from Iran Nomad Tours

Latest blog posts

conservation of indigenous cultures Iran nomad tours

Conservation of Indigenous Cultures: Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

At a time when we can have access to data about various cultures around the world, personal stories pave the way for a better understanding of cultural diversities. Watch the following movie to see how Tala Sadat is proud of her nomadic lifestyle.

bakhtiari nomads of Iran

Kooch: An Epic Migration in an Ancient Nomadic Style

Gilgamesh- Kooch: epic migration in an ancient nomadic style
This article which is about Iran nomads’ transhumance (kooch) is published in the heritage and tourism magazine of ‘Gilgamesh’, No. 7, Autumn 2019

Kooch (Transhumance, kuch, Seasonal Migration) is the act of moving with livestock between summer and winter pastures (Yaylaq & Qishlaq) in search of grasslands for the livestock. Kooch (or Kuch or Koch) is the very epitome of a nomadic lifestyle. Because of ecological factors, each year one group of Iran nomads embarks on their seasonal migration on mountainous hinterlands of Zagros. Their kooch is a vertical one (vertical transhumance). In summer, they move to higher pastures where the weather is cooler, and in winter they come down to lower valleys. They usually go to the same pastures each year. The bigger families have their own pastures. Therefore, nobody else is allowed to camp in their pastures. The smaller ones join together to do kooch, for example, brothers or cousins do the kooch together. Sometimes, in families with small children or heavily pregnant women, only the nomad men and the livestock kooch, while the family move with cars.

Recently, the number of families who perform kooch in its traditional way has fallen drastically. On the one hand, some believe their nomadic lifestyle and not having a fixed habitation is tough, and on the other hand, they can’t stand not living as a nomad.

1. Definition

The word kooch comes from Turkish dialect, meaning ‘moving’, ‘moving of a group from a place to another’, ‘a group who moves in deserts’. In Lorish dialect, it refers to nomads’ seasonal transhumance between pastures with their livestock.

2. History

According to Encyclopǣdia Iranica, the traditional Bakhtiari way of life began in the Zagros highlands from the thirteenth century, “at first under the impact of the Mongol invasions, and probably attained its present form during the eighteenth century, in a defensive reaction against increasing fiscal and administrative pressures experienced under successive Iranian régimes.” Based on what the excavators found near Kermanshah and Khuzestan, it has been found out the age of kooch and basic models of farming goes back to more than 7000 BC. There are some hypotheses saying the earliest evidence of nomadism in Iran goes to Lur, Bakhtiari, and Qashqa’i nomads in prehistoric and Bronze Age of Iran.”

To know about the origin of kuch, we need to know about the origin of Bakhtiari people as they have performed it since centuries ago. But the history of these people and their tribes who are known as indigenous people of Iran has remained unknown. It is not clear when these people have come to the area, and what is their origin. Therefore, it is not clear since when these people have started doing kuch.

3. Iran Nomad Tribes

Iran has various kinds of tribes such as Lors, Kurds, Balooch, Arabs, Turks, and Guilaks. But the most well-known nomad tribes are Turkeman, Shahsevan, Bakhtiari and Qashqayi people. Nomads of Iran are the indigenous people of Iran who have their origin in about 8000 or 10000 years ago. They are independent, simple, hard-working people who have chosen to be on the move to make a living. They all settled in various parts of Iran, and they are from different ethnic backgrounds; some Turks are located in North West of Iran, others are habitants of Zagros and Alborz Mountain ranges; and, Turkman, Baluch, and Arabs, are all scattered in different parts of Iran and they have inherited different rituals from their ancestors. Some anthropologists believe Bakhtiari Nomads and the Lor are the first indigenous people of Iran. Therefore, the age of kooch needs to be investigated through the age of Bakhtiari people.

Nomads of Iran
Nomads of Iran
  • Turkmens: from the Turk tribe living near the Turkmenistan border in Golestan Province. They mainly take care of horses and camels as their livestock.
  • Shahsevan: the term means “the ones who love Shah (king)”. They live in the northwest of Iran, near the Azerbaijan border in Ardebil and East Azerbaijan Province.
  • Bakhtiari: the term means “the ones who have the fortune with them”. They live in the Zagros Mountains in the west of Iran next to Isfahan Province in Chaharmahal & Bakhtiari Province. These nomads make up the largest nomadic tribe of Iran.
  • Qashqayi: These people are also from the Turk tribe and speak Turkish. They live in Fars Province south of Iran. These people have now settled down in one pasture throughout the year.

