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Backpacker ‘Dices with Death’ in Iran

Leon McCarron, from Northern Ireland, has traced the longest river in Iran from it’s source to the point at where it meets the sea and has described it as a trip which left him ‘dicing with death’ at points.

McCarron and his backpack walked, kayaked and biked his way along the river’s source in the snowy mountains of the south west to the Persian Gulf, in a country not often frequented by backpackers as it has been deemed unsafe by the FCO (and the travel insurance industry alike).

Mr McCarron said: “A lot of Iranians would often say anything is possible in Iran, it is their motto and one has to agree; within 20 minutes we were fully kitted out for a bicycle expedition, we had to promise to have lots of fun and take pictures to send back to him.”

Whilst the Foreign and Commonwealth Office widely advise against all but essential travel to Iran, tour operators and many others in the tourism industry have seen a rise in holiday bookings to this wild and wistful destination that George Bush once controversially claimed was ‘the axis of evil’.

McCarron’s backpacking expedition took more than a month and he intends on creating a film based upon his 450-mile adventure along the course of the river.

Leon walked for a week along the banks of the river from its source until it became wide enough and deep enough for him and a friend to float their kayak. To navigate, they used a map they had retrieved which has been drawn up by the Russians during the Soviet era.

McCarron lists highlighted such as Shushtar, the summer capital of what was once the Persian Empire – a place which boasts incredible water features and is renowned worldwide for its historical hydraulic system that uses the river water and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

But there were dangerous points too – at one particularly life-threatening moment Mr McCarron’s kayak capsized in deep rapids, and his paddle was instantly sucked under the water by a vigorous whirlpool which had formed. “It probably scared me more than anything else I did on my trip,” said Leon.

The pair soon decided that travelling by kayak meant they were dicing with death a little too much, “I think I am more of a low-adrenaline adventurer” claimed McCarron, and so the pair took to bicycles despite running out of money due to Iran being unrecognised by the international cash machine network.

Mr McCarron and his friend managed to complete their trip by travelling to the Gulf, near the city of Abadan and Basra, well-known cities by British troops throughout the Iraqi conflict.

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