While researching day trips to do out of Kashan, I came across recommendations for the Maranjab desert time and time again.
As much as I love finding exciting new ‘off the beaten track’ adventures, even this traveller can admit that if something has an undeniable tonne of positive reviews, it is usually for good reason.
So, with that in mind, I didn’t waste any time before enlisting a private driver, shelling out half of the $20 USD for a half day drive (ride sharing is the way to go in Iran) and setting off on what would turn out to be an unbelievably memorable day.
After about an hour of driving, we made an unscheduled stop on the side of the road as I had spotted some gorgeous camels and was desperate to go and greet them!
The first thing that I noticed about these furry little guys was how different they looked compared to the camels that I am accustomed to seeing in Australia. They were a lot shorter, a little rounder, significantly furrier and their fur itself was much more red than taupe or light brown.
Though these camels are not domesticated, they are not exactly ‘wild’ either. I definitely got the impression that this was not their first time meeting curious humans, and as a result, they were very chilled out about the whole situation.
This was good for me, because I tend to throw caution to the wind and possibly get a little bit reckless when on the hunt for the perfect shot!
Check out this smiley poser!
My new friend Hayden was with me on this day, and I absolutely adore this next shot. He instructed me to turn my head and smile for the camera, and it seems that I wasn’t the only one to hear the command!
I took my time and slowly approached this particular camel, and I was handsomely rewarded for my efforts – he let me give him a pat without trying to bite my hand off – success!
As he was being so well behaved and letting me pat him and take picture after picture after picture of him, it only seemed right to give him a little treat.
Fun fact: Camels like cookies!
Fun fact: Camels really like cookies.
It wasn’t too long before the rest of them caught on to the snackage that was happening behind them and waltzed over to investigate!
They not-so patiently tolerated my pats before really starting to search for a sweet treat…
…look at them all!
Totally trying to sniff out a snack – I love it!
Once we ran out of cookies it was time to say goodbye to these gentle giants and keep moving towards the desert.
Before we arrived at our final destination, we took a short detour at Namak Salt Lake.
This salt lake is a lot bigger than meets the eye, but unfortunately, winter is NOT the best time of year to visit it. It wasn’t exactly what you’d call a ‘photogenic’ stop!
However, though it might not have been anywhere near as picture perfect pretty as some of the more famous salt flats (Bolivia anyone?) it still made an interesting place to explore and it was definitely a worthwhile stop.
Finally we arrived at our final destination – the stunning sand dunes of the Maranjab desert!
During the summer months temperatures out in this desert can easily rise above 50°C (more than 122°F!) so it shouldn’t be too surprising that the best time to visit these sand dunes is any time of year that isn’t summer!
These dunes are not only a semi-popular spot for travellers, they are also a favourite for locals looking to do some dune bashing on quad bikes and/or motorcycles.
Even though I could see a lot of tracks, and could hear the rumbling of engines off in the distance, I didn’t actually see a vehicle while I clambered (with about as much coordination as a baby deer on rollerblades) around amongst the dunes.
It was nice to be alone, especially as even though it was winter, it was still bloody hot, and being able to take off my coat was complete and utter bliss!
What could be better than taking my coat off?
Taking my hijab off!
I only took it off for a few seconds in order to cool down, and in the process, was able to quickly snap this next shot – one which quickly became a favourite from the day!
Just as soon as it came off, it went back on, and I spent my precious last moments in Maranjab feeling the sand squish underneath my feet, allowing my eyes to rove over the seemingly endless dunes and soaking up the sun into my sparsely showing skin.
Pretty wonderful stuff.
Getting to Kashan: Kashan is well connected to Esfahan and Tehran via bus, but is only connected to Yazd via train
Sadeghi House: A cheap hotel with a few mixed dorms, expect to pay around $15/night
Maranjab Desert: A 1/2 day trip to the desert can be organised for around $20/car
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2/8 lens
Remember: Do not remove your hijab unless you are certain that you are alone – doing so is disrespectful, and could land you in hot water