4. Nomads through Time

There are estimated to be around 1.5 million nomadic pastoralists living in Iran today, although the figure is gradually decreasing. In the first two decades of the 20th century, the nomads were 50% of Iran population. In the 60s, the number decreased to 25%, and in 2017, it dropped to 1 or 2% of the country’s population—spread over some 35 million hectares in Iran. What makes Nomadism different from other lifestyles are: 1. dependence on livestock 2. Use of natural pastures 3. Kooch

population of nomads of iran
The population of Iran nomads ; as the population of Iran raised from about 12  million to about 80 million, the number of nomads doing transhumance decreased from 8 to about 1.5 million, nowadays. About one hundred years ago the estimates show that they made made upto 40% of Irans population and now it is less than 2 %. Source: census data from Statistical Centre of Iran

Currently, Iran’s nomadic tribes are residing in 3 different approaches: Migrants, Semi-Migrants & Settled Tribes. Shahsevands are totally settled in villages. 90% of Turkmens and Qashqayi people are also settled in their tents or surrounding villages and they rarely migrate. But Bakhtiari people with the highest population are the ones who mostly do transhumance with their livestock. Iran Bakhtiari nomads never leave Mt. Zagros. Their summer pastures and winter pastures are in two different sides of Zagros, and they move on the ridges between these two destinations each year. In spring and summer, when the weather gets really hot, they often move to the northern and northwest of Zardeh, and in autumn and winter, when the northern parts are buried under heavy snow, they migrate to southern and southwest parts.

5. Kooch: The Epic Transhumance of Nomads

Nomadic transhumance or kooch is a technique of population movement which is done to accomplish a variety of goals. Changing of location in search of grasslands and moving in groups in ancient nomadic paths which are trodden by feet and hooves for thousands of years, are two outstanding characteristics of nomadic life. Kooch happens every year on a regular basis. Each tribe takes the same route each year, and they have their own pastures in which no other tribe can stay. They set up their tents in the same previous places called ‘Javargah’ which have been marked by stones. The nomads who have big flocks are the wealthy ones with more facilities who usually choose the longer routes while doing kooch. By contrast, those who are less fortunate choose the shorter routes and they usually postpone their migration.

Iran nomads also have their migratory routes, called IL-Rah, through which they pass in their seasonal transhumance. Their kooch vary in length and can reach 300 km. Nomads often migrate in large groups of at least “nomadic camps”. Sometimes they camp and stay in a pasture for a longer time when there is ample grass for the livestock. But soon, they have to move on before the next group of nomads arrives to prevent obstruction (Kalang) in pathways.

Kooch may take from one to six weeks. Since there are no facilities on nomads’ migration way, they carry everything they need up to two months. The timing is also of prime importance as the tribe must leave late enough for the ice to have melted to allow safe passage, but early enough to arrive in the green plains before they are overgrazed by other animals. There is a connection between performing kooch and climate changes. Sometimes kooch is brought to a temporary halt because of the harsh mountainous weather.

While doing kooch, sometimes the nomads have to pass near impassable path. The nomad men then have to stand in line in some narrow pathways to keep the livestock from falling. When they reach the rivers, women and children sit on the mules, but the livestock goes to the river while the nomad men guard them. Some other men also wait on the other side of the river to take the animals. Losing livestock is the inevitable part of each kooch. Sometimes the mules fall from the mountains. Therefore, nomads need to be quite alert all day along on the day of kooch. Here you can read Redzip Skomorac & Serial Hikers’ first-hand account of their kooch with Iran nomads.

    5.1 Kinds of Kuch: Vertical & Horizontal

Nowadays, there are different methods of relocation exercised on a global scale amongst nomads. ‘Horizontal’ kuch occurs in dry, flat, vast deserts where water and grass can scarcely be found, like steppes in Saudi Arabia deserts or Kazakhstan Steppe.

There is also another type of relocation, called ‘Vertical’ kuch occurring in regions with a large difference in altitude where people move from low altitudes to higher ones in search of more favorable weather for their families and their animals, like in Iran. For instance, the vertical migration of Bakhtiari tribes happens when they move between north and south of Zagros mountain ranges.

