Southeast of Isfahan, amidst the quite desert and flat ground, there is an oasis which had been inhabited since 5000 years ago. In the trail of the Zayanderud River where it ends at Gavkhooni wetland, the last civilization at the vicinity of the river rises up in the name of Varzaneh. If you endear an intrepid venture to the soft gravels and high dunes, join this tour to enjoy the uninterrupted view of the sunset on the flat horizon while picnicking under the starry sky of the desert.
Visiting one of the most accessible deserts in Iran and the highest sand dunes of it
Exploring the 5000-year-old civilization of the ancient desert town in Zaraneh
Wading across the 15 square kilometers of salt lake national park
Sand boarding and riding camels over the gigantic dunes of desert
Stargazing under the crystal clear sky of desert
Picnic at desert with traditional herbal tea and organic snacks
Visiting the interesting Ox-mill complex of Varzaneh
Varzaneh cultural and natural gems are the vantage of Isfahan province for adventurous travellers. The desert oasis which ranked as one of the most accessible deserts of Iran has unique attractions to offer. The word Varzaneh has a connection with the verb Varzidan means farming in old Persian language; as a result, the livelihood of the town depends on agriculture and livestock.
As you head into the city, it seems to be impossible to ignore the ladies in white all across the city. On the contrary to the rest of Iran, women in Varzaneh typically wear white chadors (an utter open cloak worn by Muslim women in Iran), rather than black ones.
The heritage of the women in Varzaneh is described according to three theories so far. Some believe that this dates back to the Zoroastrianism religion, for which white colour was a holy colour. Others believe that it is because of the abundance of cotton in this region, as people have been cultivating cotton here. While some people simply think white is a comfortable colour due to hot summers of the desert city.
If you are travelling through Iran for a couple of days, then you may get familiar with the sound of the Persian language. As for this little earthen city in the central Iranian plateau, you will find an amazing difference in the language being spoken by natives. In fact, local people preserved their heritages and speak an ancient language which is known as a Pahlavi Sassani dialect so similar to the language which the Zoroastrians speak.
In the tranquillity of the afternoon, we hit the narrow road toward an abandoned temple in the quietness of the desert which was once the place of pure fire for the population of Zoroastrians of the region. Visiting a natural water spring in the location you are going to know more about this initiate monotheist religion of great Persia before Islam came by the Arab invasion to Iran.
From the temple and water spring, the true adventure of desert starts. Southeast of Gavkhooni wetland the salt lake hunts the blue sky image inevitably in its pure white ground. You will wade in the salt land and walk on the glass-like surface of salt to catch your chance to photography the ocean of clouds trapped in the white lake. Depending on the season the look of salt lake is changed and gets different beauty. The more rainfall of the season, the bigger water part of the lake is, and in dry years, the area with dry polygons is bigger. Don't miss out this wonderful mirror.
On the horizon, nothing but flatness is seen but as you make way towards the sun, your eyes are caressed with the sight of incredible golden sand dunes. You can’t wait to hike on the dunes with barefoot and when the sun scatters its flames, you feel to delve right there having your foot in the cold sands. At times, a gentle breeze softly pushes the sand downwards to create a wavy effect as if water touches ashore. Doing sand-boarding over the high dunes or riding camels at the edge of gravels increase the adrenaline to culminate your experience in one of the remarkable deserts of Iran.
Special to Varzaneh is its high sand dunes, along small dunes. You might find high dunes of 50 meters in altitude with a very spectacular view from the top. The magic point though is that these 70 km long sand dune area is located beside one of the wildlife areas of this region. Being at the top of the dunes, one can notice the contrast of green farms of the village and sometimes snowcapped mountains of Iran central heights.
Enjoying the uninterrupted view of the sunset over the dunes, the magic of gravel land seems unlimited if you hide between the split of dunes to lessen the light pollution and suddenly look up and find the glorious Milky Way right above your head in the silence of the desert.
Let's appreciate the nature's wild beauty and enjoy a calm picnic with herbal tea and refreshing snacks before getting back to the rural life and visiting an ancient method of taking out the water from the well.
The complex is mainly a well, an ox, rope, pulley, and bucket. We will visit an ox-mill complex which shows an ancient system that was broadly used from 600 years ago in Varzaneh for irrigating farmlands. Nowadays the system gave its place to the fuel water-pumping machines but you will get amazed by this environment-friendly system that is about the cooperation of a man with an ox. Listen to the folk song the man sings for the ox, and look carefully how the powerful ox pulled up the rope and water from the well.
Tour starts in the afternoon depending on the time of sunset and ends in the evening around 8 p.m. From Varzaneh village you will be picked up by the guide and drive. First, visit the water temple of Zoroastrians and hit the road toward the land of silence and gravels. Getting to the natural salt lake and wandering in the natural mirror of water and salt we head to some of the gigantic sand dunes of Iran deserts. Watching the sunset over dunes and having a refreshing snack in desert, it is time to enjoy the unpolluted night sky of the desert which will capture your presence forever. Getting back to the civilization and bustle of the rural district, the tour comes to an end but its memories and pictures continue to recall you long after.