The desert towns and villages were the highlight of our time in Iran. The mud villages and desert oases in the east of the country are lightly traveled and evoke the romance of the Silk Road. We visited the dusty outpost of Kerman, the mud brick citadel of Rayen, the beautiful caravanserai of Zein-od-din, the quintessential desert city of Yazd, the desolate sand dunes of Mesr, and the charming oasis village of Garmeh.
Many travelers to Iran stick to the classic route through central Iran encompassing Tehran, Esfahan, and Shiraz. We encourage every traveler to Iran to venture off this trail and add a few days in the desert. Independent travelers may want to consider hiring a car and driver to get to the more remote destinations, since public transportation is scant and unreliable in this part of Iran.
Garmeh! The deserts of Iran are hot, right?
The oasis village of Garmeh is aptly named. It means “hot” in Farsi. The deserts of Iran are the hottest places on Earth with temperatures sometimes hitting 70C. The heatwave that hit West and Central Asia in the summer of 2015 pushed temperatures up to the highest recorded levels. This meant that a … Read more
What is like to travel in Iran? Are Americans really allowed to go?
We have been asked these questions on numerous occasions from fellow travelers. So, we thought we would write a straight up post from the perspective of two Americans who have traveled in Iran. There is some interesting stuff below for travelers who can visit Iran without the (minor) restrictions specific to American, British, and Canadian tourists, but that is not who we are writing for.
Contrary to popular belief, Americans can and do travel in Iran. For sure, you need a little patience with the paperwork and the constraints of traveling in an Islamic Republic. You also need to be cool traveling with a guide and having a fixed itinerary. But, overall it is a very straightforward, safe, and extremely rewarding place to visit.
We traveled to Iran from May 22 to June 11, 2015, during the negotiations between Iran and the Western powers to lift sanctions. It was an exciting time to be in Iran and an indicator of the greater openness to come. While Americans who want to travel in Iran are still subject to some restrictions, it wouldn’t surprise us if travel in Iran … Read more
Iran has remarkable historical sites, fascinating culture and wonderful people, but it was Iranian food that left an indelible impression. It is fair to say that our guide, Ali, loved his food and everywhere we went he sought out the best local delicacies for us. But, often we simply shared food with people at picnics in town squares or roadsides, in buses and trains, and even in the cabin of trucks! Iranians are not shy in initiating contact and won’t take no for an answer, so go with the flow and indulge in the original sharing economy.
Ali told us that a lot of independent foreign tourists, who can’t read Farsi menus, only eat kebabs for their entire trip because that is all they know how to order. What joys they are missing out on. One of the real plusses of having a guide was being able to find and eat a variety of different foods. Even better, most of the time we ate where locals ate. Food is extremely cheap in Iran, so it is a place where you can really indulge in great food all the time.
Here is our traveler’s guide to Iranian food with the culinary … Read more
Why fly to Iran when you can take the classic overland train-ferry journey from Turkey? We took the Trans-Asia Express train from Ankara to Tabriz. It’s a classic long-distance train and ferry ride that crosses Anatolia and Lake Van before entering Iran.
UPDATE: As of August 2015, the Trans-Asia Express is currently not running due to security concerns in eastern Turkey. Check seat61.com for updates on the situation.… Read more