Secret Compass team cross the Lut desert in Iran.


media release: 30/11/15

Photography by Secret Compass

Media Release: 30/11/15

Iran expedition success: World-first Lut desert crossing

A pioneering Secret Compass expedition team has just become the first commercial team to trek across Iran’s remote Lut Desert (also known as the Dasht-e-Lut) from east to west.

The Lut Desert is home to the hottest recorded point on the Earth’s surface and is currently being considered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its unique desert environment.

Iran Lut Desert trek image
Iran Exped Detail Hero Lut Desert

Highlights of the Lut Desert crossing

  • World’s first commercial team to trek across the Lut Desert
  • Original exploration in a newly UNESCO-nominated region
  • Meteorites were spotted and vast starry skies had zero light pollution
  • Salt plains, kalut rock formations and star dunes were explored
  • A contemporary visit to a place visited by Marco Polo in 1271
  • 2016 Facts: 30 Oct – 12 Nov, 14 days, £2,999 all incl. except flights

Secret Compass expedition leader Luca Alfatti, a former ‘Wanderlust Guide of the Year’, led the 11-strong team on this physically demanding world-first desert traverse.

Alfatti said, “In my long guiding career, our team’s success in Iran’s Lut Desert is one of my most memorable experiences. The team bonded incredibly well, progress was good if demanding and our only niggles were with the inevitable blisters.”

Co-leader Greg Coe added, “As a tip for next year, team mates wearing Alt-Berg desert boots fared the best, avoiding the serious blisters suffered by others. I’d personally recommend that anyone undertaking an arduous, multi-day desert expedition buy appropriate, desert-specific boots.”

Diplomatic relations easing

Tom McShane, operations director at Secret Compass, said, “With diplomatic relations easing between Iran and the West, travel to the region is likely to increase with Iran on many ‘emerging travel destinations’ lists for 2016.
“Secret Compass aims to carry out pioneering and often world-first expedition aims in the world’s wildest places. The isolated and remote Lut Desert was therefore an ideal expedition staging zone.

“Other Secret Compass world-firsts include being the first commercial expedition company to pioneer tourism into South Sudan and to cross Madagascar coast to coast, and the first to organise mountain biking in both Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor and to Ethiopia’s highest peak.”

Tom Bodkin, director of Secret Compass, said, “With our ex-military background, we offer adventurous expeditions to countries eschewed by most due to their remoteness, post-conflict reputations or inaccessibility. They’re not tours, they’re a real challenge and they’re what adventurous travellers increasingly want.

“On Thursday 26 Nov 2016, we’re thrilled to host an ‘Iran: Audience with Adventure’ event in Bristol. There’ll be a director’s screening of Iran adventure film ‘Karun’, followed by a Q&A with an expert panel including director Tom Allen, motorbike adventure author Lois Pryce and National Geographic journalist Mark Stratton, who was on our world-first Iran expedition.”

For 2016, Secret Compass expedition and adventure travel destinations include Afghanistan, Armenia, Burma, Ethiopia, Gabon, Iran, Kurdistan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Panama, Siberia and the Sinai desert. Activities range from mixed-terrain trekking and minimalist desert traverses, to mountain-biking and horseback expeditions.

The link to Secret Compass’s ‘Iran: Desert Stars and Solitude’ expedition film is here. For further press information on Secret Compass expeditions in 2016, contact Kerry O’Neill.

——- ends ——-

Woman with rucksack and walking poles in Iran's Lut Desert
2 trekkers taking on the Lut Desert

Press Factsheet download

View or download our Factsheet (one-page PDF) outlining Secret Compass and its upcoming expeditions.

Notes for editors

Secret Compass redefines what is possible by creating pioneering projects in the world’s wildest places. Secret Compass is built around a team of trusted experts who combine a passion for exploration with industry-leading professionalism. Secret Compass reignites your primal need for adventure, providing the catalyst for you to come alive and achieve the extraordinary. Meet Secret Compass HQ staff and a selection of its expedition professionals.

Expedition Types include Epic, Cultural Immersion, Adventure Academy and Classics Redefined. Expedition styles include mixed-terrain trekking, jungle trekking and minimalist desert traverses, to mountain-biking, rafting and horseback expeditions. Secret Compass welcomes applications from anyone with a good level of fitness who’s keen to achieve the extraordinary in the world’s wildest places.

Secret Compass destinations

View current expeditions filtered by region here. Past, current and upcoming destinations include Afghanistan, Argentina, Armenia, Bhutan, Burma/ Myanmar, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Egypt’s southern Sinai desert, Ethiopia, Gabon, Georgia, Greenland, the Himalayas, Iceland, India (Arunachal Pradesh), Iran (Mount Damavand and the Lut Desert), Iraqi Kurdistan, Kamchatka, Kilimanjaro, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Malawi, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, North Korea, Panama, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Siberia, Socotra, South Sudan, Sudan (the Bayuda desert), Uganda, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and more.

Secret Compass TV and Film

Secret Compass TV and Film is trusted by production companies and brands to capture the extraordinary in remote and wild regions thanks to its unrivalled location and risk-management expertise. Credits include location-managing Channel 4’s Walking the Nile/ Himalayas and Americas series with Levison Wood, alongside projects for the BBC, National Geographic, Animal Planet, the Discovery Channel and more.

Secret Compass Brand Projects

Secret Compass Brand Projects works with brands on projects designed to create the extraordinary in the world’s wildest places. Unique branded content and other projects have to date been staged in destinations from South Sudan and the DRC to Greenland and Finnish Lapland. Clients to date include Mitsubishi, Sony, Nespresso, Giro, Xbox and Jagermeister.


For further information concerning Secret Compass bespoke and team expeditions, TV and Film, or Branded Projects: