Dazzled by the surprising beauty of the desert
By Ali Parandeh
November 13, 1998
We were supposed to all meet at 9:30 Thursday morning.
However upon my return home late Wednesday night, I got a message that
the we are leaving at 7. Having not packed or done anything, I spent a
good few hours just getting my stuff together. After a couple of hours
of sleep, I made it to our meeting point exactly at 7.
But I had forgotten that I was in Tehran, Iran. Others started showing
up slowly well after 7 and the last one arrived at 8:30. I thought of the
extra hour of sleep I could have gotten.
The minibus had a lot to be desired in terms of comfort, but the atmosphere
soon made up for it. Our group included about 20 people, all under 40 years
old; three couples and four families.
It took us about three hours to get to our final destination:
the National Park near Saveh. At the entrance we were told that the person
in charge was not available to sign our entry papers. To kill time, we
walked to a dried up river near by to have lunch.
Our path was through thick bamboo growths, over two meters tall, followed
by plain flat lands covered with interesting desert plants. After an hour,
the hot sun forced us to go back. We settled under the bridge over the
dried river. For lunch, we had some delicious aabgousht (meat and
potato stew), but a somewhat a thicker version of it, followed by fresh
fruits and a siesta for a few who took shelter under the bridge.
We waited about four hours for our man to arrive and grant
us permission to enter the park. Everybody boarded the de luxe minibus
and headed into the desert. Starting with rather a flat road we soon entered
a hilly area. In the flat area you could see some hills in the distance.
On one side we had the hills behind us. In front, we had a better view
of the golden desert hills. They were not very high. I suppose it would
have taken about 10 to 15 minutes to climb to the top of the highest one.
One of the hills stood out with its amazingly colorful spiral layers.
After driving about ten kilometers we stopped and decided to settle
for the night. By the time we put up the tents and got ready, it was nearly
6 o'clock. We had less than a few minutes to have everything prepared for
dinner before it got dark. We also wanted to go for a walk as the air had
cooled. After making the cooking area, it had become dark already but still
some of us decided to go for a walk.
We saw one of the most beautiful sunsets, followed immediately
by a clear sky full of stars. I had never seen so many stars in my whole
life. But even this was nowhere as scenic as the Milky Way, so clear and
so astonishing. The sky was so beautiful that we were looking up half the
time and thus constantly losing the trail. The walk back to the camp wasn't
exactly easy, since it was behind a hill and the folks who had stayed back
had not started a fire yet. So we just used my little torch, which I had
gotten with a gift certificate after eating a whole box of Kit Kat!
After arriving back at the camp, we grouped together to chat the night
away. Soon conversation led to jokes and guestimates of everybody's age.
(Of course, you all know that I'm 18!).
It didn't take long though before the hungry started complaining,
so the fire was prepared and we had jacket potato and barbecued chicken.
I think I was one of the few lucky people who got a well cooked potato
that was neither raw nor carbonized. Apart from a few carbonized potatoes
everything else considered edible was consumed. We then gathered around
the fire for a Balouchi dance with music playing on our minibus stereo
system! More jokes followed.
As the night fell, a strong wind started to blow which burnt all our
wood in less than half an hour. With the fire disappearing, people also
started to crawl into their tents.
I have to say that the temperature drop was not as I had
expected. The wind blew until the very early hours of the morning. Although
I was sleeping with a thick pair of jeans, socks and my jacket, I was still
very cold and got very little sleep.
At 7:30 my day started with a 45-minute walk in pure desert silence.
Nothing but a light breeze and a small bird chirping somewhere in the bushes.
The morning light on the hills created a breathtaking scene, and each hill
was colored delicately with different earth compositions in layers of blue,
green, grey and brown. As I walked up and down these hills, the view was
even more precious depending on the angle of sunlight. I never thought the desert could
be so beautiful.
After breakfast our leader Farokh Mostofi, editor of Shekar va Tabi-
at (Hunting and Nature) magazine took us for a nature walk. We came across
a tiny cactus and elongated rod-shaped rocks which are apparently formed
when lightening hits the ground and melts everything around it in a small
radius. When the ground cools down, the long rods are formed.
From there we all walked back to the park gates. Only
two people walked the whole way, while others were picked up by the minibus.
The scenery was interesting until we passed the last hill. After that we
were accompanied by some 100 flies and all we could see in the distance
was pretty much a flat land and the sounds of silence.
Unlike most trips where everyone on the return journey is sad or moody,
our group maintained a hyped and good atmosphere to the very end. To say
the least, it was one of the most enjoyable camping trips I have ever been
on in Iran.
Similar trips are organized by the Hunting and Nature magazine. All
those interested can contact me.