Road-Trip in Iran: Hormuz & Kerman

All our tips for preparing your next road trip to Iran

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Hello! We’re Olivia & Victor, authors of the OunTravela guides.

Over the years, our passion for adventure has led us to create original travel guides sold in over 70 countries worldwide. Our mission is to spread a travel philosophy based on adventure, freedom, improvisation and exploration. Our guides inspire travellers to explore the world’s forgotten paths, encountering wilderness and civilization.

We hope you find this article, based on our own experience, useful.

Enjoy your reading!

Is a road-trip to Iran possible?

Iran is a country that leaves its mark on the mind of the traveler who passes through it. It’s a huge country (almost 3 times the size of France) with a wide variety of landscapes (mountains, deserts, islands), architectural treasures and a particularly friendly population. Indeed, Iranians have that natural kindness and curiosity that immediately puts you at ease. Although cities such as Shiraz, Isfahan and Yazd are becoming increasingly popular, the rest of the country is largely untouristy and you’ll be made to feel very welcome, in accordance with the local rules of etiquette known as “Taarof”. If you visit Iran in spring, you may be lucky enough to cross paths with the nomads who invade the high-altitude pastures during the transhumance. At this time of year, Kurdistan is very pleasant thanks to its climate and the festivities that take over the villages and streets (singing, dancing, bonfires) despite government repression. An experience not to be missed.

Even if you can visit the country by public transport, nothing beats a minimum of freedom to get off the beaten track. Here are the different possibilities:

  • Renting a car in Tehran: Absolutely unaffordable and few vehicles available.
  • Pay a cab driver to take you to the area you want to visit. You can leave for a day or even several days with a driver, but you’ll need to negotiate the price of transport, taking into account the driver’s accommodation. This doesn’t leave you much freedom, but it can often be interesting if the driver knows the area well.
  • Arrive in Iran with your own vehicle (by far the best solution in our opinion). Nevertheless, there are a few formalities (and not the least) to be aware of before you leave. You must pay a deposit representing 150 times the value of your vehicle (this is the Carnet de Passages en Douane). Find out more in this article.

After a second trip to Iran in 2018, we finally managed to track down two places where you can rent a motorcycle and ride freely (no license required). What’s more, both locations are absolutely stunning! This article gives you these two addresses and an idea of the routes you can take in the surrounding area. But first, a quick look at the practical information you need to know before travelling to Iran!

Practical information before your trip to Iran

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Spoken languages

– Farsi
– English in major cities

Tip: carry a small glossary with you.

Visa

Tourist Visa 30 days – €75

Requires online pre-registration on this site.

Airline tickets

400-500€ A-R

Best season: Spring for pleasant weather, cherry blossom, Nooruz festivals and transhumance.

Cost of living

– Local currency: 1€=160000 Rials= 16000 Tomans
– Food: 5-10€ for a restaurant in town. Less so elsewhere.
– Homestay: couchsurfing recommended, €10/night in a hostel.
– Wild camping: Possible on the islands (Qeshm, Hormuz…), otherwise ask the locals.
– SP gasoline: 1000 Tomans /L or €0.15/L

Security

The country is stable overall, and we’ve never felt unsafe, even in Kurdistan on the border with Iraq. However, certain regions can be dangerous, notably the border with Afghanistan and Pakistan, where many opium traffickers operate. If in doubt, ask any Iranian you come across, as they are in the best position to tell you if there is any danger. Remember to register on the breadcrumb trail before you leave.

Religion

There’s no such thing as a veil for ladies! Remember to wear long, light clothes in summer (linen and cotton). In the south of Iran and in Kurdistan, women allow themselves some fantasy (less opaque and colorful veils), but sobriety is de rigueur for foreigners. As a woman travelling alone, I advise you to avoid walking alone after dark, and don’t get into the wrong compartment on the metro!

