One time through Iran and back

The trip started with the departure from Germany. In Kutaissi, our friends, the monks, picked us up and after a short breakfast with them, we drove back to Emma. We tried to find a place for the 60 kg of luggage we brought from back home, cleaned our water system and then fell very tired into the bed.
The following day we did some small works on the truck and at midday, we drove to the Turtle Lake in Tbilisi, where we planned to meet other travellers, Isi and Eini. As they are traveling in a VW bus, they spent the evening in our truck. The following evening another bus with Lea, Paul and their son Luk arrived. All together we found place in Emma. Two days later we started with our trip towards the east. But first, we drove to the west, as we wanted to check some spare parts in Achalzike, but we didn't find anything. Shortly before the boarder to Turkey, we spent another night and passed the border the next day. In Cildir we stopped to buy some good cheese, before driving along the Cildirlake to Kars. In the suburb of the city, we found a quiet parking place and after getting dark, we walked to the centre. In a small restaurant, which three sisters in our age were running, they prepared us some regional food. The communication with not having a common language was not easy and suddenly Theres got the cellphone of the cook in her hand and was talking to the nice of them, which is living in Switzerland. She told us, that the restaurant just opened 2 weeks ago (our luck) and recommended us a dessert with pulses (a sweet dish, which contains among other things white beans and chickpeas).

Asure, a Turkish desert

After shopping on the way back, we went satisfied to bed. The next day we made the last kilometres to the Iranian boarder around Mount Ararat.

Just a small cloud is hanging on top of Mount Ararat

On the Turkish side of the boarder, all was clear and easy and just shortly before the crossing to Iran, we saw a German Unimog. We said hello to the owners and then started with the boarder crossing, as everybody was pushing to be first. A “human trafficker” guided us through the procedure and assured us, that we had not to give him any money. Before leaving the boarder zone, they tried to sell us an expensive insurance, but we resisted. We waited for Ingrid and Jürgen and together we were looking for a place for the night. After a few kilometres we found a place, close to the main road. The next day we spent organising an insurance, changing money and buying a SIM card. As they could not do the SIM card in one day, we had to come back the following day. Through the evening traffic (in the afternoon, there is not much going on because of the Siesta...), we went back to the same place for sleeping. The next day we bought the last things and then drove up to a pass on 2400 m. The landscape was incredible and on the other side we went to a huge water reservoir, where we visited the oldest church of the world (Chapelle St. Mère de Dieu).

The small, Armenian church above the lake

In the evening we ate together . As soon as the sun arrived in the morning, we started towards the south. The road was only a piste and we passed interesting rock formations driving through the valley.

Who would not like to see something like this? The colors…

Together we went to an Armenian monastery, and as we already knew them from Armenia, we decided to go for a walk. On small roads through rain and hail we drove to Khoy, where we stopped for the lunch brake. After that, we made again some kilometres and stopped for the night next to a village. The main attraction of the next day was the crossing of the Urmia salt lake, which has the same problem as the more famous salt lake of Aral. In the last decades, the area of the water decreased of more than 1/3 of the original area. Nevertheless it was impressive, driving over the bridge.

View over the Urmia salt lake, in the middle you can slightly see the bridge

In the evening we arrived in Täbriz, where we parked our trucks in the El Goli park. We went out for shopping and found a confiserie with a huge selection of small cakes and biscuits. After dinner we ate them before falling very tired in our bed.
The next day started with freezing temperatures, but we still went to explore the center. As it was islamic Sunday (our Friday), not many shops were open. We struggled through the bazar and for lunch had a tasty snack, potatoes, tomatoes, egg and herbs rolled in bred.

There are so many goodies to get on the bazar
Our favourite Snack in Täbriz, he was making the best ones
The blue mosque in the center of Täbriz

After that, back to our trucks and after some problems with the Unimog, we made another 200 kilometres. As it was still cold, the Unimog again had problems the following morning and after repairing it and having lunch, we drove towards Teheran.

Before starting, they first had to work on the Unimog
Passing the “colorful mountains”

In the suburbs we went together for the last time shopping, changing money and eating a very yummy and common Iranian dish, a sandwich filled with salad, mixed pickles and falafel. After that we said good bye to the others and drove to the airport of Teheran, were we picked up Hannah, Johannes cousin, the same night at 3.0 pm. We were exited about seeing us again after nearly one year. With the metro we drove the next day to the center, where we met Till, a friend from Stuttgart, who we already met in Tbilisi. Together we spent the afternoon in a nice, vegetarian restaurant.

