Desert Survival Trip

Survival Desert Trip

Desert survival trip in Abuzeydabad was exciting and challenging at the same time. Desert survival trip is an experience one should experience once in a life.

Meeting Point : Valiasr Square

In the early morning of a snowy day in Tehran, around 4:30, I headed to Valiasr Square to join the group waiting for me. I showed up late, because of the snow. Twenty-five nature lovers wanted to experience the harsh situation in desert. But, we didn’t know what is waiting for us in this desert survival trip!

Survival Trip in Iran
Like-minded friends heading to Desert

Knot Tying Practice

After a short introduction, the leader of the team, Nima Parsa, and his two female assistants briefed us on your upcoming survival adventure.

Survival Trainer in Iran
Nima Parsa, professional survival trainer

Right after that, they began the training. The first lesson was rope knots. Knot tying is a one of the essential skill that any outdoor enthusiast should know and learn. Here are some knot ties practiced on the road.

Figure 8 Tie Knot
Double Fisherman’s Knot
Butterfly Knot
Double Loop Figure Eight Knot

After a short stop for breakfast near Qom, we resumed our tip to Abuzeydabad.

Iran Desert Tour
Having breakfast before survival trip

Siazgeh Desert Camp

Siazgeh Desert Camp in Abuzeydabad, a village south of Kashan was our destination. Once we got there, Nima divided us into four groups. Each has six members.

Survival Desert
Siazgeh Desert Camp in Abuzeydabad

While standing there, he took the head of each group to the other side of the sand dunes to show them where to camp. After returning, we realized that our camp was on crest, the top of a sand dune, where biting wind blows toward us, whereas the other groups were down the slip face. Safe and sound from any blow.

Sand Dunes Structure
Sand Dunes Structure
Ebrahim Barzegar
Bahram Gur in Abuzeydabad

Making Fire

Making Fire Persians were fire worshipers nearly 2500 years ago and they few of them are still living in Iran. Fire was one of the four sacred elements in Zoroastrianism. As a follower of our ancestors in ancient Persia, learning to make fire is must. Since we are not in a jungle to use wood, we used
survival magnesium flint firesteel fire steel starter to build fire.

Flint fire-steel Fire Steel Starter

Survival Magnesium Flint fire-steel Fire Steel Starter

Besides flint starter, Nima taught us how to make fire with a typical electronic battery.

Making fire with Battery

Digging Our Own Grave

Sleeping in the tent was a heinous crime in the eye of Nima. He had informed us earlier that no one is allowed to sleep in the tents.

You sleep in a grave you dig on your own!

I knew there would be no comfy hotel rooms with warm bath and soft pillow; however, I did not know I should sleep in a grave! I thought I would sleep in a gave only once, when I am dead. But, I was wrong. Nima explained us how to dig a grave and following instructions. We had two hours to dig the graves.

Survival Desert Trip Iran
Survival Desert Trip Iran

Within the two hours, we dug four graves in a form of Chahartaq, the fire temple architecture in ancient Persia.

Iran desert training
Before
Survival Blanket
After

In order to survive the coldness of the night, a survival blanket was put at the bottom of the grave and another one was covering the top. The last element was fire. A burning fire in the middle would warm the graves; since the survival blankets are heat-reflective thin plastic sheeting that would let us survive the desert survival trip.

Night Patrolling in Desert

After quick dinner, around 10 p.m. Nima blew a whistle to gather us for the night patrolling. At first, we learnt how to find the North Star in the sky in case of getting lost without a compass at night.

North Star
North Star points to North

Next we received some information about vegetation and importance of plants in desert. You might come across a green or dried up plant on the golden dunes. Both of have deep roots down under and neither of them are dead. Vegetation roots such as haloxylon help soil fixation and strength, therefore improving soil resistance against erosion. If you pick the plants, sooner or later, the sand dune will fly over to your town.

haloxylon
Green Plant
haloxylon
Sleeping Plant

An important note to remember, rooting up plants in desert lead to grave consequence. Make sure to carry your own firewood in desert trip in Iran.

Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization

Cutting or burning haloxylon is a crime in Iran.

