Badab-e Surt, Iran
Lesser-known and more arresting than Pamukkale in Turkey, Badab-e Surt is a geological masterpiece located in Iran's Mazandaran province. Shaped like a natural staircase, albeit the kind Henry Holland would design for his abode, the rust-coloured terraces were formed over thousands of years by water flowing from two hot mineral springs.
Thanks to the springs, the water cascading across the pools is mirror-clear and reflects the sky - particularly beautiful on cloudless days. Avid photographers should visit at sunrise or sunset when the pools are ablaze with reds, oranges and golden hues.
Where to stay
A three-hour drive from the springs and a 90-minute drive from Tehran, Ghasre Shirin Ecolodge is a family-run guesthouse where local hospitality is felt at its very best. The communal breakfast feasts are worth staying an extra night for.
What to pack
Temperatures differ wildly between the cities and the springs. This wool-knit wrap by Missioni will keep you warm when the temperature drops and protect you from any over-zealous air-con.
Don't attempt to drive straight up to the pools, leave the car in Ororst village and walk. It's a fairly easy 60-minute stroll and ensures your car won't get stuck in the makeshift mud roads.
How to get there
Although it's a little tougher to reach thanks to winding roads and a few unpaved mountains passes, Badab-e Surt is still possible to visit in a day. From Semnan it's just over a two-hour drive.