Journey Through Northern Iran: Mountains, Passes, and Pristine Lakes
This tour takes you on a journey through the picturesque landscapes and natural wonders of northern Iran, specifically focusing on the regions of Gilan, Ardabil, and Zanjan. Over two days, you’ll venture through breathtaking mountains, explore hidden gorges and passes, and marvel at the pristine beauty of lakes and forests. The tour also offers glimpses into local culture and heritage, with recommended stops at significant landmarks along the way.
Astara Hiran Pass Neor Lake
Crossing the high mountain has always been attractive to everyone. Just as crossing the seas has been important for people of different ethnicities, we immediately remember dear Sohrab Sepehari, who said: “Behind the sea is a city,” indeed, this curiosity accompanies travelers; where is that city?!
Mountains form diverse weather climates and change clothing, food, customs and culture based on this climate diversity. Therefore, wherever you hear the name “Neck,” don’t doubt that cultural and natural diversity is ahead. A pass is a place where a high mountain permits us to pass, and usually, the lowest part of a mountain range is joined together, and the lowest part of this ridge is known as a pass.
In Iran, we have many gorges; some of the most famous ones are Asadabad Gorge in Hamedan, Bijan Gorge in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad, Gadok Gorge in Mazandaran, Kulikosh Gorge in Fars and Ahavan Gorge in Semnan.
In the meantime, one of the most famous passes in Iran is the Hiran Pass. This pass is located in Gilan province, on the border of Ardabil province and bordering Azerbaijan, so when you pass through this pass, you can see the Hyrcanian forests of Azerbaijan.
To reach Hiran Pass, you must go to Astara or Ardabil because this pass is located in the Talash mountains and between Gilan and Ardabil provinces.
If you are coming from Gilan province, you should get to Astara, located at the end of the Caspian Sea coastal road and in the northernmost part west of the lake in Iran.
After visiting Steel Lagoon and Astara Bazaar, go to Ardabil Road. Astara is hot and sultry in summer but have some patience and bear the heat, as the good news is coming. Gradually the slope of the road increases, and you move away from the city on the winding road. As the height increases, beautiful landscapes appear in front of your eyes, and the air gradually cools.
Fortunately, in recent years, the route of Garneh Hiran has been improved, and you can safely drive on it.
Upon reaching the highest point, you can use the fantastic new cable car that will take you to the heights of the Fandoglou forest in Ardabil province.
After crossing the pass, you enter Ardabil province and descend toward Namin. If you didn’t have the chance to use the cable car, now you can follow the signs of Fandglou forest and reach Dasht Booneh.
If you haven’t been to Ardabil before, the tomb of Sheikh Safiuddin Ardabili and Shorabil Lake are the most obligatory places you should see. You can find relatively suitable hotels and accommodation centers in Ardabil to spend the night in the morning. Also, recently, some eco-tourist lodges have been opened in this city and its surrounding villages. These are suitable options if you are interested in the local culture and experience of living with the locals.
But the next goal of our visit on this trip is Neor Lake. This lake was formed in the southeast of Ardabil and at a time interval of one and a half hours from the city of Ardabil.
To reach the lake, you should drive on the Zanjan road, known as the Sarcham road, until the three-way of Budalalu, and by turning to the left, you should go to Abbasabad and the Neor mountain lake. Don’t worry; a lake sign has been installed on the Bodalalo tee to guide you.
Since Neor is located in a protected area and is protected by the country’s natural resources and environmental organization, no construction has been done around the lake, and there are no amenities and accommodations. As a result, there is only the possibility of camping next to this lake. Hunting is prohibited in this area, but limited fishing permits are issued in certain months of the year.
After visiting the large and beautiful Neor Lake, return to the main road and continue on Sarchem Road to Zanjan. Sarchem Road itself is spectacular. You enter the mountains by crossing the vast plains, and the Hirochai and Qezel Ozen rivers accompany you all along the way.
The number of tunnels on this road is interesting. Sarchem Road has twelve tunnels named after twelve imams, each named after one of the holy imams.
On this route, one of Iran’s most spectacular natural landscapes has been created by installing a long suspension bridge. Pirtaghi suspension bridge is built next to the village of the same name on the Qezel Ozan River and a wide valley, and it is possible to cross it on foot, an exhilarating and memorable experience.
This road reaches the Zanjan-Tabriz highway, about 90 km from Zanjan. From here on, the choice is yours to continue your journey to Zanjan or Tabriz!
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