Is a Road-Trip in Iran possible ?
Iran is a country that stick in mind to the traveller crossing it. It’s a massive country ( Almost 3x the size of France ) made up with many divers landscapes (Mountains, deserts, islands), architecturals treasures and a particularly warm and welcoming population. Iranians undoubtedly have this natural kindness and curiosity instantly making you feel comfortable. Even though towns like Chiraz, Isfahan et Yazd are more and more visited, remaining of the country is barely touristy and you will be cordially welcomed, with local rule of etiquette called « Taarof ». If you are planning to travel Iran during springtime, perhaps you will be fortunate enough to come across the nomads road filling the highland pastures during the transhumance. An experience not to be missed.
You can visit the country with public transportations, however nothing worth more than some freedom getting off the beaten tracks
Here are some possibilities :
- Rent a car in Teheran : Prohibitively expensive and few available vehicles.
- Pay a taxi driver to bring you to the province you wish to visit. You can go for the day or even several days with a driver but you must need to bargain the price of the transportation considering the driver accommodation. That doesn’t grant you much freedom but quite often interesting if the driver is familiar with the area.
- Coming to Iran with your own vehicle (By far the best solution in our opinion). However, few formalities (and not the least) you need to be aware of before leaving. You have to pay a bond worth 150x the value of your vehicle. You can find further informations in this article.
After a second trip to Iran in 2018, we finally succeeded to come upon two places where renting a bike is doable to get around freely (No license needed). Furthermore, those two places are absolutely delightful ! This article is giving you these two locations and an idea of the itineraries you could do around. But first, an overview on the practical informations you have to know before going to Iran!!
Practical informations before visiting Iran
– English (Big towns)
Advice: Having a pocket dictionary
From Paris : 400-500€ (460 – 575 $ USD)
Best season: Spring for a pleasant weather, cherry blossom season, Nooruz celebrations and transhumance.
Cost of living
– Local Currency: 1€=160000 Rials = 16000 Tomans
– Food: 5-10€ (7-12 $ USD) for a restaurant in the city. Cheaper elsewhere.
– Homestay Sleeps: Couchsurfing advised, 10€/ nuit (12 $ USD/Night ) for a hostel.
– Wilderness Camping : Possible on the Islands (Qeshm, Hormuz..) otherwise ask the locals.
– Gasoline SP : 1000 Tomans /L or 0,15€/L
The country is mostly stable, We never felt unsafe even in Kurdistan located on the border with Irak. However, some areas might be dangerous, in particular the border with Afghanistan and Pakistan where opium dealers flow around. In case where any doubt exists, ask the Iranians you ll come across, they are the best suited to warn you of any danger.
No deadlocks on the headscarf Ladies!! Think about taking with you long and light clothes for the summer (linen et cotton). In south Iran and Kurdistan, women allow themselves few fantasies (colourful and less secretive headscarves) but sobriety first being a foreigner. As a woman travelling alone, I advise you to avoid walking alone after dark, and don’t get wrong on your metro compartment.
Rent a Bike in Hormuz in Iran
Quite simply one of the most exquisite island in the world! Hormuz is located at the very south of Iran, in the Persian Gulf off Bandar Abbas. The landscapes are very unforeseen, it’s a truly geological jewel, with its red cliffs, its shiny black sand beaches, multicolour mountains. We could believe of a surrealistic painting. Unfortunately, the island is very polluted specially after Nooruz celebrations when a lot of Iranians tourists invade it and leave the waste and garbage behind them. Don’t worry, this does not take anything away from the beauty of this place you absolutely need to add it on your to-do-list!!
The island is accessible with a ferry from Bandar Abbas and Qeshm. On spot you can catch a Tuk-Tuk and cruise around the island but nothing will supersede the moto freedom to go wherever you feel to at any time. There is no renting agency (Last trip in April 2018), but the locals may rent you their own bike for a day or more. When you first arrive to the harbour, give it a shot with the nearest merchants. If this leading you nowhere, do not hesitate to go further inside the village and speak with the locals, they’ll help you. We negotiated to 15 euros a 150cc bike allowing two people to go around the island without any issues. The security deposit we left was an ID document (Not the passport obviously).
For the accommodation, wilderness camping is authorized all over the island for our great pleasure! Nonetheless, be careful leaving the place clean, this island requires we take good care of it. There are several spots we put on the map below, but nothing is better than discovering by yourself the treasures filling this little island. Our advice is to stay 2 or 3 days to fully appreciate it even though a day would be enough to go around the island. Few beaches are only boat accessible and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to meet some dolphins. Don’t miss the Dr Ahmad Nadalian Museum and the surrounding small lanes inside the unique town of Hormuz. The walls are painted with every colour as a symbol of this rainbow island.
Rent a bike in Kerman, Iran
The area of Kerman is an arid region where you can discover the hottest desert in the world well-known for its famous Kaluts (Sand formation carried by the wind). In Kerman town, don’t miss the stunning Bazaar which is one of the oldest in Iran and retained its period architecture. Many Iranians offer desert excursions for the day and/or night. For a sunset or the Milky way in the middle of the desert, do not even hesitate one second. Nonetheless, be cautious of offered price huge fluctuations.
A 4×4 is not necessary to go to this part of the desert.
2h North of Kerman, we have been welcomed by Hamid Rahmani who’s renting rooms in his pleasant countryhouse and offers some excursions all around the surroundings. The possibility to use his bikes allured our attention in his Homestay advertising! It’s a bit more expensive compare to Hormuz but in the end this freedom doesn’t have any price right?! He offers a deal including the night, 3 homemade meals made by his wife (Delicious!) and 2 activities of your choice each day. Total cost of it is 25 euros per person, which is a lot for Iran but almost nothing in France for this type of service.
Among all the activities offered by Hamid, you can do a bike road-trip (with or without him). So if you don’t know how to drive a bike , no worries, Hamid will teach you !! Full or half day, you don’t need to add any additional fees, everything is included in the 25€. The guest house is located in the beautiful village of Dashtekhak. The area grants you with some splendid landscapes: canyons, mountain, desert and above everything flowering almonds trees if you you come in Springtime. We also had some snow in the mountains, and then a sandstorm in the Luts desert. We put above a satellite picture of the area surrounding Hamid’s house, something to make you crave for!
We don’t have any precise itineraries to advice you : Leaving the village head towards the mountains and let yourself go, You’ll love it !
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