Qeshm Island Geo-park: Qeshm, with an area of 1491 square kilometers, is the largest Iranian Island in the Persian Gulf district, located on the Hormoz Strait. The island is only 22 kilometers from Bandar Abbas.The island consists of 59 towns and villages with the approximate population of 100,000 people. Reference to this island can be dated back to the Achaemenid Empire around 500 B. C. the island has also been referenced by the world famous traveler, Marco Polo in his writings. The island is endowed with various tourism and ecotourism attractions such as Qeshm Geological Features and Mangrove Marine Forest.
The historical sites of this marvelous island are also numerous, such as ancient Portuguese castles, the historic mosque of Seyyed Mozaffar and Bibi Maryam and so on. Moreover, this island has many wonderful attractions such as a number of valleys, islands, natural parks and villages with their own and specific flora and fauna species worth visiting which are described below.
Qeshm Geo-park is an important ecological and cultural heritage of Iran. It is the only international Geo-park in the Middle East region. This geopark is unique in terms of its geological, geographic, archaeological and ecological features. For instance, the methods of fresh water keeping and collecting is really unique and manifested in the architecture of the island. Other unique features of the island are its local old culture, its lifestyle and wildlife, mangrove forest on the coastline and flora and fauna species of the island. Finally, there are about 20 geo-sites in the geo-park of the island which are as follows: Chahkuh Valley, Stars Valley, Korkorakuh, Namakdan Cave, Doulab, Shour Valley Geo-site, Statues Valley and Roof of Qeshm.
Stars Valley Geo-site is located close to Berkeh Khalaf Village, near the town of Qeshm and it is the most frequently visited part of the island by tourists. The local name of this attraction originates from the belief that there had been a meteorite fallen into this tract of Earth; thus having made the land brown and the air frozen-like and the formation of these geological structures. Some also believe that there are Jinns and Ghosts in here especially when the sun sets and everywhere becomes dark; the real reason could be the bizarre geological forms and the blowing wind into the Valley at night time. However, the geological morphology of this region has been the result of erosion by rainstorms, wind and gravity. But in the walls of the valley, two different types of layers are observable: A thick and soft layer of light color (beige or light gray) under a thinner layer of harder nature (white or dark gray color). the remnant of the hard structures sometimes are hat-like cap rock which almost protect the pillar columns from further erosion.
Chahkooh Valley Geo-site is another exceptional example of erosion through rainstorm water. Heavy rainstorms quickly flush water through geological structures. The second factor in forming this beautiful valley has been erosion. Moreover, the presence of concave and round structures or linear and oval structures on the walls of the valley is the result of erosion by water. Considering the low level of rainfall on the island, and the shortage of freshwater, the native inhabitants of the island took the advantage of the structures of this island by digging wells inside the main axis of the valley to act as water reservoirs as they were impermeable to water.
The Salt Cave is the following attraction and it is located on the south western part of the island, and hosts the longest salt cave of the world which is 6 kilometers long. These are formed when a huge amount of salt moves towards the surface of Earth due to its light structure compared to its surrounding structures. They have really interesting aspects such as salt falls, salt springs and salt caves. Moreover, some beautiful ponds have been formed by sedimentation of salt. Additionally, in some places, where water has penetrated into the ground, some beautiful ponds with salt crystals have been formed. Some of the most amazing structures that may be found inside the Salt Cave are Stalactites and Stalagmites. Another interesting feature of this island is the existence of different colors on its structures, each showing a different element in nature by its distinctive color. For instance, the color of red shows iron, yellow, sulfur and so on. An important note is worth paying attention and that is the fact that each piece of crystal if damaged needs at least thousands of years to form and the visitors should pay to the protection of the area and its natural treasures.
Another amazing beauty of Qeshm Geo-park is its various kinds of fauna and different species of animals such as birds, mammals, reptiles, insects and snakes native to this part of Earth. Some of these birds are rare and even strange ones. The world smallest mammal called Shrewd and largest mammal which is Humpback whale live on this island. Even the world’s largest bird live here. You can also see some migratory birds such as Pelicans or Flamingos which migrate here in cold seasons in large groups. In 2003, the Environmental Management Office submitted a proposal to establish a bird sanctuary on the north-east coast of the island to include the broad expanse of inter-tidal mudflats between Qeshm and the village of Dargahan. The sanctuary extends 11 kilometers and regularly holds large numbers of pelicans, flamingos, spoonbills, herons, egrets, shorebirds, gulls and terns. An upcoming project of constructing a research center with accommodation is among the future plans of this area.