Nice reunion in the center of Teheran

Now we were ready for the adventures and we drove towards the south, where we wanted to go to the desert. Shortly before Kashan, an old Hymer camper-van overtook us, in which a family from Argentina was travelling. We immediately stopped and spontaneously decided to spend the next days together. We parked a bit outside of the town, Johannes cooked for all Spaghetti and then we drove with their camper to the center. The bazar was really beautiful and some people gave us biscuits and a traditional soup.

First we went to the center of Kashan with the Hymermobil
For his next project, Johannes bought some real wool
Should we buy some interior decoration for Emma?
Impressive hall in the middle of the bazar
He was selling rice

The next morning we had to do some reparations on the Hymer, fill our water tanks and after that, we drove to the desert of Maranjab.

The warm water of the Lopez mobile had to be repaired

At the entrance gate, we had to discuss for a long time for the price to enter, as they wanted to let us pass only with a guide. The price changed from minute to minute and we tried to call some people, to help with the language. After over one hour of discussions a guide with his tourists came and they let us enter. On the first checkpoint we finally paid the entrance fee.

The sun already went down on the way to the overnight stay

Meanwhile, Hussein, whom we called during our discussions, arrived with a friend and he showed us a nice place for the night.

As soon as the Iranians left, the Basque Bota appeared

The next morning we got up at 6 am to see the sunrise and at 8 am Hussein was again here, making fire and preparing breakfast.

Delicious Breakfast with bread, dates and honey cream

All together we now drove to the salt lake, on which we could nearly drive to the middle of it. The pictures me made there were just incredible.

The impressive wideness and everywhere the salty crust
This was the group

Then back to the mainland and to an old caravanserai, where we spent the night. Our day finished relaxed next to the fire, eating together salad and soup. Early the next morning, friends from the Argentinian family came from Teheran. Hussein joined as well, this time together with his family. For lunch we drove deeper into the desert and on half way, Johannes had to pull out a coach. The driver was very happy and in the end, Johannes was a very famous photo object.

Go Emma!!!
A passing by off-road vehicle borrowed his “Marston Mats”
Please another picture!!

On a touristy place in the middle of the desert, we made a big lunch.

Preparing the shashliks

In the evening we decided to visit the island in the salt lake. We walked on top of the highest point and enjoyed the great view. After the sunset we drove back to the mainland. After a bumpy and dusty drive in the dark, we arrived at 9 pm at the house of Hussein, where they offered us a tasty meal. After that we fell happy and tired in our beds (after some discussions with the Hussein and his wife, we could convince them, that they are good host, but we still prefer sleeping in our beds than on the carpet). In the morning we were only allowed to leave, after having had breakfast with them. Johannes made a small service on Emma and then we said good bye to the Lopez family. We drove to Isfahan, where we just arrived after the sunset. Hannah and Johannes walked around in the neighbourhood and found some nice illuminated tourist attractions and checked out as well the different shops.
The next day we walked to the center, crossing one of the famous bridges and went further to the huge Imam square, on which two big mosques, different souvenir shops and the bazar is.

The Imam square
One of the mosques

Back at Emma, Lea, Paul and Luk, who we already met in Tbilisi, were waiting for us.

Reunion in Emma

We decided, to go together to the desert. As we started too late and organised in one of the last village some firewood, we didn't make it to the desert that day.

We just asked for a bit of wood, then they arrived by car full with wood and did not even let us pay

Before entering the desert, we stopped for filling the water and diesel tanks and buying some food. After 10 km of driving, we arrived in the desert of Varzaneh and just at the bottom of some huge dunes, we prepared our camp. What a view and the sun was warming us up. Johannes had again to pull out a car and as a thank-you, the couple invited us to some Iranian delicacies.

The sun warmed us up during the afternoon snack

The same day we climbed up the highest dune in the region and enjoyed running down in the sun.

While we were walking up – Lea enjoys the view

In the evening we made a huge campfire to warm us up. The next day we visited the close salt lake and spent again the evening next to the fire, where Johannes baked a fresh bread. Meanwhile, the wind increased and as we left the place the next day, there was a sandstorm. The villages we passed by were all covered in sand.

Everything got sandblasted

On our way to Yazd, we crossed ruins of a caravanserai.

