Iran is famed for its spectacular historic and religious sites, its parched plains and sparse deserts. It’s fascinating Persian history and incredible structures of architecture are the usual draw cards for most travellers.
What most travellers do not realise, is the huge diversity this land of wonder has to offer. One example of this is the Zagros rivers which has been described as the wildest and most beautiful in the world.
We share with you some of Iran’s hidden wonders to fuel you with inspiration to #FollowADifferentPath on your next adventure.
Search for the Asiatic Cheetah
The Asiatic Cheetah also known as the Iranian cheetah, is a critically endangered subspecies of theses charismatic cats with only 40 said to be left in the wild. Today the cheetah survives only in arid areas of east and central Iran in a number of protected zones. Cheetahs thrive in open land and semi desert areas.
Crooked Compass is acutely aware of the global environmental concerns and the need for sustainable protection of our fragile world. We passionately believe that responsible tourism can play a positive role in highlighting the plight of endangered species like Iran’s beloved cheetahs. We are proud to be part of this movement in bringing together interested individuals and activists and helping forge alliances between global environmental organisations and their Iranian counterparts. Learn more.
Walking through Lar National Park
Explore Lar National Park on foot. This protected area of natural beauty is home to a spread of wildflowers and array of wildlife. Local nomads who still retain their time old traditions call this stunning region home as Mt Damavand towers overhead. Enjoy camping with nomads as you learn how they live off the land in a la naturale Iran. Make this experience yours.
Fancy yourself as a bit of a star-gazer? Check out a light pollution map of the world and you will find that Iran has some of the best locations in the world for minimum interference of man made light.
In December 2016, the Qeshm Star Party, a festival of star gazing on the island of Qeshm took place to coinside with the meteor shower event.
Hyrcanianforests of Caspian
Located in northern Iran along the south coast of the Caspian sea near the Azerbaijan border, these ancient broadleaf and mountain forests are home to many endemic and endangered flora and fauna. The region is blooming with biodiversity thanks to its rich soils, high rain fall and temperate climate.
Local families (7.3 million people) in this area, rely on timber and animal husbandry as their local source of income. A strong traditional knowledge of using forest products for medicinal use is also prevalent in this region.
Mega dunes of the Lut Desert
In central Iran, you will find two of the largest deserts of Iran which draw in botanists, zoologists, geologists and ornithologists who come in search of the wealth of secrets, wonders and alternate cures found in these sparse lands.
Dasht-e Lut is pure rugged wilderness and natural beauty. With epic sand dunes and vast salt plains, it is one of the hottest and driest places on earth.
To the east is Dasht-e Kavir with its blinding white sands and salt pans. Against the odds of desert life, blots of green oases punctuate this baron environment whilst somehow small village populations sustain freshwater wells and live in these harsh elements and have done so for centuries.
Many of the above experiences can be found in our small group tours which are accompanied by expert guides to ensure the safety of our travellers and the protection of the environment.
We have formulated our tours to enrich our travellers awareness of nature and the importance of the preservation of natural habitats. We also aim to create sustainable employment opportunities for local communities and at the same time draw upon their experiences, knowhow and their centuries old relationship with the natural world.
For more information on our small group tours in Iran, click here.
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.