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Hitchhiking in Iran


Hitchhiking in Iran

Iran is surely one of the easiest countries to hitchhike in the world. I even did it with dog company and we practically did not have to wait during the two months that we traveled through its beautiful lands. Hitchhiking is generally more difficult in cities, but in Iran it will be (almost) as easy as in towns and rural areas. Iranians are pure hearted and will not hesitate to open their car doors for you in any corner you pass by.


Here I share some facts and tips for hitchhiking in Iran based on my experience. You can also read these posts:



HITCHHIKING IN IRAN (WITH DOG)


Road conditions


There are certain obstacles, but Iranian roads are good
There are certain obstacles, but Iranian roads are good

The highway and road network is generally good. The roads in the worst condition are in the provinces where Kurds and Baluch people live. Not much time is wasted traveling from one destination to another, as may happen in other countries.


Strategy


We didn't want to be caught at night here, Golestan National Park
We didn't want to be caught at night here, Golestan National Park

It is always better to wait at strategic points such as highway entrances or road stretches where vehicles travel slowly (for example, after a traffic light). However, Iranian drivers and families on board are so nice that they will turn around if necessary to come in search of you. A smile and positive attitude always helps.


Be ready to talk


With Yusof, one of our favorite truckers :)
With Yusof, one of our favorite truckers :)

Be prepared to talk or try to (if either party doesn't speak English). Iranians are generally very nice and curious, and they will want to know everything about you.


Be careful not to lift your thumb


Watch and learn: this is how cars are stopped in Iran
Watch and learn: this is how cars are stopped in Iran

Sticking out our thumb in Iran is the equivalent of putting up our middle finger in the West (i.e., screw you). To hitchhike they extend their hand and shake it gently up and down. I illustrate this with a photo of a man in Yazd province.


Shared cars


Crossing Fars Province
Crossing Fars Province

It is common in different areas of the country for people to stop other people's cars to travel... but sharing gasoline costs. You can choose to collaborate or if you are doing a “pure” hitchhiking trip, tell them about it. Unfortunately, many people do not speak English. You can use the words “Pul nadaram”, which means “No money”. Almost everyone will then understand your purpose.


Cultural respect


Cocaí respects other cultures
Cocaí respects other cultures

If you travel with a dog, bring a blanket or towel on hand and explain that you are going to put it on the seat. Many Iranians will appreciate the gesture. Also tell them “Sage khoob”. Good dog ;)


Persa hospitality (including Kurds, Turks, Baloch, Turkmens...)


Iranian hospitality is unbeatable
Iranian hospitality is unbeatable

Iranians are the kings of hospitality and they are proud of it. They have a special weakness for foreigners. Walking down the street it is common to receive invitations to teas and houses, which applies to the entire territory and all its ethnic groups. If they are generous by nature, I believe, according to my experience, that they are even more so with travelers. And if they see someone in need, such as a backpacker looking for a ride, they go all out. We entered DOZENS of houses, on some occasions having to reject others because several neighbors were fighting to be our hosts. Of course, many of the people who gave us a ride ended up inviting us to their homes.


Schedule according to the weather


Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Iran
Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Iran

Iran is an extremely hot country in summer. Try to come in spring, autumn or winter, especially if you plan to hitchhike... and/or with a dog. We were there both times in autumn, and when the sun was at its highest it was tremendously hot. Especially in the desert interior and in the southern strip (Hormozgan and Balochistan provinces).


Put a tent in your backpack


Camping in Darak
Camping in Darak

A tent is surely the hitchhiker's most precious gadget: if night comes and you haven't managed to get a ride, you can always camp in a meadow or a beach next to the road. In Iran this will be difficult, though: anyone who sees you will want to take you home :)


Very cheap taxis and "MAXIS": Iranian black gold


Cocaí and Chai traveling by MAXI
Cocaí and Chai traveling by MAXI

Iran is one of the countries with the lowest gasoline prices, due to the amount of oil it has. In 2019, a liter was 10 euro cents. Then there was a price increase (with its consequent revolution) and currently (2023) it is about 25 cents per liter. Therefore, public transport and even taxis are very cheap. There are shared taxis and there is also an UBER-type application called MAXI, in which you can see the price and make sure that you are not going to pay more. It is in Persian, but anyone will help you in this wonderful country. We used this application on several occasions on the second visit to the country, since Cocaí was sick. I think it's a good alternative to hitchhiking.


