Deserts Becoming Increasingly Popular Tourist Destinations

Deserts Becoming Increasingly Popular Tourist DestinationsDeserts Becoming Increasingly Popular Tourist Destinations

The vast deserts of central Iran offer a wide variety of touristic potentials. They are increasingly attracting both domestic and foreign travelers who look for an opportunity to enrich their lives, experience new adventures, and enjoy the serenity and tranquility of the desert landscapes. Deserts could become the centerpiece for tourism development around which hotels, restaurants, business districts and tourist service centers can boom, according to Persian daily Forsat Emruz.

Deserts attract travelers with a diverse taste. Some of the attractions of desert tours are mentioned below:

Historical monuments: ancient caravanserais, qanats, and unique desert architectures;

Natural attractions: sand dunes, salt polygons, dune morphologies (shapes);

Scientific studies: astronomy, study of desert animals, plants and mineral material;

Sport activities: desert rally and races, sand dune climbing, hot-air ballooning, camel safari;

Therapy and wellness: sand therapy, treatments for skin problems, meditation and relaxation.

Maranjab desert near Kashan has great tourism potential and attracts many travelers each year. According to a recent study of Iran’s ecotourism potentials, Maranjab desert region (comprising of Aran-Bidgol, Kavir National Park, Maranjab and Band-Rig desert) is host to more than 56,000 tourists annually. But despite the large number of visitors, the desert still lacks suitable amenities and standard accommodation.

Maranjab is a suitable desert for expanding tourism activities as it is in the vicinity of the Salt Lake and also has other natural attractions. It offers ample opportunities for scientific studies and research, potential for sport activities arising from the large number of young visitors, short distance from the main tourist attractions such as Tehran, and proximity to Kashan, Niasar, Ghamsar, and Bidgol.

  Desert Night Star

One of the facilities available in Maranjab region is the Setare-Shabha-e-Kavir (desert night star) Tourist Complex in Aran-Bidgol county. Constructed over 5 hectares of desert land, the complex boasts a 2,000 sq.m. accommodation area with the capacity to host 150 guests. Underground water lagoons at 3 meter depths, natural dunes and star gazing are some of its attractions.

A caravanserai, south of the Salt Lake also offers lodging for travelers to Maranjab desert. With tiled flooring and restroom facilities, the caravanserai is suitable for campers. It also provides drinking water, petrol and electricity to travelers.

Matinabad Desert Eco-Camp is another tourist complex in the Maranjab region which provides tents and caravanserai style rooms as lodging. The camp also has a restaurant, teahouse, handicrafts shop, free wireless internet and offers bicycle rides and camel safari to the eco-tourists.

  Vaheh Complex

Another tourist facility under construction is the Vaheh Tourist Complex in Varzaneh desert region near Isfahan at a cost of $4.8 million. Stretching over an area of 10 hectares and expandable by up to 50 hectares, the complex “will be the largest and most equipped desert camp in the country once completed.” The facility boasts a wide range of facilities including: two restaurants with 850 seating capacity, an outdoor concert venue for 1800 people, a Sharabat-Khane (flavored syrup parlor) with 300 seating capacity, 15 residential suites with a capacity for 120 guests, auto mechanic shop, petrol pump, professional and amateur observatories, camel race track, motorcycle race track, camping, safari, paintball club, shooting club, light aircraft club, pomegranate garden and pool therapy. The complex is six kilometers from Varzaneh in Isfahan Province.

Shahdad district of Kerman Province, located at the edge of the Lut desert, is another popular desert region. Reportedly, more than 60,000 travelers annually visit Shahdad district to enjoy a walk among the fantasy-land structures carved out of sand hills (called Kalout)  made by blowing desert winds.

Shahdad Tourist Camp, funded by Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) offers traditional cottages, a roofless gathering hall, water and electricity to the visitors. Police forces also regularly patrol the area to ensure travelers’ safety.