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Mostrando entradas de febrero, 2016

Trekking Equipment in Iran, bring or buy?

Iran is a country of counterfeit and imitation products! Original trekking and mountaineering gears are available through official,semi-official and unofficial retailers, however they are more expensive, sometimes up to 30% more expensive than in Europe. The reason is the custom duties and poorly regulated retail market in Iran. So if you are coming to trek you might as well bring your own gear. There are locally made gear such as sleeping bags, trekking poles, boots etc but their standard of quality falls below the European brands something that is disproportionately reflected in their price. One of the exceptions is an Iranian company producing good quality crampons, trekking poles and axes called Haftgohar. The outdoor gear shops are mostly concentrated in the Moniriyeh street of central Tehran and are open until late at night. The most widely available gas canister is the Kovea.

Where to buy Persian carpets?

Famous the world over, the elaborately woven Persian rugs and carpets, "gilims"and "jajims" .... There are literally thousands of dealers in the country but in which city should you buy? A lovely French-Moroccan family were our guests in Khoonegeli last year. I organized a round Iran trip for them with an English speaking guide and then finally they came to Khoonegeli for a trek. We went to Lemira to spend a night. They went to buy a Persian rug from a shop in Isfahan and the guy asked for 6000usd, they thought it was a little overpriced so they started the usual haggling and the guy came down to 4000usd. Not convinced they took a picture and sent it to an Iranian friend in Dubai who was a carpet dealer. He valued it at 2000usd max!! And haggling further they ended up buying it for 2300usd! A whopping 3700usd cheaper!! So where to buy? Yazd and Shiraz are two good places but perhaps just as good or maybe even better would be the bazaar of Qom or Tehran, they are fa…

Vegetarians and Vegans in Iran

It is not easy being a vegetarian, let alone a vegan travelling in Iran. National Iranian food is heavily dominated by meat. As someone who was a veggie for 7 years I can tell you what you can do ! 1. dried fruits and nuts are of very high quality in Iran and also very accessible, although not necessarily cheap, a kilogram of good pistachios can set you back 20usd, buy some whilst in the bigger cities and have them with you, nutritious and healthy! to this mixture you may add home made organic grape syrup and ground sesame and have it with dried bread. you can go on and on on a diet like this for months!! 2. bread and cheese and some fruits! whenever I travel within Iran and can't get a descent meal that is healthy this is my second option! cheap and widely available. 3. vegetarian restaurants and shops are cropping up here and there although in comparison with their western counterparts they are very basic and in their infancy, this is useful link if you are in Tehran. http://www…

Laar National Park

Lar National Park. Lar is a national park close to Mount Damavand (5671m) and some of the most impressive 4000m + summits of central Alborz. It is an area where semi nomadic shepherds of the desert areas further south take their herds to graze in the summer months. The best time to visits is when giant Damavand poppies are out and the area’s grassland is covered with wild flowers, this, in the 2 week window period when the park is opened to public and before the herds arrive to eat all that is colourful, which means sometimes in the first two weeks of June. Entry for foreign visitors is not without hassle, a written permit is needed from the headquarters of the environment department in Tehran which is bureaucratic and time consuming (an entry fee is charged, for 2015 it was 50.000 Tomans per person) and overnight stay is forbidden. However, we have routes for you to enjoy a few days of this spectacular area. L1 Hiking from Garmabdar to Yalrood in 3 days and 2 nights. This …

MTB routes near Khoonegeli and Alamut in Iran

MTB routes There are 2 bikes available for hire; a simple MTB with no forks suitable for rides around Khoonegeli and a professional MTB with front suspension FOX 120mm.You are welcome to bring your own! Day rides: 1. Khoonegeli Aghuzhal down to Dohezar Road, a difficult route through a quiet dirt road that leaves Khoonegeli southwards uphill and descends via the Dohezar road further east. Total km 45. The route can be done up to Aghuzhal at 1200m in 3–4 hours and back in 45 minutes downhill. 2. Khoonegeli-Falakdeh. This is a medium route that can either start from Khoonegeli or if you do not want to cycle on busy tarmac take the bike and start in Goleyj Pol. The forest road, after a few kilometres of tarmac passing through quiet small settlements, becomes a dirt road and after 3 hours reaches a few huts. Carrying the bike on a steep downhill forest slope you reach the riverside next to which lies a cave with sulphur spring water dripping from the ceiling! 3. Khoonegeli-Gazane Chal.…

Khoonegeli Eco-Lodge in Tonekabon Iran

Khoonegeli Is our home which will also be your home when you visit. Alejandra and I designed and built it ourselves when we came to Iran in 2003. The house is set in an orangery which used to be a tea farm belonging to my paternal grandfather Rajabali Malaki, my uncles and my father worked the land for the past century and when we took over we planted the citrus trees, there are Thompson, Hamlin, Page, Clementine, Persian Lime, sanguine Thompson, Washingtonian, sanguine Washingtonian Yunesi, Seville and Valencian varieties. There are also kakis, lychees, figs, apples and quince plus eucalyptus and some local forest trees. The land measures some six and a half thousand square meters. It is in a semi-rural area between two small villages called Chelasar and Jal-e-Chelasar belonging to Tonekabon municipality and a few hundred meters from the foothills of central Alborz Mountains. The distance to the Caspian Sea is a mere 15 kilometres. The house was built using traditional building…

