If you love adventure, hiking and exploring new horizons you might want to consider Iran as a destination. We recently ran the story, an incredible expedition in Iran carried out by non-profit organisation Women on a Mission (WOAM). Twelve members of WOAM became the first all-female expedition to cross Iran’s Dasht-e-Lut (Lut Desert), a UNESCO World Heritage Site whose name means “emptiness” in Persian. Temperatures of 70 degrees Celsius have been recorded (by some accounts, it’s the hottest place on the planet!) here so if you’re up for a challenge read on.
We’ve had the opportunity to speak with a couple of members of the Iranian team who guided the 12 women on their quest. Xtreme Adventure consists of six guides from Tehran; they’re all friends – three of them are brothers – and they share a common passion for exploring the desert.
Maggie Cooper, a member of the WOAM expedition, had this to say about the intrepid guides: ‘They’re the warmest group of people you will meet, offering true Iranian hospitality, and making a trip a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. They do everything for you, from setting up breakfast and cooking fresh eggs daily, to providing watermelon breaks, Nutella with traditional bread as sweet delightful snacks, and delicious Persian meals for lunch and dinner.’
Xtreme’s team leader Merhdad Ghazvinian and fellow guide Mohammed Noroozi have worked with National Geographic, taking teams through the desert by foot and in vehicles, and they’ve also led NASA on research expeditions. (The desert shares some similar characteristics with the moon’s terrain.) Clearly, their work extends further than just trekking – in fact, they’ve become the “go-to team” for exploring every facet of the desert. Merhdad, for example, has been called upon to provide expert knowledge to military and police officials as they look for lost people or infiltrators. The WOAM expedition members labelled him a ‘desert fox’ on account of his smooth and cunning approach to discovering new things in the captivating yet deadly terrain.
We asked them a couple of questions for you.
What types of trips do you offer and who do they suit?
We explore new parts of the Lut Desert on every new trip, venturing to areas that are almost totally untouched. Each expedition is completely tailored to the desire and fitness level of the group or individuals who are planning a trip in this untamed land. We adapt ourselves to the pace of the group, and every day is flexible to ensure that travellers make the most of their time.
What do your tours include?
We take a maximum of 12 people – there’s no minimum number. Xtreme Adventure has developed over time, growing trust and bonds with local desert communities in the Balochistan region, on the border of Pakistan, which has been out of reach to all until recently. With Iran’s beautifully diverse landscape, from mountains, lakes and oceans, and activities from desert trekking to skiing, there really is something for everyone.
What’s the most amazing item you’ve discovered in the desert?
A 64-kilogram meteorite!
Can you describe for us the routes and the changing landscapes we can expect to see when crossing the Lut Desert?
The routes are new every time, as the team pushes unknown boundaries in search of new magical viewpoints. The landscapes can go from black mountains to yellow mega dunes up to 400 metres high; you’ll also see meteorite valleys, the so-called “snake tongue canyon”, the “eye of the Lut”, star-shaped dunes, and the kalut (sandcastle-like rock formations).
To get in touch with Xtreme Adventure, contact Mehrdad Ghazvinian at +98 912 1321528 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.