Backpacking in Iran: Lake Orumiyeh

Backpacking in Iran: Lake Orumiyeh.

Backpacking in Iran: Lake Orumiyeh.

Before I launch into this I’m just going to mention a list of all the cities, towns, villages and remote places/settlements that we visited during our month in Iran, so you get an idea as to why I still haven’t even covered half of our time there and have at least 50 Iran articles still to write from these 34 places…Bazargan, Maku, Tabriz, Orumiyeh, Bandar e Golmaniyeh, Kandovan, Osku, Qazvin, Gazor Khan, Alamut Castle, Tehran, Tarjrish, Zarad Band, Mashhad, Kerman, Kaluts, Rayen, Mahan, Yazd, Chak Chak, Kharanaq, Mesr, Khoor, Khalate Talkh, Bayaziye, Salt Flats near Khoor, Esfahan, Shahr-e Kord, Yaseh Chah, Sadegh Abad, Dakmeh, Shiraz, Persepolis, Marvdasht and Nasqh e Rostam.

Another long bus journey through Iran.

Another long bus journey through Iran.

A crazy month of endless travel to last a lifetime. Our first few days in Iran, we based ourselves in the city of Tabriz. From here we could do day trips to a load of nearby places and we decided to visit Lake Orumiyeh, famous for being a salt lake and the largest lake in Iran. We also saw some photos of it that made it look like you were in the clouds so we had to visit!

Backpacking in Iran: Lake Orumiyeh.

Backpacking in Iran: Lake Orumiyeh.

What is Lake Orumiyeh?
Lake Orumiyeh is a massive salt lake in northwestern Iran near the border with Turkey and Iraq. The lake is between the provinces of East and West Azerbaijan (Iranian provinces – not to be confused with the country, which is separate). At its full size, Lake Orumiyeh is the largest lake in the Middle East and the sixth largest saltwater lake on earth with a surface area of approximately 5,200 km² (2,000 mile²), 140 km (87 mi) length, 55 km (34 mi) width, and 16 m (52 ft) depth.

Lake Orumiyeh, Iran.

Lake Orumiyeh, Iran.

Loving the largest salt water lake in the Middle East.

Loving the largest salt water lake in the Middle East.

Getting to Lake Orumiyeh
OK so the obvious way is to get to the town of Orumiyeh and head from there. Orumiyeh is close to both the Turkey and Iraq borders, so if you’re coming in overland, you can use it as your first stop in Iran. However we headed first all the way to Tabriz and then backpacked to Orumiyeh.

Bus station in Tabriz, Iran.

Bus station in Tabriz, Iran.

The bus from Tabriz to Orumiyeh leaves from the main bus station in Tabriz. Just ask around until you find an Orumiyeh bus. In December 2013 it cost us around 60 cents (US).

On the bus to Lake Orumiyeh.

On the bus to Lake Orumiyeh.

Our map - planning Lake Orumiyeh.

Our map – planning Lake Orumiyeh.

The bus from Tabriz to Orumiyeh.

The bus from Tabriz to Orumiyeh.

The journey is memorable as you get a view of the lake as you go past it and across a bridge to the town of Orumiyeh – at points you can see the salt which looks like ice or snow – but it’s not.

The bridge to Lake Orumiyeh.

The bridge to Lake Orumiyeh.

Most backpackers base themselves in Orumiyeh and just visit the lake on a day trip – there are buses in summer season, but we ended up sharing a taxi out there. One thing to note is that the government try not to make it a “tourist attraction” as clearly it’s not meant to be for that purpose, but for a few $US you can get a taxi there and back from Orumiyeh – you’ll have to bargain them down from Orumiyeh station.

Crossing the Bridge to Orumiyeh.

Crossing the Bridge to Orumiyeh.

If you’re not keen on the hardcore backpacking adventure to get here, you can always head to the village of Khoor later on, and simply organise a trip to the Salt Flats for sunset – which we also did. I’ll also cover our visit to the lakeside town of Bandar e Golmaniyeh separately.

Gorgeous Lake Orumiyeh in Iran.

Gorgeous Lake Orumiyeh in Iran.

Officially standing on the salt is forbidden as the Iranian government protect it and we respected this. Lake Orumiyeh along with its approximately 102 islands are protected as a national park by the Iranian government.

Beautiful Lake Orumiyeh in Iran.

Beautiful Lake Orumiyeh in Iran.

Videos from our trip to Lake Orumiyeh in Iran:

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About Jonny Blair

I'm Jonny Blair, a travelling Northern Irishman. Since leaving my hometown a decade ago I have managed to visit over 100 countries and over 600 towns or cities across all 7 continents. Along the way I have worked in countless jobs! Join my journey on Don't Stop Living - a lifestyle of travel as I provide you with tips and inspiration to live your travel dreams! Safe travels! Follow me on Jonny Blair Google Plus
This entry was posted in Central Asia/Middle East, Iran, Lake Orumiyeh, Lists, My Top 5s, Orumiyeh. Bookmark the permalink.

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