In the early morning, no call from the Muezzine, much less present here than in Turkey (just like the mosques, less visible), but we will be well on time for breakfast. Children are excited about « going to school » and introducing themselves to a class of little Iranians. So we accompany the whole family in the icy streets of Joplo after a good breakfast. Unfortunately, our hopes will be quickly cooled by the school director who spurns us rather dryly. Big disappointment for the kids and us, and of course for Khalid and his family who wanted to make us happy. Well, too bad, it will be for another time Inchallah, and it takes nothing out the exceptional welcome we received. We leave our hosts to take the road, leaving some of the printed photos as souvenirs.
A few kilometers before Takab, first step of the snowy and amazing Zendan-e Soleimane crater. We will ascend it, in turn, to enjoy the bird’s eye view of the chasm nearly 100m deep. Wrong steps forbidden!
Then we reach the ruins of Takht-e Soleimane, 5 km away. The site, with its famous natural lake of sulphuric waters, is less impressive than the crater, but steeped in history and does not lack charm under the snow, even if the sun is nowhere to be seen.
It is now time to quietly head for Rasht via Zanjan, which we hope to reach via the secondary road through Dandy. We are moving cautiously on a path that has probably not been cleared for some time, and still come across some trucks and small cars that confirm the road is a priori open. But the weaker sun is already declining, and the state of the road does not improve, we prefer not to try our luck: U-turn since it’s still possible for a big detour via Bijar further south.
After a night in a field, we will go through Zanjan, last big city before Qazvin where we plan to spend the night. Ah, a landmark to see on the way: the mausoleum of Sultan Oljeitu in Soltaniyeh that can be seen 7 km from the highway. Lucky: we get there just as the setting sun illuminates the brick walls and the huge turquoise cupola, and, as the last visitors of the day, we can admire the full moon from the top floor of this beautiful building (partly in restoration).