Dasht-e Kavir is a vast desert in the Iranian Plateau covering an area of about 77,600 km2 (29,962 sq mi). Also known as the Great Salt Desert, it is named after the large salt marshes that have formed on the land. The largest of these is Kavir Buzurg, measuring 320 km (198 mi) long by 160 km (99 mi) wide. One of the focal points of the region, the sand marshes become like quicksand in the dry season and are extremely dangerous to cross. The difficult climate and unwelcoming landscape Means much of the area is unexplored largely uninhabited. Settlements are restricted to bodies of water and vegetation (also known as oases). As a result, Dasht-e Kavir is unspoilt - a genuine wilderness untouched by human development and interference.
The climate is extremely dry and hot. Frequent heavy storms shape the land with colossal sand hills and distinct erosion. Salt marshes are created by surface evaporation through high temperatures and a lack of rain. As the land dries out, salt crusts form on the ground.
A number of tenacious wildlife species have adapted to desert environments. Camels, goats and leopards roam the mountainous areas, while Persian gazelles are at home in the central plateau. By nightfall, wolves, foxes and wild cats are likely make an appearance. Hardy vegetation such as shrubs and grasses has adapted well to the dry, hot weather and these plants thrive in the desert valleys and on mountain tops.
Desert trekking tours are available. They mostly use the desert oasis of Mesr as a base and would typically feature visits to local people to learn about their way of life, trekking in sand dunes and mountainous regions, visiting the Desert Museum and enjoying the starry desert sky at night, free from light pollution.