Mt. Damavand Climb – the Cultural Excitement

by: Dan Renyi

Fun jeep rides around Damavand...
Fun jeep rides in Iranian mountains...


One of the most unrecognized high peak treks on the globe is Iran’s Mt. Damavand (5671 m). Just yesterday, we threw a really sweet Mt Damavand climb package on the website. We’re pretty good at doing Iran; Daniel, our mountain guide has been to and travelled accross the country on several occasions – mostly doing photography and guiding.

He’s really at home when it comes to Persian (that is…: Iranian) culture and customs. Here’s an extract from our website on what to look out for in Iran in terms of culture.  For starters, don’t refer to them as Arabs… They’re Persians, which is a different people.

There is no need to bring shorts – you shouldn’t wear them in this country. Bring a light, breezy pair of pants.

Local Customs which are Interesting and Should be Respected

You are visiting a country with a very special – and for Westerners, unusually strict – Islamic culture, conduct and customs. Here is what to keep in mind: long pants for gentlemen, scarf for ladies at all times, even on lower regions of the mountain. The scarf can be any color and material as long as it covers your hair. For you ladies, a long sleeve shirt is highly recommended to avoid ridiculed stares. Please respect these basic things.

Here are some other customs:

  • Western women can talk to anyone and can shake hands with men as well. Wesetern gentlemen can only shake hands with Persian (Iranian) women, if she initiates. Men can flirt with women as long as they’re in a smaller group. However, private conversations are forbidden. As a basic rule, men shouldn’t touch Iranian women.
  • It’s customary to reject favors and invitations three times. If you’re offered the favor for the fourth time, you should accept. Exceptions: tea and smaller favors.
  • Money isn’t everything! If you’re shopping, do engage in the conversation with the shopkeeper about where you’re coming from etc. It’s rude to ask about the price right away.
  • Iranians are very interested in the West, and in you. If you show them pics from home, give them postcards, and just chat with them, they’ll be enormously happy.
  • When getting into a taxi, be sure to get crystal clear on the destination and the price. Otherwise, they’ll rip you off in the end.
  • If you run into trouble, just start shouting. In no time, a crowd will form around you and they will take your side (and do justice to the other party) – Iranians love tourists. They are among the most hospitable people in the world.
  • Bring a photocopy of your passport and visa with you to town. If a cop asks for your papers, give him the photocopy first – just in case they aren’t entirely friendly and benign, it’s better to keep the original passport on you and give him a photocopy instead.
  • Alcohol and drugs are strictly forbidden in this country. Both are easy to obtain, but if you are found possessing or using them, you risk serious fines, jail and in extreme cases, a death penalty. We cannot take responsibility for you in this respect. Save the beers (and the joint) for celebrating your climb at home.


The most popular food on the street is the sandwitch. This can be kebab, falafel. If you’re a hard core try-it-all, you have your pick of hot-dog, liver and brain-filled sandwitches. We haven’t yet dared try the latter.

You won’t be disappointed with local food. If your a veggie, it’s a bit more difficult, but you can get along fine. Forget alcohol and go for fruit shakes, among which – in our opinion – watermelon ice-shakes are the peak of fine gastronomy. There are all the Coke imiations, too: Farsi-Cola, Zamzam-Cola, Mecca-Cola. You’ll get to drink a bunch of tea, too. Bottled water can be purchased almost everywhere.