Wow- Hormoz is a geologist’s dream and an inspiration for artists with Rainbow Valley, numerous salt caves & fascinating colours everywhere. The 42-sq-km island is an hour on the ferry from Qeshm and aside from a very small settlement at the port the place is virtually uninhabited. Most people who visit hire a tuktuk with driver to take them around the island for a few hours before taking the last ferry home that day. A few choose to explore on foot and carry a tent as there is no accommodation available.
We took the trip with the other two workawayers from the restaurant, Eugene and Milan, and an Iranian, Mohammad, who worked at the restaurant briefly. Mohammad had been to Hormoz quite a few times so knew the good spots to visit and could communicate with our driver which was also very helpful. Mohammad had very good English but was quite unusual in that he kept addressing us very formally, e.g. ‘Mr Antony’ and saying things like ‘I am at your service, ma’am’. He came with all sorts of stories we doubted were true so although he was friendly and helpful we weren’t quite sure how to take him!!
After buying some bread and snacks at a small shop we headed off with our tuktuk driver to the first salt cave area. It was just the first of many breathtaking sites this day. Cliffs & pillars of salt and underneath a tiny entrance to a salt cave.. too small for me to go beyond the entrance but Antony followed Mohammad crawling along until the space became bigger and apparently quite cool inside.
The next salt cave we explored was bigger and we could walk inside for a while. Once it got darker and smaller requiring crawling I headed back and took a couple of selfies while I waited for the others to return. Note: Iranians LOVE selfies and photos in general. They take them everywhere it seems. They clearly do not feel self-conscious or embarrassed as I do when taking them. I don’t quite know how they do it. I would only ever dare take a selfie when noone else is around, like at this cave entry when I had nothing else to do!
Rainbow valley was a highlight- incredible colours beneath our feet and all around, such a spectacular place to walk. So many different types and colours of rocks too.
Another walk led us to a cliff with stunning views down to the sea below. The water was so clear we could see a shark (or maybe it was a dolphin) swimming near the shore.
Despite just seeing a shark in the water, our next stop was for a swim at a beach on the other side of the island. Mohammad directed our tutktuk driver to it and it was quite a clamber over rocks to get from the road above down to the beach. Mohammad assured us that no-one ever came there so we would be safe to swim (minus headscarf etc). I believed him, given the difficulty of accessing the beach, and decided to cool off as it was an incredibly hot day. Milan and Antony had wasted no time stripping down to their boxers and jumping in. I soon abandoned the headscarf and my long dress and went into the water with a merino singlet and my quick dry trousers…It was just wonderful to swim and cool off.
We didn’t have towels so I was letting the sun dry me a bit before negotiating the putting on of bra and dress and removal of wet singlet as discretely as possible with my back to the others. Then I hear Mohammad say – Kate quick put your scarf on. So I do and turn round and see out of nowhere a guy in uniform has emerged to check us out. He wanted to see our passports and check our bags. He was very serious but didn’t find anything to hassle us about and didn’t mention my attire which had only just become appropriate in the nic of time (good thing he didn’t come when I was still in the water with arms and hair exposed!) A few days before he had caught a group partying and drinking alcohol (illegal in Iran) on this same beach so when he saw our tuktuk up on the road he came to see if we were up to something similar. No such luck for him. We walked along the beach and up over a red sandy road back to the tuktuk- a much easier route than the one we took down. The colours everywhere on this island are amazing!
We said goodbye to the tuktuk back in the village and followed the colourful art on the usually bare cement walls to find a kind of art studio and art education centre Annelie had recommended we visit. The centre was founded in 2009 by Dr Nadalian, an Iranian environmental artist whose work is to be found in rivers and other places all around the world.
In the centre we watched a movie about Ahmad Nadalian’s work. He loves fish because they have no idea of borders, freely swimming between countries etc. He has made various rock sculptures often featuring fish and placed them in rivers and oceans around the world. He has also buried or hidden many of his works. Some of his works have been done on beaches… only to be washed away by the incoming tide later the same day. He has made shapes on cylinders that can then be rolled in sand on the beach or in the desert to make beautiful patterns or spread a message. He did the same thing on bicycle tyres so when you ride a bike it leaves messages in the sand about peace or caring for the environment.
He has done a lot and it is well worth looking through his website if you are interested. It has lots of information and photos on it about art on Hormoz but also his international exhibitions, rather inspiring.
On Hormoz he was encouraging and supporting local women and girls to create, often using the amazing colourful sands and minerals of Hormoz to make the dyes or paints needed. They also had a project collecting the trousers that Bandari women had thrown away as they have a lot of beautiful stitching, colours and some beautiful materials. They cut and keep the lower trouser legs and they are displayed in the centre along with art from the local women (for sale) and photos of Nadalian’s works.
Before taking the ferry home we walked around the Portuguese Sea Fort but didn’t pay to go inside as we hardly had any time and it seemed a bit expensive for a quick look. According to the Lonely Planet it is probably the most impressive and ambitious colonial fortress built in Iran. It was completed in 1515 and so Hormoz became the Portuguese base through which all trade from India, the Far East and the Gulf ports was funnelled at that time. Just over a century later the Portuguese were forced off the island and centuries of neglect followed for the fort, which is today crumbling away.
It was nice to wander through the little village and then take the boat back to Qeshm. Hormoz is definitely worth a visit and can easily be reached by boat from Bandar Abbas too. We had a fabulous day here, a truly magical place.