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A Day in the Darayache Namak Desert


By Syma Sayyah, Tehran



I start by wishing everybody a happy Iranian new year (1388) and noting that we are the only country in the world that has a strictly solar calendar (which is the most logical one you could have) and it is in perfect accordance with the zodiacal system which also depends on the movement of the sun.   The New Year takes place on the Spring Solstice and marks the beginning of spring, although the gloomy weather and snow that we had last week in Tehran indicates that spring is starting a little late this year!



Just before the New Year we did one of the things that I had wanted to do for a very long time, and that was to take a short trip to one of Iran's famous deserts.  On the last Friday of the year, thanks to our friend Lizzi and the wonderful great Mehrdad, - the gentle Tarzan of Tehran, my title for him - we had a most wonderful day.



To be quite honest my idea was to travel through the desert on a normal road, well I was in for a real surprise.  We were up and ready to go on time and they picked us up sharp at 4:30.  We headed south along the Qom Highway and saw the sun rise as we went towards Kashan, 300km south of Tehran and passed through the city in the early hours and within a few minutes we passed through the last few kilometers of tarmac road.  We got to Fayzabbad and then to the caravanserai where there were a few bus groups who had stayed the night before.  As we passed the caravanserai we were told by an officer that we could not use the main track by the Darayache Namak (salt lake) as there were some special army maneuvers that day.  Mehrdad the guide, the driver, the desert fox in our group, said no problem and we headed off road and that's when our adventure started and for nearly 8 hours we did not see anybody else, the four of us were totally alone in the desert.



We started off by letting some of the air out of the tires of the Landrover, and then driving out up and down the sand dunes.


For a city girl like me it was most exhilarating and frightening at the same time.  We enjoyed the peace and silence and the soft sun- it was a cool day - I saw many things that I did not expect and Mehrdad's mastery and knowledge of the dunes never ceased to amaze me and Paul.



We were laughing the whole way up and down the dunes without anyone in sight and we felt safe under his care even when the Landrover got stuck in the sand, which it did several times.  Every time in total coolness he got out, dug or did what he had to do to get us out and moved on to a new place for adventure, walking, beautiful scenery and breathtaking views.



I told him that all the bumping around and ups and downs in the car make me scared and if I knew I would not have come, but I was so happy that I had!   He played his music as he drove us through the desert for many hours, and we stopped at one of his favorite hidden places in a valley for a picnic lunch that Lizzi and I had prepared.


One of the highlights of the trip was making friends with two lovely donkeys.


We drove along the vast salt lake, where there is very little water but a thick crust of salt.  We headed home in late afternoon and by the time we got there we were tired yet happy after such a wonderful day and we promised that we would go again soon.



I have a few photos from our day trip, although at some of the best places we were holding so tightly onto the car handles that we could not take too many photos!


Jaye shoma khali (we missed you)!

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