Iran has one of the most diverse climates on earth, ranging from arid to semi-arid, from subtropic to subarctic, from snowy mountains and regions in northwest and west to hot central and eastern deserts. Iran is a four-season country that has a lot to offer all year round. In this blog, the PackToIran team tries to introduce some of the most beautiful deserts of Iran.
Deserts of Iran - Shahdad Desert - Iran
Two main deserts of Iran
More than half of the country of Iran is arid and semi-arid deserts covering 130000 km2. These areas are divided into 2 main deserts: the Dasht-e Kavir and Lut Desert.
Dasht-e Kavir is a large desert lying in the middle of the country covering a surface of 77000 km2. This desert receives little rain, mainly in wintertime. The temperature of Dasht-e Kavir can reach above 50 °C (122 °F), and the temperature difference can vary 70 °C (130 °F) in winter and summer. It’s a huge desert with sand dunes reaching up to 60 meters, seasonal lakes and rivers, marshes and mud grounds, salt flats, and sand storms. The main vegetation of this desert includes salt-tolerant plants and the main animals are Persian Cheetah, Persian leopard, camel, fox, wolf, wild goat, wild sheep, Persian gazelles, ground jay, hairy bustard, sandgrouse, partridge, and different types of lizards and snakes. This desert is almost uninhabited and very few people live on its soil. These people live in restricted areas of the desert mainly near oases. Iranians have been living in or at the edge of deserts since thousands of years ago by the genius invention of Qanats, which is an underground water channel. This desert is reachable from Tehran, Qom, Semnan, Khorasan, Esfahan, and Yazd provinces.
Lut Desert or the Dasht-e Lut, is a big desert located east and southeast of Iran covering a surface of 52000 km2. Lut means naked, baren, thirsty and empty. This desert is considered one of the hottest and driest places on earth. The surface temperature of Lut can reach up to 70.7 °C (159.3 °F) as recorded by NASA's satellite from 2003 to 2010 which makes it the hottest land surface on earth. Lut is a land of huge sand dunes reaching up to 75 meters high in the central parts and 300 meters high in the southeast parts (among the tallest ones on earth), sandcastles (yardangs), or Kaluts in the western parts, seasonal rivers, salt flats. This desert is reachable from Kerman and Sistan Baluchestan provinces. This enchanting desert was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2016.
Deserts of Iran map
The best deserts of Iran to visit
The deserts of Iran are huge, hot, and dry and most parts are not easily reachable. Here is a list of desert areas suggested by the PackToIran team for you to visit.
Shahdad Desert is a part of the Lut desert, located 120 km northeast of the city of Kerman, and can be the most beautiful and strangest part of the deserts of Iran, mainly because of the sandcastles or “Kaluts”. These sand formations or Yardangs are formed by wind erosion on the hot surface of the Lut desert creating one of the most beautiful and magical nature landscapes on earth. For accommodation, you can choose 5-star desert camps or cozy ecolodges in Shahdad Desert.
Deserts of Iran - Shahdad Desert - Iran
Varzaneh desert also known as Khara desert is a part of Dasht-e Kavir, located 120 km east of the city of Esfahan. This is one of the most beautiful deserts of Iran with huge sand dunes and salt flats which is located near the Gavkhouni terminal basin formed by the Zayandehrud river, one of the biggest rivers in central Iran. You can stay in Varzaneh town 30 kmnorth of the desert. In recent years, home stays and ecolodges are available in the villages near the desert too.
Deserts of Iran - Varzaneh Desert - Iran
Mesr desert, also known as Khur and Biabanak desert, is a part of the Dasht-e Kavir, located 500 km east of the city of Esfahan. Among the beauties of this part of the desert, is Mesr village which is an oasis in the heart of the central desert of Iran where recently many ecolodges are built for the lovers of the desert. The population of this village is about 200, so this desert is a good place to find peace and quiet. This part of Iran is considered one of the best places to see the night sky.
Deserts of Iran - Mesr Desert - Iran
Abuzeid Abad Desert
Abuzeid Abad desert is a part of the Dasht-e Kavir located near the city of Kashan famous for its beautiful sand dunes. But if you want to see the huge sand dunes of Abuzeid Abad, you need 4WD cars and good desert guides to go to the heart of the desert. Because this desert is located near Kashan, a big city south of Tehran and among the oldest cities of Iran, there are few historical attractions in this desert too. Like Karshahi castle and the Noushabad Underground City.
Deserts of Iran - Abuzeid Abad Desert - Iran
Matinabad is a village at the edge of the Dasht-e Kavir, located 45 km south of Kashan, and the desert area near this village is also called Matinabad. If you want to stay in a desert camp with modern facilities, the Matinabad desert is a good choice. In 2008 an Eco- Resort & organic farm was established there to provide the tourists with an opportunity for an experience and adventures close to the big desert of Iran.
