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Travelling to Kerman and Yazd

Yazd bazar

The desert city Kerman

After Shiraz we decided to visit the desert city, Kerman, located in East-Iran. It took us another 6 – 7 hours in a bus to get there. We were in a bit of a shock when we first entered the city, most buildings seemed either completely ruined or under construction. The reason is, the city is still recovering after a big earthquake 2003.

In Kerman we were lucky to be invited to stay with a local named Mohsen. His house was situated in a creepy ally in one of the old streets close to the bazaar. At first we thought we were entering a slum, so we were surprised to find out that his house was on three floors and decorated with expensive carpets and furniture. We even got a private apartment just for ourselves!

We enjoyed walking through the city, visiting different teahouses and old historical baths. During the evening it seemed like the whole city had arrived to do some shopping at the bazar. Salesmen were screaming out their products, claiming the best price and quality, selling everything from fresh vegetables and saffron to Persian carpets.  Here you mainly see locals shopping, unlike the “tourist” bazar we went to in Istanbul.

Bazar in Kerman - Iran From Ice To Spice

Homeless man Iran Man selling socks 

Buzy bazar Iran Here you can find everything from vegetables to persian carpets

In Kerman we had a memorable time with Mohsen and his Iranian friends. It didn’t take us a long time to find out Kerman’s biggest secret! Apparently almost every citizen enjoys smoking opium (a derivative of heroin), which flows kind of freely from the east, through the border of Afghanistan. Some even say that a traditional invitation to a home in Kerman has to include an opium pipe or “Vafoor”. Iran has the highest opium addiction rates in the world (2.8%) and despite the government’s efforts; cheap opium (1$ for 3 grams) still flows from Afghanistan to Iran en route to Europe.

Iranian hospitality Mohsen and his friends

Smoking opium Iran The Doctor tries the pipe for the camera (“Vafoor” or Opium pipe)

Our highlight was visiting the Kaluts (1,5 hour drive from Kerman), rare formation of towering sand rocks, scattered around in the Dasht-e Lut desert. We also found out that this is one of the hottest spots on earth, with ground temperatures reaching as high as 70°C during summer. Here you won’t find any living creatures, except maybe the toughest bacteria.

Kerman Iran Beautiful Kerman

Getting there can be a bit of a trouble since there are no scheduled bus rides to the desert. Today was a national holiday (36 years since the Islamic Revolution), so many families had decided to head out to the desert for a picnic, escaping the winter cold in Kerman (1700 m above sea level). Luckily, we managed to tag along with Mohsen’s relatives to the desert.

We quickly noticed how the landscape changed when we drove over the cold mountains down to the mild and temperate desert. As we drove deeper into the desert, the towering sand formations started to appear. These “sand castles” have been sculpted over millennia from the change in wind, which causes the desert sand to pile up and form different shaped formations.

The desert in Iran Men enjoying their national holiday in the desert

We jumped out of the car, super-excited and ready to explore this magnificent landscape. To our surprise our fellow companions didn’t seem to be dressed for the desert. The women were wearing high heals, loads of makeup and fashionable dresses. We didn’t think about it for too long and went further in to the desert to enjoy the view. The temperature was perfect and we really enjoyed climbing up to the highest rocks. However the fun didn’t last for long since our companions all of a sudden rushed us back into their car. At first we were confused, but they told us we were having lunch (we assumed the lunch would be in the desert!).

Shadad desert - Kaluts, unique stones in Iran Beautiful view over the desert and surrounding rocks

Shadad desert - Kaluts, unique stones in Iran The Kaluts

Shadad desert - Kaluts, unique stones in Iran

We almost didn’t believe that we came all this way just to spend 15 minutes by the Kaluts in the desert. It turned out that the main reason of the trip was not spending time in the desert, but to take us visiting a friend in a nearby village! And this was no ordinary “cup of tea visit”, but an Iranian “Party” filled with home made alcohol and Afghani opium. That explains the “ready to party” dresses, as mentioned earlier. We got a bit frustrated since our main reason was to visit the desert, so we were not really in the mood for partying. It was also difficult to communicate since non of them spoke english.

Women of Iran One of the girls dressed to party

I found a broom, I'm a wizard We found ways to kill time

People of Iran

The old and traditional Yazd

The centre of Yazd

From Kerman we decided to stop over in Yazd on our way to Esfahan. Yazd is a desert city, which has really preserved Persian tradition and the Zoroastrian religion (a monotheistic fire religion dating back to 600 BC). The main reason for this preservation is Yazd’s location in the desert; when the Arabs invaded the country (6th century AD) and forced its religion upon it, many denied to convert to Islam and fled to the isolate desert cities. Iranians are sensitive to being called Arabs, cause they aren’t! Its a common misunderstanding. Iranians have their own distinct Persian language and ethnic Persians make up 60% of the modern population.

