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Mostrando entradas de 2017

Oat- The documentary

A fascinating documentary by the late renowned anthropologist Dr Nader Afshar Naderi on the tribes of the Zagros mountains.

Bird watching in Iran

There are 548 species of bird recorded in Iran which belong to 26 Order and 68 Families. If you are interested in a bird watching tour of Iran please write to Here is a useful website for reference

Ismailites and their Castles in Iran and Syria

This is a scholarly book on this interesting subject{9FBE298D-9FCE-4C9A-A4FA-3C2B6D2D7D48}

Cloud Sunami

Andy was a man from down under. He was travelling with his girlfriend round the world doing a bit of everything, paragliding, deep sea diving etc and then they came to me for hiking. I chose Lemira a summer settlement south of Khoonegeli above the forest line. It is an authentic settlement of some 50 odd houses which only sees people in the hot summer months when people from Tonekabon escape the humid heat of the Caspian littoral to spend a few weeks with their families and friends there. There is still no road access to the village. Here is what we encountered. It was a memorable night of rain and wind but boy the clouds were amazing.

Do not use banks to exchange currency

A few travellers have used banks to change money. This is a mistake as the banks will buy your foreign currency at a much lower state rate but will never sell you hard currency at that rate if you are left with the fast devaluing Iranian Rial, in fact the banks never sell hard currencies to anyone let alone foreigners so you lose out if you go to a bank! There are official bureau de changes where you can sell ( and only sometimes buy) your currency at the market rate. You can find them in most city centers as well as international airports. You do not need Iranian Rials to enter Iran, USD and Euros are readily exchangeable in Iran.
Update September 2018
The currency situation is very unstable at the moment. The US dollar has gone up from 42000 Rials to 1 USD this summer to over 130000 Rials per 1 USD ( the euro being around 150.000 Rials per 1 euros at the time of this going to the press!!)
The advice is to exchange little by little.

The official bureau de changes which were closed …

English speaking mountain guides

Trekkers who are opting for an English speaking nature or mountain guide in Iran should be aware of the fact that the general level of English spoken by many of these guides is not up to the standard they might expect. Cultural guides usually have a better level of English than most nature or mountain guides. The reason many trekkers wish to have an English speaking guide is to interact with the locals more meaningfully and learn about local cultures, however, the English the guides speak may disappoint them. The reason is that English learnt by many of these guides when they undergo training is inadequate and unless they have a strong motivation to take extra lessons their knowledge of the language especially spoken language remains generally low. Besides, many of these guides never get the chance to travel outside Iran mainly because it is extremely difficult to get visas (bar for a few far eastern and middle eastern countries) and also because until recently the number of incoming …

When to bargain and when not !

The general European conception about dealing with the middle eastern is that they should bargain or haggle for a better price. In Europe you have price labels, taxi meters and no-one argues with them they take it or leave it. In Iran like many other third world countries sometimes labels lack, there are no taxi meters and you could end up paying much more that what is due. So here are some useful tips. If you want to buy a rug, carpet, jajim or kilim then try not to buy it in Isfahan. Try the big bazaar in Tehran first and buy from a whole seller. Here you should bargain a little perhaps for a 20% reduction. If going through the labyrinth of hundreds of narrow alleys in the bazaar is unattractive for you then try Shiraz, Qom or Yazd. You are much less likely to be ripped off. If you have seen something you like and it happened to be in a shop in a touristy area of Isfahan then bargain hard and long. A family staying with us came across a rug they really liked. It happened to be i…

Easy visa is here but a warning! An Australian couple recently applied on line for an e-visa. Half way through the application form they realized that it was only possible to get e-visas if they entered Iran via the Persian Gulf Island of Kish, not the commonest point of entry for foreign visitors and definitely not the easiest. Please contact the Iranian Consulate about the latest on Iran entry visa regulations before you apply. Visa on Arrivals are easy to get for many nationalities.

Live Music courtesy of Khoonegeli

Persian "Daf" is a mother percussion instrument. You may savour a private concert by one of the best Daf players in Persia, Suryadima. A 2 hour concert will cost 100 euros. Here is a sample of the master in India last summer.

Independent travel for UK citizens

At the moment and despite rumors all UK citizens still need to be accompanied by an official guide or join a group tour to visit Iran. The only exception is for those who can get a business visa which would allow them to roam freely for up to 15 days. Business visas can be applied for by companies.

How to get to Alamut

The Alamut Valley is becoming very popular with hikers and quite rightly so. It is a spectacular valley filled with high summits such as Khashechal 4180m, Siyalan 4250m and the grand Shah Alborz 4100m as well as many canyons and waterfalls and remote isolated settlements. The departing point for shared communal taxis is the Gharib Kosh square in Qazvin. These "savaris" will take you to Moalem Kelayeh which is where you need to get off if you are heading for Lake Ovan or Garmarood if you are going to do one of the impressive treks to the Caspian side. The side valleys and canyons such as Gazorkhan where the main Assassin's Castle is located are not served by shared taxis and you are better off getting a taxi to yourself. If you are coming from the Caspian coastline then the Sehezar road ( under construction) is your best option. However, you should note that this road is closed in winter months. There is a minibus that leaves Tonekabon early in the morning and goes as…

Foreign Exchange in Iran

The Iranian currency is now officially called Tomans instead of the Rial. The denominations in use are 100, 200, 500,1000,2000,5000,10000,50000 and 100000 Tomans ( as they are referred to by the locals although they all still have the extra zero from the Rial days!). You are unlikely to encounter any of the 100 and 200 toman notes, they are worth very little. Each Euro these days gets you 4000 Tomans (previously 40000 Rials). The banks are NOT the place to exchange as they will buy the hard currency at the governmental rate which is some 30% lower than the free market rate. You get the best rates in bureau de change which you find in most city centers and at major airports. You can sell back your excess Tomans at the end of your trip. For foreign travellers, Iran is still a cash economy. Those who wish not to carry too much cash can take a day off and by taking their Iranian money into a bank ask for a debit card.