1. Lemira: is a summer settlement of some 50 odd wattle and daub houses in a pasture above the forest line in
an altitude of some 2300m in the Goleyjan district of southern Tonekabon. It is one of the most picturesque
summer villages in the area within easy reach of Khoonegeli. It has an amazing panoramic view of the Caspian
Sea, the forest below, and the coastal towns from Ramsar to Chalous of some 70km radius.
2. Lashm and Losarey Forests, are spectacular forest hikes in the lower Sehezar Valley of Tonekabon. A 35 minute drive from Khoonegeli to the village of Khanian (700m ASL) where our hike will begin. The hike entails some steep forest trail that after 45 minutes reaches an old cemetery and shrine after which it is virgin Hyrcanian forest until after 2 and a half hours of hiking we reach a temporary shepherd’s spring dwelling called Charkakooti (1700m) where the deep valleys and dense forests on one side, the Caspian Sea on the other together with Siyalan (4250m) and Beles Kuh (3500m) Summits would impress any hiker, it is a truly glorious panorama. From here on Lashm (2300m) settlement where cowboys take their herds in the summer months is another 90 minutes hike and a further hour to Losarey the furthest dwellings are right below Beles Kuh Glacier, altitude 2700m. Our return would mostly be via the same trail with some minor detours to see the amazing 4000ms further south in the Sehezar Valley. Total hiking 6-7 hours. There are at least 3 springs along the way. Last year some of the shepherds were granted permission by the forestry commission to build wooden and adobe houses to accommodate their families whilst migrating to the area in search of pasture from April until October and now one can also see some very rural form of life on this hike. Beles Kuh is a protected area.
3. Gerd Kuh summit, - this is a beautifully round summit of 3050m that is visible from the centre of Tonekabon
as the emblem of the city. The hike starts from Shane Tarash village and after 4-5 hours we are on the summit that
has a panoramic view of the Caspian Sea, the forests below to the north and other summits such as Kashtan.
Our return would be partly via the same trail and partly heading north to visit some shepherds along the way.
4. Noosha is crème de la crème, a village to be proud of in terms of architecture and natural beauty of its surrounding valleys, forests and summits and I hope it stays this way for centuries to come. It is a summer settlement of some 100 wattle and daub and stone houses in a meadow at approximately 2200m of altitude surrounded by high summits, deep valleys and dense forests. It is normally reached from a trail in mid-section of the Dohezar Valley reachable from Khoonegeli by car in 35 minutes. The 5 hour hike is along Noosha River a white-water river and through a steep forest trail, the return would be along the same route unless one opts for the 2/3 day hike to include Kashtan summit and Shehesefid Kuh or surrounding valleys. Hiking per day would be 10 hours in either case. Please note that as a day hike this would be a tough hike.
5. Daryasar sub-alpine pasture. This is possibly the most visited and famous meadow in Tonekabon if not the entire country. It is a dried up lake that measures about 200 hectares and contains grassland and short shrubs and trees. It is home to shepherds who each year from May until October take their herds of cows, sheep, goats and horses to graze. It has 2 seasonal rivers that flow into the Dohezar River that finally reaches the Caspian Sea in the centre of Tonekabon. It is the beginning of many trails reaching summits such as Yaan, Siyalan, Kandigan, Siyah Kol, Kangarchal and Chalaki, Khanebon (see under summits). This short hike of 1 hour and 30 minutes to the centre of the meadow can be extended to Khane Bon, Rahe Gardan or Taraj dwellings all approximately 2500-2700m. To reach Daryasar one needs to drive to Esel Mahalle village in the Dohezar Valley, some 35minutes from Khoonegeli and start the hike at 1000m to reach the beginning of the plain which measures 1500m.
6. Band e Sar is a 500m forest summit right behind the famous Ramsar Hotel and natural sulphur springs, it is a steep one hour hike to the top where some remains of an old King’s Castle remain (Shah Neshin), a visit to the thermal water baths would be a nice end to the day that could include a visit to Ramsar Palace Museum a 70 odd year old temporary residence of the Pahlavi’s. This short hike can be done in half a day and combined with a short visit to a Caspian beach, or rather what is left of it!
The forests and pastures of southern Tonekabon are vast. Here are only a few examples:-
A. Two days one night treks:
A1. Aghuzhal to Lemira. Drive Khoonegeli to Aghuzhal 17km 45 minutes forest dirt road, hike to Lemira, visit Lemira then continue to Lemira summit 2800m and return Bale Gardan shrine night in tent or a shepherds dwelling return to Aghuzhal via Valge Sar and Neyestan. Total hiking 8 hours day 1 and 5 hours day 2.
