Khar Turan National Park: The Africa of Iran
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - The protected area of Khar Turan National Park in Iran, registered as a biosphere reserve at UNESCO, is one of the few areas in the world where the Asiatic cheetah can be found.
From thick forests to mountains, from coastal areas to deserts, etc. vastness and diversity are characteristic of the nature of Iran and so all these can be experienced in the country. Perhaps for this reason it is not surprising to Iranians, to move a short distance from the Hyrcanian Cloud Forests, and reach a dry and semi-arid region called "Turan" or "Khar Turan" in the north of central desert of the country.
Khar Turan National Park, located southeast of the Iranian city of Shahrud, is considered to be the Africa of Iran. From its low fields to its mountains, there are habitats of diverse and rare wildlife including mammals such as deer and Pallas’s cats, birds such as Houbara, Pleske’s ground jay, and White-eyed buzzard, and reptiles such as Desert Monitors, Ja'afari snakes and Iranian horned snakes, etc. Still, Khar Turan’s wildlife is not important just because of the aforementioned rare species, but for its Asiatic cheetah and Iranian zebra.
Asiatic cheetah is a highly endangered subspecies of which only less than 100 remain in the world, and it is now found only in Iran. One of its main habitats in this country is Khar Turan National Park. The Iranian zebra aka the Persian Onager is also in danger of extinction. Unlike the typical image of zebras, the Iranian zebra is beige in color and is not striped. All in all, and in terms wildlife, Khar Turan is now one of the most important areas of the world to be explored by nature enthusiasts.
But the journey to Khar Turan is not limited to wildlife observation. Desert trekking and camping on and around the sand dunes also tempt explorers from different parts of the world of various climates to travel long distances and experience the desert life in this region. By camping in the desert, they enjoy the starry sky of desert nights that is in a way closer to mankind than anywhere else. The observation of stars alone can be enough to make you travel to this area.
Khar Turan is located 140 km to the south-east of Shahrud along Tehran-Mashhad Road. There are different options of accommodation in this area including local people's homestays in villages that are very welcoming to travelers. There are also some eco-lodges in this area in which travelers can stay and have delightful moments of their trip.
Source: Tours in Iran