Rig-e Jenn Desert
Rig-e Jenn Desert is a part of Dasht-e Kavir. This vast desert is the harshest, most dangerous, and still unknown part of the central desert of Iran. This desert has not been traveled by caravans because of its size, extreme heat, huge sand storms that change its face, dangerous wetlands, and salt flats. Many of the world's famous desert explorers avoided crossing this desert till recent years by using modern GPS and tracking technology and 4WD vehicles. Visiting this part of the desert needs high caution, experienced local desert guides and drivers with technical and mechanical equipment, a good supply of petrol, food, and water, and it has to be done in a group, as individual visits are extremely dangerous. There is a reason why this part of the central desert is called Iran’s Bermuda triangle. The locals living near this area believe this part of the desert is controlled by evil creatures.
Deserts of Iran - Rig-e Jenn Desert - Iran
Maranjab desert is also a part of the Dasht-e Kavir located near the city of Kashan. Visiting this desert is not difficult and can be done with ordinary sedan cars, too. Vast sand dunes, Qanats, desert wildlife, hills, salt lakes, and salt flats are among the beauties of this desert. A caravanserai was built in this desert in the 17th century which is still being used as a guest house. You can also stay in desert camps, which is a unique experience
Caracal desert is located in the southern parts of Dasht-e Kavir, in Yazd province, and is considered among the deserts of Iran which are easy to visit, so individual visits and campings are safe. The name of course comes from the beautiful Caracal wild cat which lives in this area too, but seeing this wild cat needs great luck. Sand dunes and date palm gardens make a picturesque combination in this desert of Iran.
Rigan desert is a part of the charming Lut desert of Iran in Kerman province famous for the light color of its sand dunes. The locals believe they have healing benefits. This desert is close to the magical Shahdad desert so if you want to experience a night camp further in the Lut desert, this desert is a good suggestion in Kerman province.
Things you should consider before visiting the deserts of Iran
Best time to visit deserts of Iran
Deserts are arid and semi-arid lands so temperature-wise, the best seasons to visit are fall and winter (November to April) although you can visit some deserts all year round. During the summertime, you can enjoy the beauties of the desert for few hours before sunrise and the heat of the day, and also around sunset and at night.
Required equipment for visiting deserts of Iran
Most of the deserts of Iran are far from big cities. Although there are small towns, villages, and desert camps near most of them make sure to bring your equipment with you. Good shoes, sun creams, glasses, and suitable clothes for hot days and cold nights (depending on the season). You can easily buy camping equipment in almost all big cities of Iran, so if you don’t want to bring heavy ones with you, you can buy or even rent here in Iran. PackToIran team can provide you with all desert camp equipment.
Deserts are among the most beautiful natural attractions of Iran. But a peaceful relaxing desert experience can easily turn into a dangerous deadly one. So, we strongly suggest that you have your desert tours with experienced local guides and drivers.
Deserts of Iran
You are going to have a wonderful desert experience so bring your cameras with suitable lenses and a tripod for night sky photography. According to Iran’s national aviation authority, the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran (CAOI), drones are banned in Iran. PackToIran's suggestion to Iran visitors is not to bring drones to Iran. For more information, please contact us.
Deserts of Iran
Activities you shouldn't miss in deserts of Iran
The best thing you can do in Iran deserts is to enjoy its endless, peaceful beauties. Desert is a place to find peace with the world around and inside you. Do bring good music for yourselves.
Walking in the desert is really joyful so bring suitable sandals and shoes. Always keep in mind that desert is home to some of the world’s most dangerous animals such as snakes, so always be careful where you are walking.
Camping in the desert, the night campfire gatherings and cooking food on it, desert night sky photography and mainly sleeping under billions of stars is an experience you don’t want to miss.
Adventure off-road desert tours can help you go further deep in the desert and are available in almost all of the deserts listed above. For some of them, you can do it within few hours and for some, you would need days. Camel rides, sand bikes, and ATV are available in most of the desert camps too.
These were just a few examples of the endless, unique beauties of the deserts of Iran. There are parts in deserts filled with wildlife and desert flowers and vast parts with absolutely no life on them, parts with water supplies like rivers, lakes, and Qanats, and parts where you won’t be able to find any sign of water for months. From dark dunes to white dunes, from white salt flats to crystalized pink and red minerals and salt hills. So, for your travel to Iran, make sure to choose one of the desert tours considering your time and the season you are coming.
Deserts of Iran
Iran Deserts and Shores is one of the unique desert tours of PackToIran, which has a relaxing theme and is mostly spent in the Mesr Desert and Qeshm Island, which are both among the top natural attractions in Iran. Explore the Silk Road is another desert tour of PackToIran with a cultural theme and it covers desert attractions like caravanserais and picturesque landscapes in Dasht-e Kavir and Lut Desert.