Wandering around a landscape covered with hundreds of natural, towering sculptures in Shahdad desert, which resembles a Star War Hollywood scene, sounds tempting to any adventurous traveler.
Raised from the sands and water and created by the wind, these geological landforms are known as “Kalouts” and are among the most mysterious and astonishing attractions located at the edge of Dasht-e-lut in the center of Iran. This magnificent region has been listed among the World Heritage sites of the world, registered by UNESCO. Moreover, it has been among the most popular touristic destinations in Iran recently.
The amazing landscapes are mainly caused by strong winds of Semnan, which blow 120 days of the year between June to October and erodes the wall of the Kalouts. The only permanent river of Dasht-e Lut, stemming from the north-western mountains of Birjand, is another important natural phenomenon which influences the formation of these giant mud sculptures. It is called Roud-Shour (Briny River) and contains a huge amount of salt and minerals.
The scenery created by the Kalouts looks absolutely unbelievable and at a distance, they seem like the ruins of an empty city with huge rocky houses. That’s why some locals call it “the ghost city”. No life exists here and this desert is considered to be an abiotic zone, meaning no creature or plant survives in such severe condition. In fact, as you move towards the Kalouts in Shahdad from Sirch city, less and less plants are observable.
However, watching Nebka trees, which are vase-shaped sand dunes formed around vegetation, on your way to Kalouts would be one of the most beautiful attractions of Shahdad desert, as their heights in some cases reach 10 meters (Nebka trees of Africa deserts are only 3 meters high).
The tranquility of the desert, where the last signs of human presence have been disappeared miles away, is truly incomparable to other touristic sites in Iran and definitely impresses the visitors deeply. The clear sky makes it possible to appreciate a wonderful sunset or sunrise between the golden sand castles of the desert.
The deadly 2019 floods devastated most provinces of iran. these floods left an entirely different kind of mark on Kalouts desert landscape and cut off the main road leading from Kerman to Afghanistan , a large enchanting lake , dotted with island_spires , has served as a favoured picnic spot for locals and vagabond tourists alike over the past months. according to estimates, the lake will remain for another year or two .
However, since the region is renowned for being one of the hottest locations in the world, it is recommended to be visited only during the coolest seasons of the year, as the attractiveness of the desert in warmer seasons is limited to nights.
Meanwhile, for those who are interested in astronomy, observing the stars in Shahdad’s clear sky with no light pollution would definitely be a highlight of their trip to Iran.
If you are seeking thrilling and exciting activities, You can even try riding a camel or just chill out while having a friendly conversation with the locals and other visitors to get familiar with their lifestyle and culture.
As there’s no wild animals in Kalouts desert and the weather is very good in its season, it’s recommended to stay overnight and enjoy one thousand stars sky, peacefulness, tea and food on the fire .