and the Mosques of Iran
P3 - This trip is physically tough. Frequent exercise is necessary to prepare properly for this expedition. Regular walking mixed with training at the gym to build up endurance and cardiovascular fitness is key. Expect to be able to do 8 hour days in hilly and often steep train, carrying a pack of 6-10kg in weight with the occasional extra long day.
Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.
T3 - May involve harder scrambling or some trekking and climbing with ropes. If snow is encountered then glacier travel with ropes, ice axes and crampons will be necessary. Basic climbing skills is ideal, but will also be taught and certainly practiced during the expedition and pre-summit phase.
Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.
Date & Prices
Pics & Vids
Mt Damavand is the highest peak in Iran and also the second most prominent mountain in Asia. At 5,610m it is also the highest volcano in Asia, making it part of the exclusive Volcanic 7 Summits (few people have climbed all of these).
After acclimatising we will climb the stunning southern route via the Bargah Hut at 4,200m. The summit day will be a challenging push for the peak that still spews some volcanic gases. The mountain is majestic and almost perfectly conical, separated from the surrounding peaks of the Alborz Range by deep valleys.
Following the mountain phase, we will travel south through Iran, visiting the jewels in the cultural crown. The cities and historical sites we will visit are magnificently photogenic, where we will meet with wonderfully welcoming and friendly local people. There are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and public squares surrounded by ornate building showing some of the finest Islamic architecture. We get to sample a wide spectrum of Persian history from the great ceremonial city of Persepolis to the mosques and palaces of Esfahan and Tehran. After exploring the maze of the bazaars we will be able to tuck into hidden little coffee shops to relax.Find out more
Date & Prices
Departure & Return
Price (excl. flight)
Price (incl. flight)
Start: 18 May 2019
End: 01 June 2019
Price without flights:
Price with flights: £2,985
18 May 2019
01 June 2019
Start: 01 June 2019
End: 15 June 2019
Price without flights:
Price with flights: £2,985
01 June 2019
15 June 2019
- International Flights
- Local guides and a 360 Leader
- All accommodation
- All transfers
- Meals as described in itinerary
- Assistance with visa
- Entrance fees to all sites
- 15% discount at Cotswold Outdoor
- Monthly payment plan, on request
- Personal equipment
- Staff/guide gratuities
- Trip Insurance
- Items of a personal nature: phone calls, laundry, room service and so forth
- Unscheduled hotels, meals
- Any additional costs associated with leaving the expedition early including any airline surcharges as a result of changing return airline tickets
Pics & Vids
DAY 1 : Depart UK
The group will meet at London Heathrow and depart together to Tehran on an overnight flight.
DAY 2 : Arrival and Tehran attractions
After arriving early morning on the flight into Tehran, we drive to the guesthouse near the centre and check-in early. Following a couple of hours quiet time to rest and freshen up we later head on out to explore the Grand Bazaar and have lunch within the area. In the afternoon we walk around Golestan Palace complex and the beautiful gardens. Then we go on to visit the former American Embassy followed by the Iranian Artists’ Forum for dinner.
DAY 3 : Acclimatization day-Tochal
With quite an early start we will drive up to the base of Mt Tochal. We will take the cable car up to the first station and trek the rest of the way from there to the summit, weather permitting. This 3,933m peak is ideal for an acclimatization trek. We’ll take a packed lunch with us, and then after descending back to Tehran by foot or cable car we’ll have dinner in the beautiful Koohpaye restaurant in Darband at the foot of the mountains.
DAY 4 : Tehran-Mountain hut
The drive to the base of Mount Damavand is only 2 hours from Tehran. We will pick up our mountain permits at the Mountaineering Federation in Polour and have lunch in the village. Afterwards we will drive up to the roadhead at Saheb al Zaman mosque and then trek for 3-4hrs till we reach the New Hut at Camp 3 Bargah Sevom. We will check in and spend the night here. Our team will have three private rooms in the hut.
DAY 5 : High altitude acclimatization
After breakfast we will head up from the 4,200m hut. We will trek steadily up to approximately 4,800m over the course of 4hrs. We will visit the frozen waterfall before returning to the hut where we will relax for the rest of the afternoon before an early night.
