Iran is situated in a high-altitude plateau surrounded by connected ranges of mountains. The well-known deserts of Iran are at two major regions: Dasht-e-Kavir, and Kavir-e-Lut. They are both some of the most arid and maybe hottest areas of their kinds in the world. Kavir-e-Lut, a pit formed by broken layers of the earth, is the largest pit inside the Iranian plateau and probably one of the largest ones in the world.
The Dasht-e Lut (Lut Desert) is one of Iran’s two great deserts, covering an area of over 50,000 square kilometres in the central eastern part of the country. Reportedly laying claim to the hottest land surface temperatures ever recorded, an astonishing 70.7 degrees, it is not an ideal location for an afternoon picnic. Nevertheless, the weather beaten, moonscapes of the desert make an unforgettable venue for night-time camping beneath the stars, and the views at dawn are mesmerising. Tour guides will take you from the city of Kerman for a reasonable fee. Be sure to check out the mysterious kaluts too, the famed giant rock formations of the desert.
Salt Plains, Dasht-e Kavir
The Dasht-e Kavir, or Kavir-e Namak (the Great Salt Desert), is Iran’s other massive desert, located in the centre of the Iranian plateau, northwest of Esfahan and Yazd. Harsh, barren, and unfathomably hot, you won’t want to wander the expanse aimlessly or unaccompanied, but it remains an impressive sight to behold. The Namak (Salt) Lake, 100 kilometres from Qom, is the most tourist friendly feature of the desert, the magnificent, white vastness of which will give the salt flats of Bolivia a run for their money.
A two-hour drive from the city of Kashan in Esfahan province, the Maranjab desert boasts some of the sandiest dunes in the country. Whilst most of Iran’s deserts are salt, rocky, or scrubland, Maranjab caters to more stereotypical desert fantasies. You can combine a tour with a visit to the Namak (salt) Lake, not far from here, with the option to rest your head in the remains of a 16th century caravanserai.