Until his recent death the oil-rich country of Turkmenistan was best known for the bizarre personality cult of its President for Life Saparmurat Miyazov (called “Turkmenbashi,” or “leader of the Turkmen”). Ashgabat is a city being transformed into a fantasy of white marble palaces, modern apartment blocks and large fountain complexes. From here we turn south and tackle the high hills of the Turkmen Steppes, whose quiet roads lead to the Iranian border.
Today the wonders of Persian history are veiled by Iran’s Islamic Republic and its difficult relations with the western world. At the border crossing the Ayatollah’s photo stares down and intimidates the faithless. As we dare to remove the veil and enter a world less traveled, we are rewarded by the hospitality of the Iranian people, the natural beauty of their country and the richness of its history.
After a day of rest in the town of Bojnurd, where we will enjoy rich Iranian cuisine, we pedal towards the provinces of Golestan and North Khorasan. The abundant flora in Golestan National Park will provide a pleasant contrast to the desert’s uniformity. These stretches of land were ravaged by the Mongols and then by Tamerlane during the 13th and 14th centuries, leaving little trace of their former glory. Far from the Persian Dynasties of the south, their peoples are eclectic, and not often visited by foreigners; the beauty is in the contrast of skins, the sound of tongues, and the rituals of faith.
Days of “flying on your 2 wheeled carpet” will also orient you into Tarof, the Iranian art of civility. You may find yourself asking a proprietor the price of a Cola, only be told that it is worthless. A long discussion ensues, with the eventual outcome being the purchase is made, but not before you become greatly acquainted with your new friend.
The metropolis of Tehran marks the end of this magical section and the chance to further explore the cultures of ancient and modern day Iran.
Please note that this section begins in Turkmenistan, but we cross the border into Iran on the first day. To avoid arranging a Turkmenistan visa in advance, you may wish to consider starting a few days later in Iran. Please contact our office and they can help you make the necessary arrangements.
Countries: Iran and Turkmenistan
Far Out Factor
August 17, 2014
August 27, 2014
10 Days Riding
1 Day Resting
Iran and Turkmenistan