DAY 6 : Summit day
We will wake early and set off from the hut at 0500 hrs as the light fills through. We have a tough climb/slog before us but it is not technically challenging on the south side. There is likely to be snow throughout but usually, a trail broken by previous groups. We will summit this mighty 5,612m volcano in the afternoon. The view from the top is breathtaking, looking east and west far down the beautiful Alborz Range. To the north stretches the Caspian Sea and the Kavir Desert visible to the south. We will then descend to either the hut or all the way to the village.
DAY 7 : Recovery day
If we have not yet made it down to Rinah, we will trek out and get the 4×4 down to the village. We will brunch there and then go along the valley to the hot springs. We will kick back and relax in the baths and let them take the stress of the summit out. In the afternoon we will drive the short distance over to the beautiful village of Larijan. We will have some relaxing time there before a big dinner to mark the completion of the climb.
DAY 8 : Return to Tehran for the sleeper train
We will have this morning to further relax, spending time in our comfortable guest house or exploring the village. Afterwards, we will leave the Damavand region and head back to Tehran. After an early dinner we will board the sleeper train that will take us down to Shiraz overnight.
DAY 9 : Shiraz
The Qavam House is a very well preserved traditional house with a rooms full of mirrors. Following a coffee in a quiet courtyard we will go into the chaos of the Vakil Bazaar for last minute shopping. In the late afternoon and early evening we will wander around the beautiful Eram Garden before the Ali Ibn Hamzeh Holy Shrine and Tomb of the much-favoured Sufi poet, Hafez.
DAY 10 : Shiraz-Persepolis-Yazd
Today is a long day on the road, but the sights on the way are mind-blowing. Before we leave Shiraz we will visit the famous Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, aka the Pink Mosque. The light coming through the windows at this hour makes the early start more than worth it. After driving a short distance we will visit the magnificent ruins of the huge city of Persepolis. It is a real gem to wander around the remains of the huge halls that were the epicentre of the empire during the Achaemid dynasty (ca. 550-330BC). After a picnic lunch, we visit the tombs of Naqsh-e Rustam. They paint interesting stories of the deceased kings’ lives. The final stop is the tomb of Cyrus the Great and ruins of the city of Pasargardae. Cyrus is known as the father of Persia.
DAY 11 : Yazd
We start the day at Bagh-e-Doulat Abad Gardens with the tallest wind-tower in the region. From there we will visit the Jameh mosque with its intricate tile work and then the fascinating Water Museum, before the Zoroastrian Fire Temple. In the evening we will see the Zurkhaneh (House of Strength) showcase, which mixes Sufism, nationalism, music and sport into this peculiar ancient spectacle.
DAY 12 : Yazd-Na'in-Esfahan
In the early morning we will climb up to the Towers of Silence, the historical site where the Zoroastrians took their dead for centuries and look out across the whole of Yazd before leaving the city for Esfahan. On route we will stop at Na’in for a tour of the old town, before lunch in the garden just outside the old mosque. On arrival in Esfahan and after checking in we will walk down to the Siose Bridge, or Bridge of 33 Arches to explore this historical and picturesque crossing.
DAY 13 : Esfahan
We start the day by visiting the great public square that is Naqshe Jahan Square. It is supposed to represent the four ‘corners of the world’, as one side is the bazaar (commerce), another madrasah (education), yet another a mosque (religion) and the last is a big palace (residential). We will visit all four sides of the square, including two of the most beautiful mosques in the world, and the majestic six-storey Ali Qapu palace. In the late afternoon we will visit the Vank Cathedral and the Armenian Quarter.
DAY 14 : Esfahan-Kashan
In the morning we will visit the stunning Jameh Mosque on our way out of Esfahan. We will stop in Natanz for a picnic and a walk around the old town before continuing to Kashan. In our last stop of the trip we will be staying in the wonderful Negin traditional house hotel. In the late afternoon we will visit the Borujerdi traditional house and the Fin Gardens, which symbolises much of the beauty of Persian garden design.
DAY 15 : Kashan-Tehran International Airport-London
Today we have the fairly short (2hr) drive to Tehran International Airport where our tour ends and everyone will fly back to London.
These are subject to minor changes depending on flight arrival and departure times, weather, group dynamics and fitness and so on, but the itinerary outlined provides an excellent indication of the trek and what you will experience.
