Iran: Mt Damavand Ascent

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Trip code: 
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Min age:
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Summit one of the tallest volcanoes in the Northern Hemisphere.

Mount Damavand, (5671m) towers over the barren and rugged slopes of the Elburz mountain chain in Iran and presents a compelling challenge for fit trekkers. Just 45 miles northeast of Tehran, and dominating the skyline, Mt Damavand's great height and classic volcanic shape grant it dominating presence. Snow-capped year round, it endures harsh winters but moderate summers. Though active, the volcano hasn’t erupted in modern times and is said to be in its final stages before becoming dormant. Nonetheless, warm mineral springs at its base and the absence of extensive glaciers are evidence of continuing internal activity. Though not technical, it is a tough climb to the summit but with a panoramic view of fertile mountains and valleys and sea to the north and barren deserts to the south it is also a very rewarding one.


  • Summit a classic snow-capped volcano
  • Admire the views of the Caspian Sea and surrounding areas
  • Climb the highest peak in western Asia

Key information

  • 5 days walking with full porterage
  • Good fitness required
  • Altitude maximum 5671m, average 3400m
  • Accommodation 5 nights camping, 3 nights en suite hotels
  • Group normally 4 to 12, plus leader. Min age 18yrs

What's included

  • All accomodattion
  • All breakfasts, 5 lunches and 6 dinners included
  • London flights (if booking incl. flights)
  • Airport transfers

What's not included

  • Travel Insurance
  • Single supplement available throughout the trip , including on trek
  • Visas or vaccinations



2-11 hours walking a day


High altitude; including steep, rocky terrain

Day by day breakdown
Day 35.0km/3.0miles
Day 42.0km/1.0miles
Day 52.0km/1.0miles
Day 66.0km/3.0miles
Day 77.0km/4.0miles

Responsible Travel

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Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 


  • Day 1

    Start Tehran; afternoon city tour.

    Those on the group flights are scheduled to arrive in the morning. After a rest at the hotel we will head out on a tour of some of Tehran’s sites including the National Museum with its collection of prehistoric, ancient and Islamic artefacts, the Golestan Palace and the blingtastic National Jewel Museum.
    Hotel Mashad

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 2

    Transfer to Nandal (2200m)

    Today we drive up to Nandal Village (time can vary with traffic out of Tehran but it should be about 4hrs). As we leave the capital city’s urban sprawl, the landscape turns stark and rocky, dotted with occasional trees. We stop for lunch on the way (at own expense) to break up the journey. The final hour or so of our drive is along a windy mountain road with great views of Mt. Damavand. We should arrive at Nandal Village (2,200m) mid-afternoon. It is a seasonal village which the inhabitants abandon in winter because of heavy rain and snow. Tonight was spend the night in a homestay. Sleeping arrangements are in dorm rooms with shared bathrooms. At the village we will meet the rest of the trekking crew who will accompany us on the trip.
    Nandal Homestay

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 3

    Short drive to Gousfand-Sara; ascend to camp at 3600m.

    After breakfast we begin this morning with a short drive (20 minutes) from Nandal to the little farming enclave of Gousfand-Sara. The drive is across wide trails and will be in the back of a pick-up truck so expect a bumpy ride. From here we begin our ascent of Damavand. We start on fairly obvious cattle tracks but these become gradually less well defined as we ascend and occasionally descend throughout the day. We will stop for lunch about half way through the day and we should reach our campsite (3600m) after approximately 5 hours of walking. The camp is not a permanent tented camp and you’ll have to assist in erecting and dismantling your tent. The site is in a fairly sheltered location with beautiful views. Trekking 5kms; aprox. 5hrs; Altitude gain: 1400m

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Trek to Takht-e-Fereydoun

    We continue to our second camp at Takht-e-Fereydoun where we spend three nights for acclimatisation purposes. We walk alongside a stream in a rocky gully before ascending a grassy hump and arrive at a flat, green meadow. From here there is a good pony path that winds upwards towards the eco-camp. The camp at 4350m is situated in a spectacular setting overlooking both Damavand and the valley below has twin-sharing lodge-tents, a dining room and kitchen and camp staff. In the afternoon there should be time for an acclimatisation walk to the ridge above the campsite. Trek 2kms; aprox. 4hrs; altitude gain: 750m.
    Takht-e-Fereydoun Eco-camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Acclimatisation day.

