A brief translation of the famous Swedish explorer and geographer, Sven Anders Hedin’s words in his book written about Iran’s deserts in 1905:
The desert with its wondrous magical power lures me in. My heart wants to rush to it and listen to the great silence that rides like a cloud on its surface. The freedom and solitude was mine to grab in the depths of the desert. Here, among the leafless trees, there was an eternal and imaginative silence dominantly present; this silence was calling me to an endless desert.

Lut Desert, Kalouts

Lut Desert, Kalouts

Stepping into these truly fantastic remote places, will show you breathtaking landscapes created by wind erosion, a unique desert flora and fauna, salt lakes, salt crystal polygons, golden sand dunes, beautiful hot sunny days and starry night sky in mystical silence, all of which come hand in hand to create a lifelong memory. There are varieties of desert attractions spread out through the country. Each with their own beauty and wonders to offer.
Iran has vast deserts forming almost 25 percent of its land. There are two main deserts, Dasht-e Lut, UNESCO World Heritage, located in the Southeast of Iran, and Dasht-e Kavir, in the middle of Iranian plateau, which are among the most interesting and at the same time, one of the least explored parts of the country.
Other than Lut and Central Desert, these two major properties, there are other salt lands, which can be found in most parts of the country, except for the wetlands. Desert lands, depending on the areas in which they are located, can be divided into four groups.
1- Semi-arid such as Kaboodan Desert in East Azerbaijan Province, Mahabaad Desert in West Azerbaijan and Miqan Desert in the central province. 2- Arid, such as Hoz-e Soleyman, Masileh and Maranjab in Qom province. 3- Semi desert, such as Saqand, Abarkuh, Marvast and Chah-e Afzal of Ardakan in Yazd province. 4- Desert, such as Kevirs or salty desert parts of Lut desert, which have created a magnificent plant-less scenery, bearing the unique salt crystals in different shapes and forms such as polygons and blisters as far as the eye can see.

Lut Desert, Salt River (Rood Shoor)

Lut Desert, Salt River (Rood Shoor)

 

The sand dunes located in East part of Lut Desert locally called Rig-e-Yalan is a marvelous natural destination that stands out the most amongst all. Considering a vegetation encompassing sandstone plants such as stipagrostis plumosa, haloxylon and calligonum distinguishes the scattered flora in this area. Rig-e-Yalan animal species includes rüppell’s fox, indigenous birds of the desert area and falcons.

Salt lakes like Khoor, Maranjab and Hoz-e Soltan are amongst the popular natural attractions of Iran Deserts. Hoz-e Soltan (means ruler’s pond) Lake located near Qom is a seasonal Salt Lake, resembling a gigantic natural mirror as its shallow water covers a vast plain of salt deposits. The lake is said to be a suitable place for breeding a kind of shrimp, called Armita. Best timing for visiting this lake starts from late autumn through early spring.    

  • National parks & protected areas:

Kevir National Park, the Preserved Area of Khar-Touran and Kalmand & Bahadoran Protected Zones are amongst the most famous protected areas located in Iran deserts. They come together in bearing some endemic species.

There are some valuable endemic species such as Zagh e Boor, Asian cheetah and Asian Zebra in Khar-Touran.

Kevir National Park is among the biosphere reserves of the world. This national park is home to some unique wildlife species including, Persian Onager, Asiatic Cheetah, Leopard, Striped Hyena, Caracal, Beech Marten, Flamingo and even Ruddy Shelduck.

The Kalmand & Bahadoran Protected Zones in Yazd province encompass diverse species of vegetation and animals; to name a few, bustard, Iranian gazelle, and Jeibir.

  • Some of the main Urban and Rural Destinations of Iran’s Deserts:
the tall Wind Towers of Dowlat Abaad Garden, Yazd Province

the tall Wind Towers of Dowlat Abaad Garden, Yazd Province

  1. Yazd: One of the main desert cities of Iran, close to spice and silk roads, is Yazd. Many tourists visit Yazd every year for its unique environment and desert style architecture. Yazd is known as the city of wind towers. A fair point worth mentioning is that it has been recognized as a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE (2017); it has gained the title of the Mud-Brick City. A trip to this city is going to teach you all you ever wanted to learn about life in desert cities and how people adapt to the special environment of their hometown.
  2. Kashan: Let us resume with the city of Golab (Rose water) and the birthplace of famous Iranian artists, Kashan, which is one of the oldest cities in Iran. Tourism Capacity, Natural and Historical spots and variety of climates attracts every visitor. Kashan has some breathtaking highlights. For instance the lavish Fin Garden, UNESCO World Heritage Site. A historical legacy that contains the famous Fin Bath belonging to the long list of Persian Gardens, Agha Bozorg Mosque & School and historical Tabatabaeiha Borujerdiha and Ameriha Houses. The details and special features of the architecture is truly a treat for the eyes.
  3. Kerman: Next, Kerman, anciently known as Carmania, where the human settlement dates back to almost 4thmillennium BC. This city is rich in historical and cultural legacies, which you will come across in every twist and turn, like the old wall surrounding the city or the traditional icehouses, wind towers, etc. Not to mention Ganj Ali Khan Complex, a massive and magnificent complex including a vast variety of buildings and structures composing of a school square, caravanserai, public bath, mosque and covered bazaar with many handicrafts to offer, including traditional copper dishes.
  4. Mahan: Last but not least, Mahan, which is well known for the tomb of the great Sufileader Shah Ne’emat Ollah-e-Vali, as well as Shazdeh Garden (Prince Garden), WORLD HERITAGE SITE. The tomb of Shah Nur-eddin Nematollah Vali, poet, sage, Sufi and founder of an order of dervishes, has twin minarets covered with turquoise tiles from the bottom up to the cupola.
  5. Visitors top desert towns & villages: There are also some villages and towns worth mentioning like Mesr, Farahzad, Bayazeh, Arusan, Anarak, Iraj, Khoor& Biyabanak, Jandagh, varzaneh, Ashin, Abozyd Abaad and Mehrjan. Each offering their own uniqueness and similarities that they share.
  • Top special destinations and activities of Iran’s deserts:

Some of the most popular destinations in terms of Desert Adventure in Iran are Lut Desert and Dasht-e Kavir. The names that will ring a bell the most are probably Maranjab, Mesr and Abozyd Abaad.

