Rig-e Jenn is the gathering place for the brave. It is where individuals who fear neither real nor unreal beings meet and always put themselves in danger. Rig-e Jenn is the meeting place for adventurers, those willing to traverse distances to immerse themselves in the heart of this endless dangerous desert. Today, we are here to experience a virtual journey to this desert. If you belong to the category of people who are thrilled by traveling to the unknown and seeking challenges, join Eligasht on this short but unforgettable journey.
Rig-e Jenn and the secrets nobody will tell you
Rig-e Jenn and desert exploration without a doubt are among the most popular activities that require courage and strength. Being present in Iran’s most enigmatic desert and witnessing the attractions of the Garmsar region, which is geographically difficult to access urban areas, has kept it mysterious and full of secrets. However, currently, due to the various facilities available to desert explorers, traveling to these regions has become vibrant. Nevertheless, the Rig-e Jenn desert is still one of the most dangerous areas, and to embark on a journey and be present there, you need abundant courage before any equipment or facilities. It is better to accompany us in this article from Eligasht before actually embarking on this journey and assess your level of courage.
Geographical Location and Access to Rig-e Jenn Desert
Address: Rig-e Jenn Desert, Kavir National Park, Garmsar County, on the border of Semnan and Isfahan provinces.
Rig-e Jenn Desert is considered one of the toughest and most dangerous regions in the world. The western and southwestern part of the desert plain attracts a large number of domestic and international tourists throughout the year. The beautiful Rig-e Jenn desert is located precisely on the border of Isfahan and Semnan provinces and covers an area of 3,800 square kilometers, earning itself the title of the third largest expansive desert in Iran.
Since the majority of this desert is located in Semnan, it is considered part of this city. The geographical range of this desert is almost in the center of Iran, extending from the northwest to the southeast. Among the deserts of Iran, Rig-e Jenn is one of the most beautiful ones. It will greatly surprise you with its unique and rarely-seen landscapes. It is worth mentioning that the southeastern part of this desert is called “Dam-e Rig.”
Details about Rig-e Jenn Desert
You may not know that the beautiful Rig-e Jenn desert is, in fact, an eroded basin that all its erosion materials and sediments originate from the Alborz Mountains. This desert is home to sandy pyramidal hills, numerous salt marshes, and sediment deposits where no signs of life are visible. There is no vegetation cover in this desert, which causes the sands to constantly move, rapidly changing the appearance of the desert.
This desert extends from the northern part to the military road from Semnan to Mo’alleman, the beautiful Gugerd Mountains and Garmsar, from the western part to the vast Kavir National Park, Nakhjir Heights, Sheitan Kooh, Talheh Kooh, Zolomat Canyon, and Dam-e Rig, from the eastern part to the Jandagh communication axis to Mo’alleman, and from the southern part to Chupanan, Anarak, and Mount Mola Hadi.
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Rig-e Jenn Desert: Iran’s Most Terrifying Desert
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the beautiful yet terrifying Rig-e Jenn Desert is one of the scariest deserts in Iran, so much so that it doesn’t even appear on old maps. In this desert, you will encounter numerous terrifying swamps that can easily lead any living creature to its death. Unfortunately, in recent years, due to continuous droughts and lack of rainfall, these swamps no longer exist in this desert.
It is also interesting to note that there are no wells or springs in Rig-e Jenn. The “Vargi” river, which originates from the northern part of this desert, is the only river that reaches the desert, and its water is highly saline. Furthermore, on the northeastern border of Rig-e Jenn, the largest desert rivers in Iran, called “Hablarud” and “Rudsar Dareh,” are roaring and turbulent, and their water is also salty. Other rivers like “Zurmand” and “Rameh” calmly flow through the outskirts of Rig-e Jenn without making any noise.
History of the Journey to Rig-e Jenn
For many years, the Rig-e Jenn Desert was a terrifying and fearful place where both living beings and travelers would meet their demise. No one paid attention to these incidents. In other words, everyone was terrified of this desert, and no one had the courage to step foot into it to explore its mysteries. The terrifying and dreadful swamps that would pull you in like a muddy swamp were one of the traps that awaited all travelers and tourists in this area.
The name of this desert was only seen in the travelogues of two European desert explorers, Mr. Sven Hedin and Mr. Alphonse Gabriel, who had only passed by this desert. In other words, crossing this desert safely was only a dream for everyone.
However, in 1997, Mr. Ali Parsa, a renowned and skilled desert explorer residing in the United States, and Mr. Miranzadeh, who was the head of the Kavir National Park at that time, flew over this desert for the first time in an airplane. Approximately a year later, Mr. Ali Parsa traveled to the heart of this terrifying desert in his own car, and since then, Rig-e Jenn has become one of the most popular travel destinations among desert enthusiasts and desert explorers.
