Wildlife tours in Iran may not yet have the same high profile as trips to some countries in the Middle East region, but they are rewarding. Iran has around 16 National Parks and roughly 200 Protected Areas and Wildlife Refuges. Among them is Khar Turan NP in which you can find one of the world’s largest populations of Asiatic Cheetah. The variety of different habitats in Golestan NP – from broadleaf forest to extensive grasslands – shelter a diverse selection...
Wildlife tours in Iran may not yet have the same high profile as trips to some countries in the Middle East region, but they are rewarding. Iran has around 16 National Parks and roughly 200 Protected Areas and Wildlife Refuges. Among them is Khar Turan NP in which you can find one of the world’s largest populations of Asiatic Cheetah. The variety of different habitats in Golestan NP – from broadleaf forest to extensive grasslands – shelter a diverse selection of flora as well as Persian Leopards, Golden Jackals and Caspian Red Deer.
Lar National Park, close to the Lar Dam and reservoir, is a popular wildlife-watching spot not far from Iran’s capital, Tehran. This wide river valley is sheltered by high mountains with views of Iran’s Damavand Peak, the highest volcano in Asia at 6,671m (18,606ft). If you visit in spring its plains are carpeted in wildflowers. And as far as animals are concerned, Brown Bears, Wild Cats and Golden Eagles can be found there.
Kavir NP, by contrast, sits at the edge of the Great Salt Desert, on the eastern edge of the Qom Salt Lake, and is nicknamed Little Africa because of its safari-style wildlife experience. Its arid steppes are covered in thorny bushes and scrubby trees and Striped Hyenas and Indian Wolves live there. The brackish waters of the lake attract flamingos, Ruddy Shelducks and a host of other waterfowl. The Band-e Ali Khan Wetlands in the Park are considered one of the best birdwatching sites in Iran.
Wildlife tours in the south of Iran may take in Bakhtegan Lake. This is actually composed of two large salt lakes, freshwater marshes and seasonal floodplains. In years of low rainfall both lakes may dry up apart from the areas near the main springs that feed them. Although this area has suffered from human activity draining its water supplies, it is mooted as an eventual ecotourism destination. This will help in maintaining its important habitat for flamingos and other migrating waterbirds.
Wherever you go on a wildlife tour in Iran you will need the assistance of a knowledgeable local expert guide. Many areas require permits to visit and there are restrictions on visitors who are not accompanied by an official tour operator.
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