  1. Lut Desert:

 The first and the most famous desert among tourists is Lut Desert or Dasht-e-Lut, UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE, which forms one of the vast desert areas in Iran, located in south east of the country. In Persian Lut means bare and due to its lack of water and vegetation, it has earned the name, Lut. This area is divided into northern, central and southern parts. Kerman, Khorasan and Sistan-Baluchestan provinces form part of the surrounding areas of this desert. This arid and high temperature area is guarded by mountains, in a sense that whilst walking on an arid and bare desert you can have the contrasting view of snowcapped mountains. According to annual reports, among some years, this desert has had the record of one of the hottest places on earth: a temperature of 70.7 C. It is an arid subtropical desert renowned for a massive variety of different and beautiful landforms. This area is rich with its own flora and fauna adapted to harsh natural conditions. There are lots of settlements in forms of villages (approximately 28 villages) particularly on the western edge, including Shahdad and the surrounding areas. A mesmerizing natural feature of Lut Desert is Yardang, with the local name of Kalout; Resembling sand castles in different sizes and forms. Looking from a distance, you will see the mirage of a desert city with skyscrapers scattered around it. However, they are actually Yardangs, created along thousands of years by wind and water erosion. All these unique landmarks come hand in hand to form an exceptional desert area with spectacular geomorphological beauties, which led to this desert being registered as a UNESCO WORLD HERITTAGE SITE.

 

Rig-e Yalan, Lut Desert

Rig-e Yalan, Lut Desert

Rig-e Yalan on the east side of Lut Desert and Hamada Plain in central Lut, as well as Yardangs on the west, are the most beautiful sceneries of Lut Desert, turning it into a luxuriously untouched and pristine destination.

Another natural feature of Lut Desert is its vegetation of Nebka, which has graced this desert with its one of a kind beauty.  The plant that forms on top of these Nebkas are called the local name of Gaz. take years to develop and beside their beauty they keep the moisture of the soil and acts as a barrier against sand movement, which keeps the area from tuning into a complete dry land. In comparison to the Nebkas in Libya and Sahara of Africa, the ones in Lut Desert, Iran are much higher and sometimes grow up approximately 12 meters.

Some other beauties of this desert which capture the visitors’ eyes are some land forms scattered in shapes of salt polygons, tepee fractured, small salt blisters and gypsum dunes.

The seasonal Salty River that flows into the desert from the northern part, is another paradox natural beauty of Lut.

A safari trip through this land and camping at night to watch the sunset from among the Yardangs will be forever engraved in your memory.

Lut Desert, Salt Crystals

Lut Desert, Salt Crystals

 

  1. Dasht-e Kavir (Central Desert):

Dasht-e Kavir or the Central Desert, the vastest desert of Iran located in the middle of the Iran plateau, stretches from the southern face of Alborz Range to Jandaq Mountains in Isfahan Province. This desert is surrounded by Khorasan, Semnan and Isfahan provinces. Some marsh areas are scattered on the surface of this desert. On the outer edges, some sandy hills and high land could be seen scattered.

Dasht-e Kavir, sandy dunes

Dasht-e Kavir, sandy dunes

 

A desert road worth bringing up, as it cannot be compared to any other road in Iran deserts, is the dreamy road passing through the heart of Dasht-e Kavir, with its mysterious desert silence. It starts from Damghan City in the North and ends to “Jandagh” town in the South. Driving along this desert road, you will experience unique views and mesmerizing mirages.       

When you enter the desert from Northside, you arrive to beautiful unexpected green villages like Rasham, Moaleman and Husseinian and after a journey through these villages, your eyes meet these colorful hills called Sar-Kevir (the beginning of kevir), which are staked like color pencils beside each other. By walking on these hills you would be amazed, when you fix your eyes upon the endless desert horizon. At the end of this vast desert you will be welcomed by the beautiful saffron fields of Jandaq.  

Farahzad Village, Mesr Desert, Dasht-e Kavir

Farahzad Village, Mesr Desert, Dasht-e Kavir

 

Dasht-e Kavir is a mix of sand and salt. Against the odds, oases exist within these desolate environs, home to villages that are sustained by the wells of sweet water.

  • Kavir National Park:

An important part of the central desert is Kavir National Park, known as “Little Africa”, 440,000 hectares. A protected ecological zone. This park includes a flat desert and steppe landscapes.

This protected and ecological park in Iran is for travelers who are looking for a safari-like wildlife. It is Located in the central desert, home to the rare wildlife  species such as Asian Zebra, wild goats, Eagles, falcons and so on. This natural reserved park bears fascinating historical monuments such as Qasr-e-Bahram Caravanserai, Nahr-e-Sangi and Sang-Farsh.  

Speaking of which, one of the dazzling accommodations of this area is Qasr-e-Bahram or Siyah Kouh caravanserai. The outward appearance is made of polished pink stones, which is one of its unique features. On The northern part of Qasr-e-Bahram, lies the stone pavement or Sang-Farsh, also known as the Shah Abbas way, which is also a part of the Silk Road.

A unique feature of the desert area is its water supply system. The stone water channel is one of the masterpieces of water supply in desert areas, which is provided the required portable water for Qasr-e-Bahram, from a spring with bitter water called Shah Spring. The channel was made by joining long stone units to each other.

 

Natural phenomena of the Kavir National park are countless. However, if we were going to mention one above all, that would be Namak Lake or Salt Lake, which sits outside the parks boundaries. As there is very minimum, rainfall in this area, the lake is mostly a salt marsh. However, it has created an amazing scenery.

Dasht-e Kavir, Maranjab Desert

Dasht-e Kavir, Maranjab Desert

 

  • Maranjab Desert:

Another amazing part of Dasht-e Kavir (Central Desert), which is definitely worth a stop, is Maranjab Desert. A mesmerizing combination of natural wonders and a popular desert destination in Isfahan province. Mainly because there are, so many different activities, to do in Maranjab, camel riding, desert biking, safaris and so on. This dazzling desert is stretched endlessly in northeast of Aran va Bidgol, covered by eye catching sand dunes and linked to Kavir National Park.