A2. Noosha and Kashtan. Khoonegeli to Noosha, night in tent or local house in Noosha, second day climb Kashtan summit 3300m and return via Gerd Kuh and other summits along the way like Charcot and Zard e Sar. Total hiking 4 hours day 1 and 9-10 hours day.
B. Multi day treks 3 days 2 nights including summits:
B1. Lemira to Laktarashan back from Jahak. This is a trek that will take you from Lemira (see above) to a sheep and goad pasture dwelling called Ravar where the first night will be spent amongst shepherds, you would never have thought they could live in such places, well above the forest line at an approximate altitude of 2700m but deep in a valley with amazing views of Nashemin and Kashtan summits and onto Laktarashan village on second day before heading back north again via a different route and spending a night in a forest dwelling called Jahak before returning to the road via Valge Sar village. Trekking time: day one 8 hours day two 6 hours and day three 5-6 hours
B2. Noosha to Aghuzhal via Nashemin and Ravar. A long route showing you some of the remotest and best kept secrets of Dohezar valley and Goleyjan district including some ancient settlements, alpine pasture and rocky summits. Nights in tents in Palungagardan 3000m and Ravar 2700m. Trekking hours day one 7 hours day two 9 hours day three 7 hours. This trek can be extended to include Laktarashan and a night in Jahak.
1. Siyah Kol Summit: this is a nice summit that is very doable in one day. It is just under 3000ms but the views are so spectacular that one feels in complete wilderness. The starting point is the village of Esel Mahalle in the Dohezar Valley some 35 minutes’ drive from Khoonegeli. Starting altitude 1000m.
2. Nashemin Summit: This remote 3300m rocky summit can be ascended from Shane Tarash 1700m and the return trail would be from Lemira via Aghuzhal 1200m or vice versa. It would be a long two day trek with one night spent in a tent. Total hiking per day 9 hours.
3. Hulu Kale- Chalaki- Kangarchal -Yaan return via Daryasar. Drive to Hulu Kale village (700m) in the Dohezar Valley, 35 minutes from Khoonegeli. Hike to Chalaki dwelling deep in the forest continue to above the forest line and camp for the night, tent or shepherds’ dwelling, start the second day climbing Kangarchal and Yaan summits 3300m and 3470m and return via Daryasar pasture plain to Esel Mahalle where you will be picked up and driven to Khoonegeli. Total hiking per day: 7-8 hours.
4. Kangarchal, Chalaki and Yaan are 3 summits all above 3000ms on a ridge to the east of Daryasar and they may be climbed in one day in spring until November and 2/3 days in winter.
1. Siyalan Summit 4250m literally translated as the black nest due to black rocks on the summit is the highest summit between Tonekabon and Alamut and reachable on the northern side from Daryasar plain (see above). It is a two day trek that crosses Hyrcanian forests, glaciers, and a small lake and has a view over Alamut valley and the village of Haniz. Night is spent either in Rahe Gardan at 2700m or Viney at 3600m. There is a trail that reaches Khoshkechal and Gazorkhan in the Alamut valley in the south, the village where the remains of the main Assassin’s castle is. The winter route is via Khane Bon summit at 3700m.
2. Alam Kuh summit via Hesar Chal. At 4850m above sea level is the second highest summit in Iran after Mount Damavand. The Hesar Chal route is the easiest and non-technical and can be done in 2 days and one night. Day 1 would be spent trekking from Tange Galoo at 3700m to Hesar Chal (4000m) and the second day is a 4 hour trek to the summit and another 5 hours back to Tange Galoo where a 4WD will drive you back to Khoonegeli.
The Alam Chal approach passing Siyah sangha is risky because of loose scree and is only recommendable for small groups up to 4 perhaps.
3. Siyah Kaman summit is a favourite of mine. It measures 4500m and can be climbed either via Nafte Chak (4000m) or Sar Chal refuge (3800m), either approach is a 6-7 hour trek first day and a longer one on day 2. From the summit the biggest glaciers and highest summits in the region including the mighty Alam wall can be viewed from very close range.
