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Week 15 – Iran’s Green Side


30.5-5.6, Saturday-Friday

The previous week (23.5-29.5) was quite uneventful.

Wednesday (3.6) was a holiday in Iran, so the weekend was one day longer. Of course I had to take advantage of it and decided, as a friend recommended me, to go to the mountains around Soobatan, Gilan Province, in the north-west of Iran, near Azerbaijan.
I wanted to cross the mountains westbound from the coast north of Talesh to Neor lake, make a stop in Soobatan and then pitch my tent somewhere outside. The whole trail would have been around 38 kilometres (26mi, high differences already regarded).
Neor-Soobatan-Coast
But I didn’t want to go alone so I asked around a bit. And I really got an answer. A friend of Frisco’s firends, whom I had met before, wanted to join me. She didn’t hike or camped before, but the eveluation profile and experiences of other hikers suggested it not to be difficult and the 38km were divided on two days. Though the whole project (hiking and camping without a tour guide) seemed extremely crazy for Iranian standards, I wasn’t sure at all, that she would join me.
When I bought the bus tickets Tuesday (2.6) afternoon for the same evening, I had to notice that we would need to hike eastbound, since only tickets to Ardebil but not to Astara were available.
The bus should have left the terminal at 10pm and at 9.15pm I really met with A. The bus left with one hour delay and of course I couldn’t really sleep on it.
I told the man who stored my backpack that we wanted to get off at Budalalu and he agreed with a nod. I wasn’t sure that he understood especially since the guy who checked the tickets said it won’t be possible.
Anyway on Wednesday (3.6) morning at 7am the bus stopped and we go out. Now we just needed to get to the lake to start our tour. A. talked to a hiking group and luckily on their bus were exactly two free seats lefts.
At 9am we started from the lake but only two hours later A. was exhausted and wanted to take a car. It was possible since the there are (bad) roads to the village, to bring lazy tourists and food. I didn’t want to go by car so I gave A. some stuff for my backpack being a bit lighter. I estimated to arrive 3 or 4 hours later in Soobatan.
I arrived shortly after 2pm, but found A. 2 hours later. Then we discussed, if we should agree to the hospitality of some inhabitants or to start hiking and reduce the distance for the next day and sleep in the tent.
I could convince A. of the last, but it was already quite late that’s why a thunderstorm was about to hit us and shortly before it started we crashed into a big family and they didn’t let us continue. Of course I didn’t wanted A. to be afraid, so we went back to Soobatan with them.
After the thunderstorm was over, we drove around a bit and later we ate dinner. But I didn’t eat much, so the family saw it as an insult. Thus I couldn’t be 100% appreciate their help. A. and I then went sleeping on the terrace, since we needed to get up very early. I was surprised that the night was not cold at all as I was afraid of.
At 5am we got up and packed our stuff. The trail we took towards the coast couldn’t be done by car. So we regularly met shepherds or nomads, wrangling their animals along.
The distance was only 15km (10mi), but it became a challenge. Right at the beginning I took A.’s backpack and soon her inexperience was shown, because we could only go very slow. We needed nearly 10 hours till we reached the street to Tehran. I never hiked that long with such amount of luggage and my shoulder started to make problems.
The nature on the other hand was stunning beautiful and it rightly called “Iranian Alps”. The landscape reminded of of the one in middle and northern Europe as well as the Balkans.
As we reached the street, we took advantage of the fact, that the buses just stop at the roadside. That was shortly after 3pm and the driver told us it would have been 5.5h or 6h to Tehran. Unfortunately we didn’t arrive before until 11pm…