Maranjab Caravanserai

Maranjab Caravanserai

 

Maranjab Desert provides you with a unique stay in a historical caravanserai located in the middle of the desert. Maranjab Caravansary is situated on one of silk roadside roads, built under Shah Abbas command in 1604. Looking at the vast desert landscape from hilltops, you may be lucky to see the wandering lake, which seems to appear in different places throughout a day.

The stunning Salt Lake of Maranjab is one of the most beautiful landscapes of the desert. It is actually a salt marsh. Water flows into the lake from Qom River. Centuries of salt deposit, carried by salty water of rivers and floods has created this magnificent site. Dazzling white salt crystal polygons surround the Lake’s surface. This lake currently is being used to extract salt from. It has an amazing view during the sunset.

The wondering island of Maranjab Desert is amongst some of the most magical attractions of Iran, as there has always been a saying that this island is constantly moving. Looking at it from a distance, this place looks like a ship in a sea of sand. Especially at night, this view can truly make you forget about reality and step right into a fantasy world.

Dasht-e Kavir, Kalout safari tour

Dasht-e Kavir, Kalout safari tour

 

The name “Maranjab” literally implies: “Do not be hurt due to thirst, heat, wind and dust of desert, as water pool and desirable shadow of trees await you.”

Polygons, Salt River

Polygons, Salt River

  • Mesr Desert:

The next part of the central desert worth mentioning for sure is none other than Mesr Desert, a village and desert area in Jandaq Rural District, in the Central District of Khur and Biabanak County, far east of Isfahan Province. Mesr is basically 420 km far from Isfahan city, and 371 km far from Yazd. After passing Farokhi and Nasrabad villages.

This desert may be a bit different in terms of scenery as it is partly a village and holds exotic traditional houses. These houses will be your shelter at night and they have become quite popular between culture enthusiasts. Camel riding and safaris are the type of activities that can also take place in Mesr Desert. It is one thing to walk around in the desert and explore, but it is quite another, riding a camel and taking in the view. A very well-known attraction of this desert is the Khur Salt Lake, shaped by salt remains with the local name of “Kavir e Tabagheh”, a place that truly shouldn’t be missed. The network-shaped salt polygons are covering the surface for as far as the eye can see. This salt lake is located near Mesr Desert and Khur & Biabank area.

These forms turn black in winter due to mixing with clay and in the summer, they are white due to the intensity of evaporation.

The golden back to back sandy dunes of Mesr Desert with its green flora trailing through the dunes crevices, could be a unique experience and certainly an enjoyable one for those who are visiting this desert for the first time.

 

The view of date palm trees in the surrounding villages of Mesr Desert is one of the most beautiful sceneries of desert regions of Iran.

Let’s not forget that the experience of watching the sunset in the majestic scenery is none like other.

In all these areas you can have the chance to go horseback riding, camel riding, desert biking, riding sand motorcycles, four-wheel driving & desert safaris, thermal waters, wildlife and so on. You can take it to the next level by paragliding on a Para motors.

Not to forget thermal waters, health benefits and the incomparable healing features of desert areas. Khur, Dig-e Rostam and Sirch are some of the popular thermal water destinations to visit and swim in desert areas and not to mention the amazing salt polygons. If you ever decided to take a break and hit the road, do not forget to visit Iran and specially Iran’s mystical deserts.

Desert Tours, designed and organized by “Aftab Kalout Tour & Travel Company”( web link ) in Iran, include all different desert travel styles out there. From exiting wildlife safaris, professional desert biking and horseback riding to a relaxed “glamping”, just to watch the stars and chill out in the natural thermal waters. Not everyone has the same taste and we have taken all the tastes into consideration.

Salt River, Maranjab Desert

Salt River, Maranjab Desert

 

 

 

 

Thinking about Iran, you may imagine it as a vast desert without any tree where people move using camels. Thanks to western media propaganda, this is the first image most of westerner who have little information about Iran or have not travelled to Iran may have. Though this image is wrong, part of it is correct; Iran has vast deserts forming most of its central regions. So without an Iran desert tour, your trip to Iran would miss an integral part for sure.
Iran has two deserts; Dasht-e Lut, located mostly in South Khorasan, Sistan and Baluchestan and Kerman provinces, and Dasht-e Kavir, the bigger one which encompasses provinces like Tehran, Khorasan Razavi, Kerman, Yazd, and Markazi. Iran deserts cover almost 25 percents of the country’s land area.

Iran Desert

Breathtaking landscapes created by wind erosion, rich flora and fauna, salt lakes, beautiful sunny days and starry night sky, golden sand dunes, historical caravanserais, ancient villages with renovated eco-lodges and qanats will make your Iran desert tours a lifelong memory. Here we mention just some of these destinations you will definitely like in your Iran desert tours.

Varzaneh Desert

Varzaneh, named after a village south of the desert, is located 100 km east of Isfahan city. Its sand dunes resting beneath sunlight move smoothly with wind and create interesting shapes. What makes Varzaneh a good option especially for those who have not enough time to spend for a night stay in desert, is that it is one of the most accessible deserts of Iran.

Varzaneh Desert

You can easily get to Varzaneh even by your own car and spend a half day enjoying its tranquility and beauty. Then you can continue your trip or spend a night in Varzaneh city in its guest houses. However, getting to Varzaneh, our recommendation is to visit Gavkhoni Wetland and also Varzaneh City and its grand historical mosque, bridge and pigeon tower. It is also interesting to see women wearing white chadors in Varzaneh unlike the rest of Iran.

Kalout Shahdad

One of the most beautiful natural landscapes of Iran, Kalout Shahdad, is located in the middle of Lut Desert. Reaching to Shahdad, looking from a distance, you will see a deserted city with skyscrapers scattered around it. But they are actually duns created in thousand year by wind and natural forces. These natural structures make this desert a unique one in Iran. Travelling to Kerman, Shahdad is a must-visit but not in August as one of the hottest places on earth, Gandom Beryan, is located in Dasht-e Lut Desert near Kalout Shahdad.

