Trekking in the Alamut Valley - Dave
02/09/2010 - 04/09/2010
We wanted to go trekking in the Alamut Valley - an area of the Alborz mountains north of Tehran. Needed a guide. So we headed up there, phoned a guy in the guidebook, and 2 hours later we were sitting in a car with Mehdi, a crazy guy who was describing what we would get using his vocabulary of 200 words, in between bursts of pidgin-opera. And he really made out trek memorable, with his appreciation of nature (in between shouts of day-oh), knowledge of all the mountain herbs, and friendship with people in the villages on the way. Each time we got to a village we would stop at a friend's home, where we'd eat the BEST home-made ewes cheese, yoghurt, hearty soup and freshly baked bread from the special bread-oven-hut. Mehdi was also pretty adept at finding a way for us up the loose shingle slopes in the pitch dark, and borrowing people's fires when his gas stove didnt work.
We hiked for 3 days from the Alamut village of Garmarud, over a mountain pass and down through lush valleys to Yuj, towards the Caspian Sea. We really saved the best til last as the views were stunning, ranging from alpine style pastures and leafy villages with their flowers and orchards, to barren rock landscapes and towering rocky peaks, waterfalls and 100m canyons that we had to traverse above. And the stars - wow! These are villages where although roads are slowly starting to connect them up, there are still villages only accessible on foot, with donkeys as the prime mode of transport.
The Alamut Valley is famous for its Castles of the Assassins - A guy formed a feared cult in which he recruited people to kidnap & rob in return for a place in Paradise. He showed them visions of paradise to prove it - gardens and maidens...oh and he got them stoned first on the local whacky baccy. Hashish-ians they were known as, which eventually became the word 'assassin'.
During the trek Rachel became 'Boy-Girl' since she replaced her headscarf with a hat when on the trail, and I became 'Mr Sugar' for my sweet tooth. Mehdi warned us about the wildlife: "Wolf come children you soup" (we'll get fed to the wolf's cubs), and ordered us about: "Go you water cold come" (please fetch some cold water), and helped us out: "Me come you t-shirt go here" (I've taken your washing down and put it here).
By the time we reached Yuj, we really didnt want the trek to end, and could have done another week