Shahdad is the largest town in the Takhab Oasis Region, located approximately 95 kms from Kerman via the mountain town of Sirch. Previous archaeological excavations were performed under the supervision of Dr. Ali Hakemi in the 1970's. The works found remains dating from 3000 - 4000 years ago, including residential houses, clay pottery workshops, and stone and metallic objects. There was also the world's oldest metallic banner, and mud men and women statues excavated from the Shahdad ancient sandy area. To learn more checkout both Tappeh-ye Kohne and Shahrak-e Kotuluha (City of Little People). Imamzadeh Zied is a 7th CE Safavid-era mausoleum that relates to the 6th Imam (Imam Gaffar Sadegh) generation. There is also Haj Mohammad Taghi Water Reservoir, Twin Water Mill, Sadeghi's House,Ramook and Shafiabad Castle/ Seljuk Caravansarai. The Takhab Oasis Region consists of 30 odd oasis villages with some local accommodation, camping, cows, date palms, and other farming land. The oranges from this region have been suggested as the best quality of Iran.
The landscape starts changing a few kilometres north of the last Takhab oasis village, where the desert becomes dominated by Yardings "sandcastles'), known as the "Kaluts." The unusual hills dominate the desert over an area of 145km-long and 80-km wide stretching towards Birjand. The Kaluts have been sculpted over thousands of years by unidirectional winds, however the locals might share more mythical stories with you.
Photograph in the Kalouts near Shahdad.
The 15km north of Shahdad in the Kaluts lies Shahdad Gandom Beryan, which has recorded the hottest surface temperatures on Earth - between 70 to 100° in summer - where most bacteria even cannot survive. Other attractions include: Salty River Flow with a high concentration of crystallised salt, a unique Desert Mirage, the Deepest Point in Iran, and Beautiful Star and a Moonlit Sky.
While there are budget lodgings in the Takhab oasis vicinity, the expansiveness of the Lut Desert provides several camping opportunities. There is an asphalt road between Shahdad and the Kaluts in addition to desert camps with water, electricity, telephone, kitchen and sanitary services. While you can travel outside Shahdad with a private car or taxi, it is recommended to go with a tour guide from Kerman or Shahdad. For two reasons: (1) You'll get the most from your trip seeing the best places, (2) Whether your Iranian or Foreigner, the local police strongly recommend all tourists check-in the local police station. The police are trying to keep tourists safe from Pakistan smuggling routes that have been difficult to control in the past. However the Iranian Government are improving the situation by throwing everything at the problem to keep travellers safe (including the kitchen sink!)
Traditional Camping at the Kaluts
To have the best experience from Shahdad and the Kaluts, we recommend taking a tour from Kerman between Autumn-Spring (skipping summer!), and also arranging camping nearby to watch sunset and the starlit sky for an unforgettable experience. The lights on the horizon create an inspiring canvas of shimmering brown and gold patterns, but photographers shouldn't exhaust their camera just yet, because after dark more opportunities exist for time lapse photos. After all who would want to stay couped up in a 5 Star hotel, when you can camp in a "Million Star Hotel" with pure silence. However day visits are also nice to explore the yardings barefoot in the sunshine.
Australian Photographer at the Shahdad Kaluts
Starlit Sky from the Shahdad Kaluts