• Mount Sabalan

    Everything about Mount Sabalan, Facts & Informations, Weather conditions, Trekking Routes, Climbing Tours, Required Equipment & …

Mount Sabalan

Mount Sabalan complete guide: everything you need to know about Sabalan mountain

Mount Sabalan (Savalan in Azerbaijani) is the third most prominent peak in Iran with 4811 meters of altitude and is located in the northwestern part of Iran in Ardabil province. Scientists believe Sabalan to be a potentially active volcano; however, there is no information on its last eruption. The sulfuric springs, hot springs, and emission of dense gases are signs of its potentially-active state. The lake located on the Soltan peak (the main peak of Sabalan) makes it one of the unique mountains in Iran. This magnificent lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Iran. It’s nearly 16 meters deep and is frozen for most of the year. This lake alongside the peaks of Mount Sabalan and the natural glaciers attracts many mountaineers yearly. Soltan peak is the most popular due to its high altitude and its beautiful lake. Mount Sabalan is one of the Iranian national heritages.

Sabalan Mythology

Sabalan is considered holly by those believing it to be the place where Zarathustra – the prophet of the Zoroastrian religion- was chosen. It is mentioned in “Thus spoke Zarathustra”, a book by Friedrich Nietzsche, that the prophet ascended Mount Sabalan. It is also believed that parts of Avesta, the holy book of Zoroastrianism, were received by Zarathustra on top of the mountain and that he spent years praying in the foothills of Mount Sabalan. Many of the inhabitants of Azerbaijan and the nomads of the region consider Sabaln to be holy. Sabalan was believed to be one of the seven holy mountains of heaven in the past and people would climb if often to pray on the top. Respect to the mountain can still be seen as people refer to it as “Sultan Savalan”.

eagle shaped rock sangeh oghab mount sabalan ardabil mountain trekking tour iran travel guide attractions things to do destinations Cheetah adventures

Eagle shaped rock (Sang-e Oghab) is one of the interesting features of the Western route and has become the symbol of Mount Sabalan

Sabalan summit mount sabalan mountain trekking tour ardabil iran travel guide attractions things to do destinations Cheetah adventures (15)

Mount Sabalan Summit Lake, On the top of Mount Sabalan

Nomads living in the foothills of Sabalan

Three nomadic tribes spend their summer in the foothills of Mount Sabalan with the most famous being Shahsevan nomads. They are the third-largest nomad tribe in Iran after Bakhtirair and Qashqai tribes. Shahsevan nomads settle down at the foothills of Sabalan mid- May and relocate to the higher parts in July and August. They descend to the foothills in September and leave for Mughan plain as the weather gets cold in November.

Ardabil nomad mount sabalan mountain trekking tour iran travel guide attractions things to do destinations Cheetah adventures

Nomads living in the foothills of Sabalan

Geography

Mount Sabalan has 5 peaks of which Soltan Peak (4811) is the third most prominent in Iran after Damavand and Alam-Kuh. Soltan peak is only one meter higher than Mont Blanc, the most prominent peak in the Alps. Heram Dagh and Kasra are two of the other peaks in Sabalan. Heram Dagh has three peaks of its own. These peaks are technically difficult to conquer and are between 4500 and 4600 meters high. Kasra is the third highest peak of Sabalan with 4470 meters of altitude. 

Climate

Due to its vast territory, Mount Sabalan highly affects the climate and vegetation of the northwestern part of Iran including western and eastern Azerbaijan provinces. This region is covered in snow for most of the year and the precipitation is between 400 and 700 mm a year. In addition, permanent natural glaciers can be found in Mount Sabalan.

sabalan glaciers mount sabalan mountain trekking tour ardabil iran travel guide attractions things to do destinations Cheetah adventures

Sabalan Glaciers

Best time for trekking Sabalan

The high season of Sabalan trekking starts in mid-June and goes on until mid-September. During this time the weather is stable and the temperature is the highest of the year with the lowest being -10 degrees at night and 0 at day. Climbing Mount Sabalan is possible with summer equipment at this time of the year thus many mountaineers choose to climb this beautiful mountain then. 

