Iran, as a country with a rich history and culture, boasts incredibly diverse landscapes. One of the most captivating experiences you can have here is stargazing in its desert regions. Thanks to a vast expanse of deserts and arid areas, Iran offers stargazing enthusiasts an excellent opportunity to admire a star-filled sky.
From the Dasht-e Lut to the Central Desert, the absence of city lights and the unique natural features make these places popular destinations for stargazing fans from around the world. Join us in this SURFIRAN article to explore the best desert regions in Iran for nighttime sky observation.
1. Mesr Desert
Located in Mesr Village in Isfahan Province, Mesr Desert is an extraordinary destination for stargazing in Iran. The area’s vastness, along with its sandy dunes and hills, make it an ideal location for those interested in astronomy and nighttime sky watching. Thanks to its clean sky and desert environment, Mesr Desert provides excellent conditions for observing stars and even planetary astronomy. That’s why it ranks high among popular destinations for astronomy tours, which travel to this region each year for stargazing.
Accommodations in the village have expanded, with multiple guesthouses and eco-lodges available. If you’re in the area, you can also visit the nearby village of Farahzad. While traveling from Semnan and Jandaq, you’ll even have the opportunity to see Jandaq Waterfall on your way.
If you’re starting from Semnan, follow Hosseinan Road. Upon reaching Jandaq, proceed towards the village. If you’re coming from Kashan, take the route towards Birjand and Golshan. After passing Nain, Anarak, and Choupanan, you’ll reach a junction where you should take the road leading to Jandaq.
2. Maranjab Desert
Close to Kashan and bordering a national park, Maranjab Desert counts among Iran’s top spots for stargazing. This desert attracts those keen on desert treks and astronomical observations with its beautiful sandy landscapes and dunes. It becomes an even more appealing destination thanks to its well-equipped desert camp, offering suitable facilities and exciting activities.
This makes it a popular choice for desert tours departing from Tehran and Isfahan. Here, astronomy enthusiasts have a fantastic chance to admire a star-studded sky, along with other attractions like the underground city of Nushabad, the salt lake, aqueducts, caravanserais, and the desert’s unique vegetation.
Note: When stargazing and traveling the road leading to Maranjab Desert, exercise extreme caution and never leave the main road. Swampy areas in the vicinity can be hazardous.
Access Route to Maranjab Desert and Salt Lake
Getting to Kashan is your first step. From there, you’ll need to head towards the Aran and Bidgol village route. Once you’ve passed the first Kashan exit, which has a petrol station, take the road on the right.
Follow this road towards Maranjab village and the Salt Lake. Just 4 kilometers before reaching Maranjab, you’ll find another dirt road. Travel 25 kilometers on this dirt road, and you’ll arrive at the first access point to the Salt Lake. This path is on the left side of the road. Drive another 5 kilometers and you’ll encounter water reservoirs, sandy hills, and finally, the Salt Lake and the caravanserai. For a complete travel guide to Kashan, check out the Kashan Travel Guide.
3. Shahdad Kaluts
The Shahdad Kaluts in Iran are another mesmerizing and desert destination for stargazing. These formations are located in South Khorasan province, north of the Lut Desert. You can also access this area from Kerman. These Kaluts are unique mountains formed by the cohesion of sand over time. Shahdad Kaluts make for an excellent choice for stargazing, offering a fantastic opportunity to observe stars in a star-studded sky. For accommodations, you can stay in desert camps set up for travelers. Besides enjoying the endless night sky and the silence of the desert, you can explore nearby attractions like underground reservoirs, Sirch’s cold regions, elevated gardens, and mud-brick cities.
Access Route to Shahdad Kaluts
Start by entering the Mahan road from Kerman. On the road leading to Mahan (Haft Bagh Road), cover a distance of 20 kilometers to reach a fork. At the fork, take the left road leading to Sirch and ultimately Shahdad. Remember, before reaching Shahdad, you’ll have to take the Nahbandan road to arrive at the Shahdad camp.