In terms of scope, there are two types of nomadic migration, one is ‘long trans-regional route’ ascribable to the migration of Central Asian nomads, and the other is the ‘local migration’ attributed to the tribes such Qashqayi, Bakhtiari and, etc.

    5.2 Five Reason Why Nomads Migrate?

Each year, Nomads move between summer pastures and winter pastures due to many reasons. The prominent reason for this lifestyle is to find grasslands for their animals. But, there are other reasons too:

  • In hot and cold weather, there would not be enough food for the flocks. And since Nomads are highly dependent on nature, they need to follow its rhythm. Even if they do not have any flock, they follow the same pattern to avoid bitterly cold and scorching hot weather.
  • Nomad men would have the opportunity to do farming in two different pastures.
  • The fruits of oak trees are the next reason. In autumn, when the nomads move back to their winter pastures, the oak fruits are fully ripe. Nomads pick them up and make delicious bread from its flour. The bread would be used throughout the following winter.
  • Last but not least, the tribe’s main economic activities are determined by the migration cycle. Nomads are accustomed to migration. Without it, they feel something is missing as if they have lost their main purpose in life. Each year, at the time of migration, they feel so thrilled at the prospect of their coming Kooch.
  • It is also vital for the environment. Here you can read more.

6. Kooch under Bakhtiari Nomads’ Stewardship

    6.1 Who are Bakhtiari Nomads?

Bakhtiari tribe or ‘the great Lor’ is one of the most important tribes of Iran. Their territory, known as ‘Bakhtiari Land’, is located in an area between Isfahan and Khuzestan. Zagros ranges pass through their land, diving it to two geographical regions; mountainous regions in the east, and flats in the west. The mountainous regions are Bakhtiaris’ summer pastures, and the plains and flats are their winter pastures. Nowadays, these people are the only nomad group who do transhumance.

They are estimated to be around 500000 people, living in an area of 7500 km. 40% of them (200000) are nomads and semi-nomads who move between summer and winter pastures. They are herdsmen with herds of sheep and goats.

They are of two main groups; ‘Haft-Lang’ and ‘Chahar-Lang’. Each has its own territory. The former migrate to eastern parts of Khuzestan, such as Andika, Masjed Soleiman, Shooshtar, Izeh, Shahrekord, and Brojen in Chahar-Mahal Bakhtiari. The latter moves mostly between Dezful and Izeh in Khuzestan, or Daran in Isfahan, and Aligodarz and Brojerd in Lorestan.

    6.2. Bakhtiari’s Summer & Winter Pastures

Their summer pastures are in Isfahan’s western highlands. The highest mountain in the area is 4549 m. The winter pastures are in eastern parts of Zagros ranges, and it continues to some parts of Khuzestan province. Nomads use these pastures in their seasonal Kooch.

    6.3. Bakhtiari Nomads’ Daily Share of Responsibilities

In Nomad family, everybody has her/his own shares of chores. Age and sex are two important factors in assigning the family members their tasks. So, men’s responsibilities are different from women, and children from grown-ups. But there are some works done by both men and women.

Chores done by women are: domestic chores; cooking, washing the dishes, milking, making dairy products, weaving Jajims, carpets, and black tent, fetching water from springs, taking care of the children while migrating. They sometimes do shepherding. In the time of kooch, women play an important role in gathering up the stuff and tent and loading the mules. Men also help them to pack on the day of migration.

iranian bakhtiari woman making bread
On almost everyday of kooch (nomadic transhumance), nomad women make bread

Chores done by men: Men are responsible for economic and political tasks. Dealing with other tribes’ main members and Kalantars, commuting to cities and doing commerce. When the father is away, the older son does his responsibilities. Farming, renting lands, working in other nomads’ fields are some of their tasks.

Chores done by children: children have a leading role in shepherding and milking the flock. The main shepherd of the flock is always a man since it starts from 4 am to 6 pm. As the father of a nomad family has some other tasks to take care of, most of the time the sons do shepherding. Children also have their own small flocks of lambs. In Nomad families, children learn about their share of responsibilities from childhood. Boys do after their fathers, and girls follow their mothers.

