Dasht-e Lut, the hottest desert in the world

The hottest desert in the world is Dasht-e Lut, a salt desert located in southeastern Iran, specifically in the Kerman, Sistan and Baluchistan provinces. These regions are reknown for being some of the most arid and hot regions on our planet.

The Lut desert is considered one of the largest deserts on Earth; in fact, it is as much as 480 km long and 320 km wide, with an area of about 51,800 square kilometers, although it is not as large as the Sahara desert, which spans 11 countries in northern Africa.

Just as impressive in terms of world records, the Lut desert is also the hottest place on Earth with a recorded surface temperature of 70.7 °C (159.26°F), with areas unsuitable for human life.

The site was also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 2016.

Dasht-e Lut desert, Iran.
The hottest desert in the world: Dasht-e Lut, Iran.

Climate

The Lut desert covers much of the territory of Iran and has a hyper-arid climate with extremely low precipitation and hot temperatures year round.

Climatically speaking, Iran is part of the Afro-Asian desert belt from the Cape Verde Islands off West Africa to Mongolia, whereas geographically speaking, the country consists of a plateau surrounded by mountains and divided into drainage basins.

The largest of these basins is precisely the Dasht-e Lut, followed immediately by Iran’s other great desert, called the Dasht-e Kavir.

During the wet season of spring rains, water flows down from the nearby Kerman Mountains and floods the area, but in a very short period of time it dries up, leaving only rocks, sand and salt.

In addition, in this area, besides sand and dunes, which can be up to 300 meters high, there are also several rocky ridges, as well as numerous gorges and sinkholes.

Temperature now

Dasht-e Lut Iran
Dasht-e Lut Desert, Iran. Foto courtesy of Diego Delso.

The hottest desert in the world

The Lut Desert is especially known for being the hottest desert on Earth; in fact, measurements taken by Nasa, between 2003 and 2010, showed that its surface reached a record-breaking temperature of 70.7 °C, the highest ever recorded on our planet.

This is much hotter than the Sahara desert, the largest and most famous hot desert in the world.

Exploring Dasht-e Lut: the hottest desert in the world.

Gandom Beryan

To be exact, the highest temperature zone in this desert is Gandom Beryan, a plateau covered with solidified lava that is roughly 480 km² wide.

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According to local legend, the name Gandom Beryan, which means “toasted grain” in Persian, is said to derive from an incident as a result of which a load of grain was abandoned in the desert and subsequently burned by the heat within a few days.

For all the aforementioned reasons, no human settlement has ever been established in this area of the Lut desert.


Shahdad Desert, 30km east of Dasht-e Lut. Photo courtesy of Hussain Abri.

Hottest Desert FAQs

Where is Dasht-e Lut located?

The Dasht-e Lut desert is located in central Iran, spanning the provinces of Kerman and Sistan and Baluchestan.

The hottest area of Dasht-e Lut is a region called Gandom Beryan, a plateau covered with volcanic black pebbles in the Kerman region.

What is the meaning of the name Dasht-e Lut?

Dasht-e Lut in Farsi means empty desert (lit. “emptiness plain”), that is, an area completely void of water or vegetation.

The hottest area of the desert is called Gandom Beryan or “toasted wheat”, according to a local legend a load of wheat was left in the desert and got accidentally scorched by the heat.

Why is Lut desert so hot?

One of the reasons the surface of Dasht-e Lut is so hot is the presence of volcanic black stone, which absorb larger amounts of sunlight compared to white sand.

Another contributing factor is the total lack of vegetation due to salty terrain which makes it impossible for plants to grow.

Does it snow in the Lut desert?

Generally, it does not snow in Dasht-e Lut. But in 2014, there exceptionally was snow in the hottest desert in the world: the town of Shahdad has recorded 4 centimeters of snow, with its inhabitants witnessing the very first snowfall of their life.

How can I visit Dasht-e Lut?

The best way to get to the Lut desert is to leave from Kerman, get a bus, taxi or car drive to the village of Shahdad.

The area is famous for the kaluts, large natural sand formations. Alternatively you can arrange a guided tour or desert safari from Kerman.


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Read also: Sandboarding in Iran

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