Multi day treks Northern Iran Alborz Range

Multi Day Treks The forests and pastures of southern Tonekabon are vast. Here are only a few examples:- A. Two day one night treks 1. Aghuzhal to Lemira. Drive Khoonegeli to Aghuzhal 17km 45 minutes forest dirt road, hike to Lemira, visit Lemira then continue to Lemira summit 2800m and return Bale Gardan shrine night in tent or a shepherds dwelling return to Aghuzhal via Valge Sar and Neyestan. Total hiking 8 hours day 1 and 5 hours day 2. 2. Noosha and Kashtan. Khoonegeli to Noosha, night in tent or local house in Noosha, second day climb Kashtan summit 3300m and return via Gerd Kuh and other summits along the way like Charcot and Zard e Sar. Total hiking 4 hours day 1 and 9-10 hours day B. Multi day treks 3 days 2 nights including summits. 1. Lemira to Laktarashan back from Jahak. This is a trek that will take you from Lemira (see above) to a sheep and goad pasture dwelling called Ravar where the first night will be spent amongst shepherd…

How to behave in Iran!!!!!!

Iran is a cultural minefield. Here are some tips: Shaking hands with the opposite sex is not common. If you are a man you may shake a woman's hand only if she offers it to you. Men embrace men and women embrace women for greeting. Opposite sexes do not embrace each other in public. Iranians are extremely hospitable and they will be offering you all sort of things, it is often difficult to know whether people’s offering is a genuine one or is it part of the elaborate social face saving Taarof. So when you are offered something you should refuse at first or maybe even the second time, this shows your etiquette and politeness!!! If the person insists then you may accept. Never accept a free ride by a taxi driver they make a living out of it and a simple Taarof does not mean he or she does not want you to pay. Never blow your nose loudly in public, it is extremely impolite. Do not fart, it is extremely unwelcome! Never stretch your legs sitting on the floor in someone’s home unless yo…
3000m+ summits; 1. Siyah Kol Summit, this is a nice summit that is very doable in one day. It is just under 3000ms but the views are so spectacular that one feels in complete wilderness. The starting point is the village of Esel Mahalle in the Dohezar Valley some 35 minutes’ drive from Khoonegeli. Starting altitude 1000m. 2. Nashemin Summit. This remote 3300m rocky summit can be ascended from Shane Tarash 1700m and the return trail would be from Lemira via Aghuzhal 1200m or vice versa. It would be a long two day trek with one night spent in a tent. Total hiking per day 9 hours. 3. Hulu Kale- Chalaki- Kangarchal -Yaan return via Daryasar. Drive to Hulu Kale village (700m) in the Dohezar Valley, 35 minutes from Khoonegeli. Hike to Chalaki dwelling deep in the forest continue to above the forest line and camp for the night, tent or shepherds’ dwelling, start the second day climbing Kangarchal and Yaan summits 3300m and 3470m and return via Daryasar pasture plain to Esel Ma…

Hyrcanian Forests

Hyrcanian Forests
The Hyrcanian forests cover the northern slopes of the Alborz and Talesh mountains from the Caspian Sea up to 2800m and belong to the temperate deciduous forests. The climate is humid subtropical. The rate of humidity and precipitation is high. (600-2000mm per year and decreases from west to east). These forests belong to the Euro-Siberian bio geographical region. The most important and domainant trees of these forests are Quercus castaneifolia, Quercus macranthera, Alnus glutinosa, Fagus orientalis, Carpinus betulus, Fraxinus excelsior and Parrotia persica. This region was not as badly affected as other forests and hence a number of relict species belonging to the Arcto-Tertiary flora still remain in these forests, such as Acer velutinum, Gleditsia caspica, Parrotia persica, Quercus castaneifolia, Pterocarya fraxinifolia, and Zelkova carpinifolia. Of conifers only 2 varieties exist: Juniperus communis and Taxus baccata. These forests are divided into 3 vegetation typ…

One day hikes in northern Alborz range

Day Hikes and one day summits from Khoonegeli 1.Lemira: - is a summer settlement of some 50 odd adobe houses in an alpine pastureland above the forest line in an altitude of some 2300m in the Goleyjan district of southern Tonekabon. It is one of the most picturesque summer villages in the area within easy reach of Khoonegeli. It has an amazing panoramic view of the Caspian Sea, the forest below, and the coastal towns from Ramsar to Chalous of some 70km radius. There are 3 trails to reach Lemira a)Khoonegeli (altitude 80m ASL) – Beysar a tiny settlement at an altitude of 600m ASL 15 minutes by car then trek via an old forest trail, hardly used these days as a dirt road to Aghuzhal has shorten the journey  to Lemira, the return can be via Aghuzhal (1200m ASL)  to Khoonegeli 17km 45 minutes. Approximate  hiking time : 8 hours b)Khoonegeli- Aghuzhal –Lemira, return via Valgesar. This would involve a 17km drive to Aghuzhal (1200m ASL) in the forest then a 4 hour hike to Lemira and back via a…