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Camping in Iran


How about camping in Iran? Not many people know it but Iran is one of the best countries for traveling in the world. A few years ago I spend some months there. I found the nicest and warmest people imaginable. I know, the press in the west is against me but ask any traveler who has been there, they know I am not lying.

Biking in South Iran

It was seldom necessary to camp when I cycled through the country. Many days I was invited by local people to stay in their houses, share the food, the alcohol (which I had to refuse since I don't drink) and there was always a room for me. You can read more about this in my story about the Iranian hospitality

This night was a different night. I was in the south, in reach of the Straits of Hormuz. The land here is wide and open, not many villages and towns around.

The reason to camp out now was that the surrounding was so beautiful and I didn't feel I wanted to stay in a hotel. I guess if it had been the hot season, it might have been different, but it was November, nice and cool at day, cool at night.

Inside the old city of Bam
Inside the old city of Bam

Close your eyes and imagine: wide open land with green trees, some sand here and there and a road that goes on forever. Here was nobody. That was at least what I thought.

In the last village I had taken enough water and food to help me through the night. So I set up my camp. Close by I found more water so I could even have a shower.

When I was camping in Iran, I carried my own shower with me. In Turkey I realized Coca Cola bottles would do the job for me, so I had since then two 2.5 liter water bottles packed, empty of course. Therefore I had always a "portable" shower with me.

A Beautiful Night

On this night of camping in Iran, I showered and made me some coffee. Did I tell you how I showered when I camped? Usually I had a 2.5 l empty Coca Cola bottle with me. If I was able to find water, I used the bottle as a shower. It worked well in Turkey, were taps can be found almost anywhere, a service to the pick nick fanatics.

The evening falls quickly in the desert. The sun went in a few minutes down. Nothing was to be heard. Or was it? I imagined I heard voices. A few minutes later it was not longer my imagination. In front of me there were about 40 kids. Some of them were not even 10 years old. But one of them was around 20. He had a machine gun with him.

He ordered me to stand up. I thought I finally had found the legendary Ali Baba and his 40 robbers. Not knowing what to do with me he ordered me to sit down. And to stand up again. It became amusing especially since he was very nervous. The guy spoke to me in Farsi, the language of the Iranians. I didn't understand a word. But after a few times sitting down and standing up it became comic.

Camping in Iran, Sunset on the Straits of Hormuz

Camping in Iran, Sunset on the Straits of Hormuz

Fortunately, a land-rover showed up. A man in his 40's stepped out of the car and asked me in broken English what I was doing here. I told him I was planning to sleep here. I showed him my tent, mattress and my stove. He looked very puzzled. Then he ordered the guy with the machine gun away. He explained to me the guy tried to convince me to stay in a hotel in the next town. He had no knowledge of English thus the conversation was "difficult".

The man excused himself for the behavior of the kid with the gun. The guy had just joined the army and wanted to show off to his friends. "That can happen", he said. He told me in the nearby town there was a comfortable hotel. I explained I was perfectly happy to stay here as it was a clear cool night. The man looked puzzled, clearly not understanding why I wanted to sleep so uncomfortable but he didn't say a world about it. Instead he send the kids away.

south Iran, ghosttowns
South Iran has many Ghost towns

Before he left he gave me some fruits he had in his car, then turned his car, waved me goodbye wishing me luck. The group of kids disappeared in the dark and I haven't seen them since that night. I made some coffee and dinner before I fell in a dreamless sleep.

Scary it was, and it was my only scary experience in all the years I've traveled, and in all my international camping.

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