4. Matinabad Desert
Located in Isfahan province, near the village of Matinabad, this desert offers another excellent choice for desert aficionados and stargazers. Many groups and individual travelers from Tehran and Isfahan come here to enjoy the starry nights away from urban clamor. For accommodations, you can stay at a desert camp equipped with appropriate facilities for travelers.
Access Route to Matinabad Desert
Take the Qom-Kashan-Isfahan freeway. About 60 kilometers past Kashan, you’ll find the exit for Abyaneh and Badroud. After exiting the freeway, take the road on the right leading to Badroud. From there, follow the signs towards Matinabad Desert. You’ll pass through villages like Khaledabad, Dehbad, and Femi along the way. Before reaching the Matinabad village, there’s a two-kilometer dirt road that leads to the ideal spot for stargazing.
5. Zamanabad Desert in Khar-turan, Semnan
If stargazing amid sweeping sand dunes has been on your bucket list, Zamanabad Desert in Turan or Khar-turan, Semnan is the destination for you. This desert forms part of Iran’s central desert and is an ideal location for overnight stays while taking in the celestial canvas. Situated near Zamanabad village, this desert is a protected area, making it one of the top choices for desert trekking and astronomical observation.
In the absence of city lights, Zamanabad Desert becomes a tranquil oasis for skywatchers. During your stay, expect to be mesmerized by the endless sky and its dazzling stars.
Luckily, reaching Zamanabad is straightforward. The roads are asphalted, so you can easily drive to this haven. Once there, immerse yourself in the local culture by staying in a community-based accommodation in Zamanabad village. Additional activities you can indulge in include camel riding and desert trekking. If you venture away from the village with a guide, you can achieve an unparalleled stargazing experience.
How to Get There
Starting from Semnan, follow the route to Mashhad. Drive through the city of Miami and, before reaching Shahroud, turn onto Biarjmand Road on your right. From there, follow the Khan Khoudi and Kashmar route. After a 110-km drive, you’ll arrive at Zamanabad. Nearby, you can also visit Rezaabad village for an alternative stargazing location.
6. Stargazing in Mazinan Davarzan Desert
Mazinan Davarzan Desert in Iran serves as another exceptional location for sky observation. Situated on the northern edge of the Central Desert, it’s recognized as a captivating historical and desert area perfect for night sky watching. Limitless landscapes of sands and hills on one side, and a grand sky on the other, create a unique experience for astronomy enthusiasts. The desert’s geography sets the stage for excellent stargazing conditions. Aside from sky observation, you can explore salt flats and salt marshes near the Kāl Shūr River.
How to Get There
To reach Mazinan Davarzan, travel on the Semnan-Mashhad road and pass through the city of Shahroud. After arriving at the city of Davarzan, continue toward the Mazinan intersection, and you’ll reach the Mazinan village and subsequently the desert.
7. Stargazing in Khor (Khosf) Village, South Khorasan
Khor Village in South Khorasan is one of the best desert areas for night sky observers. The village has a single desert area and is a great destination for desert trekking and star watching. Low population density and the rustic desert setting create a perfect atmosphere for nature and astronomy lovers. You’ll find the narrow, winding alleys of this and surrounding villages, like “Hemat Abad,” filled with mud-brick homes and wind-catchers, irresistibly enchanting.
How to Get There
Follow the Tabas to Birjand road. After crossing Diehuk, you will arrive at the Arab Abad village. Abandon the Birjand route and enter another road. At the Arab Abad crossroad, take the left road, and after 126 km from Arab Abad, you will reach Khor (Khosf) village.
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Iran’s desert regions, with their infinite allure and star-filled skies, are a paradise for night sky observers. From south to north and east to west, the captivating natural vistas these areas offer are satisfying for anyone. In this article, we’ve introduced locations like Mesr Desert, Maranjab Desert, Mazinan Davarzan Desert, and many others that rank among the best destinations for night sky and star gazing.
For those interested in exploring these mesmerizing destinations, various group tours are available through SURFIRAN. Also, if you need travel essentials like insurance, SIM cards, or transportation, you can easily book them on OrientTrips.
So, what are you waiting for? Pack your telescope and head to these incredible Iranian landscapes for an unforgettable stargazing experience.