In the inner part of the caravanserai

It was already dark, when we arrived in Yazd and as we wanted to sleep on a central, public parking space, we could only drive there after midnight, as there were too many cars. The following two nights we spent there and had breakfast in the close restaurant. During the day and in the evening, we explored the center with the clay houses and different shops and bazars. It was now time for Hannah to go back home, so we brought her to the train station, where we had the last breakfast together. Afterwards we drove back to the center, but this time to a better reachable parking space, next to Alex, Tina and Tino, who have a similar truck as we do.

The old town of  Yazd

After another day in Yazd, we drove to the south and reached after one day of driving Kerman. The next day we met the guide Arman, with whom we wanted to go to the desert. We made up a plan, bought some food and drove the same day over a pass to the Kalouts, where we spent the night in the desert.

After our trip in the desert, we slept another night in the Kalouts and enjoyed a campfire. The next day we started early and drove to Sirjan and on the second day we made it to the island Qeshm, where we stayed for two weeks.

After Qeshm we went on the way “back home” towards Georgia. The first night on the mainland we spent in Bandar-e-Lenghe, where we again started very early the next morning. After two hours of driving, we smelled diesel and found out, that the pipes coming from the motor, were leaking. Taking out everything from the driver cabin, overturning, repairing, driving, again the smell of diesel... and thats how it went. Finally we arrived in Parsian, where we wanted to buy new pipes. Some locals helped us and in the end they invited us to their home. A delicious meal was served and with the cousin, who spoke english, we talked a lot about the life in Iran. Although our host did not speak English, it was a nice evening.

Before dinner, we got fruit, which Johannes shared with Mohammed

The road now went along the coast, where we passed more than 100 gas torches, accordingly “fresh” was the air.

One gas torch after another

Shortly after it, the road turned to the inland, where we stopped next to a water reservoir, where we wanted to spend the night. We went quite early to bed, but unfortunately got woken up at 3 pm by some people, throwing stones at us. In between one minute we woke up and drove away to the next city. We were very shocked, six big stones hit our truck, two windows in the driver cabin and one in the living cabin was broken. We fixed everything provisionary and the police told us, we should come in the morning. Later we found out in the internet, that other German travellers wanted to spend the night there, but locals told them to go away, as drug smugglers send people away by throwing stones at them. We didn't wonder about the police and think, they are involved in the whole thing, as they told us, that they could not do a thing, but they offered us to help for getting new windows and payed them as well.

That’s how the window on the co-driver side looked like

As we could not find the needed windows, we drove to Shiraz. The good thing about the story was, that we met a very nice family, the “glassmakers”, which installed two new windows in the driver cabin. After this bad experience, we were happy, that they welcomed us so warmly. We just parked in front of their flat, they cooked for us and the same day, we visited together the impressive mosque with mirrors, Shah-e-Cheragh.

In front of the mosques, women have to wear a Tschador

Afterwards we went back to the flat, where we celebrated the birthday of the mother and a cousin. We were 26 people, eating and afterwards dancing together.

The whole family was here and the dinner included self-made Falafel and other goodies

We enjoyed the following two days with them and on the second day, Alex, Tina and Tino joined us again, as they were pretty shocked about what happened to us. Together they now wanted to drive with us to Täbriz.

Theres and Shahin in one of the famous gardens, in front of the ancient residence of the Shah
The farewell picture with our friends from Shiraz

After two relaxing days in Shiraz, we went to Isfahan, having a small stop in Persepolis. In Isfahan we stoped again for two nights, to get ready for the long way to the boarder. Johannes made service on Emma and after that, he got rewarded with good falafel sandwiches.
Two more days driving and nearly 1000 km later, we arrived in Täbriz, where we parked again at the same place. Johannes went with the others to the bazar, meanwhile Theres was laying in bed with angina.
After three nights, we finally said goodbye to the other three and we drove to Maku, the boarder city. We filled our diesel tanks up to the top and spent our last Rials.
We crossed the boarder the next day pretty fast, on one hand, because we payed one guy at the Iranian boarder and on the other hand, the Turkish officers didn't want to check our truck. Without a break we drove to Kars, bought some cheese and olives and after that to Cildir, where we spent the night on the square. The next day we had to start at 9 am, as the weekly market was taking place around us. We bought good, Turkish food and then passed the boarder as fast as possible. In the evening we made it to Tbilisi, where we met again Sven and Martina at the Tbilisi lake.

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