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Iran’s Anzali Lagoon: Dance of the Lotuses

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Nour Rida

It’s a dreamlike scene in the Anzali Lagoon. Seeing Lotus flowers dance with the cool breeze is one of the alluring tourist attractions of the northern Iranian province of Gilan. The months of August and September are the best time to visit the Lagoon and see the beauty of this wetland.

Anzali: important international port

Bandar Anzali is northern Iran’s main port and seaside resort on the Caspian Sea-the world's largest lake and known as the “World Capital of Precious Caviar” that produces of 95% of the world's caviar. It has a mixed population of over 100 thousand which includes Armenians, Caucasians, Russians and Turkmens. The city of Anzali and the surrounding areas include a long harbor promenade and a nearby delta called the Sefid Rud (The White River), as well as the world's largest fresh water lagoon. Anzali port is the biggest port in the north of the country andthe port covers 137,593 square meters. The shipments departing from Azerbijan, Russia and Turkmenistan get discharged at this port. Located about 40 kilometers northwest of the city of Rasht, it is the second largest city and capital of Iran’s Gillan Province. Also, the Port of Anzali is 260 kilometers northwest of Tehran. The Anzali lagoon is located near the port and it is a destination for tourists from all over the world.

Wildlife Sanctuary

The Anzali lagoon is an important sanctuary for wildlife, especially birds, and can be accessed by speed-boats or a local fishing vessel. A boat ride on the Anzali Lagoon can be a breathtaking experience during the month of August when Lotus and water lily flowers are blooming; a pleasurable journey for nature lovers.

Going for a ride across the wetland with a boatman who knows where to take you can be a stunning experience. It is a paradise on earth, with the green coverage, the water, birds, the path through the wetland, and the lotuses swaying with the wind and dancing to nature’s music.

An unforgettable ride

I sat eagerly in the rocking boat, waiting for the 30 minute ride to begin as the boatman started to find his way into the lagoon slowly before turning on the motor. Another boatman was trying to find his way back to where the wonderful journey begins. The colors and music of nature give you a rush down your spine. The scene is literally a piece of heaven. Slowly advancing into the wetland, you can see the lotus flowers dance with the wind. The motors are turned on and the ride begins. Its water and greenery, flowers and birds, and songs you have not heard before all in one sight.

 Suddenly in the middle of the water, the boatman switches off the motor for a while and allows you to listen to nature more carefully and clearly. He starts to tell you stories about this place and that uring winter, the lagoon receives many birds migrating from neighboring countries.

 Despite the high humidity in August, you can feel a cool breeze tickling your cheeks.

“Anzali lagoon is not comparable with any other Iranian wetland due to its geographical location and nature, mostly the lotus flowers,” he says.

Anzali is also the most famous city for fisheries in Iran. During the six months of the fishing season every year, fishermen sail out to sea in the morning, catch all kinds of fish and sell them in the local market. However, the story in the lagoon is a bit different. Near a floating house, the boatman explains how “fishermen and hunters go there to sleep early during the nights to wake up at dawn to fish and hunt ducks.”

The lagoon is rich with both freshwater and marine fish. This natural freshwater lagoon is recognized as one of the world's important bird habitats and hosts around one hundred species of birds including swans, ducks, and herons. It also includes a variety of species of fish like the Caspian White Fish, Anchovy, and spawn.

Pink Lotus flowers with their green heart-shaped leaves cover the lake and make a magnificent view.Making our way across floating lotus flowers, the boatman gives us a delicious treat; fresh lotus seeds. He picks a Lotus seed head, washes it in the lagoon water and shows us how to open it and eat the seeds. The seeds are mild, white, slightly sweet with a taste somewhere between pine nuts and green almonds, packed with protein.

The boatman elaborates on how “Lotus seeds health benefits includes handling diabetes, treating insomnia, supporting stomach health and slowing down the aging process.”

It was time to return after that interesting treat. Maybe by winter, I will be able to visit this place again to watch another story of life and love; as the lotus flowers slumber until next August, I can enjoy some minutes of watching beautiful migratory birds fill this heaven on earth.

Source: Al-Ahed news