 

Kalout Shahdad

Maranjab Desert

Maranjab Desert is a popular desert destination for Iranians. Like Varzaneh, it is located in Isfahan Province. The desert is accessible both from Tehran and Isfahan and provides you with a unique stay in a historical caravanserai located in the middle of desert. Looking at the vast desert landscape from hilltops, you may be lucky to see the wandering lake, which seems to appear in different places throughout a day. Though the desert is one of the most available ones in Iran, it is highly recommended not to drive there alone, it is better to get a tour to Maranjab desert or at least have accompanies.

Maranjab Desert

 

Garmeh Desert

Located in Khur Biabanak County, Isfahan Province, Garmeh is a real oasis. Garmeh Village with green palm trees, near the desert, would probably make your experience here one of the most queer ones you may have in Iran. Garmeh is known for its traditional houses hosting tourists, one of which is Ateshooni. You may be lucky to watch the house’s owner, Maziar’s musical performance during your stay here, an experience which mesmerizes visitors. If you enjoyed your stay here, you may want to go to a nearby village, Mesr and experience a totally different experience with a warm and friendly family in Barandaz lodge.

 

Khar Turan National Park

The last but not the least desert area we want to talk about is Khar Turan. A wildlife refuge, it is located in Semnan Province and is home to Asiatic Cheetah, an endangered specie. With historical villages like Ghale Bala and Reza Abad, what makes Khar Touran a must-see is not just its natural landscapes but the opportunity it provides especially for nature lovers to see a variety of animals. Gifted with rich flora and fauna, as a protected area and the second largest biosphere reserve on the planet, you should have permission to visit the area and see its wildlife including Asian Zebra, Caracal, Mouflons, and White Wagtail.

Depending on the time of your Iran desert tour, staying at Reza Abad Village, you may be also lucky to visit nomads and spend a night in their tents.
These are just some of Iran deserts you can enjoy during your Iran travel. Considering the fact that most of them are located in the province on the classic route, you can easily include an Iran desert tour on your itinerary.

 

 

Aran and Bidgol

Aran va Bidgol is a city close to Kashan. It took shape after the destruction of Sialk civilization. It was built as one of the forty-fence castles (Kashan old name). The word Aran is driven from Arian (Aria tribe). According to another narrative it is driven from the name of one of the pre Islamic respectable man, Aran ibn Ghasan. And the word Bidgol is the variation of Bibi Gol, Mogul commander’s daughter. Aranies people speak in farsi with accent. Imamzadeh Halal is the most important historical and cultural symbol of the city.

Maranjab Desert

The dazzling desert is stretched endlessly in north east of Aran va Bidgol covered by eye catching sand dunes, flowing sands and Haloxylons. Its approximately 850 meters above sea level and has hot-dry climate. Not being so fruitless, it has its own flora and fauna such as tamarix and Zygophyllum, fox, Jackal, Rüppell’s fox, hyena, sand cat, Monitor lizard, Chameleons, lizard, snake, Scorpion, See-see partridge and falcon. In Maranjab desert two North and Shahriari winds are desirable and the others like Khorasan, Qebla, black wind and Tire Lovar are viewed as notorious ones.

Salt Lake

stunning, enchanting, unique and economically vital in the region, Salt Lake is one of the most beautiful landscapes in desert. It is the result of centuries of salt deposit, carried by salty water of rivers and floods. its approximate expanse (2400 Km) alters depending on water debit and periodic seasonal rainfalls. Due to precipitation and evapotranspiration, dazzling white salt crystal polygons surround lake bank’s surface.

Maranjab caravanserai

Dating back to Safavid era, Maranjab caravanserai, 810 m above sea level, is located 50Km from Aran va Bidgol. In north its bordering Black Mountain range. Maranjab caravansary is situated on one of silk roadside roads, built under Shah Abbas command in 1604 in order to secure the transition of goods from China to Europe and domestic caravans who traveled from Khorasan to Isfahan (Safavid Capital) and Ray.

Due to the importance of the route and military and defensive role of the caravanserai, the roof, walls and watch out towers are built like a castle. It’s built of brick and consisted of rooms, stables, and King’s special place which are surrounding the central yard.

Drinking water from Qanat has formed a tiny pool surrounded by tall green trees right before the colossal structure. This rare confrontation of water and land, light and shadow, heat and cool weather opens a wondering landscape before desert goers’ eyes. That’s why a quotation regarding the name “Maranjab” sounds believable. “do not be hurt due to heat, wind and dust of desert, water pool and desirable shadow of trees awaits you.

Wander Island

Wander island, with 808 M height in highest point, is a vegetation free hill made of volcanic rock located inside Salt Lake.  The island is wandered because it looks endless from either side at long distance due to extreme heat, light breakdown and eye mistake. Based on an old belief this island has been moving constantly. Wander island is a mysterious beauty of Salt Lake from top of which mesmerizing sun rise and sun set leave you speechless.

Handmade well

Handmade well along with other caravansary’s ruins, located in east, 4Km from Maranjab caravansary. It was a resort for caravans commuting the route before Maranjab caravansary was built. Despite bordering Iran’s biggest salt marsh, surprisingly, its water is drinkable. The water is high enough and so close to the well mouse (about 2 meters deep), that the name sounds logical.

Dunes and pebbles

Dunes are sandy hills formed as a result of soil erosion, lack of rain and vegetation. They take different shapes with the wind direction such as curve and sword-like. situated in east, 12Km from caravansary, Band-e Rig starts from dunes’ west bank and continues to far east. A combination of growing green plants on brown sandy context bordering blue sky, creates dazzling beauty. On the dune’s side roads located on a two-way intersection, there is a steep uphill called Khatab shekan by locals. Khatab is part of the camel saddle and it breaks most of the time due to heaviness and high pressure of climbing steep hills in the area.

 

 

The other side to ancient Iran, with an abundance of culture & history, is its breathtaking four season nature which has no shortage of scenic views. Among the very best sits the holistic Mount Damavand wrapped in snow on its cap all year round, a popular destination for trekking lovers.

