Kashan looked like a good stop on our way to Tehran from Isfahan. The old city is quite small and we expected to find the same atmosphere that we enjoyed in Yazd. We weren’t disppointed! Moreover, Kashan offers great visits of traditional houses and it’s a good base to go get lost in the desert nearby. And that’d what we did!
When we arrived in Kashan, we had the rather bad surprise to experience the Iranian shortage in accommodation. We wanted to stay in the middle of the old city and we struggled to find a room. Not that there were so many tourists, but there was only a few hotels and hostels. We finally found one room in the lovely Kamalalmolk House, but it was available only for one night! So we decided to take our afternoon to visit the old town which is not so big and the bazaar which is big but incredible! When visiting the old city, we came by some stunning traditional houses that we had never seen before in Iran. The Iranian people were very friendly and one lady at one house’s shop even gave me two postcards for free! The picture on one of them had been taken from a fountain in the bazaar. So we went in the bazaar to look for that fountain! The bazaar is huge and soon searching for the postcard’s fountain became a real quest! We started to ask people around us, showing them the postcard. Even if we didn’t speak the same language, they looked amused by our out of the ordinary request and showed us the way each time deeper inside the bazaar!
The sad thing was that we needed to leave our hotel the next day. However we realized there were some tours in the desert organized from Kashan. We found one at a good price and so the next day Mr Jafar came to pick us up for 24 hours in the desert! First we visited a few sites, including a city totally dug underground, Nushabad (or Noosh Abad). It was impressive to walk down a long staircase to arrive in a real (abandoned) city with lots of rooms and paths. It was like a labyrinth! We only visited the first floor but it’s dug even deeper, until a depth of around 20 meters. It was dug around 1500 years ago, to be used as a shelter for inhabitants against invasions and attacks.
Then we went to a beautiful shrine where I wore my tchador as usual.
Finally it was time to go to the desert! First we went to a salt lake, probably less impressive than the one in Atacama Desert in South America, but it was the first time we saw one!
After that, we wandered in the sand dunes around until sunset. It was magical!
The plan was to have dinner, sleep in the desert and wake up to see the sunrise! We had a great dinner with kebab and rice. Then we prepared the tents. We were only six people to sleep in the desert: four tourists and our two guides, Mr Jafar and Masoud. Alex and another traveller went to see the stars. It was very impressive to see so clearly a billion stars shining in the sky. We spent most of the evening and the night talking with our guides about Iran. Masoud taught me a bit of Persian. And finally we went to sleep at 2am! Needless to say that none of us woke up the next day for sunrise!
We woke up under the high sun. And Mr Jafar found the footprints of a snake around our camp! A last walk in the dunes and we went back to town and left Kashan, heading North!