The last post ended in Esfahan and Suse and I were just about leaving the city to drive towards Shiraz. We found a spot in the hills on the iOverlander app that we wanted to try to find. But when we were close it was already quite dark and we had trouble finding the way there. Some meters off the road we were asked by a local what we were looking for and we tried to explain we wanted to camp out in the hills. They asked us to follow them, and after some minutes of driving they asked us if we wanted to join them to their house. With slight hesitation (because on a dark dirt road, and 3 unknown men in an old Paykan) we followed them to their house, which turned out to be great and filled with super nice family members. No one really spoke English so we communicated with hands, feet, pictures and our amazing vocabulary of about 5 Iranian words. In the mean time a BBQ was prepared in the garden and a few hours later there was an amazing meal in the middle of the large living room. There was also “whiskey”, a home made 80% alcohol drink that I had a “few” shots of. I should probably not write more about that evening But it was awesome!
Of course, we spent an almost mandatory night there. In the afternoon the next day we went to their fruit farm, where we had lunch together, after which we had an heart-felt goodbye. It was time to leave again.
On the road to Persepolis there is a place called Pasargad. Pasargad is very touristy, and we didn’t spend a lot of time there. But I got a nice shot of the tomb of some guy who died like a billion years ago.
Close to Pasargad we found a beautiful camping spot with a rock wall facing west. We estimated we had shade until 9:30, which was about right. That evening we played some card games and drank a be… oh no, fruit juice or tea or something. By now I had also figured out that Iran has the best cheese chips in the world. Not a replacement for beer but comforting nonetheless.
After that we continued to Persepolis, which is equally touristic, but somehow more relaxing and interesting. There is enough to see to be able to walk around for about 2 or 3 hours. Especially the Tombs behind the main complex are impressive.
After Persepolis we finally drove to Shiraz and walked around for a bit in Karim Kahn citadel and entered one of the parks to stay for the night. That evening I made a little walk to get all mobile phone stuff working again, and to get a light dinner. I was helped by pretty much everyone who was near me when I tried to get some products so I got everything done very fast. After that we spent a rather crappy noisy evening and night on the parking lot next to the park (because the guard told us that the park itself wouldn’t be very safe). The morning after we continued on towards Bandar Abbas. A way to short stay for a great beautiful city. But I guess it’s just not possible to see everything in detail.
On the way to Bandar Abbas we found an iOverlander spot near a tunnel, where we set up the tent, did some laundry and played some card games. There was an old building which we could camp behind. It was a little noisy because of trucks coming out of the tunnel but otherwise it was fine. It is also where I met one of my best friends (in the picture below).
On the way to Bandar Abbas the temperature really started to rise. This is because it is very southern, and also we were driving down to sea level. Once we arrived at the coast it was rather windy and a comfortable 38 degrees. So that took a little getting used to. Almost right out of the car we were approached by a guy who was picnicking with his family and friends, and were asked to join them. They offered us some really nice food and something to drink, and we had a relaxed conversation while we tried to get used to the hairdryer wind and temperature. When they left, and we got back to the car, another guy approached us and said that it would be much safer to camp on the other side of the park. He offered to take us there so we followed and found an ok spot. A few times we were offered to join people to their house that evening but we were stubborn and wanted an evening for ourselves and sleep in the tent. The last guy who offered us to join them was Hamed (about who you will hear more in this post) which we then also turned down, even after he came back with his wife Saghi and son Pooyan to persuade us. Bad and dumb choice :P. The whole night was bloody hot and there were mosquitos. The next morning, Hamed came back because he agreed to help me with getting my visa extension and passport photos, which I planned to do before going to the island Qeshm. He invited us to their house first so we indulged him by quickly cleaning up the camp in the already sweltering heat, and follow him to his flat. There, the air conditioning was running and an amazing lunch was waiting for us. We were offered to take a shower, do a little nap and even to do our laundry. After that Hamed an I started working on the visa business, which was done in about 3 hours. It costs 345.000 Rial to extend the visa another 30 days. The guy at the police office told us it would be ready in 6 days, but we managed to get it down to 3. Later I heard that the same day is possible too but we were going to Qeshm first anyway, and be back in Bandar Abbas a few days later. The Austrians were also in Bandar Abbas (after a few days on Qeshm) at that time so we did a short search near the coast to see if we could find them, and we did! They were a little affected by the heat and Lennox was probably a bit sun-struck. So we had a short chat about Qeshm after which we went back to Hamed and Saghi’s place. They invited us to go for dinner somewhere so we went to the other side of town and had a nice meal together.
The day we left for Qeshm, we picked up Helena (Slovenia) and Joeri (Belgium) from the airport and headed for Bandarpol harbor. Suse had been in contact with Helena to possibly meet up somewhere in the south. Hamed was heading in the same direction and he offered them a ride over there. What a guy. In the mean time it was so hot that the tape I used to keep my indicator in didn’t hold up and it kept falling out. So it was time to get that fixed some time soon.
Getting to Qeshm wasn’t as easy as we thought. Apparently the island has some special status and also some trouble with smugglers from Oman and Dubai, so they are checking. Copies of passports, filling in documents and waiting for processing. So after about an hour we hopped on the ferry and headed for the island. We drove to Haftrangoo to find the hostel that a guy in Teheran told me about. We found it and it turned out to be a pretty awesome guesthouse with a big courtyard. When we were installed and relaxing, the main guy there told us about an option to go to the lagoon and do some swimming and wakeboarding. When we arrived at the sandbank headscarfs came off and bathing clothes were fine. The wakeboarding was awesome and the kite surf practice I had before really payed of here.
The next day Qeshm team went for a drive to Chakooh canyon. This gorge has been cut out of the rock by wind and water. There are wells inside that have fresh water in them. We went for a walk inside after which Joeri and I decided to climb a little further. Great picture material
After the gorge we drove along the coast, to end up at the salt caves. The beaches look almost like curry powder and the water is amazingly turquoise. In combination with some Lightroom magic the pictures become a true color palette. Once at the salt caves there was a guard who wanted to give us a tour, and since we didn’t bring any lights, and he supplied them, we thought it might be a good idea. The salt caves are full of special minerals and crystals. Also there is a lot of salt there. The pictures will speak for themselves I hope.
On the way back, we were invited into the harbor master’s quarters. He introduced himself to us and was very happy that we were his guests. We made some selfies and then he proposed that we would have our own private ferry to the mainland. So, while the other ferries were full, we got an empty one for ourselves with some drinks and cake for under way. We were stumped and honored by this. Bye bye Queshm!