The volcanic Damavand, inactive for more than 38500 years, rises above the clouds at 5671 meters (18606 feet) and has crater with a 400-meter diameter. The region harbors a great variety of wildlife, vegetation and natural features such as huge glaciers & sulfuric hill at the peak besides its hot springs situated in lower level skirts.

Cited in Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, Damavand has deep roots in Persians beliefs and faith. There are 16 routes towards the peak with various degree of difficulty, making the Mount one of the most accessible peaks globally in class of 5000+ meters.

The southern face climb goes all the way up from Polur Village and your journey begins here. Your trekking adventure to Damavand summit starts from Polur. Read on to find out about the most exciting climb in Middle East happening to be the highest!

Itinerary of Damavand Trekking Tour is found here.

Damavand

Damavand

 

Polur

 

A heaven in the heart of hot summer days, the mountainous village of Polur (Pūlūr) becomes an ultimate destination for trekking camps base, most of which heading towards the splendid Mount Damavand – the highest peak in Mid-East.

Located at a height of 2300 meters, Polur sees dozens of wildflowers growing after snowmelt runoff occurs in mid-April followed by flourishing of yellow & Anemone flowers in late May & June.

This serene area, booming with tourists, backpackers and climbers specially in hot seasons, is believed to be home to some ancient hoards, artifacts and other treasure troves which besides the perfect weather has drawn attention to itself. Although some of these are based on legends, there’s been Glasswares & Ceramics dating back to Parthian, Sassanids and early Islam era of Iran found here.

Other belief of the villagers is that, long back in time there once lived maidens of a legendary King up here in a citadel worshiping Water.

This castle resembles the one in Firouzabad Shiraz, namely Qaleh Dokhtar (The Maiden Castle) – a castle made by Ardashir I 209 AD.

 

The highest waterfall of Mazandaran Province, Shahandasht Waterfall at a height of 180 meters is one of many tourist attractions of the area which is near Polur village, an approximate 40-minute drive away.

A rock climbing site in Polur Complex welcomes climbers in different types such as Bouldering, Top Rope & Competition in a 900 square meter area.

Damavand

Damavand

Rineh Hot Spring

 

On south face climbs you’ll come across one amazing natural gem, the Rineh Thermal Springs. Located 21km away from Mount Damavand this natural attraction has several bathtubs and pools.

Different options of residence are available here and people mainly come here for its therapeutic properties from Metropolis of Tehran and other nearby towns each and every day.

 

The pleasant weather combined health benefits of thermal waters has made Rineh a popular spot not only for mountaineering adventurers but also for others looking for some quality leisure time.

 

Goosfand Sara

Goosfand Sara

Goosfand Sara (Sheepfold) or Modque Base camp

 

Goosfandsara is a mountain camping site located at 3050m altitude and is one main point as a stop in trekking to Damavand Summit. In this area there is a small mountain shelter or refuge, a mosque called Saheb Zaman (or Saheb al Zaman) and a sheepfold!

The climbing season sees to itself a lot of SUVs transferring climbers and their equipment to this campsite. Mules and porters are other means of transport available here on your way to the last campsite called Bargah Sevom.

 

Damavand

Damavand

 

Third Camp – Bargah Sevom

Coming up to the next and the last camp before reaching the top, is located Bargah Sevom at a level of 4150 meter. Standing up there you already are getting breathtaking views under your feet.

 

There is an old shelter, considered the oldest camp of Mount Damavand, and a newer hut built in 2009.

The trek towards the summit would take roughly 5-7 hours depending on physical conditions.

Plan your trip to Damavand as the best time is just now. This trek to the very top of Damavand has been labeled as a MUST and will be a unique experience you’ll never forget.

By Omid Mirzaie

 

Our lovely traveler, Priska Seisenbacher, a professional photographer chooses Kalout Travel Agency for its travel to Iran. In her fourth trip to Iran, she travels to the only UNESCO World Heritage Natural site of Iran, Dasht-e Lut in order to see Iran from different angle. Priska tries to capture the unique beauty of Lut Desert through its lens which are truly amazing and wonderful.

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Read her own words and see her feelings through these splendid pictures.

Priska Seisenbacher’s own words:

Our trip through Iran’s desert Dasht-e Lut

The fourth journey to Iran gave us the opportunity to explore the Dasht-e Lut much deeper than the short trip to the Kalouts just next to the road in 2016. Known as the hottest place of the world (because of several temperature records) the Lut is definetely worth a visit.

As we wanted to follow an off-road adventure this time it was pretty clear that we would have to drive with two jeeps to guarantee our safety in all the loneliness. Starting in Shafiabad we trusted in our well experienced guides to find a way to another superlative: The biggest sand dunes of the world are located a one day drive from the little village. Even we have seen a lot of other beautiful places in the deserts of Iran this trip amazed us because of the huge sand dunes and the variety of desert landscapes. So I am really convinced that such an off-road trip is one of the best desert trips you can do in the world. But also if it is such a beautiful area not many western people know it as a place to visit. That and the huge proportions of the area are the main reasons why we have not seen any other people during our three day trip through the Dasht-e Lut.

Thanks for the great trip! Kalout Kalout Adventures

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

 

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

Priska Seisenbacher In Extenso Photography

 

Travel unique with Kalout Travel Agency!

Mesr Desert

The Mesr Desert is located in the far east of Isfahan province in central Iran, 420 km far from Isfahan, and 371 km far from Yazd. Mesr is a desert and also an oasis in the central desert of Iran, Dashte-Kavir.

Reaching the Mesr Desert is easy, although you need to change directions several times from the major cities of Iran, around 250 kilometers drive onto the Naein-Tabas road from Isfahan west to east. After passing Farokhi and Nasrabad villages, there is a sign showing off-road direction:” Toward Mesr.” Upon 43 kilometers drive from the sign across the sand hills, three green spots will appear from far, similar to three emeralds next to each other.

Mesr desert is one of the most beautiful and also one of the hottest deserts in Iran.

A few moments later, while the absolute silence of desert is your only company, you will find yourself in the first emerald land, Amirabad. The road is totally flat which is considered as one of the wonders of Iran’s central desert and surprises every Eco-tourist. The sand hills around the village are known as “thrones” since strong wind has shaped the surface, forming strange and attractive figures. Amirabad is a vast and prosperous farm with a deep well. Mesr’s residents are the owners of Amirabad, where even a drop of water is as precious as gold; the well provides drinking and agricultural water for Mesr.

