Would you travel to Iran?

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Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Mon 12 Jan, 2015 8:53 pm

There is a fellow in my bushwalking club who comes from Iran. He and his family migrated here about 10 years ago, and he has been working as a chemical engineer.

He does not like the way his country is portrayed in the media and by politicians around the world. To try to counter this, he has taken a number of groups from the club on tours of Iran. He feels that this way, at least some Australians will know the truth.

He is now wondering whether other people would be interested in visiting Iran like this, and I am just trying to see if any of you had ever thought of going to Iran, and if so, what sort of trip you would be interested in.

The tours have typically lasted about a month, and covered a lot of Iran. There have been two styles of trip so far. One is more oriented towards bushwalking activities (2-3 day backpacks with pack animals plus day walks), with some time spent visiting historic and cultural areas and sites. These groups are fairly small, 6-8 people.

The other style of trip focusses on the cultural aspects with more time spent in less-visited towns and regions. It has no backpacks, but there are some day walks, often in remote areas. These groups can be up to 12 people.

The trips are coordinated by a friend of his in the travel industry in Iran. Transport is a mix of public transport (express bus, train, air) and hired minibus. Hotels are generally of a reasonable standard depending on what is available in the area. Sometimes local-style accommodation is used, eg, a converted caravanserai or a traditional hostel. Costs are relatively low by travel company standards.

Iran is not a common destination for tourists, so you do not find touristy things oriented at westerners. Instead, you get to experience a society where honesty is important - crime is virtually unknown - and the shops sell things that the local people buy. Prices on everything are quite low by our standards.

The Iranian people are invariably polite and generous, and do not hate westerners as you may believe from media reports. Many have ambitions to visit America, for example. It is common for people, hearing you speaking English, to come up to you and have a conversation. One of the topics is how Iran beat Australia into the World Cup in 1994. :-)

Historically, Iran (Persia) has been one of the most significant countries in the Middle East. Cyrus the Great and Darius established a huge empire about 500BC. Alexander the Great and later the Arabs both have conquered Iran, yet never eliminated Iranian culture. In fact, both took away much of what happened in Iran for their own use. What today is described as Arab architecture, for example, has its roots in the architecture of Iran. Iran also speaks Farsi, not Arabic.

Geographically, Iran is very varied. It is crossed by two huge mountain ranges, the Alborz and the Zagros. Many of the peaks are snow covered all year round. In the north, near the Caspian Sea, it is very lush and forested - rice is a major crop. In the south, it is drier, and almost desert-like in places, with amazing landforms. Much of the backpacking is in the mountain areas, but the daywalks can be anywhere.

I would be grateful for any comments you can make on any of the points below, and will try to answer any questions you may have. PM me if you wish or reply here.

    Have you ever considered visiting Iran?

    What sort of time period would you like to spend there? Is a month too long?

    Would you be more attracted by the backpacking/cultural trip or the cultural/daywalk style of trip? Or is there some other focus would interest you?

    Would you be concerned that the trip is a private one and not run by an established travel company?
Thanks for your help.

PS, Yes, I have been to Iran and found it a wonderful experience.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby robl » Wed 14 Jan, 2015 5:59 pm

I have been wanting to visit Iran for a few years now but have been a little unsure of being able to find my way once I am there.
I would like to go before it becomes over run by tourists and your suggestion is attractive.
Being an older person I find that these days I like to be guided and have had good times with Russell Willis Walkabouts in northern Patagonia and Vanuatu (as well as northern Australia) and also motorcycling in the mountains of northern Vietnam with Slowcruzetours.

I would be mostly interested in the backpacking/cultural trip lasting 3 to 4 weeks.

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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby wayno » Wed 14 Jan, 2015 6:13 pm

it's probably a damned sight safer than the states, 30,000 murders annually
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby walkerchris77 » Wed 14 Jan, 2015 6:46 pm

I wouldn't go to any middle east country
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby north-north-west » Wed 14 Jan, 2015 7:35 pm

No. But that might be because I have major problems with what I conceive to be the expected dress code for females.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Wed 14 Jan, 2015 7:55 pm

walkerchris77 wrote:I wouldn't go to any middle east country

I have done a few trips in the middle east, and find the culture, way of life and the landscapes much more attractive than some other places I have been.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Wed 14 Jan, 2015 8:07 pm

robl wrote:I have been wanting to visit Iran for a few years now but have been a little unsure of being able to find my way once I am there.

Thanks Robi, I appreciate your comments.

It is interesting that Iran has been almost the flavour of the month for the last couple of years. There are always articles and letters in the travel sections of newspapers and magazines about trips to Iran.

I am not sure it is a place to go as an independent traveller. While a large number of people speak English, this is mainly in the bigger towns. If you could speak Farsi, it would be better.

