By Afshin Majlesi

Rig-e Jenn: An extraordinary landscape named after elves!

March 1, 2020 - 19:17

TEHRAN – Eastern Iran is dominated by vast deserts known worldwide for having harsh sun-scorched landscapes, parts of which more attractive for adrenaline chasers.

The one, which is the focus of this story, is Rig-e Jenn (“Dune of the Jinn”); a barren and desolate place dominated by enormous sand dunes that defy avid skillful sightseers, adventurers, and motorists driving 4WD vehicles.

Rig-e Jenn is in fact home to giant sand dunes, vast swamps that could pose a serious challenge even to passionate trekkers with arduous hike and scarcity of water.

Rig-e Jenn assumed its name from whom believed that is was haunted by spirits and the devil. The bizarre desert can be reached after hours first on asphalt roads, and then for some hours through uninhabited terrain.

People who have been there say it feels almost like walking across an ocean floor without water. It is where eye-catching structures and shapes are only formed by constant winds blowing across vast areas of sand that can almost look unreal and “too” smooth.

Those who set up camps are well rewarded when the sunsets. It’s the right time for a very bright moon and extremely vivid stars to show off in the absolutely clear sky of the desert.

Also known as the “Desert of Spirits”, it is not a place where a novice trekker goes alone! But why? Because it’s in the middle of nowhere with no roads and in some parts with no mobile coverage. Experts say even seasoned voyagers must plan prudently before setting foot on the desert.

Rig-Jenn is situated in a border area between Semnan and Isfahan provinces. In another world, it is part of Dasht-e Kavir (the central desert of Iran). The bizarre desert can be reached after hours first on asphalt roads, and then for some hours through uninhabited terrain.

Rig-e Jenn assumed its name from whom believed that is was haunted by spirits and the devil. This say-so was strengthened by, or probably originated from the fact that perhaps many had entered the desert and never returned.

Narratives say that even caravans used to skip passing through Rig-e Jenn, believing it to be a place where evil spirits and “jinn” dwell. A “jinn” is a spirit in Islamic culture and Rig-e Jenn was once (and in some places still) believed to accommodate evil spirits!

Even today, amongst the neighboring towns and villages some still hold this belief. Sources say that Sven Hedin, the famous Swedish desert explorer avoided the area during his 1900s travels to Iranian deserts and in the 1930s, Alfons Gabriel only managed to cross the southern ‘tail’ of the desert on his way from Ashin to Aroosan.

Finally, a feasible path through the Rig-e Jenn was found some years ago by trial and error using modern equipment such as 4WDs, maps, aerial photos, laptops, GPS devices, and aids.

If you are planning to pay a visit, bear in mind that sometimes fierce winds howl throughout Rig-e Jenn voicing fears to passersby!

AFM/MG

Leave a Comment

2 + 9 =