Jangal-e Abr (literary meaning Cloud Forest) is one of the oldest and most beautiful forests in Iran. It is the continuum of northern forests in the south of Alborz mountain range.
It is called cloud forest because in most seasons it is covered by an ocean of clouds and fog.
Inside the thick forests, you cannot believe that you are in Semnan province, not far from Iran’s Central Desert and Khar Turan National Park, a biosphere reserve. Right there you will realize why Shahrud is called “a small continent”.
A few hours before the sunset, when temperatures fall, clouds rush into the forest. The settling clouds are so thick that it seems you are walking on them. The Forest which stretches on an expanse 35,000 hectares in area is part of the ancient Caspian Hyrcanian forests which have encircled the northern slopes of the Alborz Mountain like a belt, covering the southern coasts of the Caspian Sea.
Jungles veiled in clouds provide visitors with a golden opportunity to enjoy, explore, and learn about these wonderful ecosystems.
Leaving behind the gardens in Bastam, a beautiful city near Shahrud, you will see clouds over far off mountains and along the 4,000-meter Shahvar Mount as if they have been trapped in the sharp claws of the mountain, a scene which promises you are getting closer to the dreamy Cloud Forest.
The Hyrcanian forests used to cover 3.7 million hectares, but that figure has now dropped to 1.8 million. The forests are home to old woody plants such as beech, oak, alder, elm, cherry tree, checker tree, English yew, tilia, etc.
The forest which is situated at a high altitude from sea level has low temperatures in hot seasons. Abundant springs flow in the forest which is all but unique because of its diverse vegetation ecology.
You feel a sense of coolness, freshness and aroma which are associated with the proximity of the clouds to your face, something which turns into raindrops on your eyes and hair.
Midway through the night, the clouds begin to pack their bags, so to speak. It is the time when the surrounding valleys become clearly visible. The clouds keep drifting around. Valleys get full of clouds and then become empty. Fast-moving clouds make the jungle look like the lab of an alchemist.
Fire, wind, soil and water; night could be a new addition to the Four Elements. Nothing is in short supply in the cloud jungle.
The sun rises to admit that the earth’s law is still holding in this land. It seeks to remind everybody that even in this dreamy land night falls and day breaks. It comes out of the mountains and clouds stay for a while, and then. In broad daylight, the forest is littered by hills which are thick in some places and sparse in others.
The forest is full of steep hills, and a river runs in there. Summer is the best time to see the forest, and the morning is the best time to take photos.
When the clouds come it will be very difficult to use digital cameras. Cloud Forest area in most seasons is overcast and foggy.
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