Access Routes to Rig-e Jenn:
There are two routes to reach this desert.
To go to Rig-e Jenn, we suggest choosing the Jandagh route towards Rig-e Jenn. This route is the same route chosen by desert hikers. On this route, first, you need to reach Jandagh, which is approximately 170 kilometers away from Tehran. After that, from the western part of Jandagh, you should head towards Rig-e Jenn. When you reach the challenging and winding Jandagh route, you will come across a wide river. After crossing this river, sand dunes and desert mountains will welcome you.
A part of this area is completely flat, with small hills shaping it. Crossing this part will be easy without any difficulties. However, after this area, you will encounter a vast marshland that is almost impossible to cross. Do not attempt to cross this marshland; you should go around it and continue your way in the northwest direction. Continuing on your journey, you will reach the north of Rig-e Jenn and encounter Mount Damavand there. Once you have passed the dry river called “Nakhjir,” you will come across the Malekabad Varamin outpost, which will indicate your location. This route is approximately 1000 kilometers long.
currently, a 70-kilometer road has been constructed and operated in this desert, which will make your entry much easier. In this regard, the most suitable way to access this desert is from the northeastern part of the Kavir National Park. However, to enter and pass through this area, you must have an environmental protection permit. After obtaining the permit, you should head from Garmsar towards the Kavir National Park. Take yourself to the paved road of Malekabad and continue your way towards Rig-e Jenn from there.
When traveling to the Rig-e Jenn desert, it is worth knowing that the prevailing wind in this area is from west to east, and the steep slopes of the hills are all in the eastern part of the desert. Based on this, crossing from the eastern part to the western part of Rig-e Jenn will be very exhausting and difficult.
The climate of Rig-e Jenn Desert and the Best Time to Visit
Like all deserts around the world, the Rig-e Jenn desert receives intense sunlight and is therefore considered a very hot region. Additionally, the temperature difference between day and night in this desert sometimes exceeds 50 degrees Celsius. In spring and summer, this desert is entirely hot and dry, and it only becomes slightly humid in the cold months of the year.
Based on this, the best time to visit Rig-e Jenn is in the autumn and winter, but since the weather in this season is unpredictable, you should check the weather forecast before your trip. Don’t forget that the summer in Rig-e Jenn is so hot that it will literally cook you.
The naming of Rig-e Jenn Desert and its Myths
Rig-e Jenn desert, also known as Dasht-e Arvah, has challenging geographical conditions. This area was a mysterious and unknown region for many years, referred to as the “Bermuda Triangle of Iran.” In the local language, “Rig” means “flowing sand,” and “Jenn” means “hidden and concealed.”
Additionally, “Jenn” is derived from words like “jenet” and “janin,” which have their origin in the hidden nature of these matters from a human perspective. the reason for naming this desert is its undiscovered nature over the years. The high hills, salt marshes, and astonishing events that have no logical explanation have all contributed to the adoption of the name Rig-e Jenn for this area. Another reason for the naming is the intensely high temperature of this desert, resembling fire.
Certainly, there are numerous mysteries and secrets surrounding this desert. The southern part of the Rig-e Jenn desert is filled with sand dunes, and when the wind moves through these dunes, you can hear a terrifying sound. Additionally, the significant temperature difference between night and day causes rocks to crack, which locals refer to as the “crying rocks.” It is worth mentioning that the local people attribute all of these occurrences to a metaphysical origin.
Furthermore, as we mentioned, this desert has become a marshy and dangerous area due to its salt marshes and sandy hills, which can swallow anyone within a fraction of a second. This has led the locals to believe that this desert is inhabited by evil spirits. They claim that even the movement of sand due to the wind and the changing shapes of the dunes are completely demonic.
Interestingly, “Sven Hedin,” a Swedish desert explorer, states in his book “Iran’s Deserts and Their Myths” that:
“In the heart of Rig-e Jenn desert, there is a lost paradise. A paradise that contains a lake and dense forests. The demons in this paradise have abandoned the wool of camels, and whoever can reach this area will become rich and wealthy.”
The Unveiled Secrets of Rig-e Jenn
However, there is no lake or forest in the heart of the Rig-e Jenn desert, and you are merely facing salty, extremely dry lands with no vegetation or water. The local people even consider the sound heard in this desert to be the result of ghosts conversing with each other, although these sounds are actually caused by the collision of sands due to the wind.
