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IRAN

"To stay is to exist, to travel is to live !"

Gustave Nabaud

We were impatiently waiting to discover Iran and we were not there, despite the situation in the country. Whatever the tensions they experience, Iranians remain extremely welcoming and positive. We are touched and marked by the countless encounters made in this country. You have to live it to understand it.

NOVEMBER 2023

VISA - agency fees 35 euros/person, visa cost 50 euros/person for 45 to 60 days.* (*more info below)

EXCHANGE - Between 295 and 500 Rials/USD*

VEHICLE - Customs clearance book (CPD) or register provisionally in the country. Please note, American brand vehicles prohibited.

DOG - Vaccination against rabies for 30 to 365 days, microchip to ISO 11784/11785 standard, import permit to be filed in person with the veterinary services, health certificate.

- Dog-related information is rarely checked at land customs

- In most cities in Iran, it is forbidden to walk with a dog.

SIM - 18 GB for 2 USD at Irancell.

- VPN essential before entering the country

- sim cards work max. 30 days per sim card slot.

DIESEL -  0.00 and 0.50CHF/L*

INSURANCE - sometimes Iran is covered by European insurance.

OTHER - Ta’ârof is a set of rules that manage interactions between people. According to this code of politeness, you have to offer things to others even if you don't really want them. So it is customary in Iran to refuse up to 3 times what we are offered to be sure that it is a gift and not just politeness. 

- No foreign bank cards work in the country. Therefore, it is essential to stock up on US dollars before entering Iran.

THINGS TO KNOW

Visa

There are two ways to obtain a tourist visa for Iran. The first which consists of making your request directly on the sitewww.evisa.mfa.ir. The second is to contact an agency (Overland to Iran for example) so that they can take the steps for us.

Many traveler stories mention a visa refusal on the evisa website, whereas when going through an agency, most of the time the visa is granted. The validity period of tourist visas varies between 15 and 60 days. In the majority of large cities, these can be extended for up to three months.

Costs :

  • agency 35 euros/person

  • Visa 50 Euros/person to be paid at the embassy;

Exchange

For various reasons, Iran is experiencing high inflation. So during our first visit to the country, we obtained 295 rials per USD (fall 2022). In December 2023, during our second visit to the country, we obtained 500 rials/USD.

There is a strong difference between the official exchange rate and that practiced in the country. The latter can be consulted on: www.bonbast.com.

Please note, on the Bonbast website, as most of the time in Iran, prices are indicated in Toman (1 Toman = 10 Rials).

Fill up

The official price of diesel in Iran is 300 rials/L. However, since it is necessary to have a quota card to obtain fuel, as a foreigner, you cannot refuel as you usually would. 

There are two solutions to work around this problem. The first is to find a station with a quota card for foreign vehicles. Unfortunately, pump attendants have the unfortunate tendency to inflate prices to make good margins. We nevertheless found a gas station, in the Zahedan region, where there was a sign indicating diesel was free for foreign travelers.

 

The other solution is to go directly to ask for fuel from the truck drivers. We have noticed that often, when we ask them for less than 40 liters, they agree to sell it to us at cost price or even want to offer it to us.

Regarding the quality of fuel in the country, it varies greatly. The best diesel we found is Euro 4. To ensure that it is also clean and free of water marks, we were always looking for stations with busy traffic and where we could see recent trucks.

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Kandovan

The village of Kandovan is largely troglodyte. Its houses, dug out of the stone, are very similar to those we discovered in Cappadocia, except that here they are still occupied by their inhabitants.

 

We are also lucky to be able to enter these houses, where we discover beautiful Iranian carpets which are a sign of wealth for the inhabitants here.

Masouleh

This village is known for its typical brown houses built in stairs to best settle on the slope. The roofs of the lower houses serve as a terrace for the upper houses, it's super pretty despite the very touristy side of the place.

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Alam-kuh 4,850 m

There are a few high peaks that catch our eye in Iran, including Alam Kuh which is in the Elbrus mountain range and is the second highest peak in the country.

 

We make this outing accompanied by Charlène, a friend who came from Switzerland to visit us and to discover Iran. What a pleasure to be able to share these moments in our trip with one of our loved ones!

 

In the village of Vandarbon, we take a track that leads us to the start of our outing. We still have 1500 m of elevation gain and 7 km to the top.