Mesr desert is one of the most beautiful and also one of the hottest deserts in Iran.

By exploring Amirabad, for a moment, you completely forget that you are in the center of a desert. As if you are walking in a village in northern Iran: The weather is pleasant and cool and the wheat and barley farms are green, specially in the spring. In Amirabad, the road is split and the left road goes across the golden sand hills to Jandagh, a city on the Na’in-Tabas-Damghan main road. The right path directly goes to the second emerald, the center of Mesr.

Mesr desert is one of the most beautiful and also one of the hottest deserts in Iran.

Mesr desert is one of the most beautiful and also one of the hottest deserts in Iran.

Mesr desert is one of the most beautiful and also one of the hottest deserts in Iran.

Nain Attraction Spots

Nain lies 170 km north of Yazd, and 140 km east of Isfahan. With an area of almost 35,000 km², Nain lies at an altitude of 1545 m above sea level. Like much of the Iranian plateau, it has a desert climate, with a maximum temperature of 41 °C in summer, and a minimum of -9 °C in winter.

More than 3,000 years ago, Persians learned how to construct aqueducts underground to bring water from the mountains to the plains. In the 1960s, this ancient system provided more than 70 percent of the water used in Iran. Nain is one of the best places in the whole world to see these qanats functioning.

Unique to Nain are some of the most outstanding monuments of Iran: the Jame Mosque, one of the first four mosques built in Iran after the Arab invasion; the Pre-Islamic Narej Fortress; a Pirnia traditional house; the Old Bazaar; Rigareh, a qanat-based watermill; and a Zurkhaneh (a place for traditional sport).

Besides its magnificent monuments, Nain is also famous for high-quality carpets and wool textile and home- made pastry called “copachoo.” Some linguists believe the word “Nain” may have been derived from the name of one of the descendants of the prophet Noah, who was called “Naen”. Many local people speak an ancient Sasani Pahlavi dialect, the same dialect spoken by the Zoroastrians in Yazd today. Other linguists state that the word Nain is derived from the word “Nei” (“straw” in English) which is a marsh plant.

Nain Congregational Mosque

Nain’s congregational mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Iran. But it still has its original architecture and is in use and protected by Iran’s Cultural Heritage Organization. According to the French professor, Arthur Pops, the mosque’s foundation dates back to the 9th century. It has a very simple plan, but very beautiful. The mosque contains a central rectangular courtyard that is surrounded by hypostyles on three sides. At one of these hypostyles, the mihrab of the mosque is located. It is a niche on the wall that shows the direction of “Qebleh” in Mecca, the holy city that Moslems pray toward five times a day. This mihrab has an amazing stucco work decoration, probably created during the 9th or the 10th century. Beside it, there is a wooden altar with delicate wooden inlay work. The Mosque also has a 28-meter-high minaret belonging to the Seljuk Era, the 10th century.

Pirnia Traditional House

Pirnia traditional house and ethnology museum is situated opposite the congregational mosque. A typical example of this region’s desert houses, in terms of architecture and art, belonging to the Safavid Period. The house consists of an exterior, an interior, a deep garden, a silo room and all the facilities of a lord’s house. When you enter the house and pass the first corridor, you reach an octagonal room called “hashti”, a waiting room for visitors. Beautiful paintings, amazing plasterwork of Qur’an stories, a book of famous poems and calligraphy frames decorate the living room. First, the judge of Nain lived there. Then, during the Qajar Period, the governor of Nain lived in this house. Just a few decades ago, the house was purchased by the Ministry of Culture and Art. After renovation in 1994, the house was converted into the desert ethnology museum.

Nain’s Mosallah edifice

Nain’s Mosallah edifice is another must-see. Its vast garden was a popular recreational area until recently. The mausoleum inside the Mosallah was a pilgrimage site for visitors. There is a water reservoir (ab-anbar) on one side of the garden, which can be accessed through a stairway. Water in this reservoir got cooled by two wind towers. It was in use until a few years ago. The architectural style of Mosallah has the characteristics of Qajar dynasty, and a number of literary, political and religious figures are buried at this site. “Mosallah” is an Arabic word for a place of prayer, but no one knows if any praying was ever done at this location. Mosallah is an octagonal mausoleum of dervishes and Qajar and Pahlavi political figures. It’s encompassed by a military fort from Qajar era, with a high wall. The pistachio trees around the turquoise-domed mausoleum and two tall wind towers make the complex really photogenic.

Narin Ghale

Narin Ghal’e is one of the most important monuments of the province dating back to the period before the advent of Islam in Iran, and has been recorded as one of the national buildings. This ancient castle has been constructed on top of Galeen hill and overlooks the city. It seems that upper floors of the building have been reconstructed and belong to the Islamic era. One part of the building was destroyed in the course of road construction during the reign of Pahlavi II.

is one of the most important monuments of the province dating back to the period before the advent of Islam in Iran, and has been recorded as one of the national buildings. This ancient castle has been constructed on top of Galeen hill and overlooks the city. It seems that upper floors of the building have been reconstructed and belong to the Islamic era. One part of the building was destroyed in the course of road construction during the reign of Pahlavi II.

Nain’s bazaar

Nain’s bazaar is a remarkable historical attraction. It extends 340 m from the Gate of Chehel Dokhtaran to Khajeh Khezr mosque, and is connected by main alleys, and tributary passages, to various neighbourhood centers. The bazaar has two main crossroads (chahar su). Parts of it have been renovated, and its many varied stalls were active until a few years ago. However, at present, the bazaar is almost deserted, since the retailers have moved to the city’s street shops. Some important monuments, such as the Sheikh Maghrebi mosque, Khajeh mosque, and Chehel Dokhtaran’s Hosseinieh are nearby.

Fatemi House

Fatemi House is the largest traditional house in Nain. It’s opposite Narin Castle, beside the old bazaar. The house belonged to a very influential family in Nain. It consists of a large number of sections, each with a different function: summer and winter living rooms, resting rooms, stable, silos, corridors, dining rooms for guests, and other facilities. Most of the rooms are furnished with stained glass windows, inlaid wooden doors, and plasterwork. The house belongs to the Cultural Heritage Organization.

