Iran – a deeply fascinating country with an incredibly rich history. Dating back to many millennia B.C, ancient Persia has something for everyone. From the history buffs, to the architectural fascinators, from nature lovers to religious seekers. A far cry from the usual hassle western travellers receive in other Islamic countries, you will be absolutely taken aback as to how easy Iran is to travel through. You don’t get stared at, you don’t get hassled, you don’t have 5 men at a time asking you to come and look at their carpet shop or offering x number of camels for you to be their bride. You are a guest in the local Persian’s country and don’t they make you feel welcome!
Never before have I been to a country where so many people just want to simply chat. Practice their English, understand why you have chosen to come to their country and sincerely ask your opinion on their country and if you would come back again to visit another time. This conversation starter happens on average about 5 times a day if not more in larger cities. The locals want to hear about your country as well. They invite for tea and offer you hulva without any expectation of you purchasing something. Iran is truly unique as a tourism destination. There is no-where like it.
Keen to learn more? Here we share 10 things with you that you didn’t know about Iran.
Iran has Ice Houses
Before refrigerators were invented, you needed to get creative with how you kept things cool. Iran invented the Ice house. A colonical shaped building where they stored ice during the winter. Inside this egg shaped dome, the dwelling went underground into chambers. During the winter months, ice would carried here and stored packed with hay for insulation. The result was ice that remained frozen for many months – sometimes until the following winter, ensuring there was enough ice for the summer months! Ingenious!
Iran cools its buildings with Wind Towers
Iran’s skyline in its ancient cities are pierced with wind towers. Tall rectangular structures, fluted with channels to capture the incoming air. The air is then drawn down a chamber, circulated over a pool of water below to add a cooling element and re-circulated around the dwelling. Old school air con – no electricity needed. Brilliant!
No Call to Prayer (or very quietly if you do hear it)
Despite being an Islamic country, you will notice the eerie silence of no call to prayer. Unlike other Islamic countries, there is no 4am wake up call here to chant the Quran. Yes, it does exist in a handful of cities dotted around the country, but often the volume is quite low and almost unheard.
Wearing the Hijab is part of the culture and has nothing to do with religion.
Coming from the western world, we hear and see things like ‘ban the burqa’ but in all honesty, does our population actually know what they are talking about? Just because someone has a hijia on their head, it does not always mean it is associated with religion. Another misconception in our world. The Hijab is a compulsory head scarf which must be worn by law in Iran. It is purely a dress code law. As soon as Iranian women board a plane, the hijab is off. If it were to be worn for religious reasons, no hair would be showing and it would be sealed tightly around the face – not loosely worn on the head.
Iran is pronounced II-ran not Eye-ran.
This is one thing you can guarantee you will be corrected on – pronouncing the name of the country correctly. The I in Iran is pronounced like ii as is in the ii at the end of Hawaii. Be respectful and learn to pronounce where you are going properly. This small gesture goes a long way. Iranians are sensitive about their country.
Iran is green and covered in wildflowers
Just because it sits at the crossroads of central Asia and the Middle East, does not mean the country is a sparse desert. Sure, sections of it are, but what most people do not realise is that many of the mountain ranges actually sit on natural water tables keeping the mountains lush, green and verdant. In Spring and early Summer, wildflowers carpet these green mountains.
Iran has an extensive nomadic population
Despite its populous and incredible cities, beyond the infrastructure, Iran is still home to many pastoral nomads who move with their cattle. Living in tents made of goat hair, these nomads live off the land, drinking from natural springs and foraging for fresh herbs, moving on in the cooler climates to lower pastures.
Located along the old Silk Road trade route, Iran is scattered with thousands of old caravanserai in various stages of deterioration. To explore some of these caravanserai is incredible and transports you back in time to the days of Marco Polo. Some have been lovingly restored and converted into hotels. Yes, you can actually stay in a former caravanserai!
Want to explore more of Iran? Check out our range of small group tours or contact our team to chat further about which journey is best suited for you!
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This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.