A Travellerspoint blog


Kaluts- The Lut Desert- Iran

In 2012 near the start of my journey along the Silk route between Istanbul in Turkey and China, I spent a month in Iran. A beautiful country and actually very hospitable people. Following the journey of Alexandra the Great to Persepolis, or next stop was the Lut desert to see the amazing sand formations known as "Kaluts". The Kalut is said to a sand mountain created by the effect of the dominant erosional agent in desert, i.e., wind making fascinating forms and shapes.

There are no threats, like scorpions or snakes, as the desert of Lut is an abiotic zone, which means that no single plant or creature can survive in such a harsh environment.

Rising from the sand dunes, these natural and astonishing sculptures are a real shock to your eyeballs and, while walking among them, you are likely to feel you are wandering around Mars or even better, a Star wars film set.

Posted by TheJohnsons 08:32 Archived in Iran Tagged mountains sky desert sunset view nature landscape canyon travel mountain golden sand summer sun hill red rock stone formation scenic land hot yellow natural east dry asia tourism geology iran kerman persia outdoor esfahan formations tehran persian kashan yazd iranian foggy misty massive background hottest lut kalut kaluts shahdat kalutes Comments (0)

Mahan Gardens Iran

Mahan Gardens Iran
Whilst staying in Kerman in Iran in 2012, and about too visit The Arge e Rayen, I first called at the oasis which is the gardens of Mahan.

The portal of this Persian garden as a clear structure frames the interior space of the garden so that when you stand under its arch, you face a beautiful scenery which comprises of the garden, the main pavilion and its fountains.

The interesting point about the fountains is that no electricity has been used for making the fountains work. The stream of water enters some crocks and then after reaching one of these crocks arrives at another of them which plays the role of elbows in today’s plumbing systems. The water then erupts out in the form of fountains and after passing the stone and mortar paved yard and then after passing the ponds which are beautifully placed upon each other reaches the main pavilion.

The choice and arrangement of plants and trees in Shazde Mahan Garden with its towering trees play a significant role in the identity of Persian Gardens. This garden with its fruitful trees paints colourful and scenic views during the fruit bearing seasons.

All in all, this garden shines like a priceless diamond in the centre of desert. Visiting this relaxing attraction is highly recommended for curious tourists. Wish you a pleasant visit!

For thise that are interested I have inserted a plan of the garden below

Posted by TheJohnsons 01:09 Archived in Iran Tagged architecture water desert nature park fountain history travel plants province blue building world garden heritage historical holy muslim tourist near unesco site religious destination asia ancient tourism iran kerman persia landmark color decoration colorful persian ornaments century iranian march prince 16 2010 islamic built mid shia mahan shazdeh shahzadeh muddle Comments (0)

Arge e Rayen- Iran

Arge e Rayen- Iran

I wanted to visit Arg-é Bam on my trip along the Silk Route in Iran, but went to Rayen castle instead. When i saw a picture of Arg-e Bam I knew I would go there no matter what. To my regret the horrible earthquake of 2003 ruined it completely and many people told me that there is nothing left to see besides piles of rubble and few ruined walls (below the Bam castle before and after the earthquake).

The medieval mud brick city of Rayen is similar to the Agr-e Bam but smaller in size. It is extremely well preserved, despite numerous natural disasters that have destroyed similar structures nearby, and it is one of the most interesting sites in Iran. Arg-e Rayen was inhabited until 150 years ago and, although believed to be at least 1,000 years old, may in fact have foundations from the pre-Islamic Sassanid era.

The outer walls of the castle enclose the main governor’s citadel, houses and other structures around the latter. Most of the houses are dilapidated and just few still stand but you can easily imagine how the city looked in the past. Especially with some of the continuing restoration that was/is going on.

Remaining walls and buildings were freshly covered with hay-mud mix in the course of reconstruction and you can see in one of the frames i took where this has been done, even the hay is still on the ground ready for mixing!

The castle is quite small and you will need much time to walk around. The most interesting part is the governor’s citadel. It has a square shape and many buildings on its territory, which include a governor’s bedroom, his office, rooms for official ceremonies and guests The whole area of the citadel is covered with a roof, with several staircases leading to up. The citadel includes several yards similar to traditional Iranian houses which have square form and no roof above them for access of light to rooms facing these yards.

You can climb up to the roof and the walls and walked around the citadel. From up there you can see all around the castle and will have a better view of the houses surrounding the citadel. The yards, rooms and other structures in the citadel are freshly renovated. You can see that some more lights will be installed soon here and there. A big hall looks like a kitchen and there may be a restaurant in the near future. Besides that all the spaces are completely empty.

Posted by TheJohnsons 00:34 Archived in Iran Tagged architecture desert tower culture history traditional travel fort mountain province city building world heritage mud castle rock stone old big medieval wall east asia middle ancient tourism historic brick fortress iran kerman bam persia construction landmark e persian protection era iranian citadel sandstone arg sassanid stronghold rayen arge pre-islamic mudbrick Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Persepolis

During my "Silk Route" journey in 2012 I travelled through Iran and of course the route Alexander the Great took to Persepolis the ancient City of Persia. Now in ruins, this UNESCO World Heritage is one that you really need to see to understand and get a feel of. The area of the site is vast and seems to just keep going and going. It is pretty amazing to walk around and imagine how it would have looked in the 4th century.

