Besides stunning valleys and forests, mountains are probably the major attractions for the trekkers who come to Iran. Most people think they have seen mountains until their first time visiting Iran. Gigantic, monolithic, behemoths rising towards the sky, towering over the land, can be observed as far as the eyes can see. The monumental Alborz and the mighty Zagros mountain ranges have safeguarded Iran for millennia. Their most famous peaks, Damavand & Sabalan have influenced surrounding myths, legends, and cultures for kilometers on end.
Iran’s Highest Peak
Located in the middle of the Alborz mountain range, just a few kilometers away from Tehran to the Northeast, Damavand mountain stands as the highest mountain of Iran and the highest volcano of Asia. There are at least 16 routes that lead to the summit. Some of them are harder than others and they are dangerous. These routes require special equipment and mountaineering skills and also rock climbing. This National Heritage Site offers an elegant view from the top; a view that cannot be expressed by words. You have to see it with your naked-eyes to believe it.
Four of these routes are popular for trekking and climbing. The four common routes are South, West, North and the North-East route. Each of these routes has a shelter at about 4000 meters altitude. The North Face has an extra shelter at about 5000m. The South face is the most popular side of the mountain, with an excellent new mountain resort at 4250m and an amazing view. Most mountaineers prefer to climb from the classic South route. It is also worth mentioning that the south face keeps a waterfall which is frozen most of the year but during summer it flows and that’s the reason that it is known as the Frozen Waterfall. It is located at the 5100 meters of elevation, which makes it the highest waterfall of the middle east.
Myths of Damavand
Mount Damavand is a significant mountain in Persian mythology. It is a symbol of resistance in Persian poetry and literature. The name “Damavand” is mentioned many times in “Shahnameh”, the poetry book of Ferdowsi, one of the most intelligent Iranian poets. The main myth about Damavand has been told by the Zoroastrians. It is said in the myth that the three-headed dragon Azi Dahaka was imprisoned in Mount Damavand, after being defeated by Kaveh, the Blacksmith. He was doomed to remain there until the end of the world. Damavand has also been mentioned in the legend of Arash in Shahnameh. Arash was an archer who was supposed to mark the border of Iran. Damavand was the location from which he shot his arrow.
Climbing up grass-covered hills, cut by canyons with raging rivers, seeing sheeps pasturing on the meadows as the misty clouds roll over monolithic summits is exactly what you should expect from the Talysh mountain range. This mountain range is in southeastern Azerbaijan and far northwestern Iran within Ardebil and Gilan cities. It is the northwestern subrange of Alborz Mountains that run along the southern Caspian Sea on the Iranian Plateau (a geological feature in Western Asia and Central Asia and it is also a part of the Eurasian Plate). The Talysh Mountains are covered by lowland and montane forests. The area is a part of the Caspian Hyrcanian mixed forests ecoregion.
There are five routes to get to the Talysh mountains. Each of them renders its own special kind of beauty to amaze you to stop the time for you. You won’t realize the time pass since you are walking in dreamland.
The protector of the West, the Zagros mountain range has been home to many of Iran’s most unique habitats, cultures, and cities. The mountain range has a total length of 1,600 km. The Zagros mountains in the northwestern side of Iran and roughly follows Iran’s western border while covering much of southeastern Turkey and northeastern Iraq. From this border region, the range follows Iran’s coast on the Persian Gulf. It spans the whole length of the western and southwestern Iranian plateau and it ends at the Strait of Hormuz. Zagros contains 10 peaks which the most popular ones are Zard Kuh and Dena. The highest point is mount Dena, at 4,409 meters.
This mountain range has also played an important rule in history; during early ancient times, Zagros was the home to different ethnic groups such as the Kassites, Guti, Elamites and Mitanni, who periodically invaded the Sumerian and Akkadian cities of Mesopotamia.
This mountain range keeps many foods in it, including wheat, barley, lentil, almond, walnut, pistachio, apricot, plum, pomegranate, and grape can be found growing wild throughout the mountains. However, one of the most breathtaking scenes of Zagros is the Persian oak forest which dominates most spaces of Zagros. It is the most important tree species in Iran. Zagros mountain range is also an inhabitant of different mammals such as striped hyena and Persian fallow deer. It is worth mentioning that the Asiatic lion also inhabited in the southwestern part of the mountains, but unfortunately, it is now extinct in this region. However, keep in mind that visiting this area in the winter can be dangerous since these animals get hungry and their food cannot be found easily.
Just choose which part of the Zagros you want to climb, get to the peak, get rid of your thoughts and stresses and just enjoy the Mediterranean climate, look at the picturesque landscape in front of you and capture this calmness in your head forever.
Sabalan: The Inactive Volcano of Ardabil
Fresh mineral water running down mountain springs, nomads living in round “Yurt” tents, overwhelming ski resorts, and relaxing natural spas are just a handful of Sabalan’s attractions. The Sabalan peak is located in Ardabil province, in the northwest of Iran, with about two hours’ drive from Meshgin Shahr. With about 4,800 meters, Sabalan is the second highest peak in Iran, after Damavand, which is also one of the peaks of the Alborz mountain range. It is even higher than the Mont Blanc peak of the Alps.
According to some beliefs, Sabalan was the place where Zoroaster meditated for some years, so it is one of the sacred places between Zoroastrians. Another interesting thing about this glorious mountain is the myth that nomads believe in. They say when all the snows of Sabalan melt, the end of time will come.
One of the most striking things about Sabalan is its crater lake, located right on the summit. After one or two days of climbing, the moment that you reach the summit, the wondrous nature in front of you will make you forget how tired you are of climbing. The mountain is also known for its beautiful vistas, including the Shirvan gorge, where few climbers ever venture.
The best time to visit this exquisite mountain is from July to September. On the other months, you will need warm clothes and special types of equipment. Don’t forget to have your tent with you, in case the shelter was full.
Trekking in Iran is one of the most valuable and rewarding experiences that you can gain in this magical country. Give yourself a break from the routine life, take a deep breath and relax while walking on the mountain ridges and enjoy the raw nature. Make a schedule to start your adventure in Iran. Start from the very north, Caspian Sea, the Hyrcanian Forest, reach to the summits of the highest mountains and get astonished by the breathtaking mountain landscapes, breathe in the relaxing atmosphere after hiking and trekking in the Lar National Park and end this fabulous journey while walking with your barefoot on the hot sand dunes of Lut Desert. You might experience the best trip of your life.
Isfahan, Isfahan Province, Iran
Pasargad, Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran
Dizin Ski Resort, Tehran
Shahdad Kalouts, Shahdad, Kerman Province, Iran
Isfahan Province, Iran