Bags & Packs
A 90 -120L duffel bag to transport kit. A duffel bag is a strong, soft, weather resistant bag with functional straps for carrying. Duffel bags with wheels are fine. These are useful for the cultural phase of this expedition
A 50 – 70L rucksack you can carry your gear to the hut and then continue to the summit with. You need to be able to take your sleeping bag, food, and all mountain equipment with you for the 3-4 days on the mountain
A lightweight 15 – 35L rucksack and shoulder bag to carry essentials around on the cultural phase of the trip
Nylon rolltop bags (or even just large plastic bags) that keep fresh clothing and other important items like passports and iPods dry in the event of a total downpour that seeps into your kitbag. Good for quarantining old socks
Waterproof rucksack cover
To protect rucksack from rain
For use on your kit bag for travel and on the expedition plus your hotel bag
4 Season sleeping bag
You should get a sleeping bag rated to -10C and choose a sleeping bag that functions within the comfort rating of this temperature. A silk sleeping bag liner will enhance this rating on the coldest nights
Sleeping bag liner
Silk is best for keeping the bag clean and you a little warmer
These can be warm hats, beanies, balaclavas, anything to reduce the heat loss from your head. Ideal if one of these can be worn beneath your helmet
A comfortable mountaineering helmet that can take your headtorch
A mountain pair with cat 4 lenses and side protection, plus a regular pair for the cultural phase. Some of the brick and tile work in Islamic architecture can be very bright
Category 3 for days when it may be snowing and very windy. Very useful on summit day
Buy the highest SPF you can find as UV intensifies with altitude
Sun cream will not work on your lips and they are very susceptible to burn without proper SPF protection
Headscarves (females only)
In Iran, females need to cover their heads with a scarf whenever they are in public spaces, i.e. outside of their hotel room. The exception is on the mountain when Iranian and foreign women ditch their scarves. Bring as many as you like.
This is the layer closest to the skin and its principal function is to draw (wick) moisture and sweat away from the skin. You can also get thermal base layers for use at higher altitudes that provide an additional insulative layer while still drawing sweat during times of high exertion
These are typically lightweight microfleeces or similar technology that provide varying degrees of warmth and insulation without being overly bulky or heavy to pack
Optional – A great low volume additional layer to keep your core warm, whether down, primaloft or fleece
Light insulated jacket
A lighter jacket such as a Primaloft or lightweight down which can be worn at lower to mid altitudes is a great addition to your kit offering greater flexibility with layering
Soft Shell (optional)
Optional – These should be windproof (not all are) and insulative. They are mostly made of soft polyester and sometimes resemble a neoprene finish which makes them very mobile and comfortable to wear. While offering a degree of weather repellence, they are not waterproof
These jackets are thin, highly waterproof and windproof and worn over all other items of clothing. You’ll find these made of Gore-Tex or other proprietary waterproof yet breathable technology. Inexpensive hard shells that aren’t breathable will prevent evaporation, making you sweat intensely and are not recommended
These provide the best insulation and are worth every penny. Ask advice in the shop (or from us) when buying the jacket and mention you want it rated to -25C and the assistant will recommend the correct fill for you
A robust pair of mountain gloves that will keep all your vital fingers warm and dry at high altitude. These gloves will also give you some good grip for holding your ice axe
A pair of light Polartec or liner gloves for lower altitudes
Casual tops (for the cultural phase)
For the cultural phase, it is good to bring some lightweight tops for the higher temperatures we’ll have. Men should not expose their shoulders, so short-sleeve/long-sleeve t-shirts and shirts are appropriate.
Women in Iran need to cover their arms in public spaces so should take lightweight long sleeve tops to wear on the cultural phase
These tend to be polyester so they dry quickly after a shower and weigh little in your pack. Consider perhaps a pair with detachable lower legs as an alternative to shorts
Windproof or thermal lined trekking trousers for higher altitudes and the summit phase. Thermal leggings can still be worn underneath if necessary
Thermal insulation for the lower body
Like the jacket, an essential piece of kit to stay dry and should also be Goretex
Lightweight trousers (for the cultural phase)
Please note that it is inappropriate for both men and women to wear shorts despite the high temperatures.
Lightweight trousers are useful for the cultural phase
Merino or wicking material, not cotton. How many pairs you take is entirely up to you
A pair of B2 or B3 boots is essential. The former would be more suitable for the acclimatisation treks and the trek up to the hut on the non-snow covered terrain.
