Mahendra’s video shows his mountaineering trip to northern Iran.
In 1977 I passed through Iran for the first time on my way to India. It was before the Islamic revolution and the Shah was trying to please the American government by eliminating drug trafficking through Iran. At the border between Turkey and Iran was a ‘museum’ where the travelling hippies were shown all kind of items in which people had attempted to smuggle drugs (like inside of truck tires!) and had been caught. And the drastic punishments for these people were also described. We (the 15+ passengers of a Magic Bus from Istanbul) had heard about this state of affairs and had thrown our tiny bits of dope away in the no-man’s-land between Turkey and Iran and stayed safe; but of course we didn’t feel welcome in that part of the world. Tehran was visible from afar as a yellowish dust cloud, all the American cars polluting the air heavily. We stayed in the hotel for most of the time and happy to move on to Afghanistan, which was still a hippy paradise in those days.
Two years later the Islamic revolution happened and Iran became a no-go place.
Only in 2014, on my trip to Ararat in East Turkey, did I learn that you can actually travel freely in Iran nowadays, and the majority of people is very welcoming to foreigners, as they are keen on breaking the involuntary isolation from the West. And indeed I have never before been invited into so many group pictures and to such lovely meetings with the locals. I also met some single female European travellers who felt totally safe on their trip, much safer than in some so-called liberal countries.
My main focus this time were the highest mountains of Iran in the Alborz Mountains close to the Caspian Sea. The Alborz range is a lot smaller than the Alps, but all the three highest peaks are higher than Mont Blanc in France. Technically they are fairly easy to climb.
Even though big cities are quite close, you may still find some areas where time seems to have stopped a while ago.
The video shows some of my group’s little adventures and stunning views, as the weather conditions were perfect.
Mahendra (aka Ananya) grew up in Munich; after school he travelled to India overland and took sannyas in Pune. He ran the Vihan Center in Berlin, was a guard in the ashram, a DJ around the world, and also worked on the Ranch, video recording and more. Since 1993 he has been working in IT, video production, as a DJ, event organizer and chanter – and loves mountain hikes. www.planetoflove.net – vimeo.com
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