4 weeks in Iran – a résumé

July 17, 2012 in Iran, On the road

After 4 weeks in Iran it is time to look back, and to reflect on the experiences. We have had so many new adventures, and we have seen so many new things that we could fill books with the stories. What fascinated us most and left us deeply impressed were the people of Iran, their cordiality, their hospitality, and their ingenuousness. But also the ancient sites, the diverse landscapes, as well as the sometimes very unfamiliar culture and way of living in Iran have captivated us.

The people of Iran – our favorite pictures (to enlarge click on picture, or visit our photo gallery on facebook)

However, Iran and the Iranians as well, they can be very exhausting, too. The traffic and the noise that surrounds you everywhere, the attention that you get for sure wherever you go, you are under constant surveillance, and the Iranians simply don’t think ahead or about the consequences of their behavior – this is also part of the country and somehow it is all part of the experience, but after some time it is very tiring.

We have entered Iran from the north, at Bazergan, and went from there to Khoy. This city has no special attractions, apart from the experience of being the only tourist in the city. We then travelled further to Tabriz. The city center of Tabriz is rather chaotic, but we couldn’t see much of it, since we didn’t want to park the motorcycles on the streets. A special experience was the hospitality of the people when we were camping in the park in Tabriz. We already mentioned that Iranians love to camp and picnic everywhere in our last post.

After Tabriz we went to the Caspian Sea. The coast itself is actually not very nice, and completely urbanized. But the mountains rising up from the coast are more interesting, and worth a visit. The green vegetation is a welcomed change from the otherwise predominant brownish and dry landscapes in Iran. But the hot and humid temperatures were exhausting. A special experience was the wonderful hospitality when we stayed with Shahrokh and his family in Talesh.

After that we hung around in Teheran for a couple of days. The city is big, noisy, and hectic – but there are a few interesting attractions to visit there. And the mountains just north of the city, with peaks as high as 5600 meters, and roads up to 3200 meters, are definitely worth a visit (see our last blog post). We mainly used the time there to organize things, and to extend our visas.

Below you find some of our favorite pictures from Teheran (to enlarge click on picture, or visit our photo gallery on facebook)

The road from Teheran to Esfahan was not really fun to drive: boring landscape, terrible traffic, lots of dust, and very hot. But Esfahan itself is probably the nicest city in Iran. Great old mosques, the large central Imam square, the (dry) river with its old bridges across, the roads shaded by big trees, and the many ice-cream and sweets-shops are worth exploring.

Below you find some of our favorite pictures from Esfahan (to enlarge click on picture, or visit our photo gallery on facebook)

We then travelled on to Yazd. This city is located in the middle of the dessert, and mainly consists of houses made of clay and bricks. There are not many actual sightseeing attractions there, but we really liked the atmosphere in the city and the very special architecture. And the city is also much quieter than for example Shiraz or Esfahan. Surprisingly, we met the highest number of western tourists in Yazd, in the beautiful Silk Road hotel, with traditional rooms, and a very nice courtyard.

Below you find some of our favorite pictures from Yazd (to enlarge click on picture, or visit our photo gallery on facebook)

From Yazd we went to Shiraz. We didn’t really like the city. Maybe it was because we had to pay 6 times as much as the Iranians at the Eram Gardens, maybe it was because of the many restricted areas or because of the noise and the traffic in the city, or the extreme heat – we don’t really know.  But we found it very interesting to explore the ruins of Persepolis, which is only 50 km away from Shiraz. This ancient city, which was home to the famous Persian kings Xerxes, Darius, and Ataxerxes, and which was destroyed by Alexander the Great, was a highlight for us. The symbols, the pictures, and the special architecture were extraordinary and completely different from what we know from the ancient cities in Italy and Greece.

Below you find some of our favorite pictures from Persepolis (to enlarge click on picture, or visit our photo gallery on facebook)

We then travelled further on towards the Pakistan border through an area with some of the nicest landscapes we have seen in Iran: beautiful mountain roads with huge cliffs, big salt lakes, which are dry during this time of the year, and only little traffic compared to other areas of Iran.

In Bam we fully entered the dessert. You may know this city, because it was completely destroyed through an earthquake 8 years ago, in which many thousands of people died – only the huge date-palm plantations remained. Today the city is rebuild, but earthquake-safe in steel and concrete, and no longer in the traditional brick- and clay-style.

From Bam we went through the dessert to the border. The temperatures were rising continuously, reaching up to 50°C in the almost non-existing shade. At the same time we were entering potentially more dangerous areas: we don’t really know whether it is really unsafe or not, but the last 200 km until the border we had to travel with military escorts. These escorts ranged from a pick-up truck with three armed soldiers, over two men with a gun on a 125 cc motorcycle to an unarmed soldier without his own transport, which we then had to load on top of our luggage.

These are some of our favorite photos from the mountains and the dessert in the south-east (to enlarge click on picture, or visit our photo gallery on facebook)


A fact we definitely have to mention is that we never felt unsafe or threatened or in danger in the whole country of Iran – despite the negative reputation of this country in the rest of the world as headquarters of terrorism and radical Islamists. We were always welcomed and treated very friendly – also by the military and police escorts. And the reason, why we never left our motorcycles parked unattended was not the fear that they might be stolen, but the constant attraction they caused, because they don’t have motorcycle with more than 200 cc in Iran. So we were more afraid that the curious people would start to play around on the switches and accidentally damage or break something.

And one more interesting thing: in the Islamic Republic of Iran we almost never heard a Muezzin call for prayer. In Turkey on the other hand, the call for prayer followed us everywhere, even in the most remote areas. Isn’t this somehow surprising?

So in summary, we spend 4 fascinating, interesting and very intense but sometimes also tiring weeks in Iran. There is definitely no reason why one should worry when travelling through Iran as a tourist. You will always be welcomed and treated very friendly by the Iranians.

And here are some more of our favorite pictures (to enlarge click on picture, or visit our photo gallery on facebook)