Sabalan Trekking Routes

There are three main Sabalan trekking routes. They are the following:

  • Southern ridge: The southern route begins at Alvares ski resort located 30 km away from Sarein. It is one mostly covered by large rocks and is considered one of the most technically difficult routes. In addition, there are no huts or shelters available on this route to spend the night. It is recommended to use this trekking route only during winter as intense slope increases the risk of rockfall in other seasons. The risk of avalanches is also higher on this route, making it necessary for mountaineers to know about the basics of trekking in snow. 
  • Western ridge: This route passes by the beautiful valley and is reachable via Shabil village. This Sabalan trekking route begins at Qarah Gol Lake, passes by the great Heram glacier, and finally reaches the Sabalan summit. The western shelter located on this route is 4200 meters high, same as Bargah-E Sevom hut and Simorgh hut on Mount Damavand. The eagle-shaped rock named Ghartal( meaning eagle in Azerbaijani Turkish) is one of the interesting features of this route and has become the symbol of Mount Sabalan. This mysterious rock resembles a seated eagle facing the east. One of the other features of the western route is the delayed sunrise in the morning, making morning treks a little harder due to the cold weather. Furthermore, some parts of this route are covered by grit, inhibiting the progress and taking a lot of the mountaineers’ energy while trekking. 
  • Northeastern ridge: The northeastern route is the most popular and is accessible via Shabil village, the same as the western route. The Sabalan trekking tour package offered by Cheetah-Adventures is planned to take the mountaineers to the summit using this route. This route begins at Shabil hot spring located 50 km away from Meshgin Shahr and 25 away from Lahroud. The 4WD cars available at Shabil talk mountaineers to Sabalan camp after riding in a long twisting dirt road for 45 minutes. It’s also possible to send the equipment to the camp by car and trek up to the camp (4h) to enjoy the beautiful landscape. It’s important to reach the camp before it gets dark. The camp is almost 3650 meters high, leaving the mountaineer with 5 kilometers of trekking with 1160 meters of elevation gain to reach the Sabalan Summit from there. Depending on the weather and physical condition of the team members, ascending normally takes 5 hours, and descending takes 3. The route from the camp to the summit is easy to find and has guiding signs. It is a rather easy route, allowing the trekkers to reach the summit in just a few hours during summer. 
  • The technical northern glacier route: This route is a glacier approximately 350 to 400 meters long where the 7 pitch method is used to climb. Enough trekking skills and experience in similar climbs and special ice climbing equipment (such as crampons, Ice axes, Ice screws, rope, helmet, harness, etc. are necessary for this climb). This route is only chosen by professional mountain climbers due to its difficulty. The northern glacier route is reachable via the same road that reaches the northeastern camp.

sabalan north glacier mount mountain trekking tour ardabil iran travel guide attractions things to do destinations Cheetah adventures

The North Glacier of Mount Sabalan

mehrab rock sang-e mehrab mount sabalan ardabil mountain trekking tour iran travel guide attractions things to do destinations Cheetah adventures

Mehrab Rock (Sang-e Mehrab), Mount Sabalan

Sabalan Shelters and huts

Northeastern hut: This hut is located on the northeastern Sablan trekking route at 3700 m of height and is known as Masjed( meaning the mosque) or Hoseyniyeh. This hut is reachable via a 10km long dirt road starting at Shabil hot spring. The northeastern consists of several stone-made rooms each including wooden or metal bunk beds. There is also a small shop inside to buy groceries and food but it’s best to buy everything you might need from the city as there are limited options available at the hut. 

Western hut: The western hut is located on the route to conquering Heram and Sultan peaks at 3800 meters of altitude. This hut is accessible via the dirt road reaching Qarah Gol Lake from Sarbanlar village. 

Western shelter: This shelter is located west of Sultan peak at 4200 meters of altitude and is the closest shelter to the peak. It consists of a small room with a maximum capacity of 10 people. The eagle-shaped rock near the western shelter has become the symbol of Mount Sabalan over the years. It is known as Ghartal Dashi (meaning the eagle rock in Azerbaijani Turkish) and is shaped like a seated eagle facing east. 

Kasra shelter: This shelter is located on the route for conquering Mount Kasra.

Northeastern hut mosque Masjed mount sabalan mountain trekking tour ardabil iran travel guide attractions things to do destinations Cheetah adventures

Northeastern Hut (Mosque, Hoseyniyeh), Mount Sabalan

west new shelter mount sabalan ardabil mountain trekking tour iran travel guide attractions things to do destinations Cheetah adventures

Western Hut, Mount Sabalan

Western shelter mount sabalan ardabil mountain trekking tour iran travel guide attractions things to do destinations Cheetah adventures

Western Shelter, Mount Sabalan

kasra hut mount sabalan ardabil mountain trekking tour iran travel guide attractions things to do destinations Cheetah adventures

Kasra Shelter, Mount Sabalan

Sabalan Glaciers

Mount Sabalan has 5 natural glaciers with two being on the foothills of Sultan peak two on the foothills of Mount Kasra and the other on Heram Dagh. 

Wildlife

Mount Sablan and its surrounding area are among the most verdurous parts of Iran. This area has diverse wildlife and is one of the best natural destinations in Iran during the summer.  

