INFORMATION CORRECT AS OF JANUARY 2009
We are in Quetta at the moment (Pakistan) but leave tonight for Sukkur by bus. We were going to cycle but the local tourist manager says the local tribes have a habit of shooting on vehicles on the road from Quetta to Sukkur so thought better to be safe. The shorter route going east (toward Lahore) is forbidden to foreigners. We know of one motorcyclist who was escorted from Quetta all the way to the Indian border so not arguing about it.
If you cycle from Bam to Zehadan you will probably be picked up by a police escort for the remainder of the journey. If staying in Zehadan best to wave down a cop and ask to be escorted as many hotels dont take foreigners.. until you turn up with the police. Even better skip Zehadan which we hated as a nasty atmosphere and head for the border post (not Mujava) which you will probably miss as it seams to close about 3.30pm and stay at the really nice government hotel just outside the border post gate for $10 incl clean hot showers! Restaurant there too. A pickup from Zehadan to border will take about 1 hour 15 min. and seems to cost a standard 1000 rps. It will probably be escorted, which can cause delays. Bus from tatty Taftan to Quetta leaves about 4pm so mid morning crossing to get organised is good. (Pakistan 1 hour 30 min. ahead of Iran remember!) Sharks will quote 60 rupees for $1 (official rate 78) at border but if you say youll change up in Taftan they will panick and go up to 70 rupees. Dont accept less. In center of Taftan (not a hell hole at all - just a complete mess but friendly - a ten minute cycle from border) there are a choice of buses. If you decide to cycle this stretch - Im sure youll be stopped - you are mad!!! If feeling tight you can get a bus for 600 rps to Quetta on a rusting dinosaure but if you want luxury go for the Wali Express (I kid you not) for 1000 rps. Both include bikes on roof and 1000 rps we paid was the same as everyone else. (Amazingly enough!) Only 3 seats across so like armchairs and so new still has plastic on the leatherette seating. Really comfortable! Leaves 4pm arrive Quetta about 3am. If anyone on board has taxi waiting ask if taxi driver will come back for you. We stayed at Hotel Bloom Star (taxi 200 rps) for 800 rps (slightly better room 1000 rps) with private bathroom and satalite TV (yea.. film channel and BBC at last!!!) Open 24/7. Quetta rough and edgy but the people really nice - been here 3 or 4 days without incident.
Oh, we missed the border crossing on last day of our visa by 30 minutes. Went to border next morning and they sent us back to Zehadan where we had to spend a second night and pay... wait for it ... $140 for a 48 hour extension! ($70 each). I cant believe I just typed that without using the F word a thousand times.
What can i say? 90 % of the city lies destroyed, to many people dead to count, the towns main tourist attractions are gone.
Although the visit of Bam was one of the absloute highlights of my trip through Iran i dont recommend going there now. I have no doubt that the city and its attractions will be rebuild but it will take many years.
BUT...there are so many beautifull spots in Iran. So dont let this tragedy keep you from visiting this fascinating country!
BAm will always have a special place in my heart and i hope that someday it will be the beautifull place again that it once was.