Kharanaq is another town in Yazd district. The word Kharanaq means “the Sun’s place of birth”.

Geography of Kharanaq

This deserted and crumbling mud-brick village is situated in a remote valley about 70km north of Yazd in central Iran. The site has been occupied for approximately 4,000 years, while the dilapidated adobe buildings that draw foreigners from around the world dating back to 1,000 years ago. This crumbling mud brick city has been occupied by humans for over 4,000 years. There’s a new town situated 2km from the old one where the remaining residents of Karanaq live. Mostly 400 people save for a few elderly people who refuse to leave, but it is the old town that attracts the attention of visitors and photographers. It is a fascinating place to walk through with its winding and decaying alleys, tunnels and spaces, placed in a picturesque valley.

Kharanaq Texture

Kharanaq is divided into two parts – the old town and the new town. The old town is almost completely deserted, and the new town is where about 130 families continue to live. The old town was constructed with sun-baked mud bricks, forming one of the largest collections of adobe buildings in Iran. The abandoned town is a photographer’s dream with a labyrinth of streets, tunnels, passageways, and rooms, as well as more impressive buildings such as a tiny mosque, a shaking minaret, and an old caravanserai that welcomed merchants and pilgrims centuries ago. It was once a prosperous farming village, but when water supplies dried up the inhabitants left, leaving the town to turn to ruins. In recent years, a new town was constructed within 2km of the ancient town with government-supplied water and electricity. There have existed cities whose population declined. There are the obvious reasons like war and famine, but what else can cause a once vibrant place to decline in population to such an extent that it becomes practically uninhabited? This is a question that rises while exploring the ruins of the abandoned ghost town of Kharanaq.

Less populated & Less known

The reason that Kharanaq was abandoned may have been drought. Once possessing drinking water and fertile farmland, the city lost the entire lifeblood, and people gradually moved to seek opportunities either in Yazd or the mines nearby. Most people started to leave Kharanaq in the 1940s. Until the 1970s there were still some residents who believed the city was worth saving but even those determined stragglers eventually gave up on Kharanaq. Most of the remaining residents are those who are too old and poor to move about. One of the most eye-catching monuments in the city, and one of the few restored buildings is the 15- metre- tall Shaking Minaret of Kharanaq, dating back to the 17th century, frequently vibrating. Nobody knows why. Visitors to Kharanaq quickly learn that the words “watch your step” are very important, as the city is literally crumbling away and many of the surfaces are less than stable. I’m sure that once Iran becomes the popular tourist destination it deserves to be, lots of tourists will go to Kharanaq to see the ancient ghost town, there’s nobody around and you’re free to go wherever you want in the city.

Garmeh

Mesr desert is one of the most beautiful and also one of the hottest deserts in Iran.

Dreamland in desert

If you have the dream of going to a real oasis in the desert, you shouldn’t miss Garmeh, a palm tree clad village with an abundance of water and crops, in the middle of sand plains. A place where you can sit by a well in the shadow of a tree in comlete silence and watch the occasional heard of sheep pass by. That’s exactly what Garmeh is like. Somewhere in Iran’s central desert, Dashte- kavir, lies t

Mesr desert is one of the most beautiful and also one of the hottest deserts in Iran.

his tiny village irrigated by a small mountain spring. Garmeh has been welcoming travelers from all over the world for hundreds of years as it used to be one of the rest spots on the famous silk road.

Hidden Oasis

Garmeh is the capital of Garmeh County in  North Khorasan province. One of the most important monuments of this city is Jalaleddin fortress, which is inherited from Khwarazmian Dynasty. The fortress was established by the command of Jalaleddin Kharazmshah in order to defend it against the Moguls’ attack in the seventh Hijri century. It was built on the top of a hill with a hexagonal foundation. A well exists inside the fortress which seems to be natural. The other monument of this city is Bagh-e-Mazar tomb.

What to do in Garmeh?

During your stay in Garmeh, depending on your time, you can go for a walk among palm trees, relax in a spring or climb the nearest mountain or hill to enjoy the surrounding sceneries.You can also visit other villages nearby like Ordib, Iraj and Dadkin with gardens and mountains, Bayazeh and its castle, Abgarm and its thermal spring.80kms from Garmeh, on the way to Tabas, there’s a salt lake, and 80km from Garmeh to Jandaq you will find Mesr and Farahzad villages and the sand dunes surrounding you.

Mesr desert is one of the most beautiful and also one of the hottest deserts in Iran.

History of Garmeh

The documented history of human settlement in the area dates back to 4000 years ago, but there exists some relatively reliable evidence that suggests human habitation as far back as 7000 years. From about 2000 years ago, the oasis was placed on the Silk Road and therefore, on the main trading route between China and Europe. As a result, many travelers have passed through this area. A famous Persian poet, philosopher and explorer, Naser Khosrow passed through the area about 950 years ago and has mentioned this area in his travel diary. As for well-known European travelers of the recent centuries, we can mention Seven Hedin and Alfonse Gabriel, who visited Garmeh in the last century.

The town’s only water source, close to the heart of the village, is the only source of life for the gardens and Date Palm orchards that make this oasis such a special place. The main activity for the natives during this incredibly long period had been some form of agriculture and animal husbandry in unforgiving conditions that are the reality of this land.

Garmeh

Don’t miss photography!

This picturesque village also has many attractions which makes it a popular spot for so many tourists from all over the world. There are beautiful palm trees in the southern flank of the village. The weather is great in spring, fall and winter. There is an old four-floor citadel in Garmeh which dates back to the Sassanid period and has been attracting so many archeologists.

The eye-catching alleys of Garmeh which are decorated with beautiful Sabbats attract so many filmmakers to Garmeh. Garmeh lakes are the habitat for ducks in spring and winter and the hills are home to partridges.

There is a natural spring which has been flowing for thousands of years and creates a good ecosystem for different types of small fish. There are elephant-like mountains around with red soil containing iron. Its pleasant silence and the starry nights, along with the sound of water and the movement of palm trees, attract lots of tourists from all over the world to this area.

