( The Ultimate Travel Guide 2021)
Iran is a country blessed with numerous natural beauties and distinctive landscapes. The beauty of most Iran deserts spots are, however, unknown to many travelers! The beautiful kaluts of Shahdad desert, the unique sand dunes of Dasht-e Kavir, and the mesmerizing night sky of the Maranjab desert are just some of the many wonders of Iran desert destinations. The popularity of these drylands and their natural marvels are highlighted by the numerous desert adventure tours and desert camping tours operated in these lands.
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Most of the people who travel to Iran for sightseeing purposes already know that Iran has some of the most beautiful and hottest deserts in the world! What they don’t know, is the fact that these deserts make up about only 20% of the land. Many tourists wrongly believe that Iran is a country of dry and flatlands.
This piece of misinformation is understandable since many of the countries of south-east Asia (such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia) have arid climates and are full of hot deserts. In comparison to other Middle-eastern countries, Iran’s lush forests and high mountains are brimming with life, as well as unique flora and fauna.
One of the most famous of these green and lush lands is the jewel of Northern Iran: the natural UNESCO site of Hyrcanian forests. this national treasure represents a remarkable series of sites conserving the natural forest ecosystems of the Hyrcanian Forest and is strictly protected to keep its beauties as intact as possible.
The most famous Iranian desert is, as you probably already know, the Lut desert (Dasht-e Lut). The reasons for this fame are many, but one of the most important ones is this desert’s inscription as one of the two Natural UNESCO sites in Iran.
Kavir-e Lut is surrounded by heights and elevations which, paired with the incredibly high temperature of this dryland, makes Lut one of the hyper-arid deserts of Iran. Lut gets so hot during specific times of year (mostly in summer) actually, that the highest surface temperature of all earth is sometimes recorded in this desert!
Aside from its incredibly high temperature, the Lut desert has some of the most unique land formations in the world. Parts of Lut are covered with Hamada (hard rocky plateaus), while other parts are dense with huge Dunes and impressive Yardangs (large areas of soft, poorly consolidated rock formed by Aeolian erosion). Some of these desert formations are so big, that they can be spotted from space.
The Dasht-e Lut is most commonly visited from Kerman, the city that hosts one of the most beautiful Persian Gardens; The Shazde Garden. If you plan on visiting the Lut desert from Kerman, be sure to check out the wonderful, almost dreamy village of Shahdad.
Shahdad village is around 200 kilometers away from the city of Kerman, and its desert is as big as 24,000 km²! the town itself has evidence of life, which ages back to more than 7000 years ago. The mystery of Shahdad and its famous Kaluts remains unsolved, as beautiful and ancient pieces of earthenware pottery have been discovered from Shahdad, but no one knows who exactly lived there (and for how long).
Shahdad desert is almost as hot as Lut, and a surface temperature of almost 69°c has been recorded in this desert. As it was mentioned before, Shahdad Kaluts is the most famous Iran natural tourist attraction of this land. The most beautiful of these Kaluts stretch from northwest to the southeast of this area. Because of the desert’s naturally vulnerable ecosystem, most of Shahdad (and Lut) are only accessible for those who travel with certified guides.
is around 200 kilometers away from the city of Kerman, and its desert is as big as 24,000 km²! the town itself has evidence of life, which ages back to more than 7000 years ago. The mystery of Shahdad and its famous Kaluts remains unsolved, as beautiful and ancient pieces of earthenware pottery have been discovered from Shahdad, but no one knows who exactly lived there (and for how long).
is almost as hot as Lut, and a surface temperature of almost 69°c has been recorded in this desert. As it was mentioned before, Shahdad Kaluts is the most famous landscape of this land. The most beautiful of these Kaluts stretch from northwest to the southeast of this area. Because of the desert’s naturally vulnerable ecosystem, most of Shahdad (and Lut) are only accessible for those who travel with certified guides.
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Although the name itself means “lifeless” in Persian, the Lut desert has its very own flora and fauna. Rare animal breeds like Ruppell’s Fox, Jerboa, Buzzard, Snakes, and Scorpions are just some of the highly adaptable species that live in Lut’s drylands. You can read more about Iran Desert Animals here.
The Largest Iran Desert, in the central region of Iran, not far from where Yazd the most ancient city of earthen structure resides, lies the barren lands of the Kavir desert. The Dasht-e Kavir is the largest salt desert of Iran and has three main layers within itself.
“Roughly 300 kilometers (200 miles) east-southeast of Tehran lies Iran’s Dasht-e Kavir, or Great Salt Desert. To the untrained eye, Dasht-e Kavir looks like a place that has been bone-dry since the dawn of time. But to the well-trained eyes of a geologist, this desert tells a tale of wetter times. Tens of millions of years ago, a salt-rich ocean likely occupied this region, surrounding a microcontinent in what is now central Iran. “
The inner layer is where heat is almost unbearable, and not many life forms exist. The second layer is where you can camp the night, and get a glimpse at the crystal sky of the desert at night. Most Iran desert tours take you on a journey to these parts of the Kavir desert, where you can feast your eyes on an endless scenery of golden sands and black salts.
The outer parts of the Kavir desert encircle some of the other popular Iran deserts such as the Mesr desert, and the Bafq desert. The Dasht-e Kavir is most famous for its enormous sand dunes, around 50 of which currently exist in its bleak lands.