In Yazd we had noticed the uniquely structured rooftops of the mud built “Aladdin” houses, especially the bazar. Luckily, it was Friday, so the bazaar was closed, leaving us undisturbed on our quest to find a way up on the rooftops. A few scratches later along with dusty clothes, we finally found our way to the top. The view was unbelievable, beautiful mosques and towering windcatchers (“badgirs”) in-between clay houses as far as the eye could see. These ancient windcatchers have been used in Persia for thousands of years to cool wells and buildings…a kind of a natural ventilation system.

Windcatcher of Dowlat Abad Garden - one of the tallest existing windcatchers Windcatcher of Dowlat Abad Garden – one of the tallest existing windcatchers

Up on the rooftop it was quiet and calm, we didn’t stumble upon other people.

The roofs of the bazar in Yazd Really love the “Aladdin” look of this city 

The roofs of the bazar in Yazd

After enjoying the sunset we headed down from the rooftops. Feeling hungry, we bought some delicious “halva”, a paste made from sesame seeds, famous in Yazd. On top of the endless types of Iranian bread, it reminded us of peanut butter.

Young girl living in a mud house in Yazd Young girl living in a mud house in Yazd

Cat in Iran

Next our journey continued North up to Esfahan. Find more about our travels in Esfahan here! 

Are you thinking about travelling to Iran? Read our Ultimate travel guide to Iran here! 

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23 Comments

  • Reply
    Stína
    March 4, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    Svakalega er gaman að fylgjast með ykkur!! Myndirnar geggjaðar og gaman að lesa pistlana 🙂 Missjúmússímússí :-*

    • Reply
      Asa
      March 5, 2015 at 7:59 am

      Kæra Stína,
      Gaman að heyra að þið hafið gaman af því að fylgist með okkur 🙂
      Knús heim á ykkur!
      Kveðja,
      Ása og Andri

    • Reply
      AmirAli
      June 23, 2016 at 6:24 am

      you didnt come to bam and its ancient castle and ither natural views .
      if you came again or your friends wanted to travel to bam. it would be my pleasure to host you.
      here is my phone
      +989383005852

  • Reply
    Hjördís Smith
    March 5, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Æðislegar myndir og frábær texti!! Sit á Keflavíkurlfugvelli og bíð eftir flugi til New York, kannski ekki alveg eins ævintýralegt en kærkomið frí, eigi að síður. Óperan bíður. !! Bestu kveðjur
    Hjördís

  • Reply
    Katrín White
    March 5, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    Ótrúlega gaman að fylgjast með ykkur og geggjaðar myndir ! 😀

    • Reply
      Asa
      March 11, 2015 at 6:40 am

      Takk Katrín 🙂
      Gaman að þú fylgist með 😀
      Knús heim og hlakka til að fylgjast með sumrinu í Tyrklandi!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    March 8, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Hi.I am Iranian.living in Tehran. I hope u have good days in iran.come Tehran and visit (kakh Golestan) ,bazzar.and the mountains of Tehran:(tochal ,darband,darake)

    • Reply
      Asa
      March 11, 2015 at 6:37 am

      Hey Sarah! 🙂
      We had great time in Iran. Your country is beautiful and so many nice things to see.
      We will definitely come again!

  • Reply
    Emad
    August 27, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    Hey Guys,

    Hope you had a wonderful trip in Kerman. I’m from there and have been there for about 27 years of my life (currently, living in helsinki ) and my ancestors as well. I have to mention that my family and many others have not seen any opium throughout my life but I can say that it can be found and your friends made a little exaggeration about the opium and it’s not that common as mentioned (mostly seen among older people). BTW, there were lots of places you missed to visit like Mozafari Mosque, Zoroastrian Temple and museum, Bam Citadel, and….

