No trip to Iran would be complete without venturing off into the desert! After spending 2 nights in the Holy City of Mashhad, we were on an overnight bus bound for the desert village of Garmeh. The bus was nice, but since it’s technically winter here in Iran (even though it’s 25 degrees during the day), the locals are cold. So, the heat was blaring out of the vents the whole night. Nick was sweating, I forgot to take my motion sickness pill and trying to sleep while keeping my headscarf on proved to be quite the challenge.

iran bus
The bus was spacious and comfy, but the heat and trying to keep my headscarf on were definite downsides

Besides all of that, the bus ride was good. We arrived at a roundabout in the middle of nowhere at 5am and called our guesthouse in the desert. They sent a car to pick us up from the small village of Khur and we arrived in Garmeh 30 minutes later.

khur to garmeh
Waiting in the dark for someone to pick us up

Even though it was still quite dark when we arrived, we knew we would love it there. Silhouettes of date palms surrounded the 1500 year old, mud brick village and goats and camels were right outside of our guesthouse.

The Lonely Planet says this about Garmeh:

“Population 250, plus 20 goats and 2 camels”

Sounds great to us!

garmeh guesthouse
Our guesthouse in Garmeh, complete with camels and goats!

We opened the door to our traditional room and descended down a small flight of stairs to our bed and promptly passed out. We awoke to what looked like a completely different guesthouse in the light of day. Two Belgium guys, a Spanish couple with their baby and the Iranian family who owns the place were all chatting and enjoying breakfast.

guesthouse room garmeh
Our traditionally styled room in Garmeh

The 300 year old home was gorgeous and made completely out of mud and bricks. The communal area had high ceilings, lovely Persian carpets, a fireplace and eating area. Wandering down narrow, low ceiling hallways brought us to the bathroom, which was clean and surprisingly modern!

The whole outside area was beautiful as well. In front of the home was a small pen, which housed the 2 camels and 20 goats that live in the village. Right beside our guesthouse was a crumbling fort, a mosque and loads of date palms. Mountains towered in the distance which made for the perfect background.

dates in garmeh
Fresh dates are found all around the property

We spent the first day with the Spanish couple and their 15 month old son. The 5 of us hopped in a car and set off to see the salt flats of Garmeh – probably not nearly as impressive as the ones in Bolivia, but since we haven’t seen those yet, we thought it was pretty cool.

salt lake garmeh
Us at the “salt flats” of Garmeh

Alongside the dried up salt lake, there was a small, salty, very out-of-place river. The turquoise coloured water flowed over the pure white salt. It was gorgeous.

salt river garmeh
A very salty river in the middle of the desert

Later that evening, the 5 of us hopped in the car again and were driven through some stunning scenery to the sand dunes. Although they weren’t as impressive as the dunes in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia, they were still the perfect vantage point to watch the sun set. A herd of about 25 camels completed our desert day by strolling by right as the sun was setting.

sand dunes garmeh
Enjoying the sand dunes outside of Garmeh

That evening we were fortunate enough to witness the owner, Maxiar’s, musical abilities. We all sat around and were hypnotized by his “pot playing”. It was the most unusual and awesome type of music we’ve ever heard. He has very old clay pots (sort of like vases) and by banging his hands over the tops and sides and even lifting the pots up and banging them against the floor, he creates his own, original music!

music in garmeh
Maxiar’s original “pot playing” music

It was a great end to a perfect day in the desert, but we weren’t finished with Garmeh yet, we still had one more day left. The following morning Nick and I decided to hike up one of the massive mountains that surrounded the village. Although there wasn’t any sort of path and the rocks kept breaking off as we stepped on them, we made it to the top in one piece.

mountains climbing garmeh
The views from the top of the mountain were great!

The views looking over the little oasis in the desert were fantastic.

garmeh oasis
The oasis of Garmeh down below

After descending the mountain, we made our way over to a little spring which, surprisingly was filled with small fish. We stuck our feet in the water and had a little fish massage/pedicure, just like we had years before in Malaysia. We met two modern, young couples at the spring and after moments, were invited to come and stay with them when we’re in Esfahan – gotta love Iran!

fish garmeh
Here fishy, fishy! Having a fish pedicure

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in the little desert village of Garmeh. The homemade food was so good (we ate camel meat for the first time), we were given loads of fresh pomegranates and dates from the garden, the family and friends who run the place were really kind, the desert vibe was chilled out and peaceful and of course, the on-site goats and camels were an added bonus!

food in garmeh
One of the many delicious meals we had, camel patties, salad, bread, rice, yogurt and veggies

After two full days amongst the swaying palm trees and silence, we were on a bus to the mud-brick village of Yazd.

Have you ever spent time in the desert? What was your experience like? Share with us below!

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Delightful Desert Days – We Love Iran!

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Written by

Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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12 thoughts on “Delightful Desert Days in Garmeh – We Love Iran!

  1. I’m planing on going to Iran soon, do you think it’s safe for a solo female traveler? (I’ll be dressing modestly and using the hijab, obviously)

    I hear it’s quite safe and progressive, but of course I still have a few hesitations 🙂

    By the way, how far west are you going?

  2. Hey Yara,

    Yes, we do think it’s safe for female travellers. However, we haven’t really met all that many, only a couple. Typically we’ve been meeting couples or solo male travellers. Dressing appropriately and acting appropriately is a must and if you do so, you won’t have any issues!

    The local women will be very interested in you and will take you under their wing. Travel here is easy and comfortable as well.

    We’re going to Tabriz in the far Northwest and Shiraz in the central west area.

    Hope this helps, Iran is awesome.

    Cheers 🙂

  3. If you are going to Shiraz, it is worth a deter to stop by and see the ancient capital of Persepolis.

    Give the rose ice cream a try when you are in Shiraz.

  4. We did all of those things:

    Went to Shiraz, saw the ancient site of Persepolis and ate the rose ice cream 🙂 All of which were amazing.

  5. The only desert I have spent time in was Las Vegas. You got to see goats and camels so you win. 🙂

  6. ….but we’ve never been to Las Vegas before! So you’re one up on us too 🙂

  7. Garmeh looks fantastic! I’m in Iran right now and thinking bout going to Garmeh. I am interested in the guesthouse you stayed in. Can you email me the contact details and possibly how much you paid? Thanks!

  8. Awesome! Garmeh was really cool. The owner of the guesthouse was such a nice guy too.

    The name is Ateshooni, the phone number is: +98 324 443 2156 or +98 913 223 0874 and they have a website:


  9. Did you take the bus from Masshad to Khur? How long did it take? It isn’t mentioned in the LP if I’m correct. Thanks!

  10. Hi, I live in Kerman , a very beautiful city of kerman . I invite you come here , and enjoy it . [email protected], its my email . I wil happy if i can help you and send you , complete and nice pictures about all things of Iran and keman .

  11. Hello!
    Me and my friends are thinking about going to this dessert. Do you maybe have a contact or a name of agency you went in the dessert in?

    Thank you,


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