The bad weather will cancel the outing in 4×4 planned by Ahmad, Maryam (yes, I have many homonyms here) and their two teenagers and which we could have joined. The day will be very calm, between the truck and the hotel. We will finally be motivated to go for a little tour of Shahdad, and caught up by the night, will only see an old tank, huge, and in which we can go down this time!
The discussion around the meal and tea will revolve around the big floods that affect part of the country, including Shiraz (good thing we didn’t go!), and especially the trip planned for tomorrow.
The price offered by the guide, even with an Iranian fare, is not cheap: 50 USD per vehicle, it may not seem like much, but considering the level of life here, it is a lot. Final decision: Loïc and the children are « sacrificed » (sob), so I will share the car with Ahmad and his family for this famous safari. In the program: the kaluts, rock formations resulting from various forms of erosion, dotting this desert of 50 000 km2, and the observation of the plateau of Gandom Beyran, the hottest point of the planet (out of the shade). Can’t wait to be there!
Everyone is still sleeping when I leave the truck the next day to join the team (it’s ok, there is just the street to cross). We do not waste time to start and arrive 45 kms further at the main car park entrance to the most famous site and close to the road, with its formations similar to the ruins of castles. Almost no one at this very early hour, the guide deflates the tires, and starts to take on the dunes and stony tracks, heading north. The shape of the kaluts changes as we advance on this magnificent expanse, where the horizon extends as far as the eye can see, and where no life seems possible… Ah yes, a single tree (and even a little passing bird) stands in the middle of a cracked expanse. Naim, the guide, gives explanations in Farsi kindly translated by Ahmad, passionate about geology. We drive on the trail, more or less firm, but obviously the vehicle is made to go everywhere, and Naim does not hesitate to give us a few frights by descending and ascending dunes at full speed. Highlight of the show: the salt river Shur, which meanders at the bottom of a small canyon, with the plateau of Gandom Beyran on the horizon. Just wonderful…
We will have time to have a quick breakfast on the bank of the stream (and even to soak our feet), before the wind pushes us to shelter in the car. The fresh air and the morning clouds have dissipated, and it’s under a sun quickly warming the atmosphere that we return to the main road, not disappointed with the trip!
After the departure of Ahmad and company, we leave Shahdad to do our little exploration of the kaluts. Notice of wind, but the road is not cut, so we drive up to twenty kms after the main car park. And there appears an eerie landscape: a deserted road in a straight line in a twilight and diffuse light, air full of sand in suspension, rock formations with contours a little fuzzy on both sides, meandering salty river with ocher hues, and the silence…
Fascinating, but the visibility decreases, so it’s time to turn back, looking for a fairly firm trail for departure. Which will eventually lead us to a fairly quiet place, although close to spots frequented by Iranians on vacation (yes, Norouz is not finished!). The sky is clear, perfect to observe a beautiful starry sky.
We return to the Shur the next day, to have photos brighter than the ones taken the day before. The road (secondary road towards Birjand), is still no really frequented, and the children do not tire of burying their feet in the dry, but very soft and sticky parts of the bed of the river (hello the cleaning of the feet and the shoes!).
Late afternoon, after 2 -almost- crashes in the sand, we find our spot at the foot of a huge yardang. Only 2 km from the road, but on the less traveled side, with only the tracks of tires marking the way to follow, we will spend a wonderful evening and a beautiful day the next day, quiet (at least as much as possible with children): sunset at the top of the dunes, small strolls, bike, climbing attempts on crumbling rocks, outdoor shower, all between two routines schools-meals, of course… Only the bonfire missing. Happy days!