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Enjoy observing and capturing the night sky with the lowest levels of light pollution in a region with outstanding cultural and natural diversity. A 1000 Km round road trip between two great Central Desert and the Lut Desert passes from significant cities and rural areas, saffron fields and barberry gardens in the eastern parts of the country. You will join local people to feel the real local foods and celebrate one-time-a-year traditional events.

This trip is planned carefully for you to take a sip of the unique culture and lifestyle, nature and history, intangible heritages and handcrafts with a great bite of the nightscape photography, safe and joyful with skilled drivers, professional guides, astrophotography and local guides.

What you experience
  • Taste local people's lifestyle living in the desert (Fields and Livestock in the rural areas)

  • Visit some UNESCO-world heritage sites and cultural heritages

  • Sleep in rural houses

  • Enjoy different types of tasty local foods

  • Observe botanic in biodiversity of plants in the region

  • Visit tens of tangible and intangible heritages and cultural ceremonies

  • Night Sky Observing and Photography in the Unique and Authentic locations full of stories in the foreground with the lowest levels of light pollution:
    Esfahk desert eco-village (Palm tree, Narcissus flower gardens) - Observatory of Birjand – Saffron Fields in Qaen – Barberry gardens in Afin – Sand Dunes in Se Ghal-e

  • Visit in house bakery of Persian Flat bread UNESCO World Heritage

  • Visit the towel weaving workshop Tobafi of Khorashad village the UNESCO World Heritage

  • Visit Saffron fields and harvesting process that farming techniques registered in FAO World Heritage

  • Visit the Lut Desert Northern landscape,  Iran's natural UNESCO World Heritage

  • Visit Akbarieh Persian Garden, the UNESCO World Heritage

  • Watch and participate in Iranian time-honoured Dotar music and performances at the UNESCO (intangible)World Heritage

  • Visit Persian Qanat the UNESCO world heritage

  • Participate in local activities like handicraft and traditions

  • Participate in local activities like handicraft and traditions

  • Be enchanted by charm of desert and its sand dunes

Location & Paths
  • Meals: 7 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 7 Dinners
  • Accommodation: 7 nights in traditional hotels, homestays, and local houses
  • Transport: 14-seat Hyundai H350 van
  • Other Services: English spoken tour guide, English spoken astrophotographer guide, all expenses of driver/guide like food and accommodation, fuel and road tolls, local guides
  • Not included: Internal flights, entry fee for the sites not mentioned in the itinerary, Travel insurance, international airfare, Excess baggage charges, Airport and departure taxes, any extra hotel costs such as early check in or late checkout, laundry, mini bar used in the room, Meals not stipulated in the itinerary, Tips (optional), Cost of medical immunizations, 4WD Safari, Bottled water, phone calls, any other service not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Appropriate shoes for hiking / trekking, sandals & slippers
  • Proper backpack
  • Warm clothes and extra socks
  • Head lamp
  • Personal night sky photography gears (Optional)
  • Hat or cap, headscarf
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Small backpack
  • Personal eco-friendly items, glass, spoon n' fork, water bottle, hat, sandals, towel, swimming clothes, bed sheet

A connection to regain

There is the sky above and Earth down below. Our ancestors lived for thousands of years involving them. Big cities have been formed and humans lost those Interactions. Today, we are all aware of the threats. Since the cities were polluted with artificial light, the new generation also lost the stars in their life, and their compassion for nature disappeared but some rural areas conserve this tradition.

We try to keep humans and the nature of Earth and the sky together, hoping that humans restore this lost connection to live safe and sound, joyful and creative under the stars.

south khorasan dark night sky
The sky above eastern Iran with low light pollution and shining stars, Parisa Bajelan | TasteIran

Let's recite the countless stories from South Khorasan's night sky

It is Khorasan, the land of red filaments in the nocturnal flower where we discover the night on a journey through the wonders. We pass through the gate of the city that has risen again like a phoenix in a quest to reveal the secrets of the autumn flower, Saffron, the red gold.

Experience eastern Iran starting from Esfahak Village, where the residents have turned a dark destiny into a bright opportunity after the dreadful earthquake in 1978. Esfahak Village is living a life of sustainability and it can leave you in awe feeling this earthen village surrounded by date palm trees in the middle of the desert land. With a lantern in hand, walk through winding lanes next to date palm trees, in search of a sign on the fields. Desert’s charm has opened the arms.

Esfahak village in south Khorasan Iran
Esfahak, an oasis among date palm gardens in the middle of the desert, Parisa Bajelan | TasteIran

Our next oasis is Birjand, the capital of the Iranian province of South Khorasan whose saffron, barberry and handmade carpet are very popular. We will visit Akbariyeh Persian Garden, one of the nine Persian Gardens registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List. From the top of the Birjand castle, look at the ancient history of this land. Pass by the barberry shrubs and taste the arils like red jewels.