High altitude socks
These are especially thick to provide maximum insulation. Bring two pairs, keep one pair clean for summit day, and wear with a thinner inner
Start with lighter socks lower down, working up to thicker pairs for higher up as it gets colder. Some people like a clean pair every day, others are happy to change every other day – that’s a personal choice.
Just in case
Trainers (for the cultural phase)
Sandals (optional, for the cultural phase)
It is better if you are comfortable walking around all day in these
Hut slippers/hut boots (optional)
These lightweight slippers are ideal for our time (2-3 nights) spent in the cold mountain hut
A lightweight ski touring axe is ideal for this. Go to an outdoor shop and try different ones to find the one that feels good for you
12 point mountaineering crampons with antiballing plates that fit your specific boots (not ice climbing crampons). Please check they fit securely before the trip
3L equivalent – Camelbaks are useful at lower altitudes but have a tendency to freeze up at higher altitudes without insulation tubes, Nalgene bottles are better at altitude. We suggest a combination of a 2L bladder and 1L bottle or 2 x ½L bottles to put in your jacket for summit day
Keep it simple on the mountain. Essentials are toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant. Moisturiser is advisable, everything else is a luxury!
Travel towels from the likes of Lifesystems are perfect
Preferably biodegradable, these are great for washing when modern shower facilities become a thing of the past
A must have for good hygiene throughout this trip
Provided on the mountain but a spare in your daysack may be useful if you need to hide behind a rock between camps
Nappy sacks or dog poo bags
Only needed to bag your toilet paper if you are caught short in between mountain huts and for keeping your rubbish tidy
Personal first aid kit
The 360 med kits are designed to be used in emergencies and akin to an A&E rather than a pharmacy on Expeditions so please come prepared with useful meds for yourself such as painkillers (Ibuprofen if you can take it and a Paracetamol) plus blister plasters, plasters, antiseptic, rehydration sachets and any muscle rubs you wish to use.
Keep this in your daysack
We recommend Petzl head torches. Bring spare batteries.
Trekking poles with snow buckets
Trekking poles with snow buckets are recommended
Bring plenty of spare batteries and memory cards
Remember to bring your swimwear for the hot springs after climbing Damavand
Sewing kit (optional)
For summit day
Don’t forget this! Your passport should have at least 6 months validity. With your passport expiry date at least six months after the final day of travel.
Copy of passport
Just in case
Passport photos x 4
This must be arranged beforehand, we will assist with the application process
Dental check up
We recommend you have a dental check-up before your trip. New fillings can be an issue at altitude if there is an air pocket left in the gap
Your bank cards will not work at any of the ATMs in Iran. We recommend you take £200 in Euros.
Copy of own travel insurance details. And relevant contact numbers.
We have a partnership with True Traveller and would recommend that you contact them when looking for travel insurance for your trip with 360. However, it is vital that you ensure that the insurance cover they offer is suitable for you, taking your personal circumstances (items to be insured, cancellation cover, medical history) into account. Many other insurance providers are available and we do recommend that you shop around to get the best cover for you on the expedition you are undertaking.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip. To include medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip.
Is Iran safe?
There is very little crime reported in Iran. Some pickpocketing occurs in more touristy areas, but it is substantially safer than many of the countries in that region. Terrorism and hostage-taking incidents are exceedingly rare. All too often Iran’s state of affairs is confused with that of Iraq, which is currently in a drastically different position. While some street protests have taken place in recent times these are unlikely to have mumch impact on this trip.
Food and Water
What is the food like on the mountain?
We will have a range of hearty meals at the mountain hut to give us the energy required to climb the big mountain. They will be hot and full of energy.
It is best to take some of your own trail snacks as personal treats for the days out climbing. As these will come in handy when you need that extra boost of energy to carry on.
Where does the drinking water come from?
Whilst on the mountain you will have the opportunity to buy bottled drinking water at the mountain hut. Your guides will also have stoves and sufficient fuel to melt snow if you should run out during the day. So take just a few precautionary purification tabs/liquid to add to it in the form of silver chloride, chlorine or even iodine drops.
How often is fresh water available for replenishing during the day?
You need to carry sufficient water for the entire days on the mountain as there are no options to replenish water on Mt Damavand apart from the aforementioned options at the mountain hut. Don’t worry though you leader will make sure you have enough and enough stashed.
