Shahdad Desert Trekkers Need Facilities

Shahdad Desert Trekkers Need FacilitiesShahdad Desert Trekkers Need Facilities

Three weeks into the fall, northern and mountainous parts of Iran are getting a bit cold for tourist activities. Farther south, instead, the travel season in Shahdad Desert, Kerman Province, is about to begin.

Located at the edge of Lut Desert, Shahdad is the last human settlement where trekkers prepare to venture into the depths of Lut. No other inhabitations are to be found miles around, Mehr News Agency reported.

Desert charms aside, Shahdad’s antiquity is of high interest to anthropologists and geologists. The oldest metal flag in human history was found in the city. The bronze flag dates back to 2400 BC. It depicts a man and woman facing each other, one of recurrent themes in contemporary regional art.

Around Shahdad are numerous remains of cities and states dating back to 5,000 years.

Shahdad is renowned for having the hottest surface temperature on Earth. The hot spot is called Gandom-Beryanak (Roasted Wheat) that is visited by about 50,000 tourists each year.

Europeans comprise a considerable portion of the figure. They are not accustomed to hot days of Shahdad Desert that are 73° C at the peak. Shahdad city is no retreat from the scorching heat either. It gets well above 50. It is usually not recommended to stay in the sun during spring and summer. Tourist activities are thus limited to nights.

However, weather is moderate in fall and becomes tolerable. This time of the year, the air is 27° C at maximum, encouraging tourists to pay a visit to the hottest spot in the world.

Unfortunately, the desert camp of Shahdad cannot accommodate tourists that have crossed continents just to be there.

Inadequate lodging facilities pose a problem. Flood damaged the Shahdad Desert Camp a few years ago. It resembles a ruin, with no hut fit enough to house the tourists.

Water taps have been stolen. There is no water in the remaining pipes and no electricity either. Such conditions in the only official lodging center in the region in the high season of desert tourism are unacceptable.

There is no hotel in Shahdad city to compensate for the loss of the camp. To find a place to stay in, tourists have no option but to take refuge in schools, mosques and shrines.

“Yet foreign visitors to Kerman are increasing in number, while domestic tourists have decreased,” Kerman Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Department’s director for tourism, Mohammad Jahanshahi, said.

 Unique Attractions

Shahdad Desert has unique attractions, including yardangs, nebkas, starry nights, Roud-Shour (Briny River) and the highest sand dunes in the world located in Rigan County.

“European tourists are fascinated with the desert beauties,” Jahanshahi said, while attesting to the unbefitting condition of Shahdad Desert Camp.

“We recommend tourists to stay in local houses and eco-lodges. They will thus become more familiar with the local people and their lifestyle.”

Meanwhile, the historical fortress of the region is undergoing restorative operations. Once restored, the fortress will be revamped to house tourists. Shahdad Desert Cap, however, is not forgotten.

“We are not only after a place to stay in. Many people come to the desert to enjoy its peaceful ambiance and watch the night sky. Now that the camp is ruined, they go and set up their tents somewhere else, like around yardangs,” desert tour organizer, Ali Masoudi, said.

When the Shahdad Desert Camp was functioning, everyone could afford and enjoy desert tourism.

“In and around the camp, people used to walk on sands and watch the stars. They have pleasant memories of this place. There was no problem here. There must be someone responsible for the present condition of the camp,” Masoudi added.

Eco-lodge is not a bad option, but it is expensive and should not be the only option.

“In several tours to Kerman, Shahdad Desert Camp was a constant item in our itinerary,” traveler Ali Hazrati said.

The last time Hazrati visited the camp, he was shocked to find it bereft of all conveniences and facilities.