Quetta - Zahedan border crossing (Pak -> Iran)

Is the road, border or area open and accessible to foreigners? Is there danger?
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Re: Quetta - Zahedan border crossing (Pak -> Iran)

Postby steven » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:14 pm

Please read and post reports on the Quetta -Zahedan border crossing between Pakistan and Iran below.

This post is for reports on the crossing from Pakistan to Iran. For reports on the crossing from Iran to Pakistan, see the Zahedan - Quetta (Iran -> Pak) border crossing topic.

We summarize all info on the Zahedan – Quetta border crossing page.
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Osc
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Pakistan-Iran border crossing by motorbike

Postby Osc » Sun Dec 10, 2017 4:11 am

Hi all,
We are three australians planning to cross from pakistan to Iran in 2018.
I have not come across any reports of anyone crossing the border in the Pakistan>Iran direction, let alone via motorcycle. If anyone is aware of any successful crossings in this direction please let me know!

If anyone has any input I have a few question about this crossing:
1. Are there any major logistical differences going from Pakistan to Iran, instead of the other way around which seems more common?
2. Regards the NOC, if coming from pakistan is it still required?
3. Do you think, even under escort, that riding motorcycles is significantly more of a security risk than via car or truck?

Any info appreciated!
Cheers
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Re: Pakistan-Iran border crossing by motorbike

Postby steven » Fri Dec 15, 2017 3:55 pm

Hi Osc,

I haven't done this myself so these are not sure answers grounded in experience. Just 'I think-answers' based on what I have read so far. Hopefully someone else who is more knowledgeable will chime in.

1. I am quite sure it's the same, in the sense that you need a guarded escort.
2. I think so
3. No.
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Quetta - Zahedan border crossing (Pak -> Iran)

Postby steven » Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:45 am

Another report, this time from the Pakistan to Iran route. Got it via mail, here is the full version, shortened version on the site.

Time: At 14th August 2017 the 70th Independence day was celebrated in Pakistan with an amazing Air-Force show in Islamabad.

Islamabad/Rawalpindi to Quetta:

One day before, I bought a train ticket at the Rawalpindi train station (Rawalpindi is located directly next to Islamabad) to Quetta. There is only one train company (Jaffar express) that offers service to Quetta (from my starting point) so I bought an economy ticket for around 12€.

It took me 4 days in total to get from Islamabad to the border-city in Pakistan called Taftan.

The journey takes about 30H, therefore I advise not to wear your best clothes as they will definitely get dirty. Make sure to bring enough food and water with you, although there is the possibility to buy something on the train. Moreover, Pakistani will definitely offer you to join them when they are having their meal. Every 1-2H a person is coming to check your ticket and even after the same ticket inspector came for a 4th time, he will still ask you to show your ticket and thus will sign it for the 4th time. The windows and even the exit-doors(!) will be open all the time during the journey, so the clothes, the luggage and your skin will become very sandy and there is no possibility to take a shower. There were no signs, but I guess officially it is forbidden to smoke on the train, but nobody actually cared about that.

As soon you are about to reach Baluchistan, police and army will be on the train and mainly walking along to find anything suspicious. So it might be
possible that your luggage will be searched. A couple hours before arriving in Quetta, a baluchistan police officer will ask to check your passport and write your name, destination, visa number etc. on a piece of paper.

I reached the train station of Quetta on a wednesday afternoon at around 3pm. After leaving the train, the police is already waiting for you. I found out that beside me, there was an Australian guy on the train whose destination was also Iran. We were brought to the train office where a commander was telling us that we will brought (with an escort) to Bloomstar Hotel and the price for one night would be 1000PKR. I asked if we could go first to the „Home Department“ to apply for the NOC, which is needed to continue the travel but this wish got declined.

The police dropped us two at the hotel and left. Moreover, the price was not 1000 PKR but 2500 PKR per person, which is a total rip off. I asked for a pricelist, but the answer was: „We don’t have a price list, prices are fixed“. I was checking online how much it would have cost to book it there and prices were between 1500-1800 PKR for a single room. As I mentioned that, the receptionist told us that these websites are fake and wouldn’t work with them.
As the police had already left, we had no choice but to stay at the hotel and agreed to a price of 4000 PKR for a double room with included breakfast.

The bloomstar is trying to get as much money as possible from tourists, as e.g. we only got breakfast for only 1 person, because we only booked 1 room (a double-room as mentioned). You are not allowed to leave the hotel without police, so for any groceries you may want to get, you give the receptionist a list with what you need and they will get that for you. Although the local market is only a 1-minute walk away, the hotel charges you 100% extra.

Thursday morning then, the police picked us up on 3 mopeds with 5 people so you get seated inbetween the driver and guard. First moped with one driver was there to scout the situation, the 2nd and 3rd moped was full with 3 person each (driver, foreigner, guard with AK47 long-version).

