it is your responsibility to research thee risks and your decision as to whether you choose to join the team or not. The operator takes all team members’ safety and security very seriously and do everything possible to identify, plan for and mitigate against risk, though this remains an exploratory and adventurous expedition and we cannot be responsible for your safety.