Public transport is very well organised and generally runs on time, so getting between towns would be fairly straightforward. What could be a challenge is getting around to see the local attractions. I do not recall seeing cars for hire (but then I wasn't looking for them.) And there is not much in the way of local tours for tourists.

What is also a challenge is that the sanctions mean that money cannot be easily transferred into and out of the country. When I went, we had to take US dollar notes (yes, $US is the default medium of exchange). My friend then converted it to local currency on the black market. This is obviously a dodgy practice and not something a foreigner would want to get involved in.

What my friend organised was bank accounts for each of us with a plastic card. We put money in it then could use ATMs or EFTPOS throughout the country.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Wed 14 Jan, 2015 8:16 pm

north-north-west wrote:No. But that might be because I have major problems with what I conceive to be the expected dress code for females.

The females in our group grumbled a bit about having to wear scarves over their hair, but the clothing requirement is not all that strict any more. What meets the rules is generally pretty good for travelling anyway. And the ladies really enjoyed themselves in the bazaars choosing lots of scarves that they would probably never wear again. lol

As in most of the middle east, you do not see arms or legs (for either sex), and I imagine it would feel quite uncomfortable to be wearing shorts amongst all the locals - you would really stand out.

Women also go "bushwalking", and often relax the rules a little when away from civilisation.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby Drew » Thu 15 Jan, 2015 9:50 am

I'd love to go to Iran one day. My parents went there in the early 70s I think. From what I've heard/read it would be an amazing destination. Fantastic food, lovely people, diverse and beautiful landscapes, interesting culture and history. And not touristy. I'm a fairly independent traveller though, so I can't imagine going on any sort of organized tour.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby Hallu » Thu 15 Jan, 2015 7:51 pm

I would go if I had an Iranian friend to show me around. Otherwise no, definitely not. Especially since they have the worst drivers in the world with India. Also, as a Frenchman, it may not be the time right now to travel to any country with a muslim government. They kidnapped and decapitated a French hiker in the Algerian mountains last year.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby johnf » Thu 15 Jan, 2015 10:44 pm

I would certainly consider it, Iran and Turkey would probably be the only places in the middle east that I would consider.
I'd be interested in trekking most likely carrying daypack for a week or more if they have somewhere interesting. Could put a few smaller treks together.
I had a friend from Malaysia travel there last year by herself (non muslim). She dressed appropriately for that place and said she felt very safe and everyone was friendly and helpful. She is into hiking but think she only went to cultural sites on that trip.

It is not on my list for this year as other places to go.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Fri 16 Jan, 2015 12:33 am

Hallu wrote:I would go if I had an Iranian friend to show me around. Otherwise no, definitely not. Especially since they have the worst drivers in the world with India. Also, as a Frenchman, it may not be the time right now to travel to any country with a muslim government. They kidnapped and decapitated a French hiker in the Algerian mountains last year.
Iran is not involved in any of that stupidity as far as I am aware. We saw no signs of religious fundamentalism at all. In fact, we saw quite the opposite. There are enclaves of Christians, zoroastrians and even Jews living in Iran.

And the people comply with the religious rules only so far as it suits them, much as religious people do here. Even though you may have heard that alcohol is banned, I saw empty bottles of single malt scotch in a bin beside a major road. This does not mean you can just buy some easily, but the black market can supply it if needed. It was actually interesting to see people going out and having fun without the need for alcohol to lubricate them.

It is a very civilised and educated country. Approximately 70% of the population is under 30, and they all go to school. Many also are uni graduates. There are no bandits, except maybe in some of the border regions. We kept well away from those areas.

BTW, have you been to Cairo? Major road with three lanes marked and four lines of traffic. Hardly a car without dings all over it. Worst traffic I have seen.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Fri 16 Jan, 2015 12:37 am

johnf wrote:I would certainly consider it, Iran and Turkey would probably be the only places in the middle east that I would consider.
I'd be interested in trekking most likely carrying daypack for a week or more if they have somewhere interesting. Could put a few smaller treks together.
I had a friend from Malaysia travel there last year by herself (non muslim). She dressed appropriately for that place and said she felt very safe and everyone was friendly and helpful. She is into hiking but think she only went to cultural sites on that trip.

It is not on my list for this year as other places to go.
Thanks for your comments John.

