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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Iran

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.    The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING IRAN:  U.S. and Canadian citizens require a visa. As soon as you book on this tour please send us a good quality scan of your passport – the page(s) with all the personal details and photograph. Ideally this should be an electronic scan emailed to us.  If you do not have the facility to make a scan please contact the office for advice. At the same time, please send a separate passport-style photograph (approximately 3cm x 4 cm). This should have a white background and be a good, clear photo.

Your original, signed passport must be valid for at least 6 months past the departure date for a single entry visa; for multiple entry it must be valid for one year beyond stay in Iran, with at least one blank passport page available for Iranian visa stamp. Please note that you will not be allowed to enter Iran if you have a stamp in your passport from Israel.  

The consulate requires travelers to apply directly and a personal appearance may be necessary to obtain your visa. To obtain a visa, contact the Iranian Interests Section of the Embassy of Pakistan http://www.daftar.org/eng/default.asp. 2209 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC. 20007; tel. 202-965-4990, 91, 92, 93, 94, 99; fax 202-965-1073, 202-965-4990; email: requests@daftar.org.

U.S. citizens traveling to Iran are fingerprinted upon entry. The Iranian press has reported that foreign tourists may obtain tourist visas at the airport in Tehran, however U.S. citizens are not eligible to receive these visas and must obtain valid visas from the Iranian Interests Section at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, DC. Possession of a valid Iranian visa will not guarantee entry into the country.

Foreigners are expected to carry their passport at all times, but this can be tricky as hotels are also supposed to keep guests’ passports for police inspection. Always carry several photocopies of both your passport’s face page and your Iranian visa, and if you go out of town leave a photocopy at reception and take the passport. If you are stopped, show your photocopies unless you are sure the police are genuine.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information on Iran at https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/iran.html. You can also review the CIA World Factbook background notes on Iran at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ir.html respectively.

For general information on safety of travel in Iran, see http://www.lonelyplanet.com/iran/safety.

PACE OF TOUR:  Generally this tour will not be strenuous but participants should have a reasonable degree of fitness and mobility and be prepared for the occasional discomfort.  Most days will start around 05.30 – 06.00, and end around 18.30, although there may be some longer days when we are travelling from one location to another, and some earlier starts if we have to drive to a location before we start birding.

Most walks are on good ground, over short distances, as we are able to drive to most of the birding locations. However, we may need to take longer walks in the mountain regions if the higher tracks are not clear of snow or debris following the winter.

HEALTH:  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid.

No vaccinations are required for entry into Iran.

Please contact your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure.

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations for Iran can be found on the CDC’s Travel Health website at: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/iran  

Elevation:  In the northern mountain ranges we expect to reach a maximum altitude of 11,400 ft (3500 meters) where we’ll spend a few hours looking for Caspian Snowcocks. We will also spend some time birding at altitudes of around 6500 feet (2000 meters).

Smoking:  Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail.

Miscellaneous: There are no particular health issues when visiting Iran. Tap water is safe to drink in the towns and cities, but we recommend using bottled water (provided) in the more remote areas. Of course mild upset stomachs can be encountered anywhere, so we suggest bringing anti-diarrheal medicine such as Imodium. Gatorade (in powder form) is also worth bringing as it replaces the vital salts and minerals lost during a bout of diarrhea. We also suggest bringing a broad spectrum antibiotic such as Ciprofloxine if your doctor will prescribe them for you.

We will experience strong sun in several places so a good sunscreen is suggested. Sunglasses are also worth bringing, not only for the strong sunlight but also for the snowfields in the mountains. Finally, be sure to bring adequate supplies of all personal medications, as it may be impossible to obtain them during the tour.

CLIMATE: We will experience a wide range of temperatures. In south of Iran we can expect temperatures to be around about 25-30°C by the middle of the day but with milder conditions in early mornings. Humidity in the Persian Gulf regions can be high. In the various mountain regions it will be very cold in the mornings with temperatures remaining mild throughout the day. In central parts in Touran National Park we can expect a dry, mild to warm climate with strong winds possible, especially in the evenings. 

ACCOMMODATION: Almost all of the places we stay in have ensuite facilities. The only exception is when we stay in the Qale Bala village (Days 12 -13). Here we will stay in a local house which is used to accommodating tourists. Here the bathroom facilities are shared and there are 3 toilets and 2 showers available. The house has a fantastic view overlooking Qale Bala village. We will mainly eat our meals outside in the courtyard. Rooms have clean mattresses, blankets and clean sheets for guests to use, and the local food is a highlight here.  Of the remaining accommodation, the hotel at Minab is rather basic but the others we use are all relatively modern.

Internet Access:  80 percent of the places we visit have mobile phone coverage, and there is often good coverage away from the towns.Internet is available at all of the places we stay in except for Minab and Qale Bala, however it can be rather slow even where is available.

FOOD: Traditional Iranian food features a lot of rice dishes often containing barberries, saffron, raisin, herbs.  These dishes are often served with various kinds of sauces (or khoresht) made with vegetables and greens (i.e. aubergines, carrots, beans, lentils, onions, tomatoes), and meat such as lamb, beef, chicken or fish.  There are also different kinds of kebab which are often found in the smaller restaurants away from large towns.  A modest selection of western dishes is available in hotels and major restaurants. Food is generally made with fresh ingredients. Rice and cooked vegetables could be arranged for vegetarians but the choice of vegetarian dishes is not large. Persian cuisine is not hot or spicy.

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.

WINGS tours are all-inclusive and no refunds can be issued for any missed tour meals.

Drinks:  Bottled water or soft drinks are provided at meals, as is coffee or tea. In addition, we keep a supply of bottled water on the tour vehicles. All alcohol is banned in the country. Please do not bring any with you.

TRANSPORT: Transportation is by minibus and 4 x 4 vehicles.  There are also two internal flights.

Created: 18 November 2016