The Lut Desert in south eastern Iran is the hottest place on earth.
Where these photographs where taken, it was 55°C (131°F). It felt like my eyeballs were boiling in their sockets. Here the wind doesn’t cool you, it burns you like the air that escapes from an oven.
About 200km down the road from here, it reaches a mind-bending 70°C (158°F).
Parts of the desert, carved by the wind and blasted by the scorching heat for millennia, resemble another planet.
Staring out at the desert’s expanse, the words Buzz Aldrin used to describe the lunar surface – ‘magnificent desolation’ – came to mind.
Amazingly, a few people do live here. Life is possible due to an underground network of qanats (water channels) dug centuries ago that bring water from the far away mountains to the heart of the desert. They are maintained by a handful of desert dwellers.
Almost delirious with the heat, I asked one of them – my guide – why he lived in the desert.
“Everyone asks me that,” he said with a chuckle.
“It’s the qanats. They are like my children. I have to look after them, I have to keep the water flowing.”