Why has Iran got people talking?
Who better to ask about travelling to Iran than a local?
Reza Poorhoseini has been leading Intrepid trips in Iran since they first started in 2006. He’s passionate about his homeland and has a wealth of information about the region, so we asked him what should people expect to see and discover in his country?
“Iran is rich in history and has established a great civilisation over thousands of years. There are many amazing monuments that you won’t want to miss visiting. The landscapes are stunning as well and so varied. From subtropical dense forests to beautiful plains, rugged mountains and two of biggest deserts in the world are in Central and Eastern Iran.”
What is the most frequently asked question you receive from travellers?
“Travellers usually ask about the lifestyle and traditions, or sometimes ask questions regarding political or social issues.
I enjoy answering all these questions because it helps give people a greater understanding and appreciation of my country. And my top tip to visitors is don’t worry about asking the locals questions. Persian people love meeting travellers from other parts of the world and will be happy to respond to you candidly.”
What are people most surprised to find out about Iran?
“My Intrepid groups are usually surprised to discover how clean and safe the country is and the amount of hospitality they receive. There are misconceptions out there about it being dangerous or locals not liking foreigners, but travellers quickly realise these are definitely not the case.”
Can you describe your favourite local dish?
“Fesenjan is my favourite and I think it’s also the most popular with travellers. It’s a deliciously thick slow-cooked chicken stew made with pomegranate syrup and ground walnuts. Intrepid groups get to learn how to cook this dish or other similar recipes in our cooking class with a local family, which everybody loves experiencing. You can also try the local Yazd fesenjan that’s made with camel.”
Any recommendations for how to prepare for an adventure in Iran?
“It’s good to watch movies like Separation, Turtles Can Fly, Circle, The Color of Paradise, Gabbeh, Bashu and The Little Stranger.
There are also many great books that will help give you more information. Here’s a good list of top 10 Iranian books from the Guardian.
It’s important to pack appropriate clothes. For women this includes a manteau or long-sleeve shirt of any colour that is long enough to come down to your knees, loose-fitting trousers and a scarf. Women don’t strictly have to wear headscarves, but it is advisable to be respectful of the local culture. For men, short or long-sleeve shirts are fine and long trousers are recommended.”
Finally, how do you say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you?
“Salam is hello and mamnoon means thank you.”