What is the accommodation like on the mountain?
The ‘new’ hut is a solid stone building on the mountainside, massively better than the tin can of a shed which is the older hut, now abandoned sitting 50m lower. There is a big dining room on the ground floor where people also socialise and get ready for the mountain. There are some great views both down into the valley and up the mountain, when the clouds are favourable. The downsides to the hut are it is not the cleanest partly as there is no running water and you have to go outside the building and around a short distance to the toilets which are squat. It is also cold in the hut so warm layers and a good sleeping bag are essential. However it is a great staging post for acclimatisation and then climbing the mighty peak.
Is there a single room option on this trip?
There is a single room option. This will cost £550 and will not cover you for the time in the mountain hut unfortunately as there are no facilities for that on the mountain.
Health and Safety
Am I likely to suffer from altitude sickness on this expedition?
There are different types of altitude sickness. Although our acclimatisation regime ensures that everybody enjoys the best possible chance of getting high on the mountain, altitude related problems can happen. The most common of these is acute mountain sickness (AMS). Symptoms for this generally include:
In all, this sounds quite dramatic but generally this is just the process your body naturally goes through to adjust to the higher altitudes and the reduced partial pressure of the atmosphere. For some people the acclimatisation process is a little longer and harder than others. For our leaders this is all part and parcel of ascending a mountain as high as Mt Damavand.
What should I do if I start suffering from AMS?
There are some basic measures you can take to help yourself should you start suffering from AMS. As headache is the most common symptom of AMS try taking a simple painkiller such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve the headache. If the headache disappears all well and good. Please remember to inform your 360 Leader of any altitude symptom you may have and any medication you have taken as a result so they can keep an eye on you and advise accordingly.
Should someone develop severe AMS then the only cure is descent and as safety is our priority you will be taken down appropriately.
AMS might sound frightening but our leaders are fully trained (and experienced) in helping to relieve your personal symptoms and provide advice on how to best proceed.
What can I do to help prevent AMS?
Reducing the chances of AMS can be helped by following some simple yet effective guidelines:
- Drink lots of water
- Walk slowly
- Stay warm
- Eat well
Please don’t fear AMS, it is part and parcel of climbing mountains of this nature. Learn to respect it and to know how to deal with it but importantly tell your 360 Leader how you feel.
What happens if there is a problem on the mountain?
Not only are you in the capable hands of our 360 Leader and local guide but a mountain rescue service is also operated on Mt Damavand that includes helicopter evacuation if necessary.
In addition, the 360 Leader carries a satellite phone in case of emergencies. It’s important to confirm that your travel insurance includes medical cover for evacuations.
You advocate taking a small first aid kit, what should it contain?
We advocate a little bit of self-help on the trek. If you have a blister developing for example then please stop take off your boot and treat it before it becomes a problem.
Your own first aid kit should contain a basic blister kit, plasters, antiseptic, your own personal medication, basic pain relief (paracetamol and Ibuprofen). We advocate only a very small and light personal first aid kit as weight will become an issue at altitude.
Your 360 Leader will be carrying a more comprehensive first aid kit including emergency high altitude medication should you require treatment.
What vaccinations do I need?
You do not need any vaccinations to travel to Iran. However we recommend you have up-to-date Diphtheria, Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Polio vaccinations. You should also consider Cholera, Hepatitis B and Rabies vaccinations. Some foreign visitors take anti-malarial medication for their visit to Iran. However the areas we are travelling to have a low malaria risk according to the FCO and we have seen very few mosquitos on previous trips to these regions. We suggest you visit a travel clinic and get assessed at least 3 months before departure.
Is it possible to rent equipment in Iran?
It is not possible to rent suitable equipment in Iran.
It is possible to rent trekking equipment in the UK before you travel. Please take a look at Outdoorhire where a wide range of clothing and equipment can be hired.
However, we do recommend the use of personal equipment whenever possible. This is so you know your equipment as best as possible and we can’t guarantee the quality of rented equipment.
What boots are required?
Due to the terrain and the snow conditions we might experience on the climb we recommend B2 boots. Make sure these are broken in by your feet as you do not want to have to treat blisters during the climb. Also make sure that the crampons fit securely.
Why do I need an ice axe?
