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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 famous and unknown mountains. Iran was one destination out of may that included the Rockies in the USA , off the beaten track Nepal etc. They were looking for something authentic.

I personally never have any particular expectations and try not to foment an image of the places I am going to visit for the first time. I was in for a real surprise. And so were they.

We met in Isfahan in their hotel. The Bakhtiyari driver in his old 4x4 Toyota was there when I arrived, Mehdi arrived a few minutes later and we were off, first to Shahre Kord where we stopped for a moka that would put shame to almost all if not all baristas in Tehran and Isfahan alike. Inside a humble shack we had the best espresso I have had since I visited Rome 4 years ago. You cannot beat the Romans on coffee but this came close. And it it cost a 5th of what you would have to cough up in the IKA.
From here we went towards Kuhrang deep in the heart of the Bakhriyari territory. All in all we were in that Toyota for 8 hours the more we drove the further we went back in history. In late afternoon we departed with our excellent driver, heavy backpacks containing food and logistics for 6 days on our shoulders and then the great surprise. A long narrow rickety looking bridge hanging over the river some 100 m below. Holy S.... do we really have to walk over this Mehdi? The answer was obvious.
It was going to be an adventurous trek and I was so far true to my words to the couple who took everything in their stride and were great company.


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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 …

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…

Ski and Snowboarding in Iran

Leave your prejudices where you live and come skiing in Iran !

Yes, we have ski resorts and when people are busy skiing in Iran,   many European resorts  are waiting for their first snowfall ! 
Besides, you pay embarrassingly little to ski in Iran.
Here you have a list of all the ski resorts close to Tehran:
1. Tochal Ski resort, this is the highest ski resort in Iran. It starts close to the summit at 3850m and is some 1200m long. It is skiable for almost 8 months of the year! It is a short car drive from central Tehran.
http://tochal.org/en
2. Dizin, arguably the best ski resort in Iran,  it is situated deep in the central Alborz range with spectacular views of the Alborz summits such as Alam Kooh and Mount Damavand. It is a 3 hour drive from the capital. There are 7500m of ski pistes from 3600 m down to 2650m of altitude.
3. Darband Sar is 50KM north of Tehran. It is a good resort for experienced skiers.
4. Abali Ski resort is on the eastern part of the city and is one of the oldest …