Across the mountains in Iran on motorcycle

Riding overland in Iran

Whatever Silk Road sounds to you and the name promises, it was not only about taking silk from China to Europe or a private package tour that Marco Polo hired. It is all about the cultures that are traveling from one place to the other by the hand of those travelers who would dare to take that bloody long road (let me be honest). Peter Scheich from Muztoo is certainly one of those adventurous travelers!

We met one cold night inside a yurt at a magical mountain lake 3000 meters above the sea level, lost amidst the mountains in Kyrgyzstan. He was leading a motorbike tour and I was leading an overland Silk road tour. We might have had a shot of vodka or not while we exchanged gazes, stories as well as our contacts.

Sonkul Lake in Kyrgzystan

 

A year and half later, Peter asked me whether I was interested in joining him to co-organize and lead the Iran part of his epic tour, the Silk Road on motorcycle! I was heels over heads and said YES! It took us some long Skype calls and strenuous hours of sharing maps till our ideas took some tangible shapes. It also involved me going through my contacts in Iran and asking around a lot of friends in Iran for good roads till Peter and his love for outdoors decided that we were going to do 2 versions: the Classic Iran and the off road Iran. We would be both on the off road trip together. What a great decision it was!

Off road motorcycle trip in Iran

We met at the Armenian border of Noorduz. It was a hot day and the group was already exhausted by the long waiting time and the inefficient customs at the Armenian border. The good thing was that it gave me time to make connections at the Iranian part to make the border crossing much smoother once they arrived in Iran.

Whatever happened during the next 8 days you might call an adventure or not, but for me it was all an experience. Each single road we took was thought to make an experience, we rode through dirt roads, avoided carefully the tarmac as long as time allowed us. Picked up the best sceneries, had some nice winding roads through the dense and green woods of northern Iran, gazed at Damavand pick, the highest volcano in Asia, overtook at full speed slow trucks on winding roads with heavy rain and mud covering the visors of our helmets, stopped on colorful rest areas for a glass of hot tea and juicy Iranian dates, waived at happy Iranian families overtaking our bikes while shouting us a warm welcome through their windows, stopped at many gas stations and took many pictures with friendly people gathering around. What a unique journey dotted by majestic landscape and hospitable people.

Motorcycling in Iran

 

You might come to Iran, you might ride your motorcycle to Iran and it certainly will be a very authentic and friendly experience. But crossing Iran on a motorbike from west to east through the mountain range and following the footsteps of the ancient Silk road on the less traveled paths is something that you will do only if you have a perfect understanding of nature and outdoors as well as Iran and its very varied geography as our team did. Welcome to Iran, the land of ever pleasant variety!

Riding in Iran

22 thoughts on “Across the mountains in Iran on motorcycle

  1. John Batty says:

    Hi There
    I am from U.K. and a well accomplished Solo Motorcycle Adventurer
    I am desperately wanting to travel through Iran but I read that you may not travel alone.
    Is there any way around this.

  2. Maarten says:

    Hi Masha,

    I am a Dutchman living and working in Dubai and will get my new Honda here next week. The aim is to cross into Iran and make my way up (leisurely and possibly in a few legs with flights back to Dubai in between) to Baku. There my wife will join me and we plan to drive to Batumi together. Subsequently I will be making my way back via a different road (Armenia?) into Iran and back to Dubai. I would appreciate your council and assistance to make it all hassle free. Thanks in advance for getting back to me.

    • Mahsa says:

      Hi Maarten,

      That’s a great plan as any plan that involves Iran ;). Please send me an email to info@notjustatourist.com with your dates, the itinerary you have in mind and what kind of help or services you will need.

      Looking forward to hearing from you.

      Cheers,

    • Mahsa says:

      Hi Maarten,

      I hope you are well. I’m not sure if you got my first email but if you still need some information please let me know.

      Gracias,
      Mahsa

    • Mahsa says:

      H Michael,

      :). I hope it won’t be possible to ride to the top. We got to look after the nature a little bit ;).