At some points on the climb an ice axe can be very helpful for pulling yourself through the snow covered rocks. Also self arrest is a vital skill if you fall on the steeper snowy sections. We will practice this on the acclimatisation trek before summit day.
What is the dress code in Iran?
Please note that there are some rules you need to follow as part of the Iranian dress code:
- Current regulations require all women to wear a headscarf in public places.
- For more information, see our FAQ on laws on wearing a headscarf in Iran.
- You should wear loose fitting clothing as much as possible – for example, wearing trousers with a long top or dress.
- Shoulders must be covered but bare forearms are fine.
- Legs should be covered to the ankle.
- Open-toed sandals are fine but it’s advisable to avoid toe nailvarnish
There are fewer dress code rules for men than women in Iran.
- Shorts should be avoided – wear trousers instead.
- Shoulders should be covered. Short sleeved t-shirts or shirts are fine but please avoid wearing vests.
What are the laws on wearing a headscarf in Iran?
Current regulations require all women to wear a headscarf while in public spaces. This includes restaurants and hotel foyers. The headscarves are often worn loosely by both locals and foreign visitors and do not cover all of their hair all of the time. Both Iranians and visitors have readjusted their scarves and put them back on in public spaces when required and this is accepted.
There is currently a protest against this regulation by Iranian women across the country but we recommend you follow the rules at this stage in public spaces.
However, the rules are not followed strictly in the mountains. As soon as we have trekked away from the roadhead into more remote environments, the headscarves can be removed.
Is Mount Damavand active as a volcano?
The volcano is active, but its volcanic active is relatively consistent meaning it is comparatively very safe in geological terms. Thousands of Iranians climb the peak each year later in the season. The vents near the summit continue to spout gases but our time in their proximity is not long. They stink a great deal, but inhalation of air pollution in major cities like Iran’s capital Tehran is probably more harmful. (We don’t stay in Tehran long.)
How tall is Mt Damavand?
That is a very tricky question. There are multiple answers and even the reputable body that is NASA gives various answers on its website. Part of the problem is that it is measured from Caspian Sea, the nearest ‘sea’, which is landlocked and lower than the oceans.
Summitpost gives 5,628m as the height, based upon Iranian maps from 1999. The most widely cited internationally is 5,610m. However, across Iran Damavand’s height is billed as 5,671m. This height would make it the tallest mountain in Eurasia west of the Hindu Kush.
Whatever the true answer Mt Damavand is the highest volcano in Asia, standing at a similar height to Elbrus which stands just over a 1,000km to the north west.
Why do we take the Southern Route up Mt Damavand?
There are at least 16 known routes to the summit of Mt Damavand from the surrounding valleys. The Southern Route we will be undertaking on this trip is more accessible and less technical than the other routes this early in the season. Plus it has a suitable refuge en route. A huge number of Iranians climb the mountain via the Southern Route later in the season but in May & June it is a great deal quieter.
Will we be escorted by the guide all the time?
In Iran it is illegal for British, American and Canadian citizens to travel around the country without a specially qualified guide. However the guide we will be using is definitely not a member of secret services! There will be time to walk independently around the bazaars, mosques and palaces to experience them properly (and pick up souvenirs in the first). On the mountain you will be guided throughout for safety.
How hard is the climb?
Mt Damavand is a high peak and the biggest challenge the group will face is altitude sickness (AMS). This can affect people differently from how they have previously been affected by it or not. To take account for this we will do multiple acclimatisation treks so everyone can get used to the altitude.
The climb itself is not very technical; it is basically a long trek uphill with some scrabbling on the snow covered ridges. We would like all of the group to be competent with trekking in crampons and performing ice axe arrests before departure. Reasonable levels of trekking fitness will make the mountain a great deal more achievable, and enjoyable.
What is the group size?
The minimum group size is 6. Whist the maximum is 10.
What's the weather like? / How cold can it get?
May & June on Mt Damavand is early in the climbing season. The weather up at altitude can change fast. Usually there is little snowfall and many clear days. However cloud cover can descend on the peak fast and the wind can pick up. It’s essential that you have suitable equipment for the weather to turn at any time on the mountain.
It can easily go down to -10°C on the mountain, with wind-chill on top of that. The mountain hut is not heated so it is not cosy. Warm clothing and a very warm sleeping bag are necessary.
