Arabian Nights, isolated desert Oasis Fahrazad in Iran
In the middle of the Dasht-e Kavir desert, and not even mentioned on the map, stands a tiny 10 person settlement named Fahrazad. To get there involves a 450km drive from the next largest city Esfahan. The landscape changed from mountains to hills, to ridges, and slowly flattened out onto the flat dry landscape of the Dasht-e Kavir. Several more hours passed driving along deserted, wind swept roads. We began to slow down, and amongst the parched brown landscape, small patches of cultivated fields began to appear on the horizon which soon turned into a closely linked network of farmland irrigated with spring water. Iranian workers plowed the fields and cared for their crops, most likely rice or barley. We passed through a small village of around 200 people and continued further until finally the road finished; and we struggled with the 2-wheel drive car across the last hundred meters of sand.
Green lands appeared once more and the outline of a small settlement came into view. Around 6 houses all linked together, formed out of the desert sand. Tough Green bushes ran along half the length of the houses and stopped abruptly where a sand dune has shifted and was now piled up dangerously against an old building that nature had reclaimed (shown in feature picture). The bushes were intentionally planted to stop the movement of the sand dunes.
Only the members of one large extended family live in Fahrazad. The accommodation is provided inside their homes. Through the doorway of the main house, the corridor led into a central courtyard. The door for each room opened out into this. In the center of the courtyard lives a lone tree, which had no leaves during this time of year. The water for the settlement comes from an underground source that turns this otherwise sandy patch in the desert, into an Oasis. The excess water drains into a concrete pool in which the family cultivates Carp (fish)! The income of the family is dependent on a large herd of camels that are free to roam during the day, but at night are kept inside a pen.
Life in this tiny settlement would not have changed for hundreds of years if not thousands of years. Self-dependent and self-sufficient. It really was another world, and we watched as the sun morphed into a golden glow, illuminating the surrounding dunes and casting long shadows on the lizards shuffling cautiously across the land. Finally, we stood and began our walk back down through the darkness.
Early the next morning, we climbed onto the groaning Camels. The temperature was just above freezing, desert nights are cold! Trodding pre-sunrise across the dunes, one could appreciate the vastness of the desert. But you could also sense the life that had adapted to live in these conditions. During the summer, snakes and scorpions would roam freely across the dunes, but right now they were tucked away in Hibernation. Small lizards though, still laid tracks across the sand and although we did not see them, they were there. We saw an aptly named, sand rabbit albeit briefly as it bounded across in front of us. Nature always finds a way to adapt it seems. We turned around, and headed back for breakfast.
Breakfast was laid out for us in traditional style. The food was laid in the center of a raised alcove in the courtyard, covered with a large Persian rug. We then sat around the food with our legs crossed, ready to eat. A small steel fire pit was brought out with a kettle that is placed into the fire to boil the water, for tea. Small cubbyholes inside the alcove were filled with interesting items, such as scorpions in jars and old wooden instruments.
The atmosphere was great and we happily ate the Baby Camel patties, feeling slightly guilty after our early morning excursion. After breakfast we took another walk around the small village and were invited for Shisha with two ‘builders’ that were working there. Quite what they were building will remain a mystery, as they were just sitting around in the sun. Not a bad job.
Ahead of us was a 600km drive through the desert, Farhrazad to Yazd. This gives you an idea how deep we were and how isolated this small village was. We said our thanks to our hosts, and left with an abundance of fond memories.
Cost: 120 euros for a 2 day taxi and guide (including fuel)