Our road trip throughout Iran with our friend Parham’s car gave us an opportunity to visit truly amazing places we would miss for sure if on our own. One of these places is Badab-e-Surt (searchable online as Badab Soort), stepped travertine terrace formation.
Travertine is a sedimentary rock that has been formed over thousands of years. Here water was flowing from two mineral hot springs and deposited carbonate mineral on the mountainside.
The view is absolutely amazing… Pure untouched nature in the middle of the mountains! You just wouldn’t expect this type of site around the corner as you drive.
Upon our arrival we were the only visitors and could explore, splash, swim as we pleased, taking tons of pictures here and there, walking around and being silly as kids.
A unique aspect is that the site is absolutely unguarded and you have all the freedom to explore!
There are similar mineral terraces I have seen in the Yellowstone National Park, USA. However it was a very different experience… board walks, protective ropes and catastrophic amount of tourist so that you have queue to snap a picture.
Not saying you shouldn’t go to Yellowstone National Park, I was truly mesmerized when I first visited it, not to mention that the terraces are just one of the many things worth seeing! What is lacking there is peace and tranquility at some sites and that’s what we loved about Badab-e-Surt.
Lia loved playing in the water and finally walking around after hours of sitting in the car. We wished we had brought our camping gear since it was absolutely outstanding spot for camping, watching the sunset and waking up to sunrise. Alas, maybe text time..
How to get to Badab-e-Surt?
How did we find out about this place? Thanks to Parham’s relatives who live in Gorgan we had the inside scoop. Luckily we had Parham’s family since otherwise we had a 2010 Lonely Planet book that edition didn’t mention Badab-e-Surt, not sure about the latest 2012 one.
We unfortunately passed the town of Sari which is the closest city on the main highway to the site long before getting to Gorgan, however after seeing photos and hearing the family describe their experiences the decision was made to come all the way back to Sari and from there make our way to Badab-e-Surt.
If you don’t have a private car, I would recommend hiring a taxi in Sari, apparently it is the only option to get to see these amazing formations!
Unfortunately I don’t know the exact taxi fares, but from our experience in Iran we can attempt to estimate. It takes approximately 2 hours (121km) from Sari to the terraces, 1-1.5 hours to explore, 2 hours back. For comparison, a visit to Alamut castle from Qazvin (102 km, 2h) which is also a full day activity the taxis charge 50 to 70 dollars.
When you approach the terraces, you will see some sort of block post where few man are hanging out with their cars. They will tell you that your car wont make it to the terraces and that they can bring you to the spot in their trucks (for money of course).
Ignore them; the road is bad but not that bad, when our car couldn’t drive any further we simply walked to the terraces. Also if you stop at this post and walked the whole way it would only take 30 minutes.
Is there an entrance fee?
Absolutely for free, at least for now
What about baby?
The site is baby friendly. I guarantee that your toddler/child will have fun running around
Make sure you bring everything you need with you since there are no shops at the spot. The first shops appear in the nearby villages, however the choices there are rather poor and you might not find what you need.
Read more about our experience in Iran here.