Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Thu June 30 2016

Opinion Home | Notes from the Goats

  • Nick and Dariece | June 30, 2016 9:00 PM ET

    Iran's Desert Oasis of Garmeh

    Iran's Desert Oasis of Garmeh

    Photos by Goats on the Road

    Whenever the opportunity for traveling in the desert presents itself, we take it. There's something magical about exploring sand dunes, hiking up rocky formations and seeing how people in the desert live.

    Garmeh is a little oasis located in the central desert of Iran, in the Isfahan Province. We had read about this small town in our guidebook when we were planning to go backpacking in Iran. The guidebook offered this description about the little desert village: “Population 250, plus 20 goats and two camels” We were immediately intrigued!

    Arriving in Garmeh was like stepping back in time. Crumbling, 1,500-year-old castles dotted the landscape, interspersed with date palm trees, mud brick homes and lots of livestock.

    garmeh guesthouse in iran

    This village has been accommodating visitors for many years, as it was one of the stops along the famous Silk Road trade route. We couldn't help but think that it looked as though nothing had changed since it welcomed its first wanderers.

    READ MORE: Destination Iran: Alexander + Roberts Opens a New Frontier

    The journey to Garmeh may have been a bit difficult, but as soon as we arrived and saw the surrounding oasis, we knew that the convoluted journey was worth it. We checked in to one of the most interesting guesthouses we've ever stayed at, Ateshooni. This family-run place offers travelers a comfortable stay in their mud-brick home, which is 400 years old. The rooms are all traditionally decorated, with beautiful common areas. High ceilings, Persian carpets and a friendly atmosphere...this was our kind of place!

    guesthouse room garmeh

    So, what does a person do in a desert village of just a couple hundred people? Our first adventure was out to the Seleknon salt flats, something that we had never seen before. We did some silly poses and walked over the crunchy salt before being told to come and have a look at the river. The river? Why would there be water in the desert, next to dried-up salt beds? But, there it was. A beautiful turquoise river flowing over the blindingly white salt. This was the first of many interesting sights we'd see.

    salt river garmeh

    Next up, we made our way to another desert settlement called Mesr. This time, rather than salt flats and date palms, we were greeted with rolling sandy dunes! The silence here was deafening. This was the ultimate spot to watch the sun set...complete with a herd of camels passing by. The salt flats and the sand dunes are located outside of Garmeh, but the village itself has attractions for tourists as well.

    sand dunes garmeh

    A highlight of our journey to the desert was hiking up the surrounding mountains for an aerial view of the oasis on one side, and the rocky plains on the other. This is the best way to really get a feel for just how small Garmeh actually is. Seeing the cluster of green palms surrounded by nothing but desert was pretty amazing. Descending down the mountain brought us to a little spring. We followed the trail of water to a small cave opening where we found a bunch of little fish in the water. If you've ever been to SE Asia, you'll know that these fish can be used as a sort-of pedicure. So, we stuck our aching feet in the water, cooled off, and enjoyed the fish nibbling at our toes!

    garmeh oasis

    Back at the guesthouse, Maxiar (one of the owners) played music each evening. The handful of travelers who had made the effort to get to Garmeh gathered around, as did the family members. Sweet, sticky dates were passed around, and so was tea. We all sat on the carpet to listen to this unique style of music. Maxiar's instruments of choice were very old clay pots. He used them like bongos — banging his hands on the tops, and sides of the vases, while raising them up and banging them down on the floor. It seems strange, but the sound was extremely hypnotic! This was a highlight of every day in Garmeh.

    READ MORE: Travel to Iran: Is It the Next Cuba?

    travel to iran garmeh

    The Ateshooni Guesthouse offers travelers an authentic experience in the desert. Trips to the surrounding areas can be arranged, traditional food is served (try the camel), and you won't find any westernization here. But, what you will find is silence, family and dates...lots of dates.

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Nick and Dariece Notes from the Goats

Nick and Dariece Nick and Dariece are the couple behind Goats On The Road, a website designed to inspire others to live a financially sustainable, location independent lifestyle. Masters at making money abroad and turning their travels into a way of life, they've been on the road since 2008 and have explored some of the least visited places on earth, finding adventure wherever they go. They are also full time contributors at Credit Walk where they share their expertise of making money and travelling forever. Check them out at Goats On The and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
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