Many of our fellow readers already knew that after India we had planned to go to Iran. We wanted to visit this country mainly for two reasons: first, to explore the culture and the Persian heritage and second, because we had heard so many good things about the Iranians and their hospitality. And despite the political situation, we were told that once you are in the country, you almost forget about the brutal Islamistic regime.
But in order to enter Iran, you need a visa and the process is quite complicated. You need a letter of invitation and it is most common to receive it from a travel agency, which helps you during the application process afterwards. So when we were at the end of our travel through China, we filled in the online form for the first time, giving all our personal details, our travel plan for Iran, and the wish to “pick up” our visa in Mumbai before taking the plane to Tehran. However, the travel agency explained us that once the application is accepted (usually after 10 days), you have to go the consulate within the next month to get the visa. For us, this would have been too late since Mumbai was the last city in India we wanted to go to. So we filled in the online form a second time (already being in Kathmandu), but now we asked to send the visa to the consulate in Hyderabad, which we would visit much earlier.
We knew that our travel entry date was just after the Iranian presidential election date, so we were quite nervous whether the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) would allow us to enter the country for the requested period. But on the last day of our trekking through the Annapurna region, we received the great notice that our visa was approved for the desired time and that we should go to Hyderabad to “pick up” our visa. We were very happy about that and booked our flights from Mumbai to Tehran and from Shiraz to Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania). Had they refused the visa right away at this stage, it would not have been any problem at all, given that we had some alternative plans in mind. Continue reading