26 March 2017

Impressions and Images of Iran: Color Mountains and the Sandcastles of Dasht-e Loot

My visit to the Dasht-e Loot (Desert of Emptiness) is perhaps one of the most memorable parts of my trip. The Dasht-e Loot is a large salt desert in southeastern Iran, and is the world's 25th largest desert. It is also one of the world's hottest and driest places. Of the 21 World Heritage Sites in Iran (of which I have seen 9), this is the only site that is inscribed under the natural criterion.

I went here with an arranged car. It was an overnight trip, as I have said earlier, including a visit to Bam and Rayen, and an overnight stay in a small village by the edge of the desert. The Dasht-e Loot is a wide expanse of nothingness, with small oases in between, as well as interesting patches of geology.

Take for example, the area that is called the Color Mountains. The pictures above show you that. It's an area of mountainous terrain next to the road, and for some reason, they have differing shades of red and brown. I am not sure if it's an illusion, but it is definitely not a camera trick.

What are these structures, you might ask? These are yardangs. These geological formations result from wind erosion, when you have centuries and centuries of wind flowing in a single direction, then the earth is shaped into these shapes. These things are huge, as tall as ten-storey buildings. Climbing them can be fun. We were there for the sunset, when we slowly saw the sun disappear behind these things, as well as for the sunrise the day after. Yeah, I woke up at 3:30 AM in the middle of the desert, just to see these things. Amazing stuff!

So yeah, definitely I could say that this was the highlight of my second week in Iran. As much as I liked Isfahan, I must say I like the desert better. Not a lot of travelers reach this place, most of them don't have enough time to get here, and therefore they just prioritize the cultural hot spots of the central cities of Isfahan, Shiraz, and Yazd. But if you manage to get here, it is definitely an amazing sight. I say it is totally worth it.


  1. Amazing, indeed! I can't imagine this kind of dry heat... I don't think I've ever experienced it. Even Alice Spring in Australia didn't really *feel* like a oven, not that I can remember anyway.

    1. Zhu,

      Fortunately, I wasn't there during the middle of summer, so the heat was milder. And frankly, it wasn't oppressive at all. But then again, we were there during sunset and sunrise, so of course it would be hotter during the middle of the day.