      Cheers,

  3. Jason says:

    Awesome story. I’ve been interested in taking riding trips in other Countries, thanks for the in depth experience. So far I’ve only gone cross Country in the United States.
    Now the big question is, do I make the trip to Iran by myself? Or find a riding buddy!?

  4. Daniel says:

    I am planning a motorcycle tour of Turkey and Iran late in 2018. I want to start in Turkey and maybe finish in Shiraz.
    What is a good 250cc bike to purchase with the idea of selling it in Shiraz before flying home to Australia?

    • Mahsa says:

      Hi Daniel,

      You can find Honda CRF 250cc to buy. But they are more expensive than in other countries because of import taxes and if you have little time trying to sell it might not be easy since it takes time. I hope this helps.

  5. Jonvet87 says:

    I think that in Iran only the police can have motorbikes bigger than 125CC… Check that out. you might end up not been able to sell the bike!

    • Mahsa says:

      Hi,

      The limit is 250cc. But there are many people with bigger bikes which don’t have a permit. So they can only use it when the police is not around ;).

  6. Richard Luck says:

    Hi Mahsa,
    I ride a US registered KTM 690 and plan on traveling through Iran sometime next year. Could you please let me know if I will have problems getting in to Iran with this motorcycle
    Many thanks, Richard

    • Mahsa says:

      Hi Richard,

      For the bike you will need a carnet the passage. You can try to contact private people to arrange it for you too. But it can be expensive (400 usd approx) and unreliable. However, if you have a US passport you will not be able to travel to Iran by yourself and need to apply for a visa y have a guide with you. This means that you need to pay his expenses too. Let me know if you need any help with that and good luck :).
      Mahsa

  7. Saied says:

    Hi im an Iranian living abroad havent been to Iran since 2005 plan on riding from China to south of Iran and ship my bike back im riding Suzuki M109 it’s going to be a bit challenging to get the carnet the passage. The big question is!! Is there any page or side to find others who might be interested in doing this as a group?

    • Mahsa says:

      Hi Saied,

      I am not sure if your question is about Iran or China. For Iran you need to have a carnet or you can pay the value of your bike at the “gomrok” in Iran to deposit it on an account in Iran and once you leave Iran you will get it back. To enter china you better join a group to be able to share the expenses.

      I hope this helps. Have a great journey!
      Mahsa

  8. Saied says:

    Hi im an Iranian living abroad havent been to Iran since 2005 plan on riding from China to south of Iran and ship my bike back im riding Suzuki M109 it’s going to be a bit challenging to get the carnet the passage. The big question is!! Is there any page or website to find others who might be interested in doing this as a group?

  9. iain says:

    Hi, I really enjoyed reading your article. I am from Scotland and hoping to pass through Iran from Turkey to Pakistan in around 6 months time with Versys 650. I believe due to my citizenship I will need to apply for Visa and be accompanied by guide. I am unsure of the process for carnet de passage and how to find a guide or the expenses involved in having guide. If you have any information that could help me I would very much appreciate if you could pass it on. Thanks, Iain

    • Mahsa says:

      Thank you Iain.

      As a British passport holder, you will need a guide to accompany you from the entry border to the departure border and his car, hotel and food expenses have to be covered by you too :(. Let me know if you need a guide and your dates so that I can see who could do it and what the price will be. 14 days in Iran would be the least you should spend. But obviously, it depends on your time and budget.

      For Carnet you need to contact the automobile association of your country.

      Have a great NYE!
      Mahsa

      • iain says:

        Hi Masha
        Thanks very much for the quick response. I have a feeling this is going to be too expensive and too much trouble for a journey on my own therefore I will maybe get the bike air freighted from Europe to India. The guide situation is a real shame as I really wanted to visit Iran but I will just need to do it another time with a group and do a Pakistan tour at the same time. Just out of interest what would be a rough figure for the cost of a guide for a fortnight?

        Thanks

        Iain

        • Mahsa says:

          Hi Iain,

          Very true. The politics make the world a difficult place for us :(.

          Prices can change depending on the season, hotel prices, etc. Let’s say 150-200 USD maybe per day. However, this can be a bit less or more.

          Wish you best of luck!
          Mahsa

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