Stories in this Iran Travel Series:
Iran Road Tour: Tehran to Mashhad via the Caspian Coast
- Our Iran road trip is really an Escape
- How to plan a road tour of Iran
- Touring Iran’s countryside: Our first night
- Iran Road Tour: Mt. Damāvand’s first sighting
- Iran road travel: Tehran to Caspian Sea trip
- Iran Caspian Trip: Journey into the clouds
- Touring Iran’s Caspian Region: Filband
- North Iran Tour: Fantastic local food
- Waking in a traditional Iranian village home
- Tour of Caspian Coast: City of Sari
- Mobster turned Moslem servant
- Camping in Iran: Alendan of Mazandaran Fresh water lake at 1200 meters above sea level
- Badab Soort hot springs of north Iran
- Our Iran Road Trip > Meeting a shepherd
This was one of our first experiences with camping in Iran, and we loved it.
From our visit with the former Sari mobster, we rushed south toward Badab Soort springs, on our fifth day of escape from Tehran, but it was going to be dark.
So we opted to stay at Alendan Lake (also spelled Alandan), a natural freshwater lake 1200 meters above sea level.
We arrived in the dark, rented an alacheegh (Persian for any unfinished protection from elements), setup our tent and sleeping bags inside, and made a fire. Saeed Alendani, one caretaker at the lake, joined us for conversation. The lake, lit by the nearly a full moon directly above, was peaceful and mysterious.
The temperature dropped to 7C at night. I cursed as I stepped outside to pee. Then I saw the gorgeous clear sky, the moon long gone. The sky was littered with stars. I stood there in awe of Ursa Major. This was my prize for escaping from Tehran, where the only lights above were the dusty street lights not yet broken.
The misty morning at Alendan Lake
In the morning, I woke up to Saeideh’s aweing and oohing at the sight of the lake. The warm morning air had turned it misty.
We made an omelet on a camping stove. Noorallah Sadeghi, another caretaker on the morning shift, called in some mahali organic bread and joined us for breakfast.
Tourism at Lake Alendan
He said the lake is brimming with tourists during summer. The tough part is keeping the people from littering and obeying the rules.
“We had people literally pulling the lights and wiring and faucets out and taking them home! … They figure, ‘I paid 150,000 [tomans]so I should be able to make some of it back.’”
How to get to Alendan Lake, Mazandaran
The lake, which is fed only by rainwater and provides water to nearby farms, is about 70 km from Sari, the capital of Mazandaran, reached by partly dirty roads through the nearby Azni village or the Alendan village, off the wooded and gorgeous Sari-Semnan road.
When to visit Alendan Lake, Mazandaran
The facilities at Alendan Lake – rented to private sector – are open all year long, even though it snows “up to your waist,” we were told. The lake freezes over. Obviously, only a 4WD can make it there in winter. The high season begins in late April and early May. The fall colors are at their peak in early December.
Accommodations at Alendan Lake, Mazandaran
Camping in Iran is straightforward and inexpensive. You can rent an alacheegh (an unfinished shack) with a concrete ground and an electric power and light. We paid the equivalent of $6 USD. The alacheeghs will be heated this winter with wood stoves. A cabin with no furniture, just a rug on the ground, and heated by a wood stove went for the equivalent of $13 USD, which we thought was overpriced. You can also put up your own tent outdoors for about $2.
You can reserve a spot –> 911 862 8764 or 938 181 0315. Instagram: @alandan_ir
What can you do at Alendan Lake, Mazandaran
Camping in Iran isn’t without restrictions. At Alendan Lake, for example, swimming is prohibited. There is fishing in spring. You can rent foot-powered paddle boats as well as motorized boats. The place is ideal for long hikes. Trips deep into the forests in the mountains are best guided by a local.
Finally, we were on our way to Badab Soort Springs. It was sort of a letdown, though.