Night Watch

We went to graves for sleeping at midnight. Two out of six were night watch. My watch was between 2 to 4 a.m. But, I couldn’t go to sleep. So, I sat next to fire with other night watches. The wind began to blow stronger than before roaring under the starry night. Fire that was supposed to last until morning was burning faster and faster. Running out of firewood in pitch black night was challenging and worrisome. It was cold, but the wind blows made it bone-freezing. I couldn’t sleep anymore, so I stayed awake until the sunrise. Although I felt really cold, I managed my body heat with survival blanket and the perseverance. I have never looking forward toward sun all my life, because I am a night owl. But, for the first time in my life when I saw the sun rays at horizon, I felt hope and survival.

Sunrise in desert
Sun brought hope

Compass and Map

After a rough night, we were back to training. Knowing how to use compass is another essential part of nature-based training. We had five Lensatic compasses or Military compasses belonging to US Military force. First, we got familiar different types of compasses. Next was different parts of it. And last but not least, how to use it.

Lensatic compass

Right after it, map reading began. Reading map got easier after knowing compass. Yet, it has it’s own tricks.

Abuzeydabad Survival trip
Map Reading

Practice Time

Before noon, participants practiced knot ties, compass and map reading in pairs and at noon Nima had us examined.

Survival practice in desert
Bearing the Compass

Back to Tehran

Not all of us passed the exams, two failed. Surviving in desert is not an easy task. It needs reading and practice. Survival Desert Trip was the most challenging nature trip I have ever experienced up to now. It made me to learn basic activities which are now done with modern facilities. But, we all know that a rainy day might come, so we must be ready.

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Mouteh Wildlife Refuge Trip

Mouteh Widllife Refuge Trip

Mouteh Wildlife Refuge Trip in January 2020 was an educational and instructive trip to visit Goitered gazelles and Urials also known as the arkars or shapo.

First Trip in January 2020

Watching wildlife was a big dream of mine. Although I had seen animals and birds in forest and nature, it wasn’t intentional. It was by chance. And if I had the chance to see one, I couldn’t recognize it. I just knew the big animals such as lion, leopard, bear and etc. which is hard to see for novice like me. Therefore, I decided to visit one of the wildlife refuge in Isfahan with a professional tour guide and group of friend of mine in order to come out of this animal-ignorance-world-of-mine as my first trip experience in the new year 2020.

Why Mouteh Wildlife Refuge?

Mouteh wildlife refuge was our target place for two reasons. First, it is close to Tehran. It takes nearly 4 hours to get to Mouteh. Second, it is the habitat of Goitered gazelles or Persian gazelles in Iran.

Let’s Hit the Road

The meeting place was Valiasr Square. We depart at 13:00 on Thursday January 2, 2020 from Tehran to Mouteh. We stuck in weekends traffic of Tehran for an hour. There is always traffic at weekends in Tehran. Shoot!

Mouteh Wildlife Refuge Trip
Meeting Place – Valiasr Sqaure, Tehran (Click on the photo to see the entire route)
The seven beauties - ebrahim Barzegar
Mr. Seliyari ( The Park Ranger) & Mrs. Jalilian (Tour arranger)

Introducing oneself on tour is a must. But, we did it in our own style; with laughter and lyrics. We had a way to spice up our Mouteh wildlife refuge trip.

Trip to Mouteh
Last row from left to Right (Ali, Yazdan, Parsia, Rahil) / Second row from left to right (Saeed, Radin, Masoud, Javad) / Third row from left to right ( Fatemeh, Setareh, Hamid) / First person on the left (Erfan)

Lunch Time at Arshia Rest Complex

We took Tehran-Qom Freeway, an only highway toward the south of Iran. Since we hadn’t had lunch, we stop at one of the rest complex to grab something. The complex has clean bathrooms including both Asian and Western Toilets. It has two large restaurants; a fast food and a Persian one. Click on the picture below to see the location on google map.

Arshia Rest Complex - Tehran Qom Freeway
Arshia Rest Complex – Tehran Qom Freeway

Amo Ghodrat Ecolodge

We resumed our trip toward Qom, the most religious city of Iran.  Drive southwest to Delijan. Pass Nimvar. Drive further south to Golpayegan to get to Bomgardi Amo Ghodrat (Uncle Ghodrat Ecolodge), a cozy place to stay for a night.

Amo Ghodrat welcomed us with open arms. He is friendly and sweet. We put our stuff in the rooms. And despite the cold weather outside, we decided to spend some time together in a small alcove covered up with plastic PVC curtain. We smoked Hookah and drank tea. Ali, Masoud and Fatemeh made dinner for us while we were telling jokes and listen to music.

