This post is about the beautiful Alamut Valley and the castle of the Assasins and my experience as a solo female traveller. The Alamut valley was one of the highlights of my trip to Iran, not necessarily because of the crusader castle, but because of its astounding mountain sceneries.
Most of my trip to Iran included cities, full of stunning Islamic architecture that makes you forget that Iran is also blessed with beautiful nature. If you love hiking and the outdoors you should definetly include the Alamut valley in your itinerary.
From Qazvin to the Alamut Valley
It was an early start from Qazvin to get to Gazor Khan in the Alamut valley. A 3 hour drive in a shared taxi through mountain roads in the mist and pouring rain. The rain sometimes changed into snow and all I could see from my window were thick clouds passing by.
The winding roads were hard on my still empty stomach and those of the other passengers. By the time I just wanted to get out of the small taxi we arrived in Gazor Khan. A small mountain village in the heart of the Alamut valley. The couple in my taxi immediately invited me for a cup of tea in their house.
Gazor Khan’s hospitality
It was my first, but not last introduction to Gazor Khan’s hospitality. They had a small house with one large room. There was no furniture, but their biggest pride was the carpet covering the whole floor. We all gathered around a samovar in the middle of the room.
They shared tea, fresh bread and cheese with me. They insisted I could sleep in their house, but considering the small room I left once the rain cleared up.
I checked in at the Hotel Koosaran, the only hotel in town and an experience in itself. The hostel owner did not look friendly at first and it took some time for her to open up to me. I was shown the room and informed about how things work in her place. She turned out to be a very good cook and the next days I enjoyed her homecooked food such as kuku sabzi and vegetable stew.
Cherry blossom and the castle of the Assassins
Gazor Khan is a small cherry blossom village in the Alamut mountains. The Alamut castle in Gazor Khan is the main attraction in the area. I did not think the castle was very special, but the climb is worth it for the views over the valley. There I met Ahmed and his children who were herding their goats back down the mountain.
They were intrigued by a woman travelling alone. Ahmed called his wife to invite me over for dinner. An invitation I felt I could not decline. Ahmed came to pick me up in the evening. His wife had prepared several stews and salads. All very delicious. The children were still shy, but also curious. Unfortunately nobody spoke english, but their friendliness and hospitality didn’t need any language.
There are several hikes you can do around Alamut, but I decided to take it easy and make some smaller walks around the village. The village is not that big and once you are outside you have amazing views everywhere you go.
The whole morning I spent walking around the area before it started raining again. It was friday so the rest of the afternoon I spent at the balcony of my hotel. It was friday and despite the rain the main square was busy with people going to the mosque.
Back to Qazvin
The next morning I took a shared taxi back to Qazvin. Without the mist and rain I could now fully enjoy the beautiful scenery on the way. I was with an old couple in the back, while the driver managed to fit 4 people in the front. All squeezed together we made our way back to Qazvin.
The old couple also needed to go to Tehran and sort of adopted me to make sure I was in the right bus. The first bus was apparently not good enough. The lady said the seats looked too old. She grabbed my arm and left. I didn’t see much difference, but she assured me the other bus was much better.
I had to sit next to her and she kept feeding me sunflower seeds. In Tehran she made sure I went to the right direction to catch the metro before we parted. The last bit of Gazor Khan’s hospitality.
Accomodation in the Alamut Valley
Hotel Koosaran in Gazor Khan. 300,000 rials for dormitory bed, chances are good you have the dormitory for yourself. The guestbooks are also a good source of information for possible treks in the area.
How to get to the Alamut valley
From Qazvin there are shared taxi’s to Gazor Khan (200,000 – 300,000 rials). They leave early morning around 7 AM from Qaribkosh square. Beware that Alamut castle is in Gazor Khan and NOT in Alamut town (Mo’allem Kelayeh).
When arranging a taxi make sure you are specific in saying you want to go to Gazor Khan. To get back to qazvin ask hotel koosaran to reserve a seat in a shared taxi. Shared taxi’s back to Qazvin leave at 7 AM.
To read more about everything there is to do in my post on the best of Qazvin: a city of surprises.
Ellis is a travelblogger from the Netherlands with over 20 years of experience as an independent budget traveller in more than 50 countries. She has a Master degree in Cultural Anthropology and Global Health with a specialization in South Asian cultures and the Caucasus.