A surprising number of people think that Iran is just a vast, hot desert. True, but it has almost every other kind of countryside as well, from the thick forests of the north to the fertile green plains to the west. The real interest of its scenery, however, is provided by the majestic mountains that cover half its area. In the north, on the shore of the Caspian, their slopes are generously coated with vegetation, but elsewhere they have a bold nakedness that throws each contour into dramatic relief and tells a fascinating geological tale. In some places a smooth dull brown, in others aglow with the pink and green of minerals, the mountains changes subtly with moving light. Sometimes they are fluid and hazy, sometimes stark and rigid. At no two moments do they ever look quite the same. A network of paved roads spreads over the country, making it possible for visitor to tour in comfort whether by long distance luxury coach or hired car. One interesting trip is to take one of the three roads through the Alborz Mountains from Tehran to the Caspian Sea, drive slowly along the green shores and then return by another road. The drive will fascinate you with its variety as the road ribbons through harsh, jagged mountains into flat, lush rice fields and from deep, stony gorges into beautiful forests.