Ardabil Tourist Attractions 17 Jun 2024 BY Maryam Mahmoudian

Neor Lake | A Wonder Within Iran's Northwestern Mountains

Neor Lake is a true natural wonder situated on the slopes of the Talash mountains, between Ardabil and Gilan provinces.

this lake captivates visitors with its stunning views, cool climate, and rich biological diversity. Despite its proximity to cities like Ardabil and Khalkhal, Neor Lake remains less known than other nearby attractions, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers seeking tranquility.


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All About Neor Lake

Neor Lake (دریاچه نئور), a small and isolated lake named after its lack of inflowing rivers in the Azeri Turkish language, is a remarkable natural feature in northwest Iran. Situated at a high altitude of 2,500 meters on the border of Gilan and Ardabil provinces, Neor reflects its solitary nature even in its name.

Spring brings a transformation to Neor. Melting snow from the surrounding mountains merges two separate sections of the lake, creating a single body of water. The depth of the lake varies throughout this season, ranging from five to 13 meters. The smaller section covers roughly 40 hectares, while the larger section spans a more extensive 180 hectares.

An unusual feature for a mountain lake, Neor boasts fresh water, providing a perfect habitat for various fish species, including trout. As the largest natural freshwater lake in the region, it attracts a significant number of tourists seeking its natural beauty.

Encircled by verdant forests, Neor Lake beckons nature lovers and tourists year-round. Its relative obscurity among local attractions has helped preserve its pristine condition, although its popularity is gradually increasing. The area surrounding the lake also serves as an important summer residence for nomadic communities.

The Environmental Protection Organization safeguards the rich biodiversity of Neor Lake to maintain the ecological balance of the region. The area surrounding the lake is home to around 70 species of medicinal and aromatic plants, including clover, chamomile, and sorrel.

The lake and its surroundings provide a habitat for a diverse range of animal life. Aquatic creatures like salmon, carp, and frogs share the ecosystem with mammals such as brown bears, wolves, and wild boars. This variety of flora and fauna underscores Neor Lake's significance as a natural wonder.

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Activities at Neor Lake

Activities at Neor Lake

Neor Lake offers a variety of activities for tourists and nature enthusiasts. Walking along the dirt roads around the lake allows visitors to enjoy the fragrant mountain plants and take in the beautiful views of the Talesh foothills. Photography enthusiasts can capture stunning landscapes and create lasting memories.

In winter, the lake's water freezes to a depth of about 80 cm, transforming it into a large ice skating rink. For those interested in climbing, the surrounding mountains offer routes that lead to breathtaking views of the Caspian Sea and the forests of northern Iran. One popular peak to climb is Baghrodagh, which stands at nearly 3,200 meters, with Neor Lake located on its northern slope.

Cycling is another popular activity around Neor Lake. Mountain biking enthusiasts can enjoy the 20-kilometer route between the lake and Subatan village, one of Iran's most famous cycling paths. Horse riding and boating are also available, with horse rentals offered around the lake. If you prefer boating, you'll need to bring an inflatable boat, as rentals are not available.

Swimming is prohibited in Neor Lake due to unsuitable water conditions and swampy areas. However, bird-watching is a favorite pastime, especially during the migration season when various bird species can be observed. The area around Neor Lake is protected, and hunting is forbidden to preserve the local wildlife and ecosystem.

For many visitors, a day spent picnicking in the open air is a delightful experience. The pristine environment and pleasant summer weather make Neor Lake an ideal spot for a one-day picnic in nature.

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Fishing at Neor Lake

Fishing at Neor Lake

Fishing at Neor Lake is a popular and enjoyable activity. The lake is known for its rainbow trout, which are artificially bred during the summer to control the population of Gammarus, a type of crustacean. These trout are typically ready for catching in the last days of the second half of the year.

If you're planning to fish for trout, the best time to visit Neor Lake is in late September, when fishing competitions are often held. Be sure to bring all necessary equipment, including a fishing rod, bait, and other supplies. It's important to catch the fish before the lake freezes, as the fish will not survive the winter conditions when the water freezes.

Fishing at Neor Lake not only offers a chance to catch trout but also provides a peaceful and scenic environment for anglers to enjoy. Make sure to plan your trip accordingly to make the most of this fishing opportunity.

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Must-Visit Sights Around Neor Lake

Must-Visit Sights Around Neor Lake

Neor Lake in Ardabil is not only a stunning destination itself, but it is also surrounded by several other must-visit sights that enhance the experience for visitors. Here are some notable attractions around Neor Lake:


Subatan Village

Located 21 kilometers southeast of Neor Lake, Subatan is a beautiful summer resort at an altitude of 1,900 meters. It offers lodgings and cottages where visitors can stay overnight and enjoy watching the mist and clouds over the valleys and plains. The region is known for its green plains, dense forests, and mountainous landscapes, making it a perfect spot for horse riding, nature tours, and photography. The walking and cycling route from Neor Lake to Subatan village is especially popular among tourists and nature lovers.

