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Traveling with dog in Iran


Traveling with dog in Iran. Yazd

We visited Iran at two different times. The first time we stayed for 62 days (autumn 2019) and we joined the northwest with the southeast making a kind of zigzag. Despite the initial fear or respect I had for the issue of prohibited dogs (a post about this is yet to be written), the experience was one of the most enriching and beautiful. Not only did I find more dog-friendly people than I imagined, but we made a good number of forever friends. The second foray into the country, which lasted a month (October 2021), was also done with Chai (adopted from India). We mainly visited my dear Iranian friends, although we also explored some new places.


Cocaí and Chai making Iranian friends. Traveling with dog in Iran

JOURNEY (I only describe the first trip; the return was similar)


Arak (Armenia) – Tabriz – Kandovan – Urmia – Ziveh – Oshnavieh – Piranshar – Mirabad – Bane – Marivan – Uraman – Paveh – Kermanshah – Kangavar – Hamadan – Tehran – Chalus – Sari – Badab-e Surt – Shahrud – Gonbad-e Kabus – Khalid Nabi – Golestan NP – Bojnurd – Mashhad – Feyzabad – Taft – Yazd – Aqda – Isfahan – Shiraz – Bandar Abbas – Hormuz Island – Darak – Chabahar – Beris – Pasabandar – Sarbaz – Zahedan – Taftan Border (Pakistán)


DURATION


62 days.


TRANSPORTATION


Hitchhiking


Ride with an Iranian truck driver

Practically the entire trip. It was a wonderful experience. I thought it was going to be very difficult for someone to take us with a dog. I was so wrong that it turned out to be one of the countries where we had to wait the least time. And hand in hand with these beautiful people we traveled throughout Iran.


Fan fact 1: In Iran, showing the thumb is our equivalent of “fuck you” with the middle finger. So for the future hitchhikers in Iran who are reading this, better use the Persian style: extending your arm with the palm of your hand facing down and moving it up and down gently.


Fan fact 2: Many locals hitchhike… but paying. It must be clarified before. I don't have money in Farsi it sounds something like “pul nadaram”.


Hitchhiking in Iran

You can read more about hitchhiking in Iran in the post HITCHHIKING IN IRAN


Cars of friends


Local friends took us several sections, such as from Tabriz to Kandovan and from Mashhad to Feyzabad. It's amazing what they do for you in Iran.


Ferry


To go to Hormuz Island from Bandar Abbas. Dogs aren't actually allowed, but we finally got them to let us on.


Maxi


Traveling by Maxi, Iran

An application halfway between Uber and Blablacar. It really works like the first one, but they can take you very far distances. We used it on the way back to Turkey and Europe on a couple of trips, one of them all night. It is extremely economical (in 2021 a 10-hour ride could cost around 30-35 euros). Although it has a small drawback: it is only in Farsi. Nothing that the Iranian people will not solve. Any citizen you meet will be happy to help you contact Maxi drivers.


Other options:


Rental car. I don't actually know how renting a car works in Iran, but I imagine it will be possible in the larger and more cosmopolitan cities, such as Tehran or Isfahan. An option to travel the country with your dog if you don't feel like hitchhiking.


As for public transportation, I'm afraid that they won't let you get on. Perhaps if your dog is very small you could carry him in a backpack...


ACCOMMODATION


Free camping


Camping in Lorestan

We used the tent a lot for several reasons. One, we love camping in nature places and Iran has many: we camped in the Zagros and Alborz mountains, in the forests full of life (panthers included!) of Golestan, on beaches of the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf, among dunes of the desert… even next to old caravanserais. Two, if there is something that Iranians like, it is to have a good large picnic in the park… and then camp! I found this custom really beautiful and it was great for me because not only is it totally allowed and acceptable to pitch your tent in the middle of any park in a given city, but you will always have company. I found it nice, fun and safe.


Local people visiting us. Caspian Sea, Iran

Cities and towns where we spent the night with the tent: Kandovan, Paveh (the second night we stayed at a local family's house), Taft, Bandar Abbas, Chabahar. We also camped at the same border checkpoint between Iran and Pakistan and there were tons of people doing the same thing.


