iran: landscapes

One of a series of photo-based posts documenting a trip that my mum and I recently took to Iran. My excitement at being in that beautiful country meant that I sometimes missed the details in our guides talks, so apologies for any incorrect info or mislabeling of photos! Also, I took my old Pentax K100d with me but was unable to get more memory for it so had to use a low-quality format- I hope that doesn’t stop you from seeing the beauty that I saw everywhere…

Our journey covered over 2000km, following the jagged and beautiful Zagros mountain range through the centre of Iran, from Tehran in the north south to Shiraz and then Esfahan. Though this large area is semi-arid and arid desert, we spent our first night at Abyaneh, a remote village in the Zagros built near water so relatively lush with fruit trees, poplars and even a local clematis (see the fuzzy seedheads below in the bottom right corner!)

Valley, mountains

Verdant valley, Zagros mountains

Abyaneh houses

Abyaneh street and houses

Wherever you turn, there are mountains…

Mountains and poplars, Abyaneh

Mountains and poplars, Abyaneh

Dusk, Abyaneh

Dusk

View onto the mountains at dusk

Moonrise

Early morning view from our room

Early morning view from our room

The inhabitants of Abyaneh are almost all elderly… which makes you think about what will happen here when they are all gone. For the most part, they appear to survive on tourism but also produce dried fruit and fruit leather (which you can see drying on sheets on the roofs of many houses- see them in the photo taken at dusk?) which was tangy and sweet. A magical place.

Back on the plateau, the landscape was arid and very exposed but incredibly beautiful. A large area of this plateau makes up Iran’s main nuclear facility.

IMGP1100

Zagros

Quranic inscriptions

Land inscriptions

Caravanserai

Abandoned caravanserai

For many centuries, caravanserai or large roadside inns were refuges for travellers who made their way across this exposed landscape, offering shelter from the extreme heat of summer or freezing winter for both humans and animals. It was said that there were 999 of them across Iran, a incredible network that must have been essential to trade and movement of people. These days, with fuel so cheap, the relatively large distances are covered pretty quickly and so this network has become redundant. For all my environmental principles, I had to be grateful that I, and the many travelers on the road, had an easier way to travel!

Highway

Highway

Clouds

Clouds

Cyprus trees and mountains

Cypress trees

Truck and clouds

Truck

Jagged peaks and clouds

Jagged peaks

Towards Shiraz, the food bowl of Iran, the landscape softened and took on a bit of a greenish hue… which made it look like parts of central Australia to me.

Limestone peaks

Limestone peaks

Food production, Shiraz

Food production, Shiraz

Which then made me reflect that, even though parts of Australia are incredibly dry, as a whole it’s got nothing on Iran- we get twice as much amount of average annual rainfall and much less extreme weather… and yet many of Iran’s cities are found in far dryer regions than ours are. Luckily for them, the sophistication of ancient Persian hydrology allowed them to capture and move water via underground qanats and to sustain ten times more permanent cropland than we can. Most (or all?) of the qanat system has now been replaced with piped irrigation and Iran recycles far more water than we do, so it’d be interesting to know more about how those desert cities fare in summer and how they manage their water.

Next time, I’d love to visit the cooler, forested regions to the north of Tehran towards the Caspian Sea. I think that, in many ways, it would feel like a very different Iran…

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4 Responses to iran: landscapes

  1. mudarissa says:

    Thank you for your glimpse of a country we usually only hear negative things about. Fabulous experience. Was it difficult to get visas etc. for your trip?

  2. tiny happy says:

    beautiful photos. really interesting to learn more about this land!

  3. I’ve loved reading these two posts about your trip. I have an Iranian friend who talks so lyrically about her country that I have long wished to visit it. Lucky you that you have :)

  4. Belinda says:

    beautiful photos jules! would love to head there myself one day – incredible landscape!
    (and interesting to hear about water management there! australia definitely has a way to go…)
    xx

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