The city of Yazd is my last planned "must-see" stop in Iran. As many cyclists before I have decided against taking the busy highway and cross the small desert instead.

Here's a quick rundown of the pros and cons:

- Less traffic
- Shorter
- No shops (no cold drinks, no icecream)
- Very hot and dry
- No people around
- Possible death by lack of water
- Death might go unnoticed for weeks and my body might get eaten by snakes or something

Varzaneh Sand Dunes

The first day passes quickly and I stop just 20km short of the last town before entering the desert, "Varzaneh".

However when passing through Varzaneh the next morning I suddenly realize that the desert I'm about to cross has no sand dunes: those start about 10 km south of Varzaneh 😱.

Not a big detour, but not on my way at all. And it would still cost me at least 2-3 hours and jeopardize my goal for the day: to reach the abandoned caravanserai 60 km East of Varzaneh.

So I spontaneously decide to spend an extra night in the town, where I quickly find an accommodating hotel (the "Negaar Varzaneh traditional guest house") which offers a cyclist discount: for the price of a dorm bed (6 EUR) I can spend a night in a private room instead. Luxurious!

In the evening I quickly pedal to the dunes: a bit of a touristy area, but it's low season and I only see a handful of people in the distance. Absolutely worth it!

Varzaneh Sand dunes

Khargooshi Caravanserai

Starting from Varzaneh in the morning, I will not reach the next source of drinking until about 85 km later. I have to plan and ration my water accordingly. I start with 7.5 L of water and 1 L of juice, and just for the sake of it I will try to exercise some water discipline and only use 1 L for every 20 km cycled.

The Khargooshi Caravanserai is an abandoned building on the way to Yazd. In ancient times, a caravanserai served as a resting point for travelers. With virtually no other known shelter from sun or wind in the desert, this is my planned overnight stop.

After a rather unimpressive 60 km I reach the caravanserai. It's now past 16:00 in the afternoon and I am shattered. The last bit was quite a drag. Already, 4L of my water are gone and I feel thirsty and exhausted (I didn't rest much on the way, and it feels like I didn't drink much either).

I take a good rest in the shade to cool off until 1 hour later, 2 Iranian tourists show up. They snap some photos and give me a bottle of water just before they leave 10 minutes later.

Dusk is coming soon. Now, my time to snap some photos has come:

Water and fruits in Surkh

The next morning, engine noises wake me up once more. It's only 6 o'clock, but a German couple and their tour guide have driven from Varzaneh out to the Caravanserai in order to have breakfast on the rooftop. Turns out I've met their tour guide the day before: he works for the hostel I stayed with and promptly invites me to join the meal.

1.5 hours later I have packed up and find myself on the road again. Which has turned from being mostly paved to just rocks and sand, prompting me a few times to get off the bike. Still, better than the Via Francigena in Italy ;)

Shortly after I've reached the highest point of this leg of my journey and I start speeding downwards to Surkh, a small village with no market apparently.

I'm lucky to meet a fruit seller nearby the local water source and promptly spend 150.000 IRR on 1kg of cherries, a small honey lemon and 4 apples.

On the street I then start cooking my pasta+tomato lunch. The locals are not too impressed: a man who later offers me tea tells me they see about 2-3 groups of cyclists every week in the small village.

Before noon I'm back on the bike again. Of course not before refilling all my water bottles.: I still had 3L of water when I arrived, meaning that I only drank 7L in the preceding 24 hours.

Onto Yazd

An hour or so later in Nodoushan, Irans "geographical center", I spend some time looking for an open supermarket to get my daily ice cream fix and try to get as far as I can towards Yazd. After 92 km it's time to call it a day and thanks to OpenStreetmaps I locate an adequate shelter only 2 minutes from the main road to spend the night.

An early start the next morning makes for a nice bit of tailwind once more, only to turn into headwind later on. But I'm used to that already, after more than one month in Iran: the wind is unpredictable.

I arrive in Yazd at the "Silkroad hotel" after 2:45 hour of cycling. The hotel offers free dorm beds for cyclists our couchsurfers. I happily accept the dorm where I will meet another cyclist from China.