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e Visas for Iran

Now you can have your Iranian visa and not have it stamped in your passport.
I remember Cuba used to do this when I visited the Island in the 1990's
So if you travel to the US you need not worry.
Happy travels!

After I wrote this Benjamin an old client of ours wrote in from the Netherlands telling me that some airlines share passenger information with the US authorities, just to bear this in mind.

Why can't we just exist!


Where to see my photographs

I took a year out of medicine and studied photography at the London Institute. It was a course called the Professional Photographic Practice offered at their Back Hill site. It must have been 1997.
I am not good at technologies, neither do I have the patience for sitting on my bottom editing, uploading etc. However, I have discovered that this site works well for me so I am uploading photos there from my treks. Maybe I will also upload other photos in the future.
https://500px.com

Winter hiking in Iran

It may be hard to believe, but here, close to where we live in Khoonegeli you may experience winter landscape like few other places on earth. A short drive and a day hike will take you to remote mountain villages where you would spend the nights in cosy rural homes with wood fire and trek the area on foot or using your snowshoes during the day. The silence and the landscape is far beyond anyone's imagination of Iran.










What can I wear and not wear whilst trekking in Iran

This is a common question from trekkers wishing to undertake a trek in Iranian nature.
Basically, it depends on where you are, who your guide is and how likely it is that you come across locals.
Shorts are not allowed for men or women alike. Short sleeves are OK if you are a man and also OK if you are a woman provided women have a long sleeve handy to put over their T shirt and a hat or a head scarf  which they put over their head when passing villages or coming into contact with locals. The minimum dress code for women in the urban areas i.e the long  overcoat is not compulsory in nature. If you are in very remote areas where coming into contact with locals is highly unlikely then you may wear shorts which cover the knee but remember the exposed parts o your legs will be more prone to bites ans sunburn. Asking your guide is a good option but you need also to consider that some guides are more conservative than others.

The Zagros trek Part 2

And we crossed that bridge!
We then had to negotiate our way through some steep rocky trail to get to the "flat" part of the trail grabbing whatever piece of rock we could. For the next time we decided to have fixed ropes installed although we doubt there will be a next time as this area is so pristine and the nomads so authentic and their culture so untouched that we would hate to contaminate that. Beautiful oak forest of the southern Zagros with lush green meadows, interesting looking limestone carved out by the forces of nature are is our vista, there is one that must be 25 m high in the shape of a mushroom, amazing!. We climb up a very steep scree only for Mehdi to tell us that we have taken the wrong path ! It is getting dark. We wait and he goes continues to see if he can find the trail leading to the first nomadic settlement, they call these Maal. Last time he came to this area was over 5 years back so he could be forgiven for mistaking the path. Soon he comes back te…

The Zagros and the Bakhtiyaris Part 1

Mehdi and I had talked about this trek for some months. He had been to this area twice before, the last being 5 years back. It is by far the remotest part of Iran, some 8 hours between the beginning of the trail from the city of Isfahan a grand part of which a terrible dirt road recently constructed for the stuy of another damn dam on one of the great rivers of southern Iran the Bazoft.

Then the email came in. A Dutch/ Belgian couple ;looking for a 10 day trek in the Alamut Valley in April. To cover 10 continuous days this time of the year would be very difficult if not impossible because of snow and risk of avalanches.

A few emails later I put forward the idea of doing a 4 day trek from Ovan to the Caspian hinterland plus a week in the Zagros. Lady T who had been in touch with me on behalf of the couple accepted my offer, all she had found on the internet was very touristy for their taste. They were real adventurers who had taken 2 years sabbatical to travel the world's most famo…

Haj Ali Gholi

This is said to be the most beautiful salt lake in Iran. I have been wanting to cross it on foot from East to West for a couple of years now but because of the narrow window in which one could do this before it is waterlogged or due to intense summer heat other commitments have meant it has not happened yet. Last Autumn together with a few friends, old and new we decided we wanted to cross it by 4WD. We had a professional off-roader Hossein Delfan with us as the leading pilot. Below, you can see the outcome of this unsuccessful attempt. Hossein reckons that by mapping the area carefully it should be possible to do this crossing. It would be the first time in history if this happens. The locals I talked to said it was impossible because even in the height of the summer large parts of the dried lake remains wet just under the crust and you could only walk it. The walk would be approximately 52 kilometers and done in 2 days. In the old days camel herders and other locals used to walk the…

Latif and Yakhab Mountain range

If you are in Isfahan or Kashan and want to get away from the noise and pollution of the cities then you might wish to consider a piece of paradise just 2 hours away. Latif and Yakhab mountain range. You can hike the sand dunes, see an ancient fortress and taste the Salt from one of Iran's biggest salt lakes, all and all in 3 days. Besides you will have the opportunity to sleep in a million star dwelling!

