Week 17-22 Tehran & Damavand
After some relaxation with the cycling group at the hostel, it was visa time. The days blend together in an effort to be present with each other. I’m typing this a bit late, but I wandered around Tehran a lot and had great company at the hostel. This led to a visit to the volcano/mountain Damavand.
When I was first asked about Damavand, I thought it wasn’t for me. But as I read and heard that I actually had everything I needed, and I had to wait for visas anyway, the idea grew on me. Eventually, I teamed up with a Spanish traveler to climb the mountain!
I didn’t really know what I was getting into. But considering the biking condition was fine given that you always bike with luggage, the journey began with a taxi to the first camp from Tehran. Then, a jeep to the second camp, where we spent the first night at an altitude of about 3500 m.
The next day, the ascent to 4200 m began. It wasn’t extremely difficult as we walked slowly. It was mainly steep uphill, with some winding paths to make it less steep. There, we met many other climbers and decided to join some people who were walking at the same pace.
After about 5 hours of walking, we reached the third and final camp. You could already feel that the air was getting a bit thinner. I had never been higher than 2600 m before, and I was told that what I was doing was quite dangerous without experience at such altitudes. So, they provided us with some oxygen.
After a good night’s sleep at altitude, the plan was to go up the mountain early in the morning. We almost succeeded, and off we went at a leisurely pace. The whole day was spent walking slowly uphill. Around 3 PM, we reached the summit. I couldn’t help but cry because it wasn’t easy. Breathing, in particular, was difficult, but physically, it was manageable.
Then, we descended back to the third camp to spend the night, where we arrived around 7:30 PM, exhausted and famished. Quite an achievement for two Europeans who normally live at sea level.
Unfortunately, I found out that my passport was not accepted by the Indian embassy. This threw a wrench into the plan. So, I had to wait for a new passport, which took three weeks. Then, the Pakistani visa still didn’t go through. I had some time to kill in Tehran. Fortunately, there was plenty to see outside the busy city in the north, where I could enjoy cycling along the Caspian Sea.
After cycling out of Tehran, while climbing, I encountered Iranian campers who kindly invited me to camp with them. Quite lucky because I had to first cycle out of the mountains to head north.
Then, I cycled from the camping site to Qa’em Shahr, Babol, and Babolsar along the coast. Following that week, I cycled along the coast to Rasht. When it was over and I could return to Tehran, as an exception to the rule since there was no progress, I took the bus back because it was faster. I thought I could continue cycling afterward. Unfortunately, there were more police and embassy visits for valid proof of leaving the country, given that the passport didn’t match my visa. So, I had to wait a few more weeks, and after 6 weeks, I could hit the road again.
The visa for Pakistan could be arranged online, and that was done. However, the visa for India became a problem because if I did it in Tehran, I would have to stay even longer, and I had little desire for that.