After spending about 2 hours at the home department with lots of hand-shaking, we finally got the NOC which said that we were able to leave Quetta by bus today at 4pm. As we already checked out from the hotel, the police brought us to a police station nearby the departure place of the bus and we
paid them some money to get us some food. After couple of hours, we were escorted to the bus, bought the tickets and finally entered the bus. But all of a sudden, 5 mins till departure, we were asked to leave again. There shall be a security problem and we couldn’t take this bus. This was the only info we got so far. We got the 1000 PKR bus ticket refunded, but refused to go back to the hotel as especially I was running short on my Rupies and the exchange rate at the hotel was really bad.

So we were escorted to another police station, that had no clue nor information about what do to with us. We got quite angry as we went through the whole burocratical hassle, but still were denied to go with the bus and left without any explanation.

What I realised now is that Pakistanis cannot stand foreigners being angry so the try to comfort them as much as possible. We were told somebody would come in 1 hour and would explain us what’s up and then we would be able to take the next bus. They promised we needn’t pay for another night at the hotel and some other stuff.

4 hours passed and nobody was actually coming to help us. Little bit frustrated I contacted some couchsurfing friends that I met in Karachi, Lahore and
Islamabad asking for help. One of my friends then had 3 friends in Quetta who directly agreed to come to the police and help us. 30mins later, they actually arrived. It was about the time to find out what has been the reason why we couldn’t go with that bus.

Actually, a bus convoi of 50-70 busses (different numbers were told to us) with Pakistani pilgrims were on their way back from Iran to Pakistan that night. And these pilgrims could be potentially attacked. Therefore the whole police was busy escorting these busses and occupying the whole road. That meant, that the other direction, Pakistan to Iran, was closed for some hours until these busses had made their way. And it would have been too risky for „our“ bus to wait couple hours beside the highway with two foreigners inside.

Furthermore, our new friends offered us to stay at their house in Quetta, but of course this was declined by the police for security reasons. At about 10pm we were brought back to the hotel and of course we had to pay 4000 PKR again. The next problem arised when I checked our NOC again. I realised, it was only valid for today. So we actually had to visit the home department again tomorrow (which was a friday) and on fridays it closes early at around 12:30pm.

The next morning at 8am we were down at the reception asking them again to call the police for us (it takes about 1-2hours until they arrive). We made it just in time and got the documents within 30mins. Wisely I asked beforehand, wether it is possible to extend the validity for tomorrow as well which was
accepted. We got new tickets for the bus and at 4pm we were quite happy to finally leave that city. Especially, as 5 days prior to our arrival, a police truck was bombed in Quetta.

Quetta-Taftan

This bus journey takes about 12-13 hours with several stops for prayers and meal. After 200km, a police guard joined for security reasons. On the first
100km, the bus stops several times and some people leave, some people join. Then, in a 30-45min circle, check-points along the road will control the bus and every time each foreigner had to get out of the bus and sign in a book (Name, age, Visa number, passport number etc). As you have to get out of the bus every 30mins, you won’t get that much of sleep.

At 11pm, deep in the darkness, we two foreigners were asked to stay outside at the check-point because the security guard’s shift was „over“ and we weren’t allowed to travel without security. Our luggage was unloaded and the bus was about to leave. What the hell could one do?! In the middle of the night, with 3 police-men standing at the check-point and waiting for whatever to happen.

I was sure that it would be more dangerous staying at this check-point than taking this bus till Taftan. I was telling we paid for the full trip to Taftan and
thus it should get provided. After couple of minutes, one of the check-point policemen agreed to accompany us until the next check-point hoping there
would be a regular police men. So, our luggage was loaded again and we made it to Taftan. Arrival was at about 5:00am but the border opens at 9:00am. So we were brought to the police station in Taftan, which is also a prison. At one of the officies, I was able
to charge my phone and finally get a couple of hours of sleep.

Iran:

After a short walk, we arrived at the border at 9am. The Iranian visa was checked, the passport got stamped and we were heading to the Iranian
customs. The fact that I was carrying two passports, one with my Pakistani Visa, the other contained my Iran visa, was not a problem at all. But my baggage was checked twice and our passports were confiscated as we weren’t allowed to leave without an escort.

3 hours passed until finally a Pick-up arrived. We were seated on the truck bed surrounded by heavily armed iranian army guys. The goal was to reach Zahedan which is located about 90km far away from the border. Funny fact, after 5km, we were asked to get off and had to wait for a new escort. This procedure has already been described by plenty of other travelers. 2 escorts later, we arrived another police check-point and had to get out of the truck.

At 2 pm now, middle of nowhere during summer times with hardly any shadow we were left next to the car directly at the street while the security was opening the entrance gate to a police station. Of course it was directly closed and we were on our own. After 30mins waiting time, an officer finally came to us and took us with his car to Zahedan where the local „Tourism-guy“ was already waiting for us. As I had already an Iranian sim-card from a previous Iran travel and furthermore had enough Iranian Rial with me, I politely declined this help and made my way straight up to my host which I found on couchsurfing.com in advance.

To sum it up: This border crossing is quite a hassle and only recommend if you are quite adventurous.
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