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Photogerapher: Hamid Reza Davoodian
Camera: Canon Phower Shot SX10IS , Canon EOS 60D

Maranjab Desert
The Maranjab Desert is located in Isfahan province, Iran.
It is located by the city of Aran VA Bidgol, one of the ancient desert cities of Isfahan province. It was once composed of two separate cities, Aran and Bidgol.
The Maranjab Desert is also close to Kashan, only about 50km but the small and winding road will take up to 2 hours drive.
The town is surrounded by the desert on the north and east, and thus it has a typical climate of hot and dry in summer, cold and dry in winter, and very little rainfall during the year.
Maranjab Caravanserai as One of the most famous and notable caravanserai in Iran. Maranjab Caravanserai located 70 km east of Kashan in the desert, the caravanseraiwas built by order of Shah Abbas Safavid to be as a military base and a rest house for the caravans. The strong and rigid construction was made of brick and plaster with four watch towers in each corner.
If got a chance, don't miss the safari ride which just costs a fraction of the price charged elsewhere in the Middle East or western world. It’s bumpy and could be scary but definitely a memorable experience.

Varzaneh Desert
Varzaneh is an ancient central Iranian desert town in Isfahan province still showing evidence of its 5000 year old civilization
Varzaneh is located 105km southeast of Isfahan and 240km away from Yazd.
Varzaneh desert, East of Isfahan, Iran
It has a population of 14,000 sprawling over 23,000km² at an altitude of 1477m above sea level. Like most parts of central Iran, it has a quite dry desert climate where, in July, temperatures can reach 40°C. The temperature sometimes drops below zero in January and February after midnight.
Varzaneh was the last civilization on the Zayanderud River since 5000 years ago. The Zayanderud River ends at Gavkhouni which is 30km east of Varzaneh. Within the lands between wetland and Varzaneh, signs of very ancient civilization are unearthed. Further investigations on some pots that have been discovered, confirms the fact that the district of Varzaneh has been inhabited for 5,000 years.
Varzaneh is famous regionally and all over the world for its spectacular desert, which ranked as one of the most accessible deserts of Iran, in particular for tourists coming to Isfahan. Many travellers like their desert close to civilization - that way they have food and water easy to reach by car, and access to medical centres in the case of any problem. Although, Varzaneh desert is ranked as one of the safest deserts of Iran, it's only 15km away from its desert.
Unique to Varzaneh, are the local women's costumes. They wear completely white chadors, while women in the rest of Iran, and mostly wear black chadors.
Many local people speak an ancient Pahlavi Sasani dialect, a quite similar dialect to that spoken by the Zoroastrians in Yazd today. According to some of linguists, the word Varzaneh, has a connection to the verb Varzidan (ورزیدن), which means farming in Old Persian.

Two Men are hiking on sand dunes, Varzaneh, Isfahan (click on the photo for better view)
Very silent Varzaneh sand dunes are 5-62m high. The average height of sandy dunes are highest between deserts of Iran. So, it makes the landscape spectacular and a great place for meditation.
More importantly, there is no regular transport from Varzaneh to the desert, which is just 15km away. However, taxis would be quite cheap to take you to desert.
The sand dunes usually do not move considerably, that is to say, you can camp for several nights there, having an easy access to town. However, please note that except for late spring and summer, the temperature often drops below 10°C and to 10 degrees below freezing in January and February), due to the lack of humidity. Thus, you would need sleeping bags if you want to camp there. The desert is about 45km long in diameter.

Gavkhooni Wetland, Black Mountain and Salt Lake
The magic point of this region is that, close to Varzaneh dry desert, you can find Gavkhooni wetland. Gavkhooni is a preserved ecosystem, which is host of thousands of bird, migrating from north mostly. The number of the birds varies each year, depending on the rainfall of that year. In fact, the majority of wetland is dry each year. Generally, the wetland has a rich wildlife. From geese, storks, flamingos and Iranian zebras and deers to many other reptiles can be found in this area. To reach Gavkhooni, you need to take the Gavkhooni road on the east of Varzaneh for about 25km. As a sign of your arrival to wetland, you would see a completely black mountain, simply called Black Mountain, (Persian Kooh-Siah). The stones are very light, having many holes inside. The mountain is indeed the remaining of black magmas.
Salt Lake, Varzaneh, Isfahan
Another interesting spot is the salt lake, which in fact belongs to Gavkhooni ecosystem, being the southwestern part of the wetlands. It is more than 15km² in area and the salt plain stretches to the wetlands. There is a part of that which locals are mining salt from. It is very glorious and attractive for many tourists when they see a blue sky with purely vast white ground. There is a short road to Salt Lake from Varzaneh, which is not asphalt unfortunately. Therefore, people willing to visit the salt lake, take the Shiraz road from Varzaneh for about 40km, reaching to Khara village. Then from Khara, you have about 15 km in a specific road for salt lake. Starting from 8 km in latter road, you will see the signs of a big salty area until 10km afterwards.

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