Tourism in The Deserts of Iran
The landscapes of Iran, of rare beauty, constitute one of the main ones. The desert and semi-desert regions of Iran, which occupy nearly a third of the country's area, are increasingly visited by tourists...
The tourist attractions of Iran are very numerous. The landscapes of Iran, of rare beauty, constitute one of the main ones. The desert and semi-desert regions of Iran, which occupy nearly a third of the country's area, are increasingly visited by tourists (Iranian and foreign) seeking an escape from modern city life and appreciate the authenticity and silence of these places.
The Dasht-e Kavir
Dasht-e Kavir is the salty desert of Iran. It extends from the southeast of the Alborz Mountains to central Iran.
Two large national parks, both in terms of area and biodiversity, are located there. These are the Kavir National Park and Touran National Park (or Khar-Touran), both classified by UNESCO as Biosphere Reserves
Kavir National Park is located in the western part of Dasht-e Kavir, east of Salt Lake, 50 km southeast of Tehran. The neighboring cities are Qom, Kachan, Semnan and Isfahan.
The Touran National Park is located in the eastern part of Semnan province. This park is the second largest biosphere reserve in the world, after the Serengeti Reserve in Tanzania.
These two national parks are home to a few animal and plant species found only in Iran, such as the desert nightjar, a herbivorous lizard and some scorpions specific to the deserts of Iran. Some of these species - the Asian cheetah and the Iranian zebra, for example - are unfortunately in the process of extinction and are subject to international protection measures.
The Dasht-e Lout (or Dasht-e Lut)
The Desert of Lout, which stretches for hundreds of kilometers in the north-eastern part of Kerman province, is part of Unesco World Heritage.
The field studies of Dr. Parviz Kardovani, a researcher and professor of geography at the University of Tehran, showed that the center of this desert is the hottest place on Earth: 70 degrees Celsius in the shade, and maybe even 100 degrees in the sun; no form of life exists in this part of the desert, even bacterial life, hence the fact that a dead animal in this area does not decompose but dries up in the sun (the corpse of a cow discovered after some years is proof).
This part of the Desert of Lout - which means "naked" in Persian - is a "bare" place, without any plant.
There exists in this desert an exceptional and unique natural phenomenon, named kalut.
"Kalout" is a word formed by the addition of the word "kal" (which means "city" in Baluchi language) to the word "lout". The inhabitants of this region have named the deep corridors that have grown over time due to the erosive action of wind and rain. The wind, which blows about 120 days a year in this region, carries and displaces the sandy soil.
Rain (which is rare, but abundant when it occurs) turns the sand into a relatively thick paste; the wind gorges gorges that evoke the streets of an uninhabited city with houses built in clay bricks sun-dried. This ghostly city, consisting of parallel corridors stretching from north-west to south-east, which are 160 km long and 200 to 500 meters wide, is located at Forty kilometers from the city of Shahdad, that is to say in the western border of the Desert of Lout.
Excursions in the deserts of Iran
Traveling in the desert carries dangers. The desert is an inhospitable environment for the human being unprepared to stay there. In addition to the scorching heat during the day and lack of water (we only survive 48 hours without water in the desert) and the impressive cold during the night, the traveler could be faced with poisonous reptiles (scorpions , snakes and a poisonous lizard that only exists in Iran), other wild animals, winds that sometimes stand up suddenly and make the path go down, not to mention the fact that some desert areas in the south-east of Iran are currently areas in the hands of international drug traffickers, who have taken tourists hostage several times.
It is therefore safer to travel with organizations and guides who know the desert and know how to cope with the unexpected.
Another aspect that should be taken into account during excursions to these desert areas (as in all Nature-related trips) is the protection of ecosystems, which are necessarily disrupted by the frequentation of tourists.
To protect nature in Iran (and thus allow tourist trips to visit these places to continue), it is necessary that tourism organizations and travel agencies collaborate with the Department of Environmental Protection, and respect the restrictions put in place by this department.
It should also make tourists aware that they have a responsibility for the places they visit.
Let us see soon the day when no traveler in the desert will pour motor oil or plastic waste, will not tear any plant and will not capture any animal to carry it with you as a souvenir or other purposes.
Let us also hope that all travel agencies are committed to "responsible tourism".