    Today is an acclimatisation day so we will go on a trek in the morning. Usually the route taken for this will be part of the summit route we walk tomorrow. The afternoon should be spent relaxing before the early start tomorrow. Trekking distance and time may vary, generally about 2hrs.
    Takht-e-Fereydoun Eco-camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Non-technical but strenuous ascent of Damavand (5671m); return to camp at Takht-e-Fereydoun.

    We will begin today’s climb early, whilst it’s still dark, for the final ascent of Damavand. Hot drinks and a basic breakfast will be provided before we leave the campsite. You will also be given a packed lunch to carry in your daypack. It will be a long day so you should also take any other energy snacks that you have. The climb begins on a good rubble path, which may even be snow-covered, until we arrive at a ridge. From here we gain spectacular panoramic views. Staying to the right of the glacier valley with fine views of colourful rocky pinnacles, we ascend steeply through snow and soft rock. At times we walk across patches of yellow sulphurous volcanic scree, interspersed with snow and rock, to reach a large landmark rock ahead of us which signals we are very near the summit crater. You will need to take your walking sticks as the snow can be deep in places. As we approach the crater rim the smell of sulphur is quite strong. A short walk to our left brings us to the highest point of the volcano with spectacular views to the south and across the snow-filled crater. We then make our descent, returning to camp for a well-deserved rest. Depending on conditions this can vary in time considerably. Trekking 3kms, the ascent takes approximately 6-7 hours and the descent a further 3-4 hours. Altitude gain (and loss) 1,320m.
    Takht-e-Fereydoun Eco-camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Descend to Nandal village; drive to Tehran.

    We begin our descent to the village of Nandal using the outward route. We will make our way back to the village of Gousfand-Sara via the route we used to ascend. We lose altitude quickly so the walk should not take more than 4 hours. On arrival at the farming hamlet we will stop for a traditional Iranian lunch before continuing in vehicles back to Nandal where we stop briefly before driving back to Tehran on the Haraz road in time for a hot shower and a bed! We should arrive in Tehran by 8pm but this will depend on traffic. Usually the group will go out in Tehran for our final dinner.
    Hotel Mashad or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    End Tehran.

    An early morning transfer to the airport for our return flight to London. The vehicle will arrive at the hotel very early. The trip ends after breakfast for those who have not booked the group flights.

    Meals included: Breakfast

Essential Info



Nearly all nationalities need a visa for Iran and the whole process can take up to 8 weeks. Before applying for a visa an authorisation number is required (which we will obtain for you through our partners in Iran – we will need a copy of your passport 12 weeks in advance). We will send your tourist number as soon as we have received it from the relevant authorities (usually 4-6 weeks prior to travel). The visa application process includes having fingerprints taken so everyone applying for a visa needs to go in person to apply. The cost of the visa is GB£150 for UK nationals and generally takes 10 days, it is possible to get an express same-day visa for a cost of GB£225. British, American and Canadian nationals need to obtain a visa before travelling to Iran. Most other nationalities including EU, Australian and New Zealanders can obtain a 30 day visa on arrival at Tehran Airport. We still recommend getting the Authorisation Number in advance as this will save time at the airport. The Iranian authorities now require people planning on getting their visa on arrival to pay for the visa in advance at the same time as getting the authoristaion number. The costs can vary from 60euros for New Zealanders to 145euros for Australians with most European nationals being around 75euros plus a 5euro administration fee. You may also wish to obtain the visa in advance. Some nationalities, including Americans, may be asked to be processed separately at immigration and give finger-prints. This is not a long or complicated process and should not be of concern. It appears that with the Iranian consulate in London now issuing visas it is no longer possible to apply for the visa abroad if you live in the UK. Please note that the visa situation for Iran may be changeable. More information is available on our Iranian Information Sheet (
Please note that visiting Iran may result in you needing to obtain a visa to visit the Unites States in the future.



