A Maranjab Desert tour is one of the best things to do in Kashan! Find everything you need to know about doing it independently right here. 

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What do you get if you put a yellow city cab in the middle of an ocean of sand?

That’s right, friends – a Maranjab Desert tour with a serious risk of getting bogged! If having to live the rest of your life amid the sand dunes a la Tom Hanks in Castaway doesn’t scare you, this is a pretty cool tour. And if it does scare you, just remember you can always make yourself a Wilson. Out of camel poo. Or… Yeah.

Joking aside, this is one of the best things to do in Kashan. And for the budget backpackers like ourselves, here’s the extra good news: it’s easy to do independently. All you need is this post that tells you everything you need to know about a Maranjab Desert tour and bam – off you go!

Maranjab Desert Tour Checklist

There’s a few things to consider before embarking on your Maranjab desert tour. We’ve made a comprehensive checklist to make sure you get the best experience possible:

  • How much should the tour cost? Our cab was $21 and we split it between 4 people which is not bad at all. Most taxi drivers are open to negotiating their price, so put on your best smile and see where that takes you.
  • How long does the tour take? The full tour takes 6-7 hours. We left at 10 am and got back at 4.30 pm.
  • How much time is spent in the cab? You’ll cover a total of 150-ish km and a good chunk is on sand tracks in the desert. Expect to sit on your bum for 3.5-4 hours.
  • Can I buy food on the way? Not really. Your best bet is to bring some fruit and flatbread from the bazaar for lunch.
  • What should I consider when choosing a driver? Try to get an English-speaking driver. There’s not much information in English at the sites, so if you want to know about the history, your driver is your only hope. Make sure to insist on this point if you book your tour in advance – we got tricked. And if you do get a driver that doesn’t speak English, well, just remember all the lovely information in this post!
  • Where can I find a driver? Avoid the taxi drivers that hang out at the bus stop you get off at when arriving in Kashan. They’re used to tourists and charge more than drivers in the city. There’s also a few recommended drivers in the Lonely Planet.
  • How much will I pay in entry fees? You’ll pay about 250,000 rial ($8) in entry fees if you enter all the sites on the tour.
  • Will I make lots of lovely camel friends? Yes! You’ll see these furry guys standing on the side of the sand track in the Maranjab desert. They’re quite friendly, but their table manners leave room for improvement.

Maranjab Desert Tour Itinerary

1. Nooshabad Underground City

First up is the underground city of Nooshabad or Ouyi. It’s located 8 km north of Kashan and it is quite an engineering masterpiece. The fact that it was built 1500 years ago doesn’t make it any less impressive.

The Nooshabad underground city was originally dug out around a freshwater spring. Its main purpose was to provide shelter from the merciless Persian sun. Over the centuries, people also spent prolonged amounts of time down there hiding from bad guys up above. Turns out claustrophobia wasn’t really a thing back then.

Back in the day, there used to be all sorts of evil traps hidden in the narrow tunnels. Most of them should be deactivated by now, but you might just want to steer clear of any suspicious-looking flooring. Not sure travel insurance covers getting you out of an ancient underground pit.

There’s a 200,000 rial ($6) entry fee and although you’ll be done in less than 15 minutes, it’s worth it.

Typical Clay Fortress

To be completely honest we don’t know a whole lot about this one. There’s a slight chance it might be Santa Claus’ holiday home, but we’re pretty sure something was lost in translation there.

Alright, enough with the bad jokes. The second stop on the tour is the ruins of a typical clay fortress. It’s not in the best of shapes and many of the original decorative details have been lost. Unless your taxi driver moonlights as an archaeologist, you also won’t be able to find out much about the fortress’ history. There are no signs, not even in Farsi. On the bright side there’s also no entry fee.

Oh, and by the way. There’s a schoolyard next door and if the kids in there spot you, good luck. They’ll be jumping up and down and waving like crazy for the next ten minutes. You’re expected to reciprocate so we suggest you bring a wristband and do some light pre-exercise stretching.

Further reading: How To Access Facebook In Iran