Following the mountain it will be hot and very likely dry. Bring lightweight clothes, but one that is sympathetic to local customs. Shorts should not be worn in public at all by men or women. Men can wear short sleeve t-shirts but should not wear vests. Apart from on the mountains women should wear long sleeve tops in public areas and cover their heads with a scarf.
Why are we travelling down by sleeper train?
The Iranian rail service is remarkably good. By travelling by train we will get to see more of Iranian life than if we flew or travelled down by coach. We’ll be returning to Tehran over the entire following week so we get to see it in more ways.
What is the sleeper train like?
We will have compartments on the sleeper train that you’ll only have to share with the group. These will be either 4 bed or 6 bed, and very comfortable. The bathrooms are not fancy en suite ones but they’re a lot better than the variety in much of the rest of Asia.
When will you let me know my flight times?
360 will send you a flight schedule as soon as we have booked your flights. Final confirmation will be sent to you three weeks before departure.
What if I arrive early or depart late?
If you have a British, American or Canadian passport you will need to be accompanied by a guide for your entire time in Iran. We can arrange this for you but there will be an extra cost. This does not apply to any other EU national. Tehran is a bigger city than London and there are many sites to see there which we don’t have time for in our standard itinerary. Day trips to the mountains to the north or the holy city of Qom to the south are also possible. Longer trips to some of the other beautiful Iranian cities are possible too.
Do I need special travel insurance for the expedition?
You must carry individual travel insurance to take part in the expedition. We cannot take you on the mountain without proof of insurance.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip. To include medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip.
Your insurance details are requested on the booking form, however this can be arranged at a later date. 360 Expeditions will be requesting your insurance details 8 weeks before your departure.
Entry into Country
How do I get a visa?
First and foremost your passport must have at least 6 months of validity from the last date of the tour. You also need a full blank page remaining in the passport.
If you are a British or American citizen you need to obtain a visa in person at the Iranian embassy before flying out. The one in Britain is located in Kensington, London. You also need to get the visa authorisation code from Iran which we will secure for you from the agent there. Brits and Americans are not permitted to travel freely in Iran so if you would like to extend your trip you need to have a guide for that as well which we can arrange if you want.
If you are a citizen of any other EU country apart from UK then the visa can be bought at the airport on arrival. You still need the visa authorisation code from us and proof of insurance but it is a lot more straightforward than the process for those from UK.
For other nationalities we recommend you contact the Iranian embassy.
Will a visit to Iran affect me visiting the USA?
In 2016 the USA introduced a ruling which makes anyone who has visited Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen since 1 March 2011 no longer eligible for their visa waiver programme.
Rather than obtaining an ESTA, if you have one of those country stamps in your passport you will need to apply for a visa at a US embassy or consulate.
Fortunately, acquiring a visa for the USA is a relatively simple process – involving completing a short form online and a visit to the US Embassy. Once acquired, a US visa is valid for 10 years.
We think it’s a small price to pay for the unforgettable experience of visiting Iran!
Can you explain the visa process in more detail?
The visa process for Iran is different depending on nationalities. The process for citizens of UK, USA and Canada is near identical and if you are one of those, the steps are as follows:
- Once your booking is confirmed, the 360 team will request a visa authorisation code from the agency we are working with in Tehran. UK citizens need to travel on an organised tour or have a sponsor in country. As the visa itself is valid for 90 days from time of issue and the visa authorisation code is only valid for use within 30 days of issue, we are restricted on how early we can apply for this.
- You need to have at least 6 months validity remaining on your passport following your departure from Iran. If you have any stamp from Israel in your passport you are likely to be refused a visa. Furthermore if you have a solo entry/exit stamp from a neighbour of Israel it indicates you visited Israel before or after. In either of these cases you would need a new passport.
- The 360 team will pass on the visa authorisation code once we have it (which could take up to 6 weeks). Then you can apply for the visa in person at the Iranian embassy in Kensington, London: Consular Section
50 Kensington Court
London W8 5DB
Tel: 020 7361 0824
Fax: 020 7938 1615
Email address: email@example.com
- Please note that the passport will remain with the embassy for several days or potentially weeks, so don’t plan an international visit shortly afterwards if you have one passport.
- If you are extending your stay in Iran beyond the length of the expedition you need to ensure that your visa covers you for this.