There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Malaria prophylaxis is essential and we suggest that you seek advice from your GP or travel health clinic about which malaria tablets to take. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

All food included on trek, breakfast only in Tehran.

The quality of food is generally very good. Local fresh flat bread, dried fruits, nuts and sweets and dairy products such as cheese and yogurt are all delicious local specialities. There should be no problems with being a vegetarian on this trip, however please inform us ahead of time if you are a vegetarian or have any other special dietary requirements. The food while camping will be adequate but the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables will be limited. Typical meals whilst camping: Breakfast: White cheese, honey/jam, butter, flat bread, tea and coffee Lunch: Packaged meat (cold cuts), cheese, flat bread, jam or honey, nuts and fruits, tuna fish, chocolate. Evening meal: Hot soup or stew of available products, rice, pasta, tinned fruit, tea and coffee. Safe drinking water is provided whilst on trek. You will be able to fill up in the morning and evening at the campsites. You may wish to supplement this with water purification tablets too.


The best months for walking in Iran are June, July and August. In Tehran you can expect the temperature to rise to over 40ºC, but once we reach higher altitudes temperatures are more pleasant. Our first day's climb may be quite hot but from there on the temperatures are usually moderate during the day (usually in the low 20s) but will drop substantially at night when it can get as low as freezing. Generally the weather is dry but it can get very windy, particularly at night. On the ascent of Damavand we should avoid any severe winds as we approach from the NE and the wind blows from the west. As with all mountain conditions, occasional cloud and rain cannot be ruled out and you should bring appropriate wet weather gear.



Is this trip for you?

This is a grade 7 (strenuous) trek to one of the highest volcanoes in the Northern Hemisphere. Though not a technical climb under normal circumstances at the time of year when departures are scheduled, icy or windy conditions could make the summit day more difficult than expected. Night time can, at times, be extremely windy at the campsite but this usually dies down during the day. A good level of fitness is required and ideally you should have some experience of walking at altitude. Organised trekking trips in Iran are still in their infancy so you should be prepared to take things as you find them. You should not expect the same level of service as found on camping trips in Nepal or Peru with Exodus. Mules are used to transport everything rather than porters and there are fewer staff to assist with general camp chores. You will need to assist with erecting and dismantling your tent. You will be walking on sheep paths, some of which are ill defined, and the gradient is steep at times. The trails are mainly rocky and uneven underfoot. This, combined with the rapid gain in altitude, makes the trek very demanding. The day's climb to the peak itself is the hardest day and you can expect to be walking on snow and ice for some of the ascent. There are a couple of short scrambles and the sulphurous volcanic scree can be a bit slippery. The descent back to base camp is taxing on the thigh muscles and knees, adding to the difficulty of the day. Please note that Iran is an Islamic state. There is a strict moral and dress code for both men, who should wear long trousers and have their shoulders covered, and, in particular, women who need to cover their hair as well as wear a loose-fitting tunic or long shirt which covers you to the knees and hides your shape. Loose skirt or trousers should be worn covering the legs. This dress code should be adhered to from the moment you land or you may be refused entry. Once you have passed the final village on the trek (Nandal), however, things are more relaxed. Your tour leader will be able to advise you on when you can dress down, please note, however, that even then you will still need to cover your legs and shoulders. Iran is a ‘dry’ country and alcohol is strictly prohibited. You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference:


Hotels and Camping

1 night homestay, 3 nights permanent camping, 1 night basic camping, 3 nights en suite hotels.
The hotel in Tehran has standard en suite rooms. At Nandal we will be staying in a local house in the village. The sleeping conditions at the local house are in dorm-style room with shared bathrooms. We may be staying in one or two houses depending on the size of the group and the availability of the homestays. The following night is spent basic camping in normal tents which you will be expected to erect and dismantle yourself and with no toilet tent. The final accommodation we use, in Takht-e-Fereydoun, is an eco-camp with two-person ‘lodge-tents’ and has communal bathrooms.

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Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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