This Lut Desert trekking expedition through one of the hottest places on earth follows in the footsteps of Marco Polo and Thesiger and offers a cornucopia of geological phenomenon.
You’ll be trekking through this Iranian desert during the cool season and crossing from east to west through an ever-changing lunar-like landscape.
As a member of this pioneering expedition team you’ll traverse giant dunes, rock corridors, kaluts, meteorite fields and rocky plateaux, on foot, with support and water supply from 4WD vehicles.
- Walk in the footsteps of the greats like Wilfred Thesiger (crossing in 1964) and Marco Polo (north-
south expedition in 1271)
- Climb ‘star’ sand dunes
- Trek through parts of the old Silk Road
- Visit Kerman, one of the oldest cities in Iran and an ancient trading point
- See salt marshes and rare polygons as you cross the salt plains
- Pass through the Valley of Meteorites outside of Dehsalm
This epic 220km desert traverse remains a rare achievement, the desert having only ever been crossed on foot by a handful of adventurous travellers.
If you’re passionate about Persia and intrigued by Iran, experience the geology, the desert stars and the solitude on this boundary-pushing desert venture.
This expedition is achievable by anyone with a healthy lifestyle and a good level of general fitness. Enquire today for full details and to apply to join the expedition team.
Why you'll love this adventure
- Camp in tents beneath the vast desert skies
- Perfect for solo travellers
- This desert has only ever been crossed on foot by a handful of adventurous travellers
31 October 2021
13 November 2021
This trip can be tailor made for your perfect travel dates. Please make a booking enquiry for more information.
Rather than guided tours with set daily plan this expedition is run with a framework itinerary. The following is the outline plan for this Lut Desert trek expedition – the ‘substance’ rather than the specifics. A fuller itinerary is provided in the expedition handbook which is available when you make an enquiry.
- Professional expedition leader with full communications kit and medical kit.
- In-country support and vehicles.
- All transport as outlined in the itinerary except for airport transfers.
- Hotel, guesthouse or tented accommodation throughout.
- All food (snacks and meals) and soft drinks.
- Visa application assistance.
- International flights/ travel to and from Tehran and airport transfers.
- Travel insurance (obligatory).
- Visas where relevant.
- Tips to local guides (discretionary).
- Personal equipment (full kit list provided)
- Beverages and any costs of a personal nature.
- Any accommodation, travel or tour guide arrangements outside of the itinerary.
You will stay in mid-range hotels in Tehran and basic guesthouses (or equivalent) in Birjand, Kashit and Kerman. You will be camping while in the desert in tents provided by the expedition team.
The team will be accompanied by a cook while in the desert who will prepare basic but filling local dishes. In towns you will eat in local restaurants and eateries. In urban areas the team will visit local restaurants and cafés. Though sufficient calories will be provided by the organisers you may wish to bring your own snacks to supplement the food provided and to help keep personal morale high.
Who is this trip for?
This expedition is achievable by anyone with a healthy lifestyle and a good level of general fitness.
Team members should be willing to be part of a team working together to achieve the goal of the expedition. As a team member, you should have an adventurous and robust spirit. The biggest challenge on this 220km-long desert trekking expedition will be the long trekking days, the heat and the foot care in challenging and often sandy terrain.
Applicants will receive a handbook with further expedition information and fitness guidance and training ideas.
Teammates who arrive without meeting the agreed minimum fitness requirements can jeopardise themselves and the expedition’s goal so do take training seriously, prepare as appropriate and arrive fit and ready to go! Teammates must be comfortable with the following.
Minimum fitness requirements
- Trek: up to 30km per day across rocky, sandy and sometimes steep terrain. With a slower start, later daily distances will increase by several kilometres per day but a 25km daily distance is a good rule of thumb.
- Daily activity: up to 10hrs per day.
- Carry: up to 10kg in a day sack including water, layers and food.
- Swim: not required!
- Climate: very hot (up to 35C) and dry, potential sandstorms, cooler nights.
