Right in the heart of Iran, there is a fascinating and legendary desert that, thanks to it’s natural and historical sights, golden sands and the starry and enchanting nights of it, no one can resist it’s beauties and attractions! Shah Abbas Safavid named this desert “Maranjab”. And some attribute the reason for this naming to the suffering of freshwater wells and aqueducts in the desert; which is derived from the phrase “man suffering from water.” (translates as mard ranj ab). Maranjab desert has so many different attractions that it does not matter how old you are or female or male; after all it has unique sights for all tastes.
Maranjab desert is located in the North of Aran and Bidgol city, Isfahan province. Aran and Bidgol salt lakes and Masileh desert limit this dessert from North and West. And also there is the the Band Rig desert on the East and Kavir National Park in the South side of this worth visit desert.
As we mentioned before you can’t resist against Maranjab attractions! Of course there are lots of natural attractions waiting for you in Maranjab; and we can assure you will have fun camping in this desert. But this is not all! The ghosts from past are also waiting for you to visit the monuments from past; and they can visit you too! So be with us to introduce all natural and historical attractions you can visit in Marajab desert.
The salt Lake is on the edge of the desert and about 35 km from Aran and Bidgol. The lake is about 650 km long and is dry and saline in most months of the year; but one of it’s dazzling attractions appears after rain and water evaporation: “Interesting geometric shapes created from salt deposits”.
You have two paths to get to this salt lake: 1. Taking the route to Aran & Bidgol – Maranjab or 2. You can take the route to Maranjab caravanserai and then go for another 10 kms after the caravanserai to reach the lake.
Remember that the terrain around this lake is very swampy and may catch your car or even yourself; so be sure to get help from a guide to go to the lake. Many people have been trapped in this swamp and their journey left half-finished.
Wandering Island, as it’s name suggests, is one of the most mysterious and fascinating places in the Marnjab Desert. This island is located in the middle of Lake Masileh; and from a distance it looks like a small mountain surrounded by a ring of dust. Lake Masileh is dry and saline in most seasons; but in the rainy season the water level rises by about 2 to 5 cm. The island is made of volcanic rocks and has no vegetation.
The reason for naming the wandering island is also interesting! The visual error caused by the hot weather and the presence of salt flats around, made the natives think that the island is moving! So they called it wandering. The salt marshes around the island are also swampy in most cases, so be careful when visiting.
As we said before, most of the Marnjab desert is covered with sand and sand dunes; which in Persian we call them “Raml“. Walking on the sands in the sun is a pleasant and sweet experience that you can have only in the desert! Golden, warm sands which you can still feel the coolness of the desert night beneath it. If you want to have an amazing experience of visiting Maranjab desert, do not miss the sunrise or sunset! It’s literally a once in a lifetime experience. The dance of the colorful lights of the sun on the golden sands of the dune, is a view which it’s beauty will evoke the sweetness of the desert for you for a long time.
No doubt you have heard the definition of desert night over and over again, even if you do not have the experience of seeing it up close. Desert nights, especially if the sky is clear, are truly amazing and enchanting; you can easily feel the roundness of the earth as small and large silver stars surround you. Stars that can also be seen without professional observation devices. It will be difficult to lose sight of all this beauty and glory, even in the face of the day’s fatigue. So if you have the equipment, we strongly recommend you to camp in Maranjab desert and enjoy the lovely alluring nights.
The Maranjab desert is located along the old Silk Road; the famous road that facilitated Iran’s trade with China and Europe. Shah Abbas Safavid had built caravanserais all along the Silk Road to be both a place for travelers, merchants and caravans to stay and rest; and also, to provide security for them.
In 1012 AH (1603 AD), Shah Abbas ordered the construction of the Maranjab Caravanserai on a hill next to the fresh water spring and the salt lake; which is why it became known as the Abbasi Caravanserai.
Khezr Nahavandi, who was the ruler of Kashan at that time, built this large caravanserai on a 3500 square meter land with 29 brick rooms. They built it’s walls built with a congress and in the form of a trench. At that time, 500 armed soldiers guarded the caravanserai. This caravanserai was registered in the list of national monuments of Iran on July 21, 2005 under the number 12126.
