25 images Created 9 May 2016
Dasht-e Lut: crossing the hottest place on Earth
"And as the desert offers no tangible riches, as there is nothing to see or hear in the desert, one is compelled to acknowledge, since the inner life, far from falling asleep, is fortified, that man is first animated by invisible solicitations. Man is ruled by Spirit. In the desert I am worth what my divinities are worth." - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry // I’ve long been a fan of deserts, having visited them on all continents and having traversed many in 4x4s or on camel. The names of the deserts are like beacons calling out to me: Atacama, Syrian-Arabian, Sahara, Thar, Gobi, Taklimakan, Namib, Kalahari, Kyzylkum, Karakum … But the one thing I was yet to do was walk across a desert, until now. And so, for my first expedition, I chose the Dasht-e-Lut in Iran (a desert I’d only visited the edge of). // The Dasht-e-Lut (or desert of emptiness) is one of the hottest and driest places on Earth. It has the distinction of having reached the highest land temperature on Earth of any recorded year ever (70.7C, 2005), and having the highest land temperature on earth for 5 near consecutive years around it. The Lut also is said to be the largest contiguous area of surface temperatures above 65°C of anywhere on Earth. // It is also a fascinating varied landscape – from some of the world’s highest sand dunes, to oven like flat lands covered in dark rocks, to massive star dunes, to kaluts, the local name for yardangs (unique eroded rock formations created in the driest places on Earth by directional winds). And it’s not too big – only a few hundred kilometres across. // Naturally, this is an uninhabited area. There are some oasis villages on the fringes of the desert, but nothing in the middle of it. Indeed, most people don’t ever go in it and many locals are unaware of the dunes to be found there. From what we know, while there are nowadays some 4x4 journeys into the desert either to the dunes or the kaluts, no one has succeeded crossing it on foot. // The journey was arduous not due to distance but due to conditions -- and this meant little time to focus on photography. These images do not do justice to the beauty of this desert, and I will return one day to photograph it properly. // In the meantime, for more background stories on the expedition itself, please visit my blog or my facebook page.