But how much do these tours cost? A quick search on the web will net a variety of options. A two-day tour to the Maranjab Desert, one of the most popular destinations in central Iran, will cost about $57 and doesn’t require a purpose-built vehicle. The more specialized tours, however, have different price tags. “The cost depends on the type of trip and the services being offered. But on average, one should consider $35-$50 for a desert tour,” Majdabadi said.
And exactly what attractions do these tours offer the public? Mesr Desert, located in Dasht-e Kavir, or the central desert of Iran, is known as one of the most noteworthy tourist sites in the country. Situated on the road between the cities of Damghan, Nain and Esfahan, the desert is easily accessible — which is perhaps why many go there. Some of the activities that tour groups offer here include trekking in the desert, walking on sand dunes, watching the magnificent sunset over the salty marshes of the desert and exploring the palm groves.
Amir, an adventurer who has been visiting Iran’s deserts with different tour groups for about six years, told Al-Monitor, “Usually, these tours don’t do anything special. Sand sliding, driving over the sand dunes with one’s car, and desert safari are the main attractions of these trips. The rest of the time we watch the desert at night and enjoy the raw, unique nature that has remained untouched and has been less damaged by humans.”
Desert tourism is not the only type of adventures offered by these tour groups. During the summer, when the desert becomes intolerable, nature enthusiasts opt for tours of the mountainous regions in Iran’s north and west. Al-Monitor asked Majdabadi about the usual types of people who join these tour groups.