Small desert villages where the nights are pure dark and the sky full of bright stars, this is what make the vast barren lands of Iran magnificent. This astronomy experience is a blend of the bests which leads you away from classical sightseeing, to discover the hidden life of rural Iran. Experience the unique night sky of Iran's desert, with no light pollution, to become a real amateur astronomer, while visiting off the beaten tracks natural sights that you can hardly find in any travel books. Sand dunes, stone formations, waterfalls and rivers in the desert, cave village, hottest spot on earth: these are some of the highlights to spice up your trip to Iran with a six-day tour full of unforgettable experiences, as you will live Iran from the inside and collect the most intimate knowledge about this impressive country.
Visiting Iran off-the-beaten tracks via its desert villages and oases
Interactional sky gazing, with a telescope and bare eyes, in a truly dark night with the least light pollution
Discovering two Unesco world heritage sites, Lut Desert and Meymand village
Being introduced to Iran's rural life in the oasis village of Mesr and Tabas
Swimming in the fresh waters of Keshit Canyon and Morteza Ali Spring, in the middle of the desert
Sleeping in the cave houses at the World Heritage Site of Meymand
Leave the city life behind to start a unique trip to the core of the desert and encounter its natural splendours. Getting away from Isfahan, reach the oasis village of Mesr, located in the Dasht-e Kavir, Iran's greatest desert. Life in this small agricultural centre follows nature's pace, in the quietness of the sand dunes where you can walk barefoot on the hot sand or have some thrills with an off-road ride.
At night, in a traditional guesthouse, lookup, up to observe a pristine dark sky full of shining stars. During the whole experience, each night is a new opportunity to be introduced to the wonders of astronomy, and step by step, being able to read on your own the "alphabet" of the sky. While during the day, solar filters and telescopes unravel the mysteries eyes cannot see, by showing sunspots and enjoying day astronomy.
Not far away from the oasis village, have a pleasant walk in the "city of flowers in the desert": Tabas. With 30.000 inhabitants, this beautiful small town is, yet, the biggest city on this trip. Discover its elegant Golshan Garden, its cute Bazaar, and its streets full of palm trees. Looking for the source of this flourishing nature leads you to the fresh waters of Morteza Ali Spring. Here, in the desert, rocks meet the cold water of the wild spring. Walking barefoot in the mixture of warm and cold water, follow the flow all the way up to Abbasi Dam, one of the oldest and thinnest arch dams in the world.
Refuelled with freshness, it's time to approach the epicentre of the desert. In Esfahak, discover the picturesque scenery of this abode village, which recalls the story of a terrible earthquake in 1978 that destroyed the village. Inhabitants have rebuilt new houses next to it and renovated some in the ancient town. As a result, the old city is now still alive at the heart of the abandoned village, which gives an extraordinary charm to its narrow alleys which are lit with portable oil kerosene lamps at night, dates palm trees, and big mountains in the background.
Crossing Dasht-e Kavir, set sail on the Lut desert, with its famous stone formations called Kaluts, or Yardangs. This immense desert is the only natural sight in Iran protected by Unesco as a World Heritage Site. Passing by Nayband village and its picturesque castle, have some rest in the abandoned caravanserai of ChahKuran, as once used to do the Silk Road merchants, before reaching Ziaratgah village for the night, the last village before the Kaluts.
With the first lights of the day, it's time to start an expedition to the hottest spot on earth, Gandom Beryan. No one can venture in this place without an experimented guide: the plateau above the surrounding desert is covered in black volcanic rocks, and temperatures can reach an unbelievable 70°C in summer.
Returning to Ziaratgah, cool yourself up with the ancient traditional air conditioning system, which only a few examples remain in the villages of Lut, before going back to explore the fabulous Kaluts that which Lut desert is famous for. Climb sand formations to find the best spot for watching the sunset, and set camp for an extraordinary night under the stars. With bare eyes and a professional telescope, discover planets, constellations, nebula, and galaxies while listening to the mythology of the stars, horoscope, and native beliefs.
As a final highlight, leave Ziaratgah to stay overnight in one of Iran's most remarkable villages: Meymand. On your way, take a walk into Keshit Canyon to discover a wonderful blue lake hidden at its heart, and swim in its fresh and pure water. Once in the protected village of Meymand, explore this Unesco World Heritage Site. Here, people have dug their houses into the rock, and inhabitants still live in these cave-houses as they used to 3000 years ago.
This underground village is not only one of the oldest in Iran but also has an important Zoroastrian identity which you get familiar with. Houses, mosques, and schools carved into the rock recall the unique story of this village that you can appreciate by spending the night in one of these timeless rooms. At nightfall, have a look at the pristine night sky for the last time, because, on the next day, it's already time to drive back to Yazd, the endpoint of this out-of-time experience.
DAY 1: We start early in the morning from Esfahan and drive 420 km to the oasis village Mesr. Upon arrival to Mesr, use the afternoon for walking, or taking an off-road ride, on the sand dunes. At night, sleep in a typical traditional guesthouse.
DAY 2: After breakfast, we go towards the picturesque town of Tabas and visit its Imamzadeh, Golshan Garden, the bazaar and the streets full of palm trees. After lunch, we go to Morteza Ali spring, put slippers on and enjoy splashing and walking in the water, all the way up to the Abbasi dam. After enjoying this desert aqua park, we reach the adobe village of Esfahak to stay in a typical traditional guesthouse.
DAY 3: In the morning, take the chance to walk around this unique village. Then, it's time to cross the Kavir desert to reach Lut. On our way to the Kaluts, we stop by the village of Nayband, visit its castle, and later, wander around the abandoned caravanserai ChahKuran. By the evening we reach our traditional guesthouse in Ziaratgah.
DAY 4: Waking up at dawn, we drive for one-hour offroad, to arrive at Gandom Beryan, a place whose name means the “toasted wheat” and which is considered to be the hottest place on Earth. Then return to Ziaratgah for some rest, and drive back to Lut Desert by the end of the day, to camp in the desert and observe the night sky.
DAY 5: After breakfast, we move on to the world heritage village of Meymand. On our way, we reach Keshit canyon where after a 30-minute walk, we'll be rewarded with a cool swim in a wonderful lake inside the canyon. Overnight in one of these extraordinary cave-houses.
DAY 6: After breakfast, it's time to drive to Yazd the final destination of this desert astronomy tour.