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:34 Archived in Iran Tagged sky architecture monument culture history travel ruins statue palace city king blue world sand heritage sculpture stone old historical outside unesco site capital wall east middle antique ancient tourism historic sight iran persia persepolis carving gate landmark archeology empire shiraz persian dynasty ruin iranian relief nations excavations basalt bas-relief achaemenid xerxes Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Necropolis at Naqsh e Rustam

During 2012 following the Silk Route of Alexander the Great I visited Iran, and persepolis and this great Necropolis; Naqsh-e Rustam where the great kings of Persia, Darius and Exercese and Artaxerxes I Makrocheir, Darius II Nothus. A beautiful landscape and a place I will always remember....

Posted by TheJohnsons 22:33 Archived in Iran Tagged architecture desert monument culture religion history travel ruins statue mountain province king tomb heritage hill necropolis rock stone old historical cross unesco destination wall east asia ancient tourism historic iran persia persepolis cultural grave empire shiraz darius persian fars dynasty iranian relief antiquity naqsh-e naqsh achaemenid xerxes rustam artaxerxes rostam Comments (0)

The Big Year Out - Yazd Photos

View Food from our Journey & The Big Year Out & Things we wish we had done & Photos of us & Photographic Equipement & Visas & Transport and bookings on TheJohnsons's travel map.


Posted by TheJohnsons 01:44 Archived in Iran Comments (0)

The Big Year Out - Shiraz Photos

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Posted by TheJohnsons 01:43 Archived in Iran Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Esfahan to Shiraz

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We booked our VIP Bus through the Hotel Totia where we were staying. We collected the tickets from the bus terminal just before departure. We gave ourselves half an hour to be at the terminal before the 7.30a.m. departure. As a treat we went on a VIP bu and paid 250,000rial for two. An ordinary bus would be about half this price. The bus terminal has a cafe and various shops selling snacks and drinks, a bit overpriced compared with prices in town.

Bus was very roomy with armchair seats and the usual cakey snacks were served en route.

The bus stops after 3.5 hours for wee break, facilities at the stop were very basic squats.

Staff from the bus company were top drawer!


Posted by TheJohnsons 01:43 Archived in Iran Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Uzbek Visa

View Food from our Journey & Silk Route and South East Asia 2012/13 & The Big Year Out & Things we wish we had done & Photos of us & Photographic Equipement & Visas & Transport and bookings on TheJohnsons's travel map.


At last, we have our Uzbekistan Visa. We rang the Embassy again this morning to see if they had received our authorisation and were told "yes". So taxi off to Uzbek embassy which we shared with a fellow Italian traveller and saved half the taxi fare. We arrived at around11.15a.m.Thanks to the horrible traffic all through the expressway, due to the metro extension work. We were greeted by some other Iranians also waiting for their visas. We buzzed the intercom and explained who we were and they told us to wait an hour. So we waited & waited, it seems that once you inform them of your arrival, they call through the telecom speaker your surname in order for you to gain access to the Visa consulate section for processing. We waited until around 1.45p.m and buzzed again, the consul let us in and 15mins later and $186 lighter for two visas, we were out of there.

We were aware that there are a lot of Iranian "fixers" who do the Visa runs,(carrying as many as 15-25 passport)recommend getting their as early as soon as you can, we were a bit trusting of advice to ring first and traffic made us very late, which also gave us a long wait! can relax, as we have our Turkmen, and Uzbek Visa, the journey can really begin.

Next Challenge Chinese Visa inUzbekistan, watch this space!


Posted by TheJohnsons 01:42 Archived in Iran Comments (0)

The Big Year Out-Iran

An over view

View Food from our Journey & The Big Year Out & Things we wish we had done & Photos of us & Photographic Equipement & Visas & Transport and bookings on TheJohnsons's travel map.



What can I say….

The welcome and hospitality of the people is immense. As two women travellers we never felt in danger. People were always greeting you with the ubiquitous three questions; “How are you?” “Where are you from?” and “What do you think of Iran/Iranian people?” Some with better English will ask “where are you going?” and “where is your favourite place inIran?” In particular the public transport staff were always keen to make sure we were on the right bus /train and that we got off in the right place once we reached our destination (i.e. Terminals). They always made sure we had refreshments and knew when to get off for toilet breaks (buses) and always helped us with our baggage. A special mention goes to the staff atTehranwho were overwhelmingly helpful when we purchased our bus tickets, even showing us personally to the bus and into our seats. Another highlight was on the bus from Kashan [Kashan-travel-guide-1321057] toEsfahan, where the driver and other staff shared their morning tea with us and asked us to sit in the front seats so we had more space. This helpfulness extended to the train staff as well. The train driver from Kerman [Kerman-travel-guide-1309150] to Yazd came and introduced himself to us (Jafra was his name) at the train station terminal whilst we were waiting, and spoke excellent English, he was so pleased that we had come to visit Iran, and again made sure that we were comfortable in our seats before setting off to drive the train to Yazd! Every time the train stopped, he came to find us and explained the delay and finally when we got toYazdhe explained to the local taxi driver where we wanted to go (though the driver still got it wrong, but that’s another story)! Iranians have a healthy curiosity about visitors, but it is never intrusive - what is wrong with that?