Handicrafts of Garmeh are mostly created out of palm leaves which is a good souvenir for international tourists. The residents of Garmeh speak Pahlavi language which is the oldest language in Iran. The Mesr Desert, near Garmeh, attracts lots of tourists every year. There is also a thermal spring near Garmeh which has many therapeutic benefits and is useful in treating Arthritis.

The Dasht-e Kavir, is one of two deserts dominating the region’s landscape, is a mix of sand and salt as blinding in its whiteness as it is deafening in its silence. Dasht-e Kavir, is also known as “Kavir-e Namak” and “Great Salt Desert”, is a large desert lying in the middle of the Iranian plateau, around 300 kilometers east-southeast of Tehran. Dasht-e-Kavir desert is approximately 800 kilometers long and 320 kilometers wide, and composed of mud and salt marshes. Millions of years ago, this region was occupied by a salt-rich ocean that covers a small piece of continent in what is now central Iran. As the time passes, the ocean gets dried up, it left behind a layer of salt as much as 6 to 7 kilometers thick.

Therefore, over the time, the layer of salt was buried under a thick layer of mud; however salt has a fairly low density lower than the layer of mud and rocks underneath which the salt layer lay. So it taking place pushing up through the overlying sediment and finally, over millions of years, the salt broke through and formed domes. The salt domes of Dasht-e Kavir are probably some of the best examples of this geological marvel. Thus, geologists have recognized about 50 large salt domes in this region. Some of the domes have been eroded away by wind and rain exposing its cross-section.

Dasht-e Kavir

However, the desert climate is arid and receives little rain and snow each year, but the surrounding mountains on all side, provide plenty of runoff to create vast seasonal lakes, marshlands and playas. Temperatures can reach 50 °C in summer, and the average temperature in January is 22 °C. Though it looks like a firm surface, the salt crust is only a few inches thick, below which lies soft grease-like mud the Iranians called “Charbeh” that is really difficult to get out of if one were to get stuck. Due to arduous travelling to Dasht-e Kavir, it is very dangerous. The soil is sterile and not appropriate for cultivation. In summer the hot temperatures cause extreme vaporization, which leaves the marshes and mud grounds with large crusts of salt. Heavy storms frequently occur and they can cause sand hills reaching up to 40 m in height. Some parts of Dasht- e Kavir have a more steppe-like appearance.

Dasht-e-Kavir desert is almost uninhabited and only partly explored. Wild sheep, camels, goats and Persian leopards also live in the mountainous areas. Hence, human settling is restricted to scattered oases, where wind-blocking housing constructions are raised to deal with the tough weather conditions. Some live in the hills and the surrounding mountains. Against the odds, oases exist within these desolate environs, home to villages that are sustained by the wells of sweet water that have been part of desert mythology for centuries. Vegetation in the Dasht-e Kavir is adapted to common plant species like shrubs and grasses can only be found in some valleys and on mountain tops. So, the most widespread plant is mugwort. The Persian ground jay is a bird species living in some parts of the desert plateaus, along with Houbara bustards, Persian gazelles, camel, goats, leopards, larks and sandgrouses.

Moreover night life brings on wild cats, wolves, foxes, and other carnivores, the Persian onager and Asiatic cheetah can be seen. Lizards and snakes live in different places in the central plateau. The extreme heat and storms in Dasht-e Kavir cause extensive erosion, which makes it almost impossible to cultivate any lands almost uninhabited and knows little exploitation. Camel and sheep breeding and agriculture are the sources of living to the few people living on its soil. For irrigation, Iranians developed a sophisticated system of water-wells known as qanats. These are still in use, and modern globally used water-revenue systems are based on their techniques.

 

Dasht-e Kavir, or the Great Salt Desert National Park, is a large desert lying in the middle of the Iranian plateau about 300 kilometers east-southeast of Tehran. A total surface area of about 77,600 km2 makes it the Earth’s 26th largest desert. This desert stretches from Alborz mountain range in the north-west to Dasht-e- Lut in the south-east and is partitioned between the Iranian provinces of Khorasan, Semnan, Tehran, Isfahan and Yazd. This amazing desert is about 800 kilometers long, and more than 320 kilometers wide, and composed of mud and salt marshes. Tens of millions of years ago, this region was occupied by a salt-rich ocean that surrounded a small piece of continent in what is now central Iran. As the ocean dried up, it left behind a layer of salt as much as 6 to 7 kilometers thick. Over time, the layer of salt was buried under a thick layer of mud. But salt has a fairly low density, lower than the layer of mud and rocks underneath. So it started pushing up through the overlying sediment and eventually, over millions of years, the salt got out and formed domes. The salt domes of Dasht-e-Kavir are probably some of the best examples of this geological phenomenon.

Dasht-e Kavir’s climate is arid and receives little rain and snow during the year. However, the surrounding mountains on all sides provide plenty of runoff to create vast seasonal lakes, marshlands and playas. Temperatures can reach 50 °C in summer, and the average temperature in January is 22 °C. Day and night temperatures during a year can differ up to 70 °C. Rain usually falls in winter.

The desert soil is covered with sand and pebbles. There are marshes, seasonal lakes and seasonal river beds. The hot temperatures cause extreme vaporization, which leaves the marshes and mud grounds with large crusts of salt. Heavy storms frequently occur and they can cause sand hills reaching up to 40 m in height. Some parts of Dasht-e-Kavir have a more steppe-like appearance.

Geologists have identified about 50 large salt domes in this region some of which have been eroded away by wind and rain exposing its cross-section.

Although it looks like a hard surface, the salt crust is only a few inches thick, below which lies soft grease-like mud that Iranians call “Charbeh”, which is extremely difficult to get out of if one gets stuck in. Due to this fact, travelling in Dasht-e-Kavir is extremely dangerous. The soil is sterile and not suitable for cultivation. The desert is almost uninhabited and only partly explored. Human settling is restricted to scattered oases, where wind-blocking housing constructions are raised to deal with the harsh weather conditions. Some live in the hills and the surrounding mountains. Wild sheep, camels, goats and Persian leopards also live in the mountainous areas.