Rent a motorcycle in Hormuz, Iran

Quite simply, one of the most beautiful islands in the world! Hormuz is located in the far south of Iran, in the Persian Gulf off Bandar Abbas. The scenery is truly astonishing, a geological gem with red cliffs, sparkling black sand beaches and multicolored mountains. It looks like a surrealist painting. Unfortunately, the island is very polluted, especially after the Nooruz holidays, when many Iranian tourists invade the island and leave their garbage on the beaches. Rest assured, this in no way detracts from the beauty of this place, which you absolutely must add to your to-do-list!

The island is accessible by ferry from Bandar Abbas and Qeshm. You can take a Tuk-tuk around the island, but nothing can replace the freedom of a motorcycle to go wherever you want! There are no rental agencies (last trip in April 2018), but locals can rent you their motorcycles for the day or more. As soon as you arrive at the port, try your luck with the nearest shopkeepers. If that doesn’t work, don’t hesitate to go into the village and talk to the locals, who will help you. We negotiated the price down to 15 euros for a 150cc motorcycle, which allows two people to tour the island without any problems. The deposit we left was an identity document (not your passport, of course).

As far as accommodation is concerned, wild camping is permitted throughout the island, much to our delight! Be careful, however, to leave the site clean – this island needs looking after. There are a number of magnificent spots, which we’ve placed on the map below, but there’s nothing like discovering for yourself the treasures this little island has to offer. We recommend 2 or 3 days on the island to make the most of it, even if one day is more than enough to tour the whole island. Some beaches are only accessible by boat, so you may be lucky enough to spot dolphins. Don’t miss the Museum of Doctor Ahmad Nadalian and the surrounding narrow streets in the unique city of Hormuz. The walls are painted in a rainbow of colors.

 

map of Hormuz in Iran best places favorites and itinerary GPS camping bivouac
shiny black sand on a beach on the island of hormuz
Motorcycle road trip in the village of Hormuz
Decorated camel Qechm island
rent a motorcycle to visit Hormuz multicolor

Rent a motorcycle in Kerman, Iran

The Kerman area is an arid region where you can discover the hottest desert in the world, with its famous Kaluts (wind-eroded sand formations). In the city of Kerman, the superb bazaar is not to be missed. It is one of the oldest in Iran and has preserved its original architecture. We recommend this ShoesYourPath article on places to visit in Kerman. Many Iranians offer desert excursions for the day or night. Whether you’re looking for a sunset or the Milky Way in the middle of the desert, don’t hesitate for a second. Please note, however, that prices can vary widely. A 4×4 is not necessary for this part of the desert.

2 hours north of Kerman we were welcomed by Hamid Rahmani, who rents out rooms in his pleasant country house and offers excursions in the region. We have to admit that what caught our attention in his announcement on Homestay was the possibility of using his motorcycles! It’s a little more expensive than in Hormuz, but hey, you can’t put a price on freedom, can you? He offers a package including overnight accommodation, 3 home-cooked meals prepared by his wife (exquisite!) and a choice of 2 activities per day. The cost is 25 euros per person, which is a lot in Iran but not much in France for this service.

Hamid’s activities include a motorcycle tour (with or without him). So if you don’t know how to ride a motorcycle, no problem, Hamid will teach you! Whether for a full day or a half-day, there’s no extra charge – everything is included in the €25 price. The guest house is located in the beautiful village of Dashtekhak. The area offers splendid scenery: canyons, mountains, desert and, if you come in spring, almond blossom. We were even treated to snow in the mountains, followed by a sandstorm in the Luts desert. Above is a satellite image of the area around Hamid’s, enough to make your mouth water!

We don’t have a precise itinerary for you: as you leave the village, head for the mountains and let yourself be carried away – you’ll love it!

 

pink almond iran kerman
smiling child persian carpet iran
goat Iran snow white
Kerman desert in Iran sand dune

Any questions? Join our discussion group!

We’ll be happy to answer all your questions (4×4 / Motorbike rental, itinerary, camping recommendations, etc.)! You can post your questions and/or feedback in the comments at the end of this article, or directly on our facebook group “Voyage Overland & Road Trip” HERE!

The OunTravela team

Our road-trip destinations

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