Dispel all the myths you have heard of this mighty country. Iran is safe for tourists, its is cheap, the food is excellent, you can drink the tap water, and most importantly there are some excellent snowboard resorts.
The Germans, who were building much of Iran’s railroads in the early 1930’s introduced Iranians to skiing, and the building on the resorts begun. In 1947 the Iranian Ski Federation were formed, and in 1951 the first chair lift was built.
It may be surprising to hear that 30% of all people on Iranian slopes are snowboarders. The ski lifts are well maintained and there have been no accidents in the past twenty years.
Iran has two big ski resorts; Shemshak and Dizin. Both resorts are within 2 hours drive from the capital, Tehran. There are a total of 20 resorts in Iran, although most of them will have little more than a couple of tows.
How to get to these resorts
You will have no problems arriving at Tehran airport with your own snowboard equipment, however, make sure it is in a snowboard bag, It is best to get a taxi from the airirport into Tehran - it will cost $6 maximum and will take half an hour. You cannot rent cars in Iran so it is best to organise a bus tour from Tehran up to the ski resort you want to go to. This only costs $6-$7. Either you can go up for the day or you can leave the tour and stay in the resort for the week then catch a tour bus back down. Go to one of the many sports/ski shops in Tehran to organise a tour.
General information about all resorts
The season is from the beginning of December to the end of March. You can easily go off piste, and there are vast fields of powder. However, there are no ski patrols recording the avalanche risks and triggering off avalanches where needed to reduce the risk. It is possible to hire a guide to go off piste for $5-6 per day. The guides are reliable and are usually trained in Austria or Switzerland. There are also reliable mountain rescue teams. There are no heliboarding facilities. Most of the time the weather is reliable so you are sure to get a good weeks riding whenever you go. There are a variety of lifts in these resorts ranging from gondolas and chairlifts to button lifts. Also, it is wise to take your own food to the resorts. Look out for a town called Fasham on the Way to Shemshak – you can buy all your basics there.
The concept of bed and breakfast accommodation is non-existent in Iran. However, because accommodation is cheap why not stay in a 4 star hotel for $50 per night for a double room. Head to the north of the city; this is the safest and has upmarket hotels like the Hilton and Sheraton. You can contact the Iranian tourist board and ask them to organise accommodation for you in Iran. What to wear On the slopes it is fine to wear your normal snowboard gear. However, if you are a girl make sure you are wearing a beanie, If it is sunny and you are boiling it is not advisable to strip off to your t-shirt on the slopes if you are male or female. At all other times, women have to cover their hair and body but you do not need to Wear a black cloak or chador, Instead it is fine to wear a colourful thin silk scarf tied under your neck and wear loose trousers, shirts with long sleeves, and a loose thin jacket that reaches down to your knees. It is fine to smoke anywhere except while walking along the street. Guys should nor wear shorts and it is best to wear long sleeved shirts.
The food is unbelievably tasty – with fresh kebabs, amazing rice based dishes, fresh cheese, a lot of vegetarian dishes, amazing sweets, and an array of fruit to choose from. Things you do have to be careful about are eating salads and herbs that haven’t been washed properly. However keep it in mind it is absolutely safe to drink the tap water. Also check out Arak – Iranian vodka made with raisons and dried apples containing 35-45% alcohol. It is illegal for Muslims to drink Arak, but not for Armenian Christians to drink it. Therefore as tourists, you can buy Arak from the Armenians for approximately $3 for 2 litres.
The tourist board can organise accommodation for you, work out an itinerary, give advice on prices and give telephone numbers for places, and its ok, they speak English. Contact Iran Tourism and Touring Organisation by email at [email protected]