viernes, 27 de enero de 2017

How to get to Alamut

The Alamut Valley is becoming very popular with hikers and quite rightly so. It is a spectacular valley filled with high summits such as Khashechal 4180m, Siyalan 4250m and the grand Shah Alborz 4100m as well as many canyons and waterfalls and remote isolated settlements. The departing point for shared communal taxis is the Gharib Kosh square in Qazvin. These "savaris" will take you to Moalem Kelayeh which is where you need to get off if you are heading for Lake Ovan or Garmarood if you are going to do one of the impressive treks to the Caspian side. The side valleys and canyons such as Gazorkhan where the main Assassin's Castle is located are not served by shared taxis and you are better off getting a taxi to yourself. If you are coming from the Caspian coastline then the Sehezar road ( under construction) is your best option. However, you should note that this road is closed in winter months. There is a minibus that leaves Tonekabon early in the morning and goes as far az Khoshkechal village. You need to arrange with the driver beforehand. The best place to find him would be the Khorramabad Junction of Tonekabon from where shared taxis go to Maran and Darjan. Note: this option is for people on a very low budget and with plenty of time to spare.

miércoles, 25 de enero de 2017

Foreign Exchange in Iran

The Iranian currency is now officially called Tomans instead of the Rial. The denominations in use are 100, 200, 500,1000,2000,5000,10000,50000 and 100000 Tomans ( as they are referred to by the locals although they all still have the extra zero from the Rial days!). You are unlikely to encounter any of the 100 and 200 toman notes, they are worth very little. Each Euro these days gets you 4000 Tomans (previously 40000 Rials). The banks are NOT the place to exchange as they will buy the hard currency at the governmental rate which is some 30% lower than the free market rate. You get the best rates in bureau de change which you find in most city centers and at major airports. You can sell back your excess Tomans at the end of your trip. For foreign travellers, Iran is still a cash economy. Those who wish not to carry too much cash can take a day off and by taking their Iranian money into a bank ask for a debit card.