 

The next morning, we get up at 4:30 a.m. for a 5:30 a.m. departure. We savor the beautiful colors of the morning. The climb is going very well, apart from a cool wind that cools us down somewhat when we stop.

 

We arrive at the summit of Alam Kuh at 4,850 m, with a view of all the surrounding peaks. We stay almost 1 hour up there so much that it is beautiful.

Nomads

On the track that leads us to the start of our outing to Alam Kuh, we see a herd of sheep that we photograph in this idyllic landscape. A man comes out of his little hut and invites us to drink the chai. We meet three gentlemen with whom we communicate with gestures. We still come to understand that they are from Afghanistan and they work here moving their sheep from mountain to mountain. They also let us know that they have 60,000 sheep and goats with them.

 

We have a great time, even if we are a little disappointed not to be able to understand them more, because their way of life does not leave us indifferent.

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Climb

On our climbing app “the crag”, we see several climbing routes. We stop in the village of Pol-e-khab, a site that seems popular to us. Unfortunately, the quotations do not correspond to the one we are used to, indeed, they use the American standard instead of the French standard and we do not understand much about it. We ask for information from one of the climbing teachers on site who explains the ratings to us.

 

We climb a few routes each and have a lot of fun. The pebble is super pleasant to climb and the view is magnificent of the mountains opposite.

Agha Bozorg Mosque

In the city of Kashan, at the end of the day, we visit the Agha Bozorg Mosque and the End Garden. We admire the light of the end of the day illuminating the mosque thus making, with all these beautiful colors, the place fabulous.

end garden

The end garden is one of the most beautiful gardens in Iran. We discover its many ponds, fountains and its large and old trees. It is in a calm and serene place, which we find really beautiful. 

Abyaneh

Abyaneh is a small village located in the middle of the mountains south of Kashan. It is known for its typical wooden and red clay constructions. 

 

The village is beautiful and we like to walk there. There we meet a gentleman who is in the process of restoring the facade of his house. It mixes earth, with its characteristic colour, straw and water. It is with the help of this mixture that he plasters his facades. We can imagine that clay is a great help in keeping the interior of houses cool.

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Isfahan

The main square of Isfahan is just sublime with this greenery, its mosques and its palace. From its center we can see the bazaar that surrounds the square and makes it very dynamic. The bazaar offers many local products, each one more beautiful than the other.

Ghurtan Citadel

The Ghurtan citadel is considered to be the second largest citadel in the country. However, it is largely in ruins, despite the village's desire to preserve it. All the buildings there are built of rammed earth and are therefore extremely sensitive to rain and require rigorous maintenance to remain in good condition. 

 

We are very quickly joined by a handful of locals, many of them children. As we begin to walk through the alleys, it is hard to imagine that people still live here because the buildings are in such poor condition. But our impression is quickly put in fault when we pass in front of a door which opens with our passage and reveals its inhabitants to us.

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Varrzaneh Desert

This is the first desert we have discovered since the beginning of our trip. We discover large dunes with such varied shapes that give us only one desire, to go for a walk there and feel the sand under our feet. 

 

The most beautiful moments are those at sunset. The light makes the dunes orange.

Al-Mulk Mosque

In Shiraz, there are many things we would like to experience. The first of these is the Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque which is particularly known for its large, colorful bay windows. 

 

In the morning, when the sun is still low and its rays pass through these stained glass windows, the main room of the mosque lights up with a thousand colors. It is this painting that we discover when we arrive on site at the opening and we are lucky enough to find ourselves there, for a moment, almost alone. 

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Shah Cheragh Holy Shrine

A terrorist attack took place less than a week ago in this place so important to the inhabitants, causing 14 deaths. Despite this tragic event, a guide commissioned by Foreign Affairs can show you around. 

 

The Shrine is made up of several courtyards and buildings, including the Shah Cheragh Mosque. The whole is just sublime and the finesse of the finishes of the tiled and mirrored mosaics, the woodwork and the stained glass windows is just astounding.

 

By visiting the mosque, which cannot be accessed through the main door, we discover a volume where the light seems to be festive. Indeed, the rays of the sun, after passing through the stained glass windows, can give free rein to their imagination and jump from one mirrored mosaic to another giving these pieces a diamond appearance. Except that here, instead of admiring diamonds from the outside, we admire them from the inside!

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