For citizens of Other EU countries (excluding UK), the visa process is a bit more straightforward – you can get a visa on arrival at Tehran airport that is available to other EU citizens. As before, the correct documentation is essential for this including visa authorisation code (as above) and proof of insurance.
Once your visas have been issued, please check carefully to ensure that the details are accurate – specifically with regards to the number of entries, the dates of entry/exit and any duration or validity restrictions. Embassies have been known to make mistakes and any inaccuracies may result in you not being granted entry to the relevant country, or your trip being curtailed!
Any tips on how a trekker can maximise their chances of success?
Obviously, the best way to train for an expedition is to recreate the conditions of the climb as close as possible. This can be difficult depending on where you are based geographically and we appreciate people have busy lives with work and family commitments.
Ideally, you would have altitude experience from previous climbs and the more experience the better.
Technically, you will need to be able to move competently using crampons over uneven terrain and be able to perform an ice axe arrest. These skills can easily be gained on a basic winter skills course in Scotland or with us in the Pyrenees.
The main area to focus on is to build up your fitness as much as possible. This can be developed by long hill days with your rucksack on your back carrying your kit. The more miles you clock up in the hills prior to Mt Damavand, generally the more endurance you’ll have. This will enable you to enjoy the acclimatisation days and summit day a great deal more, and will also give you something in reserve. You don’t need to be a super-human ultra marathon runner to climb this peak, but we recommend you improve your fitness with a backpack before the start.
What is the currency of Iran and how much do I need?
The official currency is the Iranian Rial. There is approximately 50,000 Rial to the pound. To further confuse things prices are often quoted in Toman and 1 Toman equals 10 Rial.
All payments are made in cash, except if you purchase a beautiful Iranian carpet when cards are accepted. All the ATMs in Iran do not currently accept foreign cards. We recommend you travel with Euros (or you can bring Dollars). You cannot exchange Rial back into foreign currency so do not exchange too much.
You can spend as much or as little as you want. We suggest bringing £200-£250 unless you want one of those carpets. Bargaining is part of the process for buying nearly anything in the bazaars and can be great fun.
When is the money due for this expedition?
Generally speaking, deposits are due upon booking, particularly if we are handling your flight bookings. The full amount should be paid 4 months prior to departure. However, having said this our aim is to get you to the top of this mountain and we understand that personal financial situations can vary.
Please contact our friendly office crew to discuss a suitable payment plan. We have after all been in your shoes and go by the motto of where there’s a will there’s a way.
What is your cancellation policy? What is your refund policy?
Please read our terms and conditions carefully before you depart for details on this. 360 Expeditions highly recommends trip cancellation insurance for all expeditions as we must adhere to a stringent cancellation policy.
What additional spending money will we need?
There are ATMs in the bigger cities we visit, but unfortunately foreign cards are not accepted at all. The only places you could use a foreign debit or credit card would be if you were buying a carpet. Therefore it is essential you bring cash with you. We recommend bringing it in Euros. Dollars would also be easily exchangeable. We suggest bringing £250 in Euros for your personal spending.
How much should we tip the staff?
Your expedition leader will help coordinate a tips kitty for all local staff. This is entirely optional and will be distributed appropriately to mountain guides, cultural guides, restaurant staff and bell boys. We recommend putting aside £90 (in any exchangeable currency – £, $ or €) for the tips kitty for all the Iranian staff members.
For the expedition leader this is your call.
Do we need a travel adaptor for the plug sockets in the hotel or are they the same as UK?
The plugs or adapters required are the two-pin Continental-European standard, i.e. Type C/F. There are limited sockets available in the mountain hut so a power bank can be more useful here.
Is there mobile phone reception on Mt Damavand?
There is limited phone reception in parts of the mountain hut and the surrounding area. It is usually possible to get some data in these spots, at some times of the day. It is a long way from 4G and cannot be relied upon.
Who will I be talking to before departure?
We’re all here to answer any questions you may have, but you will mostly likely be talking to Marni about the trek, and Helen about any flight, invoice or financial queries.
If you do have any queries, whether it’s about medical concerns, you’re unsure about certain things on the kit list, or you want to add a few days onto the expedition at the end to relax a bit, we encourage you to get in touch with us and Marni really loves to talk!
The better informed you are, the more likely you are to take on your expedition with confidence, and thus reach your objective.