Tehran, Mount Tochal
One of my 30 THINGS TO DO BEFORE I TURN 30 is to travel to a country I’ve never been to before, and I did it! Not to a place many might venture but we went anyway and I’m glad we did!
When I told my family and friends that we were going to Iran, their eyes widened, jaws hung, and they went “huhhhhhhh?”!
Well, we have the media to blame. Very few have visited the country but many have heard about Iran via CNN or BCC News, and they have little good things to say about Iran. So I am not surprised when they got bowled over. But let me tell you, first hand, Tehran (Iranian Capital City) is a peaceful and clean city. However, I wouldn’t recommend you to travel on your own unless you speak Persian (it’s better to explore the city with a local). Not many people there speak English and transportation isn’t as convenient, yet. I can’t say the same in three to five years because this beautiful country is growing at an exponential rate. Currently, over 90 shopping malls and hotels are in the mist of construction, and MRT stations will be ready in two years. Very soon, Iran will be the next Dubai, only better!
TEHRAN, MOUNT TOCHAL
The first place Amu Ali (our super duper awesome host) brought us to, was to Mount Tochal! It was about 19°C at sea level and -6°C at the highest peak of the mountain (3,933m). The mountain has a 12 km long ridgeline and many (both the young and old) were geared to trek up the slope but we weren’t. We weren’t even dressed enough for the drastic change of weather up there. Thankfully, we had a super duper awesome host who prepared everything for us! He first passed us some thermal pants when we met at the hotel, so we could get changed before driving to the foot of the mountain. And later passed us scarfs, winter hat, gloves, and thick jackets as we ascended the mountain on a gondola lift (or Tochal Telecabin), which ran from Tehran to the Tochal Ski Resort.
The gondola lift has four stations:
- Station 1 is at an elevation of 1,900 m and located at the beginning of Velenjak Valley. Parking, inns and some other facilities are available.
- Station 2 is at 2,400 m and has very limited facilities.
- Station 5 is at 2,935 m. There is a restaurant and a rescue centre. The station is in the middle of one of the ski slopes which is open only in mid-winter but rarely used. This station is also accessible through several climbing paths like Shirpala shelter, Osoon valley and Palang-chal shelter. In order to get to Station 7, you have to change here.
- Station 7 is at 3,740 m and very close to the Tochal main ridge. It is the last station of the gondola lift. This station is in the middle of the Tochal ski slope. The Tochal main peak is a 30-minute walk from this point. This station is also reachable from Hezar-cham climbing path from Station 5.
None of us trek up the mountain. We all took the gondola lift (well, I had to carry Sonia most of the time, so walking was a bad idea).
The minute we stepped out of the gondola lift, we saw a vast land of powdery snow. Winter was over, and it is now spring, but still the land was covered with a coat of lovely white snow.
Sonia was feeling really tired and slept most of the time we were up at Mount Tochal. First, jetlag (4-hour time difference is a big deal to a toddler). Second, high altitude (mean low pressure and lesser oxygen to breath). After this experience, I wouldn’t recommend any parent to take their toddlers up to any kind of mountains until they are much older.
We were thankful for the beautiful weather! It was cold but sunny and not at all windy. Phew! We wouldn’t have had so much fun if it was windy.
Yup, we took turns to carry Princess Sonia. She now weighs 13.8kg and I wouldn’t have survived this trip if I had to carry her ALL THE TIME (literally).
Thank you, Amu Ali and family! We had an awesome awesome time!
And when she eventually woke up, she had a whale of the time playing with snow. Even if it was just for 5 minutes, I’m glad she did actually experience snow. Just then, it really snowed. It was Sonia’s first experience with snow!
The pictures tell it all – she had so much fun with snow!
But after 5 minutes, she got tired again and went on to sleep.
The next time Sonia woke up was when we had lunch. There is only one cafe at the mountain so it is hard to miss! The food there were pretty alright. People here love naan (barbari bread), pizza, grilled poultry, cheese, salad, and lots of yogurt.
When we eventually went down the mountain, we started removing our clothes, one by one (because it was much warmer at sea-level)!
We could have spent the entire day at the mountain if we trekked up the slopes but we didn’t, so by mid-afternoon, we had decided to call it a day. Sonia was feeling really tired (so were we). So we got back to the hotel to rest.
If you want to know what’s a good place to put up at Tehran, I recommend the Espinas Palace Hotel. We had an awesome view, overseeing the city. Even the Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi and many other ministers from various countries stayed at the Espinas Palace Hotel while we were there. Security was tight those two days but it was an eye opener for us! If Tehran government put their VIPS and delegates at Espinas, you can be sure that’s a safe place to stay!
More about our Tehran Trip in my next post!