Yes some small Shops will hike the price of cold cans of drinks up when they see you, but when you go again they ask the right price, and let’s face it; it is not exactly expensive in the first place.

As western women we found that a reasonable tolerance was given to our dress. We did try at all times to respect the dress code required of women in Iran, we always wore our headscarves at all times, which is a pain, more so when you are trying to go to the toilet, or we found most cumbersome when eating a meal. I bought a further scarf inShirazwhich was super thin and lightweight and cost a mere £1.70, and felt like I wasn’t wearing a scarf at all. Even better than wearing our heavier ones we had bought inTurkey. We did get along with wearing long sleeved long shirts/blouses and our long lightweight coats, which we had purchased for this trip, remained for the whole in the bags- to be posted home when we got the chance.Esfahanwas very liberal, I think because they do get so many more foreign tourists than other towns, and shirts that remained long sleeved but just past the bottom were acceptable.

When we visited the shrine of the King of Light inShiraz, we did have to wear a chador, which was given to us on arrival. I had to put my Camera in a secure cloakroom, and after removing battery and sd card I duly handed over. We were as two women welcomed into the shrine (we were surprised) and allowed into the holy areas that house stunning mirror interior decoration throughout, along with welcome air con. The women showed us where to put our shoes and where the shrine was and welcomed us. As I commented to my Angela, if you “get with the programme, you get the benefits”. It may not be comfortable and it may challenge you moral values as a woman, but if you want to seeIranas a woman, you will have to comply a bit. The benefits outweigh the discomfort.

On the whole we were treated with the utmost respect as foreign travellers and the Iranian people were so pleased to see us. Did I mention the Iranians are the kings of picnics, well they are! Where they have parks or open plazas Iranians gather with and without their families to have picnics, they bring everything, even the burner stove to heat up their tea! You will see them all carrying large bags and blankets, and cool box with some yummy Iranian foods in, don’t be surprised or afraid if you are asked to join them as you pass for a cup of tea, they just want to be friendly.

Btw my camera was returned safely back to me, as always we have found so far here, crime did not seem a big thing, on the whole Iranian people are pretty honest too. Sometimes again a teahouse would hike an extra 40p onto the bill,(touristy places recommended by LP) but to be honest we did not bother arguing as again experience and impression were more important to us than penny pinching to that degree.

Even in Kerman, when we secured a driver through our fabulous hotel, Akhaven, he treated us like royalty. On both visits to Rayen and Mahan, (in one day) and the Kaluts near Shabad, the following day he always made sure we had ice cold water dispensed from a tap on the back windowsill, and even served us tea and very sweet Iranian biscuits. Carried our pack breakfast out to us at the Kaluts, where we sat and watched the sunrise and bought us ice cream at Mahan! He was an absolute gentleman. He in addition took us to an underground water vault in Shafi Abad, on the way back from the Kaluts, which was stunningly huge and echoey? 52 steps down and 52 steps up, and worth the visit. We did promise ourselves a “treat stay/hotel/experience” every 4-6 weeks depending on where and when we were. Kerman was our splurge off our normal tight but flexible Iranian budget. Bearing in mind we had over budgeted by half again before leaving the UK. Yes we paid a bit more for the hotel, but it was amazingly good value, and yes we paid for two car trips out, but they too when compared to UK were amazing value, approx £19, and £23 respectively. Where can you go in the UK and see such stunning natural stunning scenery and man made architecture for such a cheap price. On the whole most of the mosques and public mausoleum/parks museums and parks, or just plain parks cost us little. From as little as 20p! And worth every penny, even a couple that were under restoration.IMG_0101.JPG_MG_0036.JPGIMG_0096.JPGKang.JPG At all times Vali allowed for our lack or levels of fitness, and ability. He was so patient and informative. At no time did we feel rushed. We walked up the winding and stepped, narrow streets looking at the old style buildings that were still very much lived in. The village still has it’s own Hamam. We also visited by arrangement of Vali, a local lady who served us delicious dried fruit, amazing walnuts, and quenching herbal tea. All of course with an amazing view to boot. Living is Kang is a harsh, they are only just getting gas, and most houses do not have their own sanitation. The was not the usual ringing of mobile phones and inside the houses they were basic, lacking modern amenities. The only exception was the presence of satellite dishes so presumably people do have TV. Having said that, it is a very beautiful village, and a strong reliance on locally produce obtained through the hard work of the locals.

We also had some interesting and lively conversations with Vali, he loves to extend his knowledge of the English Language and many referrals to his voluminous dictionary from English to Iranian were made and we had a great deal of fun with him and his family and other fellow travellers who stayed with

Posted by TheJohnsons 01:22 Archived in Iran Comments (0)

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