2024 Kooch

Kooch has always been an exquisite experience for me. During all these 6 years, I’ve gone on more than 15 Kooches and each time it has its epic novelty. Apart from the trip, the people with whom I undertake this seasonal migration (Kooch), the nomads, are also part of this uniqueness. This year, I’d say I had my best Kooches ever. From the greenest Zagros ranges to its snowy peaks & swollen rivers, to daily newborn kids, etc. It was my first time doing Kooch on rainy days and although it was tough I loved the sense of uncertainty among the nomads who had to decide whether they should continue the hike or camp as soon as possible before all their stuff got drenched. 2024 Kooch was such an amazing experience for me and I hope next year, we’ll have the same experience again.

Celili Peak and a herd guding by a Bakhtiari shepard

The Scorpion in 2024 Kooch

The penultimate day, was the day Nour Ali & Somaye reached their pasture. They were supposed to stay there for the next 6 months before their autumnal kooch started. That day, it was raining so heavily that even setting up the tents seemed impossible. The animals were sodden and took shelter under the trees. We were all gathered in Khorshid & Tala’s black tent around the fire. Suddenly we heard agitated talks from the other tent; Nour Ali & Somaye’s tent. A scorpion had bitten Somaye. We all ran outside but had no idea how we could help. They got the scorpion and put it on fire and Somaye put her arm above it so that the scar would be exposed to smoke from the same fire. Later, through Zeinab, I got to know about this belief among the nomads; that if a scorpion bites somebody, the same scorpion should be hunted and put in the fire otherwise as long as it’s free and moves around, the poison also moves in the body of the poisoned person.

A Nomadic Highway on 2024 Kooch

The next day, Nour Ali & Somaye decided to leave their pasture too and move with us to the next pasture, Ghole Fenjan, which was Khorshid’d final pasture. I guess they found it ominous to stay on the pasture where a scorpion had bitten the mom. Moreover, it feels safer to be close to another family especially when you have 5 little kids. So, when we reached the last pasture, Khorshid suggested that we prepare a new Leer for Nour Ali family before they arrive. Not only a leer but also a highway was built so the children of the two families could move more comfortably.

What Made 2024 Kooch Quite Epic

two nomad girls and a young boy riding on horses during their Kooch on the Zagros mountains

One of the highlights of Kooch 2024 for me was the number of us doing Kooch. Khorshid & Tala and all their children except Golbahar & Hossein which makes them 8, and Nour Ali & Somaye family and their 5 children which makes them 7, and 4 of us, and a huge number of horses, mules, and the herd which made our kooch quite amazing. It really reminded me of the old nomadic documentaries of 40 years ago of the Kooch experience, when a large group of nomads used to do Kooch together back then so that they could cope with the tough moments of the Kooch; rebuilding a damaged bridge, passing the herd through the mighty rivers, etc. 

Those Who Made the Toughest 2024 Kooch

I thoroughly enjoyed the company of Filian du, Ivan & Meike. I learned so many things from each one of them. I can say I had my most relaxing kooch time with these people and it didn’t feel like

I was on a tour but rather a very friendly trip. Not to mention that Mohammad’s presence is always so reassuring. I don’t think the nomads have ever had anyone as helpful as Ivan and although they were talking in their own dialect, I could see how happy they were with his presence and how much they admired his physical fitness. They called him ‘Zerang’ which means a very agile person. For Khorshid especially, Ivan was like a MUST for the shepherding part … a relief to have him while he was supposed to take care of the whole herd without Bahman who was responsible for the family. 

Mieke was the most introverted & the calmest traveler I’d ever met. She was as introverted as myself and I truly enjoyed her company. Although in the very beginning, because unlike other travelers, she didn’t express her feelings, I was a bit worried lest she was not enjoying the experience. So, unlikely of me, I decided to ask her directly if she was happy with what we were experiencing together…. and then when she told me “YES, I DO enjoy every moment of the trip …. I like it when we are in the car for hours without speaking together; you drive and me enjoying seeing my surrounding … “ it made me so happy because I exactly had the same feeling and it felt good that we were both enjoying what we were experiencing. That we were on the same page. Maybe she doesn’t notice that but from my point of view, her calm attitude toward the nomads’ lifestyle was so precious.

 

With Filian, we had our toughest Kooch. We passed the highest peak in the Zagros mountain and for me those moments on Celili Peak are so memorable. The constructive physical challenges and his impressive mental fitness. His tacit bond with the nomad family, especially with Ashkan, was amazing; the way they were trying to communicate & learn languages from each other. I’m sure the reason behind Ashkan enthusiasm to learn English & be a nomadic tour guide is dear Filian and the bond the formed.