Salt domes in the Great Kavir, the basalt prisms of Mako and the surrounding Kerman and Damavand, mud volcanoes in the Makran foothills, eroded stones in the form of a human fist in the Urmia Lake, and spectacular effects of wind erosion in the Lut desert margins are examples of different geological attractions. We could also cite the highest sand pyramids of the world’s hottest spot in the Lut desert and the largest landslides in Seymareh, Ilam Province, as examples of fascinating geotourism attractions in Iran.

Maranjab Desert, Kashan, Iran

UNESCO defines a geopark as a specific geographical area including several special and beautiful geological phenomena. In addition to the geological attractions, there may be a number of natural, cultural, artistic and historical attractions relevant to the region’s economic development. Any country enjoying an ancient history and geological complexities will contribute positively to the development of this industry.

Hiking in Kermanshah, Iran. Photo by N. Marzbani

Iran, a country with ancient history and diversity of geological environment, has great potential for geotourism. The first geopark recorded in the Middle East by UNESCO is the Qeshm island Geopark. Its 200 km2 of mangrove forest are the world’s largest maritime forest. Other geological wonders include salt domes or natural salt caves, mineral water springs, the Qeshm Baam Plateau, the Statues Valley and the ancient region of Koshtar Kalat. More than 100 species of birds have been identified in the mangrove forest, and laying sea turtles can be found in the west of the island. The Portuguese Castle made of coral and mortar, with its 400-year history, Loft Castle, Hormuz Castle and historical monuments like the Holy Sepulchre and Qeshm Mosque have also provided ideal tourist attractions for this 1500 km2 island.

Raghez Canyon, Fars, Iran

Qeshm and Kish islands, the marl hills of Gwadar Bay in Chabahar, the Kaluts of Shahdad Desert, Kavir National Park, Hoze-Soltan Lake, Izadkhast Valley, and the Arjan Plain in Fars province are among other areas with the capacity to become a geopark.

Reference: Reclamation Of Arid Lands

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