We drive an hour to a beautiful village where the sound of wooden sticks in a local dance is heard and the neighbour's women bake flatbread in a traditional oven. Take a bite and follow the sound. Try the handmade towel weaving and hit the delicate warp and weft. Then look for a sign from the traditional dyeing.

South Khorasan cultural attractions
A living museum of traditional towel weaving in South Khorasan villages, Parisa Bajelan | TasteIran

Saffron, the bride of the Khorasan night sky

Eventually, we get to the climax of the itinerary in Qaen, the City of Saffron. Qaen is a major saffron producer and its saffron is prized worldwide for its unique aroma and strong colour. Experience the mind-blowing local music and dance, each move plays a musical note following the sound of separation and tearing.  Now it is time to unlock the secrets of stars and constellations over the saffron fields. 

Qaen saffron fields in Iran
Saffron is a lifestyle to experience in Khorasan, Parisa BaJelan | TasteIran

The twilight harvest of this nocturnal flower finishes till the sunrise, then we get ready to bundle the filaments with locals which is a fun time to enjoy. The next day we hit the road to the land of Barberry, Afin. Join the Dotar music event and feel the passion of the soul when looking at barberry gardens. After dinner, we catch the sky for sky watching and night sky photography.

Barberry farms of south khorasan Iran
An authentic touch from a family activity in the barberry gardens in Afin, Parisa Bajelan | TasteIran

The ancient genius of qanat breeds life

From this point on, slide down on a blend of natural and cultural heritages such as Persian Qanat, the UNESCO site in Ferdows, the eye-catching landscape of the Lut Desert in Se Qaleh village, the World Intangible Heritage of Dotar instrument and ancestral watermills remained from hundreds of years ago that supply the high- quality flour from wheat. 

South Khorasan night sky
Desert, water and wheat flour know the secret of pure night sky that khorasan possesses, Parisa Bajelan | TasteIran

In search of genius humans, you will find thousands of years old renewable energy in the middle of the desert! Qanat the historical underground water system has a lot of subsystems around itself. One of those historical hydraulic systems is water mills. It also provides humans consuming water and enters the plain around the city where it has enabled planting and farming.

Ask the stars about water and get to know the concept of the aqueduct (Qanat) and its mechanism. The camels know the way! So, pass through the wind catchers like wind and get to the water mill to discover the mystery of making wheat flour.

Iran's eastern magic with the desert and adobe villages
The landscape of the Lut Desert from the Southern Khorasan, Parisa Bajelan | TasteIran

Brief Itinerary

Day 1: Morning Flight Tehran – Tabas from Mehrabad Airport, Lunch in Tabas, Visit Golshan Garden, Drive 40km (2hr) to Esfahak Village, walk in the winding lanes in a renovated mud-brick village, Dinner, stay overnight in Esfahk, Observe Night Sky in the Village.

Day 2: Breakfast 6-7, visiting Date Palm tree gardens in the village, 250 km (5hr) Driving to Birjand, Akbarieh Persian Garden (UNESCO Site), Lunch, 20km (1hr) Drive to Khorashad, Visit Tobafi towel weaving (UNESCO Heritage) and Natural Dye Technique in Khorashad, 30km (1hr) Drive to Harivand village, Dinner, [Maybe Visiting Observatory], Stay Overnight in Harivand.

Day 3: Breakfast 8-9, Drive 50km to Birjand (2hr), Snack in Doll House, Drive 110km (2hr) to Qaen, Lunch, Rest, Traditional event (Music, Dance or Kaf zani), Dinner, Stay Overnight in Qaen, Observing and astrophotography of Night Sky in Saffron Fields (FAO Heritage) Koroh & Baraz Town, Breakfast in the Village, Local products.

Day 4: Morning Rest in Qaen, Lunch, Bundle Saffron Flower traditional techniques of Dokhtar Pich (Bundle), Local Foods for dinner, stay overnight in Qaen.

Day 5: Breakfast 9-10, 80km (2hr) Drive to Afin, Barberry Gardens, Rest, South Khorasan Traditional Dance and Dotar Playing (UNESCO Heritage), walking in gardens, Dinner, Observing Night Sky, Stay overnight in Afin.

Day 6: Breakfast 6-7, 200km (7hr) Drive to Qaen – Sarayan – Se Ghale, Lunch, enjoy sand dunes in the desert, watching Sunset in the desert, Observing the Night sky, Dinner, Stay Overnight in Se-Ghale.

Day 7: Breakfast 8-9, 60km (2hr) Drive to Ferdows, Persian Qanat (UNESCO Site), Dotar Workshop (UNESCO Heritage), Lunch, 100km Drive (2hr) to Boshruyeh, Jajim and Barak Workshop, Natural Dye by Pomegranate, Lunch, Watermills and Assassin castle, stay overnight in Boshruyeh.

Day 8: Breakfast 8-9, 100km (2hr) Drive to Tabas, Flight Tabas - Tehran



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