    • Reply
      Ramin
      November 23, 2015 at 6:37 pm

      To be honest, I agree with Emad about Kerman and the Opium…
      I’m also from Kerman and have never seen people using this material, because it’s so difficult to find it due to prohibitions.
      I strongly believe that Mohsen, who housed Asa and her husband, was a guy from a low-culture family and maybe not really from Kerman.
      Any tourist facing a question or problem must ask trusted web sites or reliable places.
      I have many foreign friends, who have visited Kerman, and none of them complained about opium, addiction or such problems here.
      Asa, as Mohesn and his family did unlawful, they MUST BE PROSECUTED. Please, email me their home address and I promise that police will take serious action against them.
      Asa… PLEASE, change title of this page and remove the shameful word, opium, and the stories about it. It’s a big accusation to people of Kerman, who are know as hospitable, gentle and decent.
      If you or anyone have a question about Kerman, don’t hesitate to ask me (a.purhematy@gmail.com) or reliable web sites.
      Best Regards

      • Reply
        Andri Wilberg Orrason
        December 4, 2015 at 11:37 am

        Dear Ramin

        Thank you for commenting. As I said to Emad here above, this article is not to be taken so seriously, I sometimes describe my thoughts and feelings while travelling but not always hard facts. I heard from more than one resident in Kerman that opium smoking is a tradition in the area, and during two separate visits I was offered a opium pipe. However this may not be enough to generalise about the matter, and I will change the title of the article in the same light. Mohesn and his family were really kind and hospitable to us like true Iranians are. A kindly beg you not to take any further actions against them.

      • Reply
        Fatemeh
        December 22, 2016 at 3:36 pm

        I agree with you Ramin. people of Kerman are so hospitable and we shouldn’t judge them by opium or any thing else.

        • Reply
          saeed
          February 15, 2017 at 10:26 pm

          hello. the best regard and hurrary to you, becauce prove that you are a real man and dont sold mohsen. maybe mohsen do a mistake but his hunesty be good and i like him and like you. i am saeed from esfahan and if you decide coming esfahan i am in serve you. my phone +989134912240

    • Reply
      Andri Wilberg Orrason
      December 4, 2015 at 8:26 am

      Dear Emad

      Sorry for the late reply and thank you for commenting on our post. I may have generalised about opium use in Kerman, it was merely the feeling we got after our time in Kerman, and didn’t seem like a taboo, but more as a tradition. But off course this is simply written after a few days in Kerman, so it shouldn’t be taken seriously.

      Thank you for recommending other places to visit in Kerman as well, these are all good options 🙂

      • Reply
        Emad
        August 23, 2016 at 12:42 pm

        Dear Andi,

        I’m back after a year. It has been among some families a kind of tradition mostly among older generations. Many Thanks for changing the title. The reason behind is that inside iranian culture if somebody young smokes opium, he or she is not respected and lets say that person becomes notorious in public.
        Anyhow, I may get some advice about Norway from you, since I am planning to visit there.
        Cheers 🙂

    • Reply
      Amir
      February 10, 2016 at 1:17 am

      I think you two should be considered about other problems(you know what i’m talking about) and i wish you could never speak English to ruin this page! the pictures are cool!! you’re too insecure to take a joke!! I’m from Kermooon 😉

  • Reply
    Amir
    February 10, 2016 at 12:57 am

    Hej

    I’m from Kerman and I live in Sweden! I used to have a Swedish girlfriend who never wanted to see my country! it’s interesting to see some of you Scandinavians have visited my hometown! and that picture of you smoking opium blasts me off!!! i laughed so much. I always make fun of ourselves when i am around my foreigner friends!! Swedes are obsessed with consuming snus!! unfortunately, It’s hard to get to know the Scandinavians, i myself , dont have any Swedish friend. But i’ve got a Sampi friend here, she’s from lapland. I have to try Iceland sometime soon 😀 !!

    Tack Tack

  • Reply
    shiva
    June 21, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    the pictures are awesome – and it was so refreshing to see how well the color of your hair looked on the city background.
    keep up the good work. keep posting!

  • Reply
    Jalal
    June 21, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    Welcome to iran 🙂

    Jalal
    – Iran, Mazandaran ,Sari

  • Reply
    mani
    June 22, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    hi
    i hope u for enjoy visit iran
    come on khozestan and visit bakhteyari mountain

  • Reply
    behrouz
    June 23, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    Dear
    Kerman guests in Kerman welcome I will be happy to explore Kerman with you.
    Thank you

  • Reply
    Alireza
    October 28, 2016 at 12:29 am

    من ایرانی هستم اهل استان قم اگه تشریف اوردین قم جاهای دیدنی بسیاری قم داره مخصوصا حرم حضرت معصومه وموزه پارک کوه جنگل ….. این شمارمه09335181218

  • Reply
    Fatemeh
    December 22, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    Dear Ása & Andri.
    Your post are so awesome and I love that…thanx for that…I’m from Yazd and I hope you enjoyed it.
    the photos are so beautiful, professional and cool.
    þakka þér

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