Actually, women can often get a much better experience than men. At weddings, for example, the women have a big party, and our women were welcome to go in. The men just sat around outside waiting for the formalities. At a traditional men's place like a gymnasium, our women were made honorary men so they could go inside.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby Hallu » Fri 16 Jan, 2015 1:30 am

Well yeah if I had the choice between Iran and Egypt, I'd definitely choose Iran. The safest Islamic countries at the moment for tourists are probably Morocco, Iran, Jordan and Tunisia. I'd have put the rich Qatar and UAE in the list but apparently if you're a woman and have sex without being married they put you in jail...
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby wayno » Fri 16 Jan, 2015 7:38 am

davidmorr wrote:
Hallu wrote:I would go if I had an Iranian friend to show me around. Otherwise no, definitely not. Especially since they have the worst drivers in the world with India. Also, as a Frenchman, it may not be the time right now to travel to any country with a muslim government. They kidnapped and decapitated a French hiker in the Algerian mountains last year.
Iran is not involved in any of that stupidity as far as I am aware. We saw no signs of religious fundamentalism at all. In fact, we saw quite the opposite. There are enclaves of Christians, zoroastrians and even Jews living in Iran.

And the people comply with the religious rules only so far as it suits them, much as religious people do here. Even though you may have heard that alcohol is banned, I saw empty bottles of single malt scotch in a bin beside a major road. This does not mean you can just buy some easily, but the black market can supply it if needed. It was actually interesting to see people going out and having fun without the need for alcohol to lubricate them.

It is a very civilised and educated country. Approximately 70% of the population is under 30, and they all go to school. Many also are uni graduates. There are no bandits, except maybe in some of the border regions. We kept well away from those areas.

BTW, have you been to Cairo? Major road with three lanes marked and four lines of traffic. Hardly a car without dings all over it. Worst traffic I have seen.


the French have the worst reputation possible with the Algerians since they occupied the country for 150 years and were at conflict with rebels, resulting in countless algerian deaths... I wouldn't compare Algeria to Iran... Algerians have their own axe to grind with the French , any algerian militant will take any cause to have a go at the French.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby walkerchris77 » Fri 16 Jan, 2015 8:07 am

north-north-west wrote:No. But that might be because I have major problems with what I conceive to be the expected dress code for females.

+1
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby vicrev » Fri 16 Jan, 2015 7:36 pm

Reading these posts,sounds like Iran is a wonderful place........I still wouldn't go,I like to feel safe & would not put my family in the position of worrying about me while I was there.....Have a look what is happening in the Middle East,take the blinkers off,people !!!...........
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby Hallu » Fri 16 Jan, 2015 8:05 pm

wayno wrote:
davidmorr wrote:
Hallu wrote:I would go if I had an Iranian friend to show me around. Otherwise no, definitely not. Especially since they have the worst drivers in the world with India. Also, as a Frenchman, it may not be the time right now to travel to any country with a muslim government. They kidnapped and decapitated a French hiker in the Algerian mountains last year.
Iran is not involved in any of that stupidity as far as I am aware. We saw no signs of religious fundamentalism at all. In fact, we saw quite the opposite. There are enclaves of Christians, zoroastrians and even Jews living in Iran.

And the people comply with the religious rules only so far as it suits them, much as religious people do here. Even though you may have heard that alcohol is banned, I saw empty bottles of single malt scotch in a bin beside a major road. This does not mean you can just buy some easily, but the black market can supply it if needed. It was actually interesting to see people going out and having fun without the need for alcohol to lubricate them.

It is a very civilised and educated country. Approximately 70% of the population is under 30, and they all go to school. Many also are uni graduates. There are no bandits, except maybe in some of the border regions. We kept well away from those areas.

BTW, have you been to Cairo? Major road with three lanes marked and four lines of traffic. Hardly a car without dings all over it. Worst traffic I have seen.


the French have the worst reputation possible with the Algerians since they occupied the country for 150 years and were at conflict with rebels, resulting in countless algerian deaths... I wouldn't compare Algeria to Iran... Algerians have their own axe to grind with the French , any algerian militant will take any cause to have a go at the French.


Not really no. It's a bit like us and the Germans. It's all in the past now, and we're actually more suspicious of the Brits than the Germans nowadays. Since many Franco-Algerians live, work, or study in France, there's no real animosity as far as the people are concerned. Of course, regarding the governments it's another story, more effort needs to be made from the French government side to apologize for the attrocities commited during the Algerian war. But the problem I was talking about is more about Jihadists than Algerians. The group who killed Hervé Gourdel is actually part of Jund al-Khilafa, who takes orders from ISIL. They killed him for the participation of France in bombarding ISIL in Irak with the Americans, and they actually oppose the current Algerian government, which is why the Algerian army has already targeted and killed most of the people who participated in kidnapping Hervé Gourdel. They're simply part of the bigger picture of groups of jihadists in the Sahara region, which also cause major problems in Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Mauritania or Tchad.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Fri 16 Jan, 2015 8:34 pm

vicrev wrote:Reading these posts,sounds like Iran is a wonderful place........I still wouldn't go,I like to feel safe & would not put my family in the position of worrying about me while I was there.....Have a look what is happening in the Middle East,take the blinkers off,people !!!...........
You are right vicrev, Iran *is* a wonderful place.

