Qeshm Island has unique natural diversity, which cannot be seen elsewhere in the world. Especially some of the geosites scattered around island offers irreplaceable series of superb landscapes. Especially the followings are must-see
Hara Mangrove Forest is not only the largest mangrove forest in the middle east, but also precious greenfield which fosters diverse lives and functions as a base of ecosystem, and the mangrove-covered wetland creates habitat for multiple creatures including crab, shellfish, shrimp, hermit crab and goby.
In the forest variety of migratory birds can be seen in winter and spring. It is said that approximately 20% of fowl inhabiting in Iran are confirmed here. Especially great e gret and Western reef heron are most commonly observed. Also, large fowl such as Dalmation pelican and flamingo are found. Approximately 100 spiecies of birds have been recorded in the forest. Hara Mangrove has been registered on Ramsar Convention Eco Park Wet land and UNESCO Eco Park since 1970s.
Also the forest creates brackish water by its desalination effect, thus contributes to mitigation of elevation of salt concentration in the Persian Gulf.
To visit the forest chartered boats are available at Jetties located in Laft, Soheili, Tabl, and Kavarzin. Boats are 6-seater in principle, and life jackets are equipped. Preparation of binoculars is highly recommended. 45 minutes charter of a boat costs approximately $35. However, company of nature guides will make your tour much more profound preparation of binoculars is recommended.
Admission: IRR 20,000
Stars Valley is the most visited among all Geosites. Also, it is a unique example among all Geosites to study erosion. The valley offers typical, but most breathtaking view created by the erosion which resembles to Cappadocia. It is located at 15 km west of Qeshm City, easily accessible by car.
Especially in the morning and evening breathtaking contrast of light and shadow can be enjoyed from the top of the hill. Wear comfortable shoes to walk, and be careful of slip down, since no handrails are equipped.
The local name for this area is “Estalah-kaftah”, which means “the Fallen Star”. The valley was named after the folklore that once upon a time a star hit the earth there and as a result stones and soil were thrown in the air and frozen, thus formed the unusual structures.
The geological morphology of the valley was formed by erosion caused by rainfalls, wind, and gravity on various layers. In areas where the geological structures are more resistant to erosion, they remained intact, however in areas with softer geological structures, erosion has altogether degraded and vanished those parts. Berkeh Khalaf village, which is situated along the road between Stars Valley and waterfront, has a couple of handicraft shops, restaurants, and a guesthouse.
Chahkuh Valley is on the northwestern part of the island, 85 km west of Qeshm city, and close to Eastern Chaho village. Charkuh Valley is one of the most typical example of erosion caused by rainstorm water. Heavy rainstorms quickly flush water through geological structures. Such activities created beautiful holes and wrinkles of limestone, siltstone, and marl. Vertical to the main valley axis, there is a second valley, which has also been formed through tectonic pressures. In general, anticlines and areas around them are regarded as “unstable” as they are more or less exposed to tectonic pressures and compression causing numerous joints and faults in formations.
The natives dug 4 wells inside the main axis of the valley to collect rainwater and reserve for dry seasons. Considering the low level of rainfall on the island, and the scarcity of freshwater, this was a practical way to secure water. The freshwater in the well is still used by natives and curious ecotourists.
Statues Valley is situated just underneath of Roof of Qeshm, and 3km west of Tabl village. The most fantasized and natural masses in this expansive land can be enjoyed in the Valley. One of the “statues” resembles an eagle, and another looks like Cleopatra’s head. By these characteristic appearances, the valley is called Tandis-ha (statues) Valley. These statues were formed by wind and rain.
At the entrance of the valley, several hills made by bivalve fossil are seen, which proves that the land was upheaved from the seabed, and at that age the temperature of the seawater was high. These fossils are originated from several million years ago.
Statues Valley includes some smaller valleys in it. Cars are allowed to enter only to limited parts, and most of the sites must be visited on foot.
Roof of Qeshm is renowned for its spectacular landscape. Is a semi-high plateau which is located in the central parts of the island, continuing into the western parts of the island and overlooking the northern coastline. It is the largest and highest plateau and offers a unique opportunity for visitors to enjoy the breathtaking landscapes from the top. Roof of Qeshm overlooks Statues Valley from the north, where its complexed landform can be observed. The top layers of Room of Qeshm are formed from hard structures, mainly limestone covered by fossils of bivalves, while in its peripheral sections, presence of silt and marl as well as sand, has result in heavy erosion.
The access to Roof of Qeshm is to travel through Tabl-Salakh road, where the sign of “Roof of Qeshm” is found. From there short unpaved driveway and 15 minutes’ hill-climb trail leads to the Roof. From there it requires 1 hour’s walk across the roof to reach the viewing spot of northern coast of the Island. From the north end of the Roof, astonishing view of northern coastline, the Hara Mangrove forest, water of the Persian Gulf, and even the mountain of the mainland can be enjoyed. Mind your steps especially when taking photos, since fences are not equipped on the edge of the cliff.
On the other hand, from the end of the hill-climb trail, the southern coast and the Salt Dome mountains can be seen.
Nature guides are essential, since there are no clear trails to lead to the northern observatory on the Roof.
The Namakdan Salt Dome is located on the south western part of Qeshm Island. The Dome is academically well-known for its world-longest 6.8km salt cave, named Namakdan Cave.
Salt domes are formed when a huge amount of salt moves towards the earth’s surface due to its light structures compared to its surrounding structures. Salt domes emerge in areas which have weak structures and openings, and finally float on the earth surface. The structure of Qeshm Island itself was mainly shaped in diluvial epoch which means relatively new, on the other hand The Salt Dome was created in Precambrian period, approximately 540 million years ago.
After exposition to the surface, rainwater gradually penetrates the Salt Dome through its crevices, allowing the water dissolve the salt and enter the dome. Similar to other calcareous caves of the world, the formation of the Salt Cave has been following a Karst-like mechanism, by which water penetrating through a joint way gradually dissolve the surrounding areas, forming open and large cave-like structures. As the dissolution process is not the same for all areas, size and shape of these caves and openings differ, giving rise to large and open spaces in some area, while in some area very narrow corridors are formed where only one person may get through the cave by crawling. By knowing these geological process, the visit to the Salt Dome would be much more significant.
There are more than 15 caves in the Salt Dome. Tourists are welcome to visit caves’ entrances. Around caves saline land and various geological phenomena can be seen. Most of the natural landscapes are in while by salt, with geological structures composed of various layers of colorful minerals and stones. The landscapes are formed by salt springs after washing the salt from the dome while raining, and deposition of the salt at the bottom of valleys and surrounding lands. In some areas where water has penetrated to the ground, beautiful ponds with salt crystals at the bottom have been formed. Other attractions include trekking paths to the top of the Salt Dome, where vast grassland and small forests exists unlike other part of the island and herbs of wild gazelles inhabit. it is believed that breathing the air of caves should be beneficial for people suffering from respiratory diseases and asthma.
Layers of salt deposited on the bottom and surrounding of canyons and spectacular ponds with crystalized salt on their bottoms can be observed. Also, there are trekking trails which lead to the top of the Dome. On the top there are large grasslands and small forests, which cannot be seen elsewhere in the island, and herds of Gazelles are inhabited there.
To get to Namakdan Salt Dome, it takes more than 2.5 hours from Qeshm by car, via Kani village on the western part of the island. Staying in Tabl or Haft Rangoo village will shorten your journey. Chartering 4WD is recommended, since roads are unpaved in southwestern part of the Island. Also, company of experienced guides is highly recommended.