Wild camping in Golestan National Park, Iran

Challenge of finding a good spot for the night

That evening, the search for a place to sleep (outside) took longer than expected. Our common procedure for this is that I search on google satellite maps for potential spots. When we reach the spot, we check whether it is good to stay or not. That night, all suggested spots either had an awful road (we already push the car to the extends of its not existing 4WD qualities), were too close to the main road or we got told to leave. At 20:20 with the sun almost setting, we found a spot in the Golestan National Park, close to a village, in the open grass lands, underneath a few trees. It felt good to just be by ourselves again. We spend the whole upcoming day at the same spot as well. Our (and Teslas) only movements in the hot weather (it is try and hot again…), were to follow the shadow of the trees. But it was good to have time to read and write.

Too much disturbance during one night

There were quite a few trucks, cars and motorcycles passing the road close to our camping spot during the day. No one distracted us though. While I was preparing dinner, Benedikt said, that this night, I can probably sleep much better (I usually sleep a bit lighter when we sleep outside). If no one distracted us during the day, no one will come during night. Again, we were proven wrong… The first motorcycle drove to the Tesla at around 10:00 p.m.. It was already dark outside and we were ready to go to bed. The only word they said was “home”, we guessed it as an invitation to their home. Since I already had my pajamas on, the timing couldn’t have been much worse for that invitation. About 30 minutes later a car stopped on the dirt road nearby, put his head lights bright towards our car and yelled something. He vanished after Benedikt yelled “SLEEP” back. At about 11:30 p.m. three guys on one motorcycle (yes, that seems to work perfectly) drove to our spot and only disappeared when Benedikt told them that we want to sleep. We were almost asleep when the last car showed up at our campsite at 12:30 at night. It was someone in uniform and his “translator”. They tried to tell us that it is too dangerous to stay out in the nature and that we should go to a city. After Benedikt repeatedly told them that we don’t care, we will go to a city (Bojnurd) the day after and that we just want to sleep, they left. I was glad, Benedikt was handling all those situations. I have no idea, how they would have reacted with a woman appearing out of the car… It was 1:30 till we finally fell asleep.

What we learned

What we learned during that night was that it is not smart to stay at the same spot for 2 continuous nights, especially if people saw you and the car at that spot during day. We will know better the next time.

The time in between – waiting for our passports

An athlete that prepared well for his race and is ready now for his run wants nothing more than to finally take off and show that all his training and his hard work, pay off. Not only does an athlete want that but also Benedikt and I just want to finally start our journey. I am not sure how many grey hairs embassies let me grow. A few at least… Due to the Persian New Year (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nowruz) around March 20th, our application for the Iranian Visa postponed itself a few days. Getting the Iranian visa could be the content of a whole other post. It was so far, the most bureaucratic, lengthy and expensive visa process I went through. Making it short, it included 3 visits at the embassy and not even at the last visit we could leave our visa documents there. At the Iranian Embassy in Switzerland, every visa applicant needs to get official fingerprints, costing each CHF60, at the local jail. According to the jail officer, Iran has this ruling, because Switzerland asks for fingerprint of any Iranian applicant for a Swiss visa as well. I guess that can make sense…

Anyways, we are hoping that the mail brings us our passports including the Iranian visa tomorrow. We would then send them including all other documents to the Uzbek Embassy in Vienna, where we can, hopefully, pick them up including one more visa, 3 days later.