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!
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.
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.
After a short stop for breakfast near Qom, we resumed our tip to Abuzeydabad.
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.
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.
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.
Survival Magnesium Flint fire-steel Fire Steel Starter
Besides flint starter, Nima taught us how to make fire with a typical electronic 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.
Within the two hours, we dug four graves in a form of Chahartaq, the fire temple architecture in ancient Persia.
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.
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.
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.
Cutting or burning haloxylon is a crime in Iran.
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.
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.
Right after it, map reading began. Reading map got easier after knowing compass. Yet, it has it’s own tricks.
Before noon, participants practiced knot ties, compass and map reading in pairs and at noon Nima had us examined.
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.