Amo Ghodarat Ecolodge
Hot Tea in Amo Ghodarat Ecolodge.

Shocking News

We got up at 6 a.m. in the morning on Friday with a shocking death news of Qasem Soleimani , the Iranian Major General in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. It was unbelievable, but it was verified by Iran national news.

Amo Ghodrat Ecolodge Golpayegan
Amo Ghodrat Ecolodge in Golpayegan. Click on the photo to see the location on google map.

Timareh or Teymare Petroglyph

After breakfast, butter and Jams, and one fried egg, we head to Timareh or Teymare Petroglyph site. There are more than 20,000 rock paintings in this area which dating back to 40,000 years ago. You could see pictures of animals and humans on the rocks.

Teymare Petroglyph
Teymare Petroglyph, dating back to 40,000 Years ago

Mouteh Wildlife Refuge Ranger Base

Mr. Seliyari, the one of the top forest ranger in Iran, leaded our group to the Mouteh station building where two local rangers were waiting for us with SUV vehicles.

Mouteh Wildlife Refuge Ranger Base
Mouteh Wildlife Refuge Ranger Base

We came across a dead corpse of an eagle en route to base building. It seemed that the electric wire was the cause of death. The death of any animal is always a sad news to me (Sad).

Eagle in Mouteh Wildlife Refuge
Dead Eagle in Mouteh Wildlife Refuge

Watching Goitered Gazelles in Mouteh

We parted into two groups and got on the SUVs to visit the goitered gazelles. It was cold, so we covered our heads not to catch cold.

Mouteh Ranger Base
Javad, the future Ranger

We stopped all of the sudden. We haven’t gone too far. Mr. Seliyari got out of the car and picked up something in the middle of small bushes. It was the bloody horn of a gazelle who was recently eaten by its number one predator in the area, grey wolves.  

Gazelle in Mouteh
Mr. Saliyar is picking up the bloody Horn of a Gazelle eaten by Grey Wolves

I had no idea how many Persian gazelles I could see. But, the maximum number I had in my mind was 20 or something. But, I was wrong. What we saw there was beyond my expectation. We saw hundreds of goitered gazelles. We were so excited to watch running gazelles in such different large herds. They were running like a flash. A typical gazelle can run 97 km/h, more than lion speed 80 km/h and less than Cheetah 120 80 km/h.

Goitered Gazelles Mouteh Wildlife Refuge
Goitered Gazelles Mouteh Wildlife Refuge -Photo by Yazdan

Watching Urials in Mouteh

Our next target was Urials aka arkars or shapo, a subspecies group of the wild sheep in central Asia. We said goodbye to the Mouteh Park Rangers and head to mountainous area. The mountain foothills are the best place to find and see Urials.  

Urials in Mouteh, Isfahan
Urials at foothill at Mouteh Refuge

Watching Urials is not easy. They usually keep 500 meter distance from any unknown moving objects. Only through binoculars we could see them. It was satisfying for me from far distance. I needed to see them from closer range. In order to see them better, we took steps quietly closer and closer.

Mr. Saliyari, Iran park Ranger
Mr.Salyari is explaining the physical features of Urials

After the explanation about physical features of Urials, we noiselessly climbed up the mountain and hid behind a rock. Now we were 100 meter away from them.

Watching Urials in Mouteh
Watching Urials at 100 meter away

Being silence was mandatory. We could see them now with naked eyes. However, with binoculars it was way better.

Mouteh Wildlife Tour
Fatemeh, behind the rock watching Urials – Photo by Yazdan Bakhsh
Wildlife Photography
Urials in Mouteh. Photo by Yazdan Bakhsh

We climbed down the hill and walked back toward minibus.

Bahram Gur in Mouteh
Bahram Gur in Mouteh Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Yazdan Bakhsh

Ali, Javad and Masoud were kind enough to cook lunch for us. It was delicious.

The Seven beauties
Lunch at Mouteh with awesome friends

After the watch, we got on the minibus and drove back to Tehran. The sun was setting and it was getting dark, but our hearts were enlightened with beauty of nature and awareness toward environment. Mouteh Wildlife Refuge Trip is over at night with happy smile.

Mouteh Tour
End of Mouteh Tour at Valiasr Square
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