There is a big area with abundant flora and fauna that remained untouched and unspoiled in the southwest of Semnan province and between the cities of Tehran, Qom, and Isfahan. This large area is home to a variety of animals and birds. The diversity and number of these species are such that it is designated as a protected area and a wildlife reserve within a large radius, which is managed by the Iran Environmental Protection Department.
The Kavir National Park has an arid, desert climate, with the majority of precipitation falling between November and May. The region receives about 150 mm of rain on an annual basis. Sefid Ab, Abshar Namaki, and Siyah Kuh are only a few of the desert’s rivers and streams. The region’s hot weather usually lasts from early June to the end of October.
You can see wide grasslands covered in bushes from the north, and observe low landslides in the middle. Sand dunes and the famous Salt Lake of “Aran and Bidgol” can also be seen in the southern regions. This is a salt marsh, and water enters the pond from the northwest via the Qom River, which also runs through Kavir National Park’s northern section. The Qom is one of Iran’s few perennial rivers, running through the country’s vast desert area.
Although Isfahan has numerous splendid tourist attractions such as the architectural wonder of Ali Qapu palace, or the internationally renowned square of Naghsh-e Jahan (about both of which you can read here); Mesr desert is still one of the MUST see places for every traveler in Isfahan. Its raw and awe-inspiring natural beauty is the reason why Mesr is one of the few places that has kept its appeal to this day.
Mesr in Persian literally means “Egypt”, and there is a small village with the same name just next to this desert. The Mesr village itself is a beautiful example of desert-lifestyle in its purest form. Of course, because of the touristic nature of the Mesr desert, the locals are now living a better life. Yet they have kept the earthen structure of the houses alive and intact. Cob houses, domed roofs, and wooden doors are the identifying features of this village.
The name “Mesr” comes from a nearby modest and free-standing town of the same name. This little village, with only 180 residents, is located 55 kilometers from Khor, in the province of Isfahan. Village dwellings are constructed in the same manner as buildings in other Iranian desert places, with thatch walls, dome ceilings, and wooden doors, all of which are in keeping with the desert’s natural beauty.
A tiny stable is located next to each house, where the inhabitants keep turkeys, goats, and occasionally camels. While it’s true that Mesr village is not as famous as Mesr desert in Iran deserts, it’s still a very unique tourist destination. If you visited Mesr desert, you’ll also be doing local businesses and sustainable tourism a favor by visiting this small village.
It is probably more accurate to call it “Bafq Deserts” since the dryland of Bafq encircle around 3 deserts within itself! Unlike what you would expect from a desert, Bafq desert’s flora and fauna are glowing with life, and matchless compared to other deserts of Iran.
Distinctive plants and herbs like the mountain almond, wild rue, thymes, Alhagi, and Milkvetch are splattered about in different areas of Bafq. the more you advance to the southern areas of this desert, the thicker the plant life gets.
On the edges of Bafq salt pans, where the soil is richer and has more potential for life, wildlife has flourished immaculately compared to other deserts. Sighting groups of Chinkara, Leopard, Cheetah, Sheep and Asiatic mouflon that inhabit these lands are worth the trip alone.
The Halvan desert is located near a town with the same name. It is unique for the lively date palm gardens that lie in midst of Halvan’s beating heart. These garden’s sweet and fresh fruits are very delicious and, naturally, very popular with both tourists and locals.
Halvan’s nature is, similar to Bafq, relatively vibrant and diverse and herbs and plants like Gall weed, Twinleaf, and Green Ushnan grow in different parts of this desert. Golden eagles, Falcons, Bustards, and Partridges are some of the bird species soaring the skies of Halvan.
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It might interest you to know that this one’s name literally means “desert of the Jinn (genie)”. Mysterious stories and folklore about this desert made it famous and yet, not very popular compared to Iran desert destinations. At least, not until the recent decade. Some claimed to hear strange noises from this desert, and some others said whoever steps in Rig-e Jenn desert is bound to meet their doom.
Naturally, not many people were keen on visiting this mysterious land. During the past decade though, many of these false beliefs were banished and the rumors were proven to be just that: rumors. Years of fear of the unknown came to an end eventually. By then, the true potential of the Rig-e Jenn desert had become apparent.
Just an hour away from the city of roses, Kashan, the beautiful Maranjab desert is to the north of Aran and Bidgol town. Maranjab is one of the most favored deserts amidst all Iran desert tours, and numerous travelers from inside and outside the country visit its radiant landscape every day.
Camping in Maranjab is one of the must-try, once in a lifetime experiences, every visitor should put on their travel list! The sky of Maranjab is so clear and mesmerizing at night that one thinks reaching out for the stars is almost possible.
They seem closer than ever and, if you are lucky enough, you can catch the glowing sunrise by the morning and make your trip truly unforgettable. Whether it is the sunrise you get to watch, or you choose to sleep in and view the sunset’s colorful palette instead; having a camera by your side is a necessity.
One of the fewest of its kind, as well as the only Iran desert with such landform, Darak desert is a mesmerizing meeting point of desert and ocean. This desert is located in a small town with the same name, near the lovely city of Chabahar. Tourists love the Darak desert and it’s not just a popular Iran tourist destination, but one of the best Iran summer destinations too.
The city and most of its surroundings experience warm weather throughout the year! The hot weather had done little in terms of deterring its beauty though, and Darak’s blue skies and clear, turquoise waters are among the prettiest natural sights in Iran.
This desert and its surrounding attractions are visible on the southern part of the Iran desert map.