A trek into the unknown-Final part

When C enters he is shaken and in pain, I examine his calf muscle. The bite is obvious but it is not too bad. I sterilize the wound and cover it up with some gauze. We spend a rough night with the shepherds. Dogs barking and little room. After breakfast we ask for directions and the head shepherd puts us on the right track. We start our trek into the unknown. The landscape is amazing and the weather is mild and serene, the sky is blue and the forest is a fresh green colour of Spring. After a few hours we are on the highest ridge. We have the mighty mount Siyalan at 4250m to our left still covered in snow, the dense oak forest of Beleskooh protected area in front of us and in the horizon the blue line of the Caspian sea, the largest body of inland water on earth. Lady S is overwhelmed with emotion and goes to a corner crying. We rest for a good while on this ridge contemplating the beauty and the eternal wilderness of this valley. Now I know exactly where we are. I did a loop in this v…

A trek into the unknown part 2

Al takes his trousers off and finds a spot where the 9 meter wide river gushing down is divided into two almost equal parts by a small boulder that slows the rapid flows somewhat, he crosses successfully but is complaining of the cold waters. C, the German is second, he decides not to take his trousers off and hits the water with his bare feet, looking a little unsure I follow him closely. a few meters close to the other side Al stretches out a wooden stick, C grabs the stick but for some reason loses his balance and falls backward.I push him onto Al and he is home safe. I take a deep breath and return to get S the tough lady from London whose backpack must be the heaviest of us all. She steps into the water only to slip, she falls and the rapids would have washed her away had I not aggressively pulled her hand towards the middle and onto the other side where Al was standing. She is shivering with cold. At least we are all safely on the other side. I go back a third time for C's b…

I have 4 days for trekking in the Alamut Valley, what can I do?

Option 1

It would be possible to do 4 days from Lake Ovan to the Caspian hinterland via Khashechal summit( 4120 m). However, if you are to walk from the lake itself you really need 5 days of trekking plus the day to get there and to get to Tehran ie 7 days in total. If you wish to walk it in 4 days ie 6 days in total then you need to leave out the summit.


Option 2

Another option would be to start from Garmarood, where the ridge is lower and the summit you can do is off the path and is 3600m. There is a dirt road that you will have to cross 3 times on foot and there will be some cars passing from May until October but this will be a short stretch.

You may end either in Maran or in Yuj.


The main differences between the two are the crossing of a road which is absent from the first trek, and the fact that the first trek goes through some of the most pristine Hyrcanian forests terminating at 900m ASL but in option 2 the trek ends above the forest line at about 2200mASL and the rest is in …

A trek into the unknown part 1

I will try and keep this a secret. A semi-open secret. The route is mindblowingly beautiful. It is not for the fainthearted. You need to be fit and strong mentally and physically. There is no luxury. Nature can be harsh and indifferent to our suffering yet it can be soothing and protective at the same time.
I was adamant that I wanted to go down that trail on the other side of the valley. I had seen it a few years back from the distance. I had seen the continuation a few kilometers from a different valley and I wanted to join them up. There must be a way one can walk. The locals were not sure. Al, another local I trusted for new routes was not so sure it would get us anywhere either . What the hell if it doesn't but there must be a way out I said, we could always come back. We had started our trek a day earlier in Garmarood, we took the lesser known trail from Zeresk and we spent the night with the mighty Ms Malaki in Piche Bon. So far so good. There were 4 of us. Al, I, 2 guests,…

Alamut- in depth

َA good source of general information about Iran is the Iranica encyclopedia. However, readers should be aware that some of the historical facts mentioned are disputed by Iranian historians as being a regurgitation of European and north american historians who wrote the history to suit the imperial interests of the west and are not backed up by any hard evidence, this includes the invasion of the Moguls and the Arabs. http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/alamut-valley-alborz-northeast-of-qazvin-

A readily available source of indepth information about Iran/Persia

َA good source of general information about Iran is the Iranica encyclopedia. However, readers should be aware that some of the historical facts mentioned are disputed by Iranian historians as being a regurgitation of European and north american historians who wrote the history to suit the imperial interests of the west and are not backed up by any hard evidence, this includes the invasion of the Moguls and the Arabs. http://www.iranicaonline.org/

http://www.parstimes.com/

Is excellent as it provides links to many outside websites.