Flora

Mount Sabalan and its surrounding area have rich soil, causing the existence of a variety of plants. The lower parts of the foothills are covered in steppe plants and meadows can be seen in the upper parts. Mount Sabalan is covered in plants that are adapted to its climate and type of soil. Some of the most important plants growing in this region are the following: peppermint, roses, Irises, stocks, buttercups, barberry bushes, garlic, cloves, rose madders, Echium, and tulips. 

Fauna

More than 11 wildlife habitats were reported in the Mount Sabalan region. Many animals including several types of mammals and reptiles live in this area. Some of the mammals found in the area are mountain goats, rams, bears, hogs, foxes, rabbits, jackals, and weasels. There are several bird species found in the area such as Caspian snowcocks, owls, sparrows, golden eagles, sparrow hawks, hoopoes, larks, swallows, barn swallows, and crows. Among the reptiles found near Mount Sablan agamas, lacertids, skinks, dice snakes, and several poisonous snakes can be named. 

Note that many have reported seeing brown bears near the northeastern hut at night. The cause is considered to be the accumulation of the food leftovers.

Wildlife ardabil mount sabalan mountain trekking tour iran travel guide attractions things to do destinations Cheetah adventures

Brown bears at the foothills of Mount Sabalan

Attractions and things to do near Mount Sabalan 

Shabil hot spring

Those who chose the western or northeastern Sabalan trekking routes to pass through Shabil to get to the beginning of the route. Shabi hot spring is the result of the volcanic activities of Mount Sabalan and is proof of it being potentially active. Shabil hot spring is clean and freshening, making it the best place to relax after trekking in Sabalan. 

Shabil hot spring ardabil meshkin shahr mount sabalan mountain trekking tour iran travel guide attractions things to do destinations Cheetah adventures (1)

Shabil Spa complex, with mineral hot spring pools, at the foothills of Mount Sabalan. Ardabil

Suspension bridge of Meshgin Shahr

Located south of the city, the suspension bridge of Meshgin Shahr is the longest suspension bridge in the Middle East. This bridge was built in 2015 and is one of the top attractions of Meshgin Shahr. The beautiful sceneries visible from the bridge and the excitement of walking over the glass part of it make this modern bridge a must-see. 

Alvares ski resort: Alvares ski resort is one of the best ski resorts in Iran and attracts many ski enthusiasts daily. It is located in Alvares village, a village located at the southern foothills of Mount Sabalan and 30 km away from Sarein. 

Alvares ski resort is ready to welcome skiers almost 8 months a year and for those not interested in skiing it’s still worthwhile to stop by and enjoy the magnificent landscapes. 

Trekking: Mount Sabalan attracts many mountaineers during the summer. Hiking can be very enjoyable in the foothills of Sabalan as nature is stunning during summer. You can also trek up to the summit using the necessary equipment. 

Sarein: Sarein is a well-known and popular destination among Iranians, especially nature-lovers. Visiting Sarein can be a multi-purpose trip as this city includes amazing natural and historical attractions. The natural clean hot springs of Sarein are its best and most famous attractions.

Suspension bridge of Meshgin Shahr ardabil mount sabalan mountain trekking tour iran travel guide attractions things to do destinations Cheetah adventures

Suspension Bridge of Meshgin Shahr (Meshkin Shahr), at Sabalan’s foothills, Ardabil

Alvares ski resort

Alvares ski resort is one of the best ski resorts in Iran and attracts many ski enthusiasts daily. It is located in Alvares village, a village located at the southern foothills of Mount Sabalan and 30 km away from Sarein. 

Alvares ski resort is ready to welcome skiers almost 8 months a year and for those not interested in skiing it’s still worthwhile to stop by and enjoy the magnificent landscapes. 

Alvares ski resort ardabil mount sabalan mountain trekking tour iran travel guide attractions things to do destinations Cheetah adventures

Alvares Ski Resort, Mount Sabalan, Ardabil

Trekking

Mount Sabalan attracts many mountaineers during the summer. Hiking can be very enjoyable in the foothills of Sabalan as nature is stunning during summer. You can also trek up to the summit using the necessary equipment. 

mount sabalan mountain trekking tour ardabil iran travel guide attractions things to do destinations Cheetah adventures

Mount Sabalan, the third highest peak in Iran (4811 m). An interesting destination for trekking

Sarein

Sarein is a well-known and popular destination among Iranians, especially nature-lovers. Visiting Sarein can be a multi-purpose trip as this city includes amazing natural and historical attractions. The natural clean hot springs of Sarein are its best and most famous attractions.

Sarein ardabil mount sabalan mountain trekking tour iran travel guide attractions things to do destinations Cheetah adventures

Sarein, famous for its hot spring pools and spa, Ardabil

Stay Safe!

Cheetah-Adventures has decided to postpone or cancel all its 2020 April & May & June Iran tours for travelers’ safety.