Maranjab Caravanserai is still standing and it’s rooms accommodate guests who want to spend the night in the desert. One of the rooms has also been turned into a dining room. You can also enjoy the night sky of Maranjab desert with the help of observation devices on the roof of the caravanserai.
You can do some things such as going off-road riding, camel riding or motorcycle riding in most deserts. It is fun and if you want some new experiences in addition to site seeing we recommend these activities to you.
Camels have long been a means of transportation in the desert, which has also become one of the most popular recreations in the region today. One of the most enjoyable pastimes of Maranjab desert is camel riding. The most beautiful sound that breaks the silence of the desert is the sound of camel bells. Riding camels, although not exciting, can be a good choice for quiet desert moments. Do not skip this simple part after experiencing it.
You can do off-road riding with special chassis cars that are available in Maranjab; but due to the many damages that this recreation causes to the desert sands, we suggest that you leave off-road riding in Maranjab desert. This activity destroys the sand dunes by completely destroying it’s ups and downs over time.
We can say that this activity is one of the main purposes of traveling to desert areas. The desert sky at night is extremely spectacular and beautiful; and a wide range of different groups interested in astronomy and night photography, both professional and amateur, draw to these beautiful areas. In the Maranjab desert, on the roof of the Abbasi caravanserai, there are telescopes to observe the night sky.
Tricycles are another common pastime in desert areas, which is also present in the Maranjab desert. If you love excitement, do not forget to ride a motorbike on sand dunes!
One of the best pastimes in the desert is walking on hot sand, which is also very popular. It just needs a loving heart and two dynamic legs to draw you to the sandals! You can walk in the desert for about half an hour from Abbasi caravanserai to reach the phenomenal golden sand dunes. You can climb the sand dunes of Maranjab and have a different experience of desert wandering. From the top of these hills you will see a white landscape, which is actually the salt lake.
The second half of the year is the best time to travel to desert areas; because in this season, the climate in desert areas, including Maranjab, is balanced. Of course, in winter, especially at night, you should be careful and bring warm enough clothes with you; because the weather get very cold at night and even sometimes in the afternoon.
If you are planning to travel to Maranjab desert in winter, it is better to get rid of the thought of camping in the heart of the desert. The air outside is really unbearable! For this reason, in winter, we recommend you to stay only in the desert caravanserai and use it’s facilities.
If you are keen on visiting Maranjab in spring or summer we should say that in the first half of the year, the beginning of Farvardin (late Larch) is the best time to travel to the desert. But in the continuation of the season the weather starts to get warm and won’t be pleasant for visiting. But if you can tolerate the super hot weather, go for it!
If you are going to spend the night in Maranjab desert, especially in the cold season, you can’t camp in the desert. So you need to find a place to stay at, and enjoy the desert night.
Marajab caravanserai, or Abbasi caravanserai is in the desert and you can stay there. You can also go to the rooftop and enjoy the beautiful sky of the desert night. In this caravanserai you can also buy important things such as mineral water. So if you were out of water, just go to this place. Another benefit of staying in this place is that your phone won’t get out of service here and up to 3 Kms around this place.
If by any reason you didn’t want or couldn’t stay at Maranjab caravaserai you can travel a little further and stay t Ahmad eco camp, also known as “Desert nights star” hotel. Desert Nights Star Tourism Complex (Ahmad camp) is located at 11 km of Maranjab Road. This tourist camp has 20 rooms with a capacity of 2 to 12 people.
There is also a dining room with a capacity of 100 people for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Another unique attraction of the complex is the existence of a natural lake in the heart of the desert! So you can experience fishing in the heart of the desert with a fishing hook!
What do you think of Maranjab desert? Would you camp for a night at Maranjab to see the desert night or not? Let us know by commenting your opinion. Thank you for reading the article and don’t forget to check out our desert tour. Just CLICK on the picture above!