Spontaneous Couchsurfing


Couchsurfing in Bojnurd, Iran

The first night in the country, while I was setting up the tent in a park in Tabriz, two young men approached me and, without barely saying a word, invited me to sleep at their house. Iran, along with Pakistan, is the most hospitable country we have been to, which is reflected in the number of homes we entered. Despite going with Cocaí (and Chai later) in this first foray through Iran we visited 47 (!) houses, and I rejected several. We stayed the night in many of them: Tabriz (Sahin), Ziveh (Auyoub), Oshnavieh (Jalal), Mirabad (Mohammad), Bane (Vahid), Marivan (Karen), Paveh (Behzad), Kangavar (Rostam), Tehran (Mahdi and Sara), Chalus (Hassan), Sari (Sina), Shahrud (milk factory), Gonbad-e Kabus (Ahmad), Khalid Nabi (Yusof), Bojnurd (Farzad, Fashod and co), Mashhad (Erfan), Feyzabad (center for drug addicts), Yazd (veterinary clinic), Shiraz (Reza and Milad), Zarabad, Beris (Habib family) and Sarbaz (actually a fire house). On the way back we also stayed in a few, but I think the message has already become clear.


Couchsurfing


Sleeping in a veterinary clinic near Yazd. Traveling with dog in Iran

We only did it once, in Yazd. However, things didn't work out well because he didn't like dogs at all. We stayed only one night. Luckily we met a veterinarian the next day who put us up at his veterinary clinic. Although I barely used it, I have no doubt that Cochsurfing works well because Iran is the country that loves foreigners the most. Obviously it will be easier without a dog, but with a dog too.


Hostel


Camping at the terrace in a hostel in Isfahan

We only stayed in two: the Annie Hostel in Isfahan (five nights) and one in Zahedan (Hanol Hostel), one night. In the first one they let the dogs in, although we had to camp on the roof (unfortunately it closed due to the pandemic), while in the second Cocaí had to sleep in the tent in the garden.


Others that I didn't do


Campsite. I didn't see a single official campsite, because Iranians set up their own campsites in any park, but if there is one, I imagine they will allow dogs.


FOOD STORES AND OTHER ESTABLISHMENTS


Having dinner at a restaurant in Mashhad

We didn't go to many... because we were always eating at family houses! It will depend on the owner and the type of establishment. There are many street stalls, tea/shisha houses and restaurants with tables outside, and in the worst case scenario they will surely manage something because they treat us outsiders like Gods. For example, you may be told to tie your dog to a nearby tree. The more fancy and famous the restaurant is, the less chances to be allowed. This blog is focused on backpackers, so all good! It also varies throughout Iran. In the most traditional cities and towns linked to religion, like Mashhad, you may even get attention for walking through a park, as happened to us. On the other hand, in more modern cities and rural areas it will be much easier.


Cooking with my dogs. Alborz mountains, Iran

"No worries guys, in any case we wont't be left without eating"


TOURISM WITH DOG


Iran is not the most dog-friendly country in the world, but we can do a few things with our dogs. Actually almost everything that is outdoors. On the other hand, visits to historical buildings, mosques and so on are ruled out.


BEACHES


Cocaí barking at a camel in Gowtr, Baluchistan

We visited beaches on both the north coast (Caspian Sea) and the south coast (Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman). We never saw a "no dogs" sign or were scolded for being there. In fact, in the Caspian Sea, surely the most modern and open area of Iran, we met some families with dogs.


AREAS OF NATURAL AND/OR GEOLOGICAL VALUE


Badab-e surt. Traveling with dog in Iran

We were able to go together to the following places: Kandovan, Lake Urmia, Zagros and Alborz mountains, Vardij, Badab-e surt, Golestan National Park, Khalid Nabi cemetery, Darak, Martian Mountains, Gowatr mangrove swamp, Khazineh Valley...


Where we did have problems was visiting the island of Hormuz, of unparalleled geological wealth, but it was because they did not want to let us ride the ferry. In the end we made it, but I don't think everyone will be as lucky.


