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Kalout: Ancient Structures Shaped by Wind and Rain

The land of Amazement in the Lut desert

Kalout is a fantasy city which is created in the middle of the desert by the hands of wind and rain. The amazing structures of Kalouts have been created over the centuries by the movements of the wind in the soft sands of the desert.

Lut Desert is a treasure in the center of Iran, hiding many mysteries in its heart.

The amazing structures of Kalouts have been created over the centuries by the movements of the wind in the soft sands of the desert. Each time it rains in Lut, new shapes appear and previous ones change dramatically.

So, each time you travel to Kalouts, you may not recognize the forms you have had seen on your previous journey and it may look like a completely new land.

A river in the heart of desert

As well as natural architectures of Kalouts, another powerful element helps in forming the absurd sand structures of Lut. Shour River is the only permanent river of the desert which stems from Birjand Mountains and travels 200 km in the heart of Lut desert, before it reaches the salt mine of Shahdad.

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The water of Shour River contains such a great amount of salt in it which looks like yogurt at the end of its path. Shour River moisturizes the walls of Kalouts and forms them in an artistic way. Much to geologists’ amazement and despite the recent droughts, Shour River still has water and is not dried up.

Spice Road: the 400-year-old path crossing the Kalouts

In the past, Kalouts had been located in the middle of Spice Road, which was the primary mean of transferring spices from India to the north of Khorasan. It was built around 400 years ago and due to its significance role in trades between India and Iran, was as famous as Silk Road. Spice trade is considered as an important cultural interaction between historical civilizations of Asia which at first, started before the beginning of the Christian era, where the actual roots of spices were associated with fabulous tales.

 Where to stay while visiting the Kaluts?

Shahdad Desert Camp
Shahdad Desert Camp

Kalouts are like a vast city, with 110 kilometers length and 50 kilometers width, thus considering visiting them without a guide does not sound such a good idea. In addition, Lut desert is among the hottest spots of Iran and you should be very careful about accommodating here.


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In recent years, some desert camps have been built within 20 kilometers from Shahdad for visitors who wish to spend the night between the Kalouts. These camps are called “Kutu”, meaning pergola in local language, to help travelers escape the heat of the desert in the day and relax during the night. Kutus are made from wood and provide the guest with water, electricity and shower.

Don’t miss out the wonderful Nebkas of the desert!

Nebka is the vessel of desert created by wind.

Due to the harsh circumstances of Lut desert, no life exists here, except for some specific types of plants, which are actually among the greatest attractions of Shahdad. Tamarisk trees grow on the flat parts of the Lut, where the amount of sand is average and the level of underground water is high or there is sufficient moisture for plant growth.

With the blowing of the wind, the plants try to grow higher in order to avoid being buried under the sands and as a result, vase-shaped sediment starts to form at the bottom of the trees which is called Nebka. Consequently, Nebka’s ingredients include sand-lime and clay and their heights in some cases reach to over 12 meters, which means they are as big as a 4-storey building! This natural phenomenon is one of Shahdad’s attractions and tourists don’t miss visiting them during their trip to Lut desert.

Lut is well worth a trip!

Despite the simplicity of the desert, Lut has a lot to offer. Kalouts, Shour River, Nebkas and amazing starry nights of the desert, are just a few attractions you may encounter on your journey to this part of Iran. If you are planning to visit this UNESCO’s world heritage site, we recommend you taking a tour with an experienced guide to introduce you the beauties of Lut desert, as there is a lot you don’t want to miss out!

In conclusion, Kalout is an ever-changing, enigmatic city in the heart of Iran’s desert, Lut. Formed by natural elements like wind and rain, its unique structures perpetually transform, revealing new shapes and altering familiar ones with every rainfall. This makes every visit to Kalout a unique experience, as the city’s landscape continuously evolves, presenting itself as a new land to its visitors each time. The mystical city of Kalout embodies the power of nature’s artistry and the thrilling allure of an unfathomable desert mystery.

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Parisa Bakhtiari

I am passionate about reading, writing, traveling and discovering new worlds. That's how I learn about life!

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