Moreover, not all myths and legends end with these statements. Some of the myths about Rig-e Jenn mention that the spirits of the dead imitate the voices of people you are fond of to lure you into death.
Furthermore, almost 30 kilometers below the lowest part of this desert, there are black stones resulting from impurities of metallic rocks during smelting in furnaces. This indicates that in the distant past, people who worked in metal smelting lived in this area. However, there is no record or trace of them in history.
Recreational Activities in Rig-e Jenn Desert
Among the activities you can always enjoy in the desert is observing the night sky. A sea of stars with no end in sight. You can comfortably lie on the smooth sands and witness the mesmerizing dance of shooting stars, which perform more prominently in this desert than in any other place.
It should be noted that camel riding and driving cars are not possible in this desert. That is why Rig-e Jenn is more suitable for desert enthusiasts, adventurers, and nature lovers. However, if you plan to visit this area, you need to be fully equipped to experience the utmost enjoyment of being in the heart of this desert. It is also worth mentioning that activities such as desert motocross and sandboarding are possible in this location.
Staying in Rig-e Jenn
During your trip to this central desert of Iran, you can stay in surrounding villages such as Anarak and Jandagh. There are numerous traditional houses and eco-lodges in these villages available for rent to travelers and tourists. Of course, hotels in Semnan and Garmeh are also suitable options. Without a doubt, exploring this desert takes several days, so it’s better to have the necessary camping equipment with you. Camping and sleeping under the endless sky of Rig-e Jenn, filled with twinkling stars, provides a unique experience.
Attractions around Rig-e Jenn
Among the remarkable attractions that you can visit and enjoy meeting in the vicinity of this desert are “Anarak Castle” and “Warm Springs of Varton Village.” Additionally, the village of Ashin is another attraction in this region.
Anarak Castle is located in the southern part of the desert and belongs to the Isfahan province. Its initial foundation was laid during the reign of Shah Abbas, but it was directly constructed by Amir Kabir to protect the local people from the harassment of bandits. During the Pahlavi era, it was converted into an exile place for criminals due to the exhausting heat in the area.
Varton Village is only 70 kilometers away from Isfahan and dates back to the Safavid era and the reign of Shah Abbas. There are numerous hot springs in this village, making it a perennial destination for kings. The beautiful Varton hot spring, known as “Howz-e Morad,” is made of stone and is only 10 kilometers away from the village.
Lastly, the village of Ashin, which is only 30 kilometers away from Anarak, is considered one of the pristine and beautiful desert areas of Iran, with its mud-brick houses, historical caravanserais, and ancient baths.
Traveling to Rig-e Jenn and important points for desert travel
At first glance, the desert appears calm, stable, and patient. However, the reality is that despite this apparent calmness, it is a very dangerous place. For this reason, when traveling to any desert and at any point in the world, you must have the necessary equipment and supplies with you. However, the Rig-e Jenn desert is not a suitable choice for your first experience. But if you decide to travel to this desert, be sure to seek the presence of local and experienced individuals who have previously traveled to this area.
Travel in a group and set foot into the heart of this desert with complete equipment. It’s worth noting that there is no detailed map of this desert, so be sure to use GPS for your trip. Interestingly, despite the vast expanse of the Rig-e Jenn desert, there are no villages, cities, or settlements nearby for kilometers. Therefore, you must have the necessary facilities and equipment to be present in this area. Traveling through this desert and exploring it takes approximately 4 to 5 days, and you should plan for around 10 days to fully enjoy your experience.
Some of the necessary equipment for traveling to this area includes a sleeping bag, sunscreen, appropriate clothing, a lighter and matches, a face mask, a flashlight, a power bank, GPS, a compass, a travel tent, a first aid kit, food and water, a camping stove, sufficient fuel, a container for heating food, sunglasses, a portable stove, and so on.
You should also be aware that desert-specific clothing is made of natural fibers. It is light-colored and has long sleeves to protect you from the sun’s rays as well as insect bites and stings. You should also have warm clothing for the night. If you light a fire during the night in the middle of the desert, scorpions will undoubtedly be attracted to it.
Don’t forget to carry dry food with you when traveling to the desert. Also, keep a few large pieces of wood in your vehicle to help you get it out of any mud if it gets stuck.
Finally, it’s important to know that the most suitable vehicles for desert travel are those with two differentials, lightweight vehicles, and off-road vehicles.
Exploring Iran introduces you to wonders that are no less impressive than other attractions around the world. Deserts, forests, plains, meadows, waterfalls, rivers, mountains, and forests—all of them are filled with marvels that sometimes defy description and are beyond comprehension. Rig-e Jenn is one of these amazing and pristine places that you need to see and touch up close to truly understand it.