Iran - Tranquillity at the Urmia Salt Lake

Iran - Tranquillity at the Urmia Salt Lake

We say goodbye to Erfan. Now we are well equipped with everything we need for Iran, we say "Kheyli mamnoun" one last time and leave the city.

First we have to refuel. That will be another adventure. Because diesel is not actually available for foreigners. But the lorry drivers have fuel cards that they can use for themselves. And, if we ask nicely, for us too. So we fill up and pay around CHF 1.40 (or โ‚ฌ1.50) for 14 litres. So water is more expensive here than diesel. We already knew that, but whether we could really find a petrol station where we could get diesel from a lorry driver was the challenge.

Refuelled again (Erfan: "Fill up before you're half empty! And fill up in the morning, the lorry drivers still have something on their cards!") we roll to our first natural spectacle. Lake Urmia is huge, about three to four times the size of Lake Constance. It's bitterly cold, we're in the Iranian highlands. But the nature is simply stunning. The wind is whistling and there is simply no sign of the lake.

Sure, it's an almost dried-up salt lake. It was once the largest lake in the Middle East and, with an area of around 5,200 square kilometres, the sixth largest salt lake in the world. In recent decades, however, the lake has shrunk dramatically in size due to a combination of persistent drought, climate change and the extraction of inflow water for agricultural irrigation projects.

The lake is of great ecological importance as it is a habitat for many unique species, including several endemic species of brine shrimp. It is also an important resting place for many migratory bird species. However, the lowering of the water level has led to an increased concentration of salt, which jeopardises the ecological balance of the lake and its surroundings.

Various efforts have been made to save Lake Urmia, including plans to divert water from neighbouring rivers and to reduce water consumption in agriculture. Despite these efforts, the future of the lake remains uncertain.

So we find our way to the lake, just stand somewhere and have a cosy evening. A few visitors to the lake drive past us, a couple of teenagers with their pimped-up cars cruise across the salt lake. We, with our heavy house on wheels, prefer to stay on solid, safe ground. And that's a good thing.

A little later, Gerd will help a young couple to push their car out of the sand and salt mixture. Once again, they were lucky. But they also have a small runabout, not a somewhat overloaded 3.5-tonne Felix.

We let the sun set behind the imposing rocks and rise again in the morning, walk along the salt edge, stroll across the lake and enjoy the peace and quiet here. The lake glistens and shimmers, sometimes greenish, sometimes pink. In the morning it is snow-white.

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Merci for "travelling with us

These weeks we are travelling through Iran. It's possible that we won't be writing posts or that they will be delayed. We first have to see whether we have enough internet or reception and whether it is suitable for us to publish from the country. And whether we will even manage to write down all the fantastic impressions in time.

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