In Iran we are not permitted to sleep in the Landcruiser and so basically we are motoring across Iran and staying in lodgings and occasionally low budget hotels. We have an Iranian guide who is a passenger in the car and we spend far less time on our own in Iran. The arrangement has advantages in that we are not route planning or struggling with communication when topping up the fuel, interpreting menus, finding our hotels etc.
We have now motored over 9,000 kilomètres in the Landcruiser, now with a guide and his luggage and it is true that the car was expressing some unhappiness about the extent of the high mountain passes between Takht-e-Suleyman and Zanjan. We are still getting acquainted and the car does have some surprises from time to time.
I was trying to go as fast as we could, to minimise the hours on the road. The car had other ideas and decided I should slow down or otherwise it was going to overheat. Given that we were fully loaded and had a passenger and a full tank of fuel, I had some sympathy with the car given the number of steep mountain passes involved!
We put Landy into 4 wheel drive to see if she was happier in the very steep ups and downs. It felt a good move. The problem was that 4WD does not easily pop out again when no longer required. (It manœuvres much better when not in 4 wheel drive.) So eventually, thanks to advice from Paul Blackburn back in the UK, on arrival in Zanjan, we reversed the car around a parking lot and ping, 4WD popped out!
A couple of days later in Esfahan, the gear lever started jamming and every now and then it randomly seemed reluctant to go into any gear at all. That was not totally funny in slightly crazy busy Iranian town traffic when the car won’t move or pull over! We all kept calm and eventually we got going again. We decided to take her to a Toyota garage for a bit of a once over to see if the clutch might be on its way out. I then remembered that I had failed to manually turn off the 4WD on the front axles. I don’t think it should affect the clutch a few days later but? However, I have to admit that the gears have not jammed since I have turned them in the correct position.
To be on the safe side, we found a Toyota main dealer and they took one look at the advanced age of our car (1994) and redirected us to a less affluent part of town to find alley 25! They thought possibly a new clutch plate was required and it was not going to be done today by them.
Even with the help of Reza, our ever helpful guide and translator, finding Alley 25 was challenging. When we got there, we found a scruffy lock up garage stuffed with ancient Toyota’s and a man working alone.
He gave Landy the once over and thought that the clutch was ok. He did however dismantle the gear lever and replaced a rubber ring at its base at the cost of £4. It has not jammed since. So we will see what happens over the next few days.
We then went off to a car wash, as tomorrow we are to visit Cyrus the Great’s tomb on the way to Shiraz and we felt that a bit of a brush up was required.
What we have not told Landy yet, was that we went into a cafe in Esfahan and there on a noticeboard was a postcard of a virtually identical Landcruiser also following the Silk Road. They were a German Couple who had passed through last year.
Returning from Bam today, we decided to top up on fuel. The garage we found did not have a ‘tourist’ fuel card for diesel and therefore we needed help from a truck driver. A deal was done and we got 80 litres of diesel for 6 Euros! We would have paid 4 x that if we had paid the tourist rate. Still think about it.
We popped into a fab Iranian oasis garden (Shazdeh Garden) outside Mahan. There in the desert is this amazing water garden surrounded by mature trees and a cascade of man-made waterfalls. There in the car park we spied another Overlander! Unfortunately we did not meet the owners. The Uni-Mog had attracted quite a crowd, putting Landy into the shade.