Discover enigmatic Lut Desert for soaking up the sun this winter
As the temperatures begin to drop, many avid vacationers seize the opportunity with open arms. On the one hand, winter is welcomed by skiers and snowboarders and on the other by those who want to escape the cold to soak up the sun.
Situated in the heart of Iran, the UNESCO-registered Lut Desert is one of those peaceful landscapes where you may quickly find one of the best-kept secrets in travel while you spend time in solitude. Over the past couple of years, tens of eco-lodge units have been constructed on the margins of the harsh landscape to bring comfort to adventurers. Moreover, officials in charge of the UNESCO site are working to define new tourism routes across the desert. “New tourist routes should be clearly defined and established in Lut,” IRNA quoted Hadi Maqsoudlou, the director of World Heritage, as saying on Thursday. “In addition to natural attractions, Lut has various cultural and social magnetism,” the official said. “Amongst valuable attractions around the Lut Desert are native people, their lifestyle, dialect, language, music, poetry, traces of rich cultures and civilizations with more than 5,000 years.” Furthermore, the scorching desert is a rich place to find meteorites, thanks to its unique parameters. In recent years, significant finds have been made, with the efforts of national and international teams of researchers. Talking about the best time to visit, he said “the season of comfortable tourism in Lut is from mid-November to February, but the adventurous tourists who seek to experience the exceptional heat of Lut also endure the heat of summer even in August.” Also called Dasht-e Lut (“Emptiness Plain”), the salt desert is encircled by the provinces of Kerman and Sistan- Baluchestan, and South Khorasan. Seven years of satellite temperature data analyzed by NASA showed Lut was the hottest spot on Earth with a temperature of 70.7°C in 2005. Moreover, the scorching Lut Desert is now being considered to be one of the top areas in the world for finding meteorites, thanks to its unique parameters. In recent years, significant finds have been made, with the efforts of national and international teams of researchers. “The significance of the Lut Desert is becoming more and more apparent day by day. It has immense potential to become an international tourist destination,” the official explained. According to UNESCO, The desert is situated in an interior basin surrounded by mountains, so it is in a rain shadow and, coupled with high temperatures, the climate is hyper-arid. A steep north-south pressure gradient develops across the region in spring and summer causing strong winds to blow across the area between June and October each year. “These long periods of strong winds propel sand grains at great velocity creating transportation of sediment and aeolian erosion on a colossal scale. Consequently, the area possesses what is considered the world’s best examples of aeolian yardang landforms, as well as extensive stony deserts and dune fields.” These areas consist of active dunes some reaching heights of 475 m and are amongst the largest dunes in the world. The Lut Desert displays a wide variety of forms, including linear-, compound crescentic-, star-, and funnel-shaped dunes. It is home to giant Nebkha dune fields (dunes formed around plants) as well. “The region has been described in the past as a place of ‘no life’ and information on the biological resources in this area is limited. Nevertheless, the property possesses flora and fauna adapted to the harsh conditions including an interesting adapted insect fauna,” the UN body said. The wintertime is itself a perfect excuse for a vacation but to some people, visiting a desert region sounds like “something else”. Some visitors to Lut say it feels almost like walking across a seabed without water. Moreover, those who set up camps are well rewarded when the sun sets to prepare the ground for a very bright moon and extremely vivid stars to show off in the absolutely clear sky of the desert.