Ardabil, a getaway from scorching hot days

TEHRAN, Jul. 13 (MNA) – The summer has set in for a few days now and the blazing, baking sun seems to be always shining in the cloudless sky and you could no longer fight back the urge to plan a getaway to places with cool temperature.

For our family, the best destination was the northwestern province of Ardabil, which is characterized with cool climate during the hot summer months and lures a lot of tourists, who like us, try to escape the hot weather for a couple of days.

We set off on a road trip from Tehran to Ardabil, intending to take Heyran route. The route, connecting Astara, northern Gilan province, to Ardabil, is well-known for its scenic views. However, since you have to pass through Gilan province to get to Astara and Heyran route, it is best to spend a night in picturesque villages in Gilan. That’s why despite the hot temperatures we decided to spend a night in a village in Talesh near Siah Daran forest park.

In case you don’t want to spend a night in Gilan you can make a pit stop at Gisoom forest park where the jungle meets the Caspian Sea and has perfect tasting fish kebabs in small outdoor, sea view restaurants.

The next morning we headed to Astara to get to Heyran route. Driving along the road you could see the fenced borders between Iran and Azerbaijan. The road was surrounded with beautiful trees and emerald green paddy fields. Every now and then there were vendors selling corn on the cob kebab and ash-e doogh (a soup usually made with doogh, a yogurt-based beverage, as well as different kind of herbs and chickpea).

Our great ride throughout the road culminated with arriving at Heyran gondola lift. Getting on a cabin we travelled 1,500 meters through a beautiful landscape of the Alborz mountain range. At some point during the ride everything vanished in the thick fog and this meant we have arrived at the next station. 

The cold breeze and the small drops of water on your face makes you feel alive again. You can even take a short walk up the hills and plains surrounding the region. The plains are beautifully covered in wild flowers and the everlasting fog gives it greater vibes. There are restaurants, coffee houses, and tea houses which offer traditional foods and drinks in the area as well.

It was so hard to say goodbye to Heyran and leaving it to get to our main destination, Ardabil.

Once we reached Ardabil we decided to visit Shorabil Lake. The lake is located south of the city and offers a dazzling and peaceful atmosphere. There is no need to do anything there, you can just sit near the lake, gaze upon the view and inhale the fresh air.

However, facilities have been built around the lake for the leisure, entertainment and comfort of the coming visitors as well. There are several restaurants and coffee shops, indoor and outdoor amusement parks, a couple of international hotels and a zoo in the proximity of the lake.

There are also running track and bike lanes around the lake, so activities such as running, cycling and also sailing on small boats are also available.

This lake, with a surface area of 16 acres, is the largest lake in Iran within a city. Originally the basin was covered with mud and high concentrations of salt and other minerals so that no fish could survive. In 1998, in order to dilute the lake, rivers were linked to it and reduced the amount of salt. Now, lots of salmons are living in Lake Shorabil.

While dozens of hotels are available in the city of Ardabil to stay in we preferred to camp out in Fandoqlo forest.

Stretching over some 85,000 hectares of land, Fandoqlo (literally meaning filled with hazel trees), is very well-known for its spectacular, stunning sceneries. Dog rose, German chamomile, wild pansy, and wild strawberry are some of the plant species found in this area. It is also a habitat to brown bear, marten, pheasant, partridge, and golden eagle.

Fandoqlo is located 25 kilometers from Ardabil so it is a short drive from the city to the forest. You can either set up a camp in the forest or rent a cottage in case you don’t feel like sleeping in a tent.

However, the beautiful sky ornamented with hundreds of stars might tempt you to decide to sleep in a tent. On the first night of our stay in the forest the weather was pleasantly cool, so that we put up a tent and had a cup of tea under the blinking stars.

There are guard dogs and also a security guard at the area so that you can feel pretty safe to sleep in the tent. There are also lots of parking space available for parking your car.

In the morning, we woke up with the horses’ happy neigh and dogs barking at them. In front of us was a plain surrounded with dense trees and the light wind spreading the fog. Smell of damp, freshly cut grass and the fresh earthy smell filled our lungs and again made it harder to leave the forest for visiting another resort destination.

For me, Sareyn, a city located in southwest of Ardabil, is a city of lights. The streets are jammed with food carts selling corn on the cob kebab, ash-e doogh, and tea. There are also big restaurants selling kebab and other mouth-watering food stuff. It sounded like the pool of lights would never fade.

The city is well-known for its hot springs and attracts hundreds of tourists especially during summer. The hot springs in Sareyn are near an inactive volcano in mount Sabalan and its water contains sulphur particles which is believed to have therapeutic properties and is good for bone and joint pains.

However, it is not just the hot springs that makes you want to visit this city. Walking down the streets at dusk while the cool breeze gently blows and listening to people’s carefree laughter tells you that the trip has paid off.

The massive suspension bridge, inaugurated in 2015 in Meshgin Shahr city, also worth visiting. At 345 meters long, 3 meters wide and 80 meters high, the bridge is said to be the largest of its kind in the Middle East. However, a word of advice: do not go there at noon. Despite the cool breeze the sun is up and strong.

The UNESCO-registered Sheikh Safi al-Din Khanegah and Shrine Ensemble which is being restored now is also another place to visit in the city of Ardabil.

Restaurants in Ardabil cook the best kebab. Don’t forget to taste this palatable dish, too.

If you decided to take the Heyran route to get to the city, it is best to travel back from Khalkhal-Asalem road. A cool mist fills this road too. Driving through the mist you get to the beautiful city of Asalem in the province of Gilan. The enchanting beauty of the road, starting from Khalkhal, located in Ardabil, and ending in Gilan, would be a perfect end to a perfect trip.

Our short 4-day trip was not enough to appreciate other beauties the region is famous for. Next time I would take a week off and travel to Ardabil and most certainly I will stay all seven nights at Fandoqlo forest.

News Code 135650

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