Welcome to the Island of wonders! Where my memory of it starts with dead silence and a clear bright night sky, so full of stars that for one second, I thought I had reached immortality and soon gods would open their territory and welcome us all, in the galaxy.
Later on, I understood that there is a valley in Qeshm called the valley of stars, were in the middle Persian language, it used to be “Istara-Kafta”, where the stars have fallen!
Qeshm island which is the largest in the Persian Gulf, with an area of approximately 1500 square kilometers and a population of almost 120 thousand people, is located in the south of Iran, in the Persian Gulf. With a warm and dry climate, the average temperature in this arrow-shaped island is 27 degrees, and with a trade-free zone, rich ecosystem, abundant tourist attractions, and wildlife, Qeshm is the Island to visit!
What makes Qeshm special is the existence of a variety of coastal habitats. All kinds of coastal beds such as coral reefs, rocky shores, muddy and sandy beaches, mangrove forests can be seen in Qeshm.
Due to its proximity to its Arab neighbors, the residents of this island have an Iranian-Arabic culture and both of these two languages are spoken. One can see the native wearing their traditional clothing and make a living with fishing and boat making. Thus, a visit to Qeshm island is like no other and will truly not disappoint! Let’s take a look at some of the must-see places in Qeshm:
Geopark of Qeshm Island
Geopark which is located in the western part of the island and has an area of about 32 thousand hectares, is one of the most visited and popular sites in Qeshm. Qeshm Geopark is the only geopark in the middle east and what makes it special is the existence of many geological phenomena.
The very mysterious Khorbas caves located next to the Zagros mountain range are one site you should not miss while in Qeshm. Inside these caves and tunnels are many human carvings.
The caves have changed during the time because of receding water and have been used by the ancient settlers since the first Persian tribe. There are different theories as to what purpose this structure served. Some archaeologists claim that this was a refuge from the pirate attacks.
Others say it used to be a place of worshipping Anahita, the goddess of water. There are also beliefs that these caves were a temple of Mithraism. Well. When you come out you could see the entrance of the cave facing the sun. as Mithra is always accompanying the sun, one might wonder whether the second group of archaeologists are right.
There is no single explanation as to how this structure was used but it proves that there is much more to Qeshm than just its nature. Make sure to visit at sunset and witness the beauty and magic of this ancient structure!
Salt Cave of Qeshm (Namakdan)
If you would like to witness a spectacular and magical phenomenon, the Namakdan salt cave is the place you have to see! There are many salt caves on the island of Qeshm. This one, however, is one of the safer ones to visit and is considered to be the largest salt cave worldwide. Inside This 6-kilometer-long cave are many salt sculptures and salt rivers.
While there are, salt chandeliers, you may need special equipment to proceed further into the cave. If you have lighting, you can see salt crystals in different colors, shining luminously.
What makes this cave even more special is the therapeutic effect it has on the lungs which benefits mostly those suffering from asthma and other respiratory problems.
Another jaw-dropping landmark one should not miss while in Qeshm, is the Chahkooh Canyon. In ancient times the locals called this the Holy Canyon since rainfall gathered inside the 100-meter-deep valley and it could be lifesaving when water was scarce.
Due to geological and seismic changes through time, there are holes and cracks, and beautiful structures in the rock walls throughout the canyon. At certain points, the distance between the canyon walls is only half a meter. Because of the very high walls, not much light comes through the valley and this also makes it more special.
This canyon is also one of the best places for those interested in rock climbing.
This natural wonder is registered as a part of Qeshm’s Geopark by UNESCO and is a must-see!
Qeshm’s Mangrove Forest (Harra)
The next place which is highly recommended for tourists to visit is the Harra mangrove forest. Harra forest is one of the 8 mangrove forests of Iran and it covers an area of almost 2000 square kilometers. The most beautiful natural wonder that one can easily witness through the day is that with the rise and fall of the sea level during the day, the routes of the trees become submerged in water and later come out of the water and become visible.
Avicenna Marina, the trees that cover most of the forest can reach a height of 8 meters and have external roots, and are capable of filtering the saltwater intake. Traditionally the leaves of the Harra tree were used as food for the livestock.
In 1972, the Harra forest was announced as a protected area to preserve the suitable conditions in which the forest thrives upon.
This mangrove forest is indeed one of the wonders of Qeshm island. The good news is that tourists can ride on a boating tour and travel through this forest and witness the floating trees and the unique ecosystem.
Of course, there is more to Qeshm island than its natural beauties. This is where Portugal comes in! There was a sea trade in the route between Europe and India and the Portuguese who were interested to dominate the area, built many fortresses and castles in this zone. The Portuguese castle was built in 1507 by the Portuguese commander Alfonso de Albuquerque in Qeshm with an area of 2000 square meters, consisting of several 12-meter-tall towers and 3.5-meter-thick walls and included churches, prisons, and many rooms.
This castle was used mainly as vast storage for ammunition and weapons that helped other forts when under pressure. The Safavid king, Shah Abbas (1571-1629) eventually put an end to the Portuguese domination after 110 years. Make sure to visit this castle during your stay on Qeshm island. It will not disappoint!
This one is my favorite. It is the fairest of them all. Legend has it that a long time ago, once, a star fell from the sky and hit this spot and created a beautiful valley which is named as the ‘Stars Valley.’
The locals are not entirely wrong you know. Scientists say that this valley is probably formed by a cosmic. This Valley is another one of the natural beauties of Qeshm Island and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Once you visit the Valley you will notice the funny shaped stones. This is due to wind and water erosions through time. The night sky is something very unique, you can easily see hundreds of stars in the sky, making this place even more magical! Although the locals will not encourage you to spend the night at the valley since they believe it is haunted and if you go there you may not come back! Well, you can say that this is because of the sounds you hear in the valley at night. The wind passing through the valley makes a sound that for some may be quite scary! Having said all of this, make sure to have the proper equipment and a permit to camp at the valley at night.
Last but not least, the Bazaar! One always needs to do a little shopping when visiting a new place, so let’s take a look at Qeshm’s Bazaar. This Bazaar was made in 1911, being the oldest Bazar in Qeshm. It is located in the center of Qeshm next to the hotels. The owners are mostly locals and the atmosphere very traditional. It is a delight to walk through this old Bazaar, so don’t miss it.
If Qeshm has not been in your must-visit destinations until now, please do! Add it and treat yourself to a beautiful stay full of wonders. We hope to meet in Qeshm!