Iran says no to Sam

Today we received some disappointing news… it seems that Iranian visa rules have changed and I am no longer able to apply for a visa for independent travel. UK citizens are now required to have a ministry of foreign affairs (MFA) government minder with them at all times. Of course this has to be paid for, as well as the minders accommodation and food so would be a minimum of 100 euros per day – clearly not an option for us. There is a real lack of information online about this and why it has happened, but most likely a result of the UK government’s insistence on stronger sanctions on Iran. There has also been a continued degradation and increased rhetoric between the two countries, the UK has placed various travel and visa restrictions on Iranian citizens so it seems to be a tit for tat business. This is really disappointing for us, Iran is a country with a ridiculously rich history and friendly people. It is supposed to be an excellent place to cycle through and was a real highlight for us, it is somewhere I have wanted to visit for such a long time. It also leaves us with a bit of a planning headache, it’s a huge country and is bang in the way, there is no going around! To the north is Russia which is cold, miserable and we have no intention of wasting our time applying for visas. Our plans to take the Ukrainian ferry across the Black Sea would corner us into the Caucuses with no viable way to leave, and flights from this region are limited to say the least. Again this leaves another region uncertain, we both want to have entered Iran through the Caucuses. What to do? We have no idea at the minute, one option is to fly from Turkey to Sri Lanka/India to explore for a certain amount of time and to wait to see if visa relations improve. There isn’t really another option at the moment! Thanks to the UK government’s policies over the last few years, travel on a UK passport is perhaps the most expensive out of any and the costs have risen significantly in the last 3 years. Visa fees tend to be reciprocal and mine are almost always 2 or 3 times higher than Sheena’s – frustrating! At the moment we are going to continue down into Albania and through Macedonia, we have requested information from a number of different groups and are exploring a few potential loopholes that may enable me to obtain a visa but it is not looking hopeful at the moment. Boo to bureaucracy…

 

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