But let me address a few things you say.

Firstly, the Middle East is a big place with many different countries. You cannot lump it all together and say "the Middle East is bad". It is like saying all European countries are bad economic managers because a couple of them are. Most are not.

Secondly, you are relying for your ideas on what you see in the media and what politicians say. Can you honestly say that you believe what politicians say? If so, you would be in the 1% of the population who do. And the media - well, does anyone believe what they say since their agenda now is to sell newspapers or ads, not to report the facts.

Beliefs like that are exactly the reason my friend started taking groups to Iran, so that at least some people know the truth.

I will say that all of the people who have gone to Iran have started with the same premise, that Iran is a dangerous place to go. All of them, without exception, have come back with a completely different attitude. We all felt safer in Iran than in most countries of the world, including the United States, Europe and even Australia!
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Fri 16 Jan, 2015 8:40 pm

Drew wrote:I'd love to go to Iran one day. My parents went there in the early 70s I think. From what I've heard/read it would be an amazing destination. Fantastic food, lovely people, diverse and beautiful landscapes, interesting culture and history. And not touristy. I'm a fairly independent traveller though, so I can't imagine going on any sort of organized tour.

Thanks for your comments Drew. Your description of Iran is pretty accurate.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Fri 16 Jan, 2015 8:45 pm

Hallu wrote:Well yeah if I had the choice between Iran and Egypt, I'd definitely choose Iran. The safest Islamic countries at the moment for tourists are probably Morocco, Iran, Jordan and Tunisia. I'd have put the rich Qatar and UAE in the list but apparently if you're a woman and have sex without being married they put you in jail...

The only couples we had were married, but it can be a problem if an unmarried couple travel together. In most places in Iran they would be given separate rooms.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby vicrev » Fri 16 Jan, 2015 9:09 pm

davidmorr wrote:
vicrev wrote:Reading these posts,sounds like Iran is a wonderful place........I still wouldn't go,I like to feel safe & would not put my family in the position of worrying about me while I was there.....Have a look what is happening in the Middle East,take the blinkers off,people !!!...........
Let me address a few things you say, vicrev.

Firstly, the Middle East is a big place with many different countries. You cannot lump it all together and say "the Middle East is bad". It is like saying all European countries are bad economic managers because a couple of them are. Most are not.

Secondly, you are relying for your ideas on what you see in the media and what politicians say. Can you honestly say that you believe what politicians say? If so, you would be in the 1% of the population who do. And the media - well, does anyone believe what they say since their agenda now is to sell newspapers or ads, not to report the facts.

Your attitude is exactly the reason my friend started taking groups to Iran, so that at least some people know the truth.

I will say that all of the people who have gone to Iran have started with the same premise, that Iran is a dangerous place to go. All of them, without exception, have come back with a completely different attitude. We all felt safer in Iran than in most countries of the world, including the United States, Europe and even Australia.
I did not say the middle east is all bad.....you did !!......I do not trust any politicians or journalists.......How can you comment on my "'attitude'" you don't even know me !.....So,disregard the media & only take notice of facebook etc that's how we will get all the '' facts', on what is happening in the world......Mmmm, the facebook etc, on my computer, is loaded with absolute crap.....where do you get your "'facts' from ??.......
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby wildwalks » Sat 17 Jan, 2015 6:23 pm

Please be careful with this thread. It is starting to get personal. Please this is meant to be a friendly place to bounce ideas not pounce on each other.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby vicrev » Sat 17 Jan, 2015 7:20 pm

I thought it was just friendly banter.............nothing personal meant....... :) .......
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby Hallu » Mon 19 Jan, 2015 8:28 am

davidmorr you need to counterattack with some trip reports on some hikes in Iran. We haven't seen any photos yet =)
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby Lindsay » Wed 21 Jan, 2015 11:58 am

The idea of a bushwalking trip to Iran is not something that has ever crossed my mind, however the idea interests me. David, could you send me some details please, and I will have closer look at this.

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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby icefest » Wed 21 Jan, 2015 3:33 pm

How will the collapsing oil price and associated accounts deficit (plus sanctions) affect tourist travel to Iran?
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby corvus » Wed 21 Jan, 2015 7:08 pm

NO! as a resident Tasmanian I have so many many walks I want to do in our "Paradise" before I run out of life :lol:
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby roysta » Tue 27 Jan, 2015 6:10 pm

I have a couple of friends that have hiked/climbed in Iran, plus one other who has extensively toured the country and another Iranian-born friend.
All of them rave about the place and say the people are wonderful and engaging.
There will be some issues if you're planning to visit Israel on the same trip.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby walkerchris77 » Fri 30 Jan, 2015 8:52 am

Some of the scenery in the middle east is beautiful. Just a pity about some of the people that inhabit it.
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