4. Kalahoo 4430m. This is one of the least visited summits belonging to the Alam massif, and it is one of the most spectacular one to climb from the Sehezar Valley. On a clear day once on the summit one may observe the Caspian Sea, dense Hyrcanian forests and summer settlements to the north, Alam Kuh and Takhte Soleyman and adjacent summits to the south, the Alamut ridge and valley to the south west and the mighty Mount Damavand to the southeast Day 1 drive to Darjan 1700m and trek to the cave 3600m night in tent day 2 summit and back to Darjan- drive to Khoonegeli. Total hiking 20 hours in 2 days.
5. Langari summit is one of the prettiest summits in the Sehezar Valley that is climbed in 2 days from Darjan it requires some basic rock climbing experience although it is not considered a technical summit, it measures just below 4400m. It is the first of tens of summits called the Haft Khan ridge many of which have rarely been climbed.
Every year we explore new routes in this region. The aim has been to offer 10 or even longer treks for 2017. If you are looking to do a trek for longer than 7 days then we would invite you to opt for an exploring trek.
The excursions are best done in March, April, early May and then October, November.
1. A 3 day trek along the sand dunes of Maranjab to or from Yakhab mountainous area. 7-8 hours of trekking (approximately 25km) per day . A 4WD will carry the logistics. A combination of 4WD riding and walking is also possible.
2. MTB from Matin Abad to Aran and Bidgol via Yakhab and Latif mountains. This is approximately 200Km of dirt road with spectacular views of desert and mountains as high as 2200m. This area is used by shepherds in winter. For further information please email.
Design your own routes anywhere in the Alborz mountain range and hire a guide, get some food and a tent and trust us take you on a trek of a life time at your pace like you have never experienced it before.
Lar is a national park close to Mount Damavand (5671m) and some of the most impressive 4000m + summits of central Alborz. It is an area where semi nomadic shepherds of the desert areas further south take their herds to graze in the summer months.
The best time to visits is when giant Damavand poppies are out and the area’s grassland is covered with wild flowers, this, in the 2 week window period when the park is opened to public and before the herds arrive to eat all that is colourful, which means sometimes in the first two weeks of June.
Entry for foreign visitors is not without hassle, a written permit is needed from the headquarters of the environment department in Tehran which is bureaucratic and time consuming (an entry fee is charged, for 2015 it was 50.000 Tomans per person) and overnight stay is forbidden. However, we have routes for you to enjoy a few days of this spectacular area.
L1 Hiking from Garmabdar to Yalrood in 3 days and 2 nights. This trek starts in Garmabdar an hour’s drive from Tehran and follows the old path that locals took for centuries getting from Mazandaran province to Tehran. There are dirt roads which were built after the revolution on old mule tracks for the shepherds and we will have to cross them on two occasions. The nights are spent in tents.
L2 Damavand Summit and Laar National park excursion 5 days. Climb the highest summit in Iran and then spend a couple of days visiting the National Park.
L3 Free roaming Lar. An exploratory trip in 4WD plus a mountain bike and on foot into the hidden valleys of Lar and the surrounding area visiting nomads. An excellent opportunity to hike, bike and take photographs of a large area in a short space of time. Tailor made to your time.
There are 2 bikes available for hire; a simple MTB with no forks suitable for rides around Khoonegeli and a professional MTB with front suspension FOX 120mm.You are welcome to bring your own!
1. The treks and their timing are all approximations taking into account average fitness levels under optimal late spring/summer climatic conditions. The treks are of varying degrees of difficulty please be honest with your degree of fitness and ability to withstand possible adverse weather conditions prevailing in remote mountain areas. We never take risks and endeavour to make the treks as enjoyable as possible but at the end of the day it is you who needs to do the walking! Ask for a horse or a mule to carry your gear beforehand if you feel the need to. The guides are well experienced and know the terrain well.
2. Most of the treks may be extended if you are not acclimatized.We strongly recommend you take this factor seriously so what is described as a 2 day trek may well be more of a 3 or even a 4 day trek for you. If in doubt please consult.
3. You are expected to have your own personal gear including backpacks, trekking poles, cups, cutlery, water bottles and adequate clothing and footwear. I can provide tents, some sleeping bags and mats if needed. For winter treks crampons, ice axe and down clothing may well be needed.
4. If you have a chronic illness for example diabetes or hypertention or take regular medication please let me know beforehand (remember I am a physician!). It is recommended to have travel insurance which covers mountain sports.
5. The majority of treks are tailor made and organized for you. However, if you wish to share some of the cost and there are other hikers interested in the same trek on the same dates you may share with them. The point to remember is that sharing with others will inevitably mean having a mixed group in terms of rhythm, fitness and tastes and you accept this on making a booking.