Shifting sands in Iran and Turkmenistan’s deserts

Iran gave us our first sighting of desert on this journey. In some ways the changes in landscape reminded us of Australia, though the shift from green, fertile land to arid desert happens even more quickly in Iran.

Desert in Iran

A lot of the desert we saw in Iran was the rocky, craggy type.

Craggy desert hills in Iran

And on the road to Tehran, we saw caravanserai just off the road every 40 or so miles. When a dust storm blew up just outside Tehran, we began to see what a safe haven those caravanserai must have been.

Caravanserai in Iran

Farmers herd their sheep and goats in the desert, though you wonder sometimes what they feed on

Desert sheep in Iran

From time to time we’d see really old villages built in the sand in houses that have lasted hundreds of years.

Village built in the sand in Iran

And then suddenly there can be an oasis town, which appears as lush as the coastal fringes. And in the case of Sharood (far east of Tehran), it even reminded me of the pretty avenues of Aix-en-Provence.

Sharood, an avenue in the desert

As we approached the Turkmen border, the deserts returned, with craggy mountains as the backdrop

Desert near the Iran/Turkmenistan border

The Turkmenistan sands were much more the archetypal deserts with sand dunes we think of as kids – and this was the Karakom Desert, the hottest in Central Asia (lucky we were there in autumn)


And the occasional herd of camels fit that western image perfectly, though we didn’t manage a shot of the best group feeding with their kids by the road.

Camels in Turkmenistan

More to come from Turkmenistan when we report on the desert city of Mary and its ghostly ancestor Merv – coming soon.

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