- Age: 21+
Please be aware that if you have an Iranian visa in your passport or have travelled to Iran (or a number of other countries), you may not be eligible for the USA ESTA visa waiver service and will be required to apply for an American visa for travel to the USA. In addition British, American and Canadian visitors to Iran must be accompanied at all times by a government approved guide – this is arranged by the expedition organisers for the duration of this expedition, however if you are extending your stay you will be responsible for ensuring you have an appropriate tour guide. These nationalities will also be required to provide a CV and links to social media profiles when applying for their visa.
Kaluts, also known as yardangs, stand like enormous sand castles. They are like broken teeth jutting up from the sand and punctuating the landscape as far as the eye can see. According to UNESCO, the Lut’s widespread Kalut system is the longest in the world at approximately 120km long and 80km wide. Kaluts are formed by wind erosion and can reach heights of 80m, although most are smaller hills and long elongated furrows. Between kaluts there are salty desert lands similar to ploughed lands, with a hard mineral base. Teammate photography from the Lut teaches us more about this incredibly diverse terrain from one year to the next, it is truly a jaw-dropping environment to be able to trek through.
A Nat Geo first
An Award-winning travel writer joined the group’s first ever expedition to cross the Lut in 2015. As a world first endeavor, this Iran expedition earned the attention of National Geographic – make an enquiry about the trip and we’ll send you a link to the article to read. This is great preparatory reading for anyone considering stepping up to this desert challenge in 2018 as it reveals the reality of life on the ground on this physically and mentally arduous and therefore highly rewarding expedition.
Salt plains and meteorites
The Lut Desert has a high potential for finding meteorites due to its persistently dry climate. A small collection that has come to be known as the Valley of Meteorites has been discovered approximately 100km from the village of Deh Salm. In the central Lut, massive flat plains can be found, covered with unusual shapes where saltwater has accumulated and been evaporated by the ferocious sun over the years. The team does not explore this exact region but the route encompasses a smaller example of this phenomena in the form of an evaporated inland lake, whose banks are covered with these salt-encrusted patterns.
Can I arrive a day late?
There is a chain of transport to get teammates out to and back from Tehran and so start and end dates are not flexible.
Can I charge my electricals?
This will be very challenging with limited access to power once the trekking section begins. Please ensure that you are self-sufficient in terms of charging your appliances by bringing things like spare batteries, lightweight solar panels or power packs to avoid frustration.
Do I need a visa?
Most nationalities require a visa to visit Iran, this can be a lengthy process. A visa application advice document will be provided to teammates, with visas remaining teammates’ responsibility.
Will there be toilets or showers?
There will be no toilets or showers available during the trek. You should be prepared to duck behind the nearest sand dune ‘al-fresco’ and limit yourself to wet-wipe washes. Toilet paper is generally burned. The water for this expedition is being carried by the support vehicles so there will not be enough to provide showers of any nature. Wet wipes are the way forward: you’ll all be in the same position so don’t worry about it.
Vegetarians and coeliacs may find they have very limited options in Iran. Feel free to supplement the meals provided with your favourite trail snacks. Give as much details as possible when applying to help us best provision the team.
How can I find out more?
Send a booking enquiry and we’ll get in touch with full details for you.
When it comes to getting off the beaten track these guys can’t be beaten. They lead pioneering expeditions to some of the most remote regions on earth. The organisers are dedicated to creating imaginative experiences for adventurers around the world and their team of expert military guides are some of the most experienced in the industry. Nowhere is off limits and no idea is too crazy. They have achieved ground breaking world firsts such as mountain biking in Afghanistan and mountaineering in Iraq and their first ever expeditions to walk across Madagascar and pioneer white water rafting in South Sudan both made the headlines…. and a bit of history.
Being wild and wacky is one thing but with their background as commanders in the British Army and experienced team of specialists in every kind of terrain and environment means that all of their adventures are thoroughly planned and the safety and security of teams is always their highest priority. Expeditions can be inherently risky, but they do everything possible to minimise potential hazards and for that, and the utterly extraordinary trips they put on, we salute them.
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