With no trepidation whatsoever I think that I am finally ready for this journey that has been a very long time in the planning. Pretty much since the Nepal trip last year I have been shaping this one. I think I would have just as happily gone back to Nepal to explore a new region but felt I should try to break, or at least dampen, my "addiction" to the country that has unleashed a different part of me.
Iran has been on my list for some years. In 1994 I read the book, "Nine Parts Desire" by Geraldine Brooks, the book is an examination of women from different parts of the middle east in order to try to understand what shapes them and their role in society. It was intriguing and it sparked my interest. Many books followed - A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Kite Runner, Reading Lolita in Tehran, The Bookseller of Kabul, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mirrors of the Unseen, The Life of Freya Starke..... as well as films from the region - Wadjda, A Separation, Persepolis, The Colour of Paradise, The Lemon Tree... Of all the places, Iran struck a chord with me the
As with all my trips, I think I have read every comment and review from Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet sites, I've read the LP Iran cover to cover and visited hundereds of web pages. I've messaged people whose blogs have sparked my interest and have had a fair bit of advice from assorted travel companies and the occasional unsolicited email. The itinerary that I have come up with goes like this:
Perth to Tehran via Dubai (use 5hr, 45 min transit time to go to the Burj-e Khalifa)
Tehran 2 nights
Tehran 1 night
Shiraz 2 nights
2 day tour, visiting lakes, springs, caves and villages in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains and sleeping overnight in Deh Mord, camping with desert nomads???- I can't even find Deh Mord on the map!
Yazd 2 nights
Central Desert 4 nights
Esfehan 2 nights
Kashan 1 night
Tonekabon 3 nights- eco stay plus trekking/Alamut/Caspian stuff
Tehran- Perth via Doha
Given the constraints placed upon the female dress code in Iran and the diversity of terrain, temperature (mostly hot but sometimes freezing) and activity, packing has been .... interestingly challenging. I so love the idea of minimalist packing but I don't think this is the trip it's going to work for, for me anyway. However, for those of you who know me, I do own a LOT of stuff sacs (Kathmandu ™ so should be sponsoring me). A lot of stuff is going to compress and fit... I think.