We had our first decent pass to climb over since leaving Tabriz today which we were strangely excited for. The long, flat, straight roads in the desert can become a bit mind numbing at times so a good climb seemed really appealing this morning.An accidental but perfect piece of timing: today was the day Iran’s sanctions were lifted and the day we passed by one of its biggest nuclear enrichment facilities. It was on the road to Natanz, an apparently very pretty town at the foot of some mountains that was worth a stop at.
The facility was right in the middle of nowhere along this stretch of road. We had heard it was somewhere around here and it sort of just emerged out of the ground all of a sudden, a tall earthen embankment that wrapped all along the huge facility. It was obvious this was the place, as soon as we passed by the main entrance a police car parked opposite beckoned us over. We were asked a couple of questions but they were actually pretty relaxed. After taking our visa info and warning us not to take any pictures they followed us down the road in the van until we were out of sight if the facility.
We then found ourselves at the foot of the climb. The road was set a bit into the hill with the rocky face on either side that drowned out the sound and wind so it felt quite calm all the way up. The town of Natanz was at the top.
After a lunch at Natanz we went looking for the Jameh Mosque, a very beautiful mosque and worth a visit. We took a wrong turn and ended up halfway back down the hill we had just climbed, but freshly full we were happy enough climbing back up. We did get to the mosque eventually and it was, in fact, quite beautiful.
Out of Natanz we had a bit more climbing and a long descent. The ground was now a lot less flat, a lot more rolling and hilly. Also though still arid for the most part there was a bit more greenery, a few trees and some cultivated land here and there.
The sun, as always, started to set so it was time to find somewhere to camp. We pulled off the road and up the hill to flat part of ground. As we were setting up a police van driving on the road we had just left, about 150m from where we were now, spotted us. They doubled back and looked for a way up to us, and I suppose when they realised there was no road the just off roaded up the dusty hill towards us.
They couldn’t comprehend what we wanted to do. Eventually, after a lot of miming and showing them a few photos they got the gist. But then they were trying to warn us that it might snow. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky or a breath of wind in the air. It wasn’t going to snow. Finally they had a look at our visas and I guess got fed up with dealing with the idiot foreigners and left us to our own devices.
It didn’t snow that night.