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Alchalq Forest Park

On the way to Subatan, you'll find Alchalq Forest Park, known for its abundance of wild plum trees. This park, located in the Lisar forests, features short hills and a picturesque environment filled with plum and other trees. It’s an excellent spot for a relaxing nature walk.


Lisar Forests

To the east of Neor Lake, the Lisar forests offer some of the most beautiful scenery in Gilan province. These forests are home to a variety of plant species, including maple, myrtle, beech, alder, fir, wild pomegranate bushes, wild tomatoes, raspberries, nettles, and clovers. The forests, located north of Talash city, are a year-round attraction for tourists.


Varzan Waterfall

Near Neor Lake, northwest of Subatan farm, you can visit Varzan Waterfall along the Varzan river. This 30-meter-high waterfall is one of the highest in Iran. The route to the waterfall features rocky cliffs and steep slopes, so appropriate footwear and possibly a local guide are recommended.

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Asalem - Khalkhal Road

One of the most scenic roads in Iran, the Asalem to Khalkhal road passes through forested and mountainous areas, offering diverse and spectacular views. In spring, this route is adorned with wild anemones. The Almas Pass on this road is especially scenic, with its magnificent tree-covered sides and shaded paths. Rural and nomadic houses add to the charm of the pass.


Nav Village

About 10 kilometers from Talesh city on the road from Asalem to Khalkhal, you'll find Nav Village. This village has two parts, upper and lower, with the lower part still inhabited by around 70 people. The village features a beautiful 30-meter waterfall, a fish farm, and a bakery.


Ganjkhaneh Cave

If visiting Neor Lake in spring or summer, consider exploring Ganjkhaneh Cave. Surveyed and mapped in 2014, this cave has signs of early human life. Legends about treasures and hanging swords abound, but the historical artifacts found inside are the true treasures. Ensure you enter with safety equipment and a guide, as caves can be dangerous and disorienting.

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The Best Time to Visit Neor Lake

The Best Time to Visit Neor Lake

Neor Lake's climate varies significantly throughout the year due to its high altitude and mountainous location. Here's a breakdown of what visitors can expect:

  1. Autumn (September-November): The weather turns cooler in autumn, with colorful foliage transforming the landscape around the lake. Visitors during this time should bring warm clothing.
  2. Winter (December-February): Winter brings the coldest temperatures to Neor Lake. The lake's surface may freeze during this time. Warm clothing is essential for visitors during winter.
  3. Spring (March-May): Spring arrives in mid-May at Neor Lake. The surrounding plains turn green with wildflowers, and the weather becomes pleasant. However, temperatures can still fluctuate, so visitors should pack accordingly.
  4. Summer (June-August): Summer offers the warmest weather at Neor Lake, with average highs reaching 25°C (77°F). Rainfall remains consistent year-round, maintaining the lake's water level.


Planning Your Trip:

The most favorable time to visit Neor Lake depends on your preferences:

  1. For comfortable weather and lush landscapes: Mid-May to late June (spring) offers pleasant temperatures and blooming wildflowers.
  2. For extended daylight hours and outdoor activities: June to August (summer) provides the warmest weather and long daylight hours for exploring the surroundings.
  3. For wildlife viewing: Spring and autumn are prime times to observe migrating birds.


Neor Lake Location and Access

Neor Lake Location and Access

Neor Lake sits on the border of Gilan and Ardabil provinces, nestled within the slopes of Talesh Mountain.

The lake is accessible from both Gilan and Ardabil provinces. However, due to a well-maintained asphalt road leading from Ardabil, this approach experiences higher traffic compared to routes from Ardabil city or Khalkhal.

Reaching Neor Lake involves traversing a scenic, winding path that climbs the Talesh Mountains. This route is particularly appealing to mountaineering and nature enthusiasts. Notably, the path from the lake to Subatan Farm is recognized as one of Iran's premier nature tourism routes.

The journey itself offers breathtaking views of the foothills, with the winding mountain road (approximately a 30-minute walk) leading up to the lake. While the main access road is paved, the path around the lake itself is a dirt track suitable for walking.

  1. Tehran to Neor Lake: The distance between Tehran and Neor Lake is approximately 560 kilometers, with a travel time of roughly 7.5 hours by car.
  2. Ardabil to Neor Lake: The distance between Ardabil and the lake is approximately 47 kilometers, taking roughly 1 hour by car.
  3. Talash to Neor Lake: Talash is located around 170 kilometers from Neor Lake in Ardabil.
  4. Rasht to Neor Lake: Rasht is situated about 240 kilometers from Neor Lake. The travel time by car is less than 5 hours.


Final Takeaway

Neor Lake offers a pristine escape for nature lovers, but be prepared for its remoteness. Pack necessities like food, water, and appropriate clothing. Camping requires bringing your own gear. To maximize your experience and ensure safety, consider joining a guided group tour with knowledgeable experts who can navigate the terrain and share their knowledge of the area.

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