Hormuz Island. Traveling with dog in Iran

ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES


Visiting the Towers of Silence, Yazd. Traveling with dog in Iran

In Persepolis, near Shiraz, the entry of dogs is completely prohibited. Cocaí stayed outside with a Polish traveler we had met when entering Iran. We were able to enter Taq Bustan together in Kermanshah, although the workers of the site were not at all sure about it. The same thing happened in The Towers of Silence in Yazd (I think we were lucky). We also saw several caravanserais on our route through the desert interior.


DOG DOCUMENTATION


I was asked us for canine documentation both when entering from Armenia and on the return (entering from Pakistan). Land crosisngs tend to be easy and normally I am not asked anything, but Iran has a quite negative policy towards domestic dogs. In fact, in theory Iranian citizens are not allowe to own dogs as pets (only for work purposes, although of course, this is difficult to interpret). So if you are going to come to Iran with your dogs, make sure you have everything in order.


What you actually need?


Crossing by land:


  • Animal Passport with a valid rabies vaccine

  • Health certificate from a veterinarian (preferably in several languages, including Farsi)


Additionally, it is recommended:

  • The microchip, even if they don't ask for it in Iran (I'm not sure), to return to Europe it is mandatory.

  • Other vaccines (pentavalent, to combat lethal viruses such as parvovirus).

  • The Rabies Titer Test. Supposedly you will be asked for this paper when entering Europe.


Cocaí in Darak. Traveling with dog in Iran

By plane:


They are quite strict and I would contact the Iranian agriculture service and/or the Iranian Embassy in your home country. It is probably enough to have all of the above, but there are countries that have additional requirements.


In any case, every time I reach this point of "my dog experience" in a specific country, I always remind people that this is not a blog specialized in canine documentation and that the corresponding agricultural service should be consulted, in addition to other websites that are more up to date (these requirements may change from one year to the next). A very complete one is this: Iran Pet Passport - Current Dog and Cat Import Requirements (pettravel.com)


ASSESSMENT


We spent a total of three months in Iran, hitchhiking, camping… and enjoying Persian/Kurdish/Baluche hospitality. The greatest learning is that the Iranian people are devoted to the traveler, even if they are accompanied by dogs and they don't like them very much. We entered nearly 60 houses in this time and I was treated to countless meals and teas. The lack of dog-friendly accommodation and infrastructure is more than made up for by the kindness and help of these people, who facilitate the trip of any backpacker... and his dogs.


Iranian friends. Bojnurd

That, added to their incredible tolerance, means that you can do many more things in Iran on a tourist/exploratory level than one would initially imagine: going to the beach, the mountains, places of great geological richness, meeting wonderful people who share everything with you... Therefore, I recommend it to all potential dog travelers who have this beautiful nation in mind. In fact, for me it is one of the best countries to visit both with and without dog company.


Khazineh Valley. Traveling with dog in Iran

Furthermore, transportation, the most difficult part of any trip with a dog, was easier for me than in most countries we have visited. And that being public transport completely ruled out. On the one hand, if you like hitchhiking in Iran you will like it even more. Everybody will want to help you, even if you go with a dog. That's guaranteed. On the other hand, you can use MAXI, that Persian UBER-type application for traveling long distances. Because it is a country rich in oil, gasoline is very cheap and you will be amazed by the prices. To give you an idea, I took a night trip of almost 10 hours for 30 dollars.


As for accommodation, you can use different methods: camping (if you have a tent), Couchsurfing... and of course don't rule out being hosted in a few (or many) homes. In Iran there is free access to camp practically wherever you want: on the beach, in the mountains, in the parks of towns and cities with other locals, in a family's garden... As always, a tent is the best advice I can give for any destination: it will be there to get you out of trouble in a difficult situation (for example, if you get stuck at night in the middle of a less traveled route or if you can't find anything in the city) and will give you the freedom to go on a few days of excursion to the mountain or wherever. I never felt in danger camping in Iranian territory. Quite the opposite, I felt supported by its inhabitants, who took us out of the tent and birng us to their homes.


Habib's family, Beris, Baluchistan. Traveling with dog in Iran

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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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