CONCLUSION


In short, I recommend the hitchhiking experience in Iran 100x100! Adventure is guaranteed, riding in cars, vans and trucks that will take you through the varied landscapes that the country treasures. Given the Persian hospitality (and the rest of the ethnic groups in Iran) it is more than possible that they will want to show you some secret corners of their lands and even invite you to eat and sleep in their homes.


Or in a milk factory! Here we arrived by car with the director of the Mayamey Milk Factory himself, on the outskirts of Shahrud.
Or in a milk factory! Here we arrived by car with the director of the Mayamey Milk Factory himself, on the outskirts of Shahrud

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El Pekín Express CaninoEn marzo de 2019 mi perra Cocaí y yo salimos de Madrid con una mochila, una tienda de campaña y una misión entre ceja y ceja: llegar a China a dedo. Cuando andábamos en India hizo entrada en escena un "pequeño invitado" que puso el mundo patas arriba, incluido nuestro viaje. Tres años después volvimos a casa con un camino plagado de aprendizajes, aventuras, seres maravillosos... y una perra nueva: Chai :-) Más info sobre este libro, en realidad trilogía, aquí.

La Reina Leona. Un cuento ilustrado basado en una historia real de una perra que conocí durante la pandemia en India y con quien formé un vínculo muy especial. Puedes conseguirlo aquí.

Diarios de viajes por Sudamérica y Norteamérica. Estos dos libros cuentan, a modo de diarios, mis primeros años como mochilero, incluyendo el encuentro con Cocaí en Bolivia y todas las aventuras vividas con ella. Hago especial énfasis en la conexión con la naturaleza y las personas que nos brindó el camino. Leer más aquí.

Únete a nuestra iniciativa y recibe novedades sobre viajes, perros y viajar con perro 😉

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Somos Rober, Cocaí y Chai, tres amigos de tres naciones distintas que recorren el mundo en autostop. Desde el año 2013 hemos hecho tres grandes viajes: Sudamérica, Norteamérica y Asia. Nuestra próxima aventura es África. El objetivo principal de este blog es animar a otras personas (¡y perros!) a lanzarse también a conocer los bellos rincones y culturas que nuestro planeta atesora

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La trilogía más esperada desde el Señor de los Anillos

🙃

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El Pekín Express Canino, portada
La Reina Leona, portada
Queen Leona, cover book
Diario de Viajes por Sudamérica, portada
Diario de Viajes por Norteamérica, portada

El Pekín Express Canino

En marzo de 2019 mi perra Cocaí y yo salimos de Madrid con una mochila, una tienda de campaña y una misión entre ceja y ceja: llegar a China a dedo. Cuando andábamos en India hizo entrada en escena un "pequeño invitado" que puso el mundo patas arriba, incluido nuestro viaje. Tres años después volvimos a casa con un camino plagado de aprendizajes, aventuras, seres maravillosos... y una perra nueva: Chai :-) Más info sobre este libro, en realidad trilogía, abajo.

La Reina Leona

Un cuento ilustrado basado en una historia real de una perra que conocí durante la pandemia en India y con quien formé un vínculo muy especial. 

¡Disponible también en inglés!

Diarios de Viajes por Sudamérica y Norteamérica

Estos dos libros cuentan, a modo de diarios, mis primeros años como mochilero, incluyendo el encuentro con Cocaí en Bolivia y todas las aventuras vividas con ella. Hago especial énfasis en la conexión con la naturaleza y las personas que nos brindó el camino. 

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