Bakhtiari boy shepherding during Kuch
A young nomad at the time of spring kooch shepherding the goats

7. Nomad Odyssey

According to ‘Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English’, odyssey has two meanings:

“[Literary] 1. A series of experiences that teach you something about yourself or about life. 2. A long journey with a lot of adventures or difficulties.”

Iran Nomads’ Transhumance is REALLY an odyssey both for the nomads and the travelers:

  • It’s an odyssey for the nomads, because like what we see in the movies People of the Wind (1976, Anthony Howarth) and Grass. A nation’s battle for live (192, Merian C. Cooper Ernest B. Schoedsack) during the migration the nomads face with so many ups and downs and every time they need to come up with a solution to overcome the hardships and pass the impassable mountains. Every year, they await the spring to undertake the journey once again, and when they are done with the migration, they feel quite pleased with the odyssey they have accomplished.
  • It’s an odyssey for us/travelers who join the nomads too, because throughout the days, we are with the nomads moving in Zagros hinterlands, we are going to gain some precious first-hand experiences.
    • The most important one is the experience of casting doubt on ‘ourselves’. We will question our life, whether we are on a right path. Nomads make us think about the goals we have set for ourselves. ‘What if I’m not right?’ ‘What if I need to make some changes in my life’…
    • We experience peace and tranquility far away from the worldly concerns we normally have in our lives. There, behind the magnificent mountains, it is just we and the sky and the whole pasture in front of us. All we hear is the sound of the animals & the gentle breeze. 
    • Like the nomads, we are going to experience some adventurous days in Zagros mountainous areas. The adventure of living with the indigenous people in Iran’s pristine nature, the adventure of trekking in the merciless Zagros ranges, experiencing the wildlife, etc.

land use and lifestyle of bakhtiari nomads

Nomads’ Land Use and Lifestyle in Migration Time

The main characteristic of Iranian nomadism is the share of the land between summer pastures (“Garmsir”, hot place) and winter pastures (“Yeylag” cold place) land.

The principle movement (“Kuch” or “bâr” = Transhumance) between these places is done in spring and autumn. During this migration period, they will Cross the Zarde-Kuh massive, in Zagros Mountains, from one side to the other. The length of this route depends on the fraction of the tribe but it can reach to 300Km.

Why Spring Migration is Longer?

In spring, the nomads migrate to “yêylag”, in westerns side of Zagros. In spring migration, the climate and vegetation conditions are much more favorable (Especially for the herd). In consequence, the nomads spend a longer time completing this migration, from 15 to 45 days depending on the case.

Flock of sheep- Nomads of Iran

However, the migration will be shorter in autumn when the nomads will go down to “garmsir” lands. In this case the duration of the migration is from 8 to 30 days. Sometimes, the watering places are dry in this time. If this happens, the nomads are obliged to join the next stage before the night, changing the itinerary or raising the pace.

Flock of sheep-Iran Nomad Tours

Routes in Migration Time

This migration process, unlike other nomads from other places in the world, follows fix routes and drives the nomads to the same place every year where they will establish a fix camp for the following six months (“mâl”).

These routes are well-known because of their difficulty. This can be seen in the film Grass. A nation’s battle for live (1925) by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. The nomads have to cross snowy passes of 3000m high altitude and face steep and complicate paths, slippery by the erosion created by the countless passages. In spring, they have to cross the dangerous rivers full of water due to the melt of snow. These conditions cause numerous accidents for both livestock and humans.

What Happens in Kuch Time?

The stages are always short to leave the herd the time for feeding. In fact, they rarely overcome the 10 kilometers in a day. The herd leaves the place first, with the first sun rays. Then, the women and some of the men will leave after packing all the belongings in the mules. They will go to the next stopping point to install the next camp.

Bakhtiari Nomads gathering their stuff

Why is Kuch Necessary?

Despite the difficulties and risks the nomadic cycle is completely necessary since the “Yêylag” are covered in snow during winter time and temperatures are too high during summer in “Garmsir”. Making grazing impossible after some months of intensive use.

For this reason, the Bakhtiari nomads wait every migration with eagerness and they live it with joy and in a festival atmosphere. It represents a transition for better days and new life conditions. A break in routine where they have the chance to gain sociability and have unusual visits.

Education System for Indigenous People

Education System for Indigenous People; Implications for Iran

The indigenous people pure culture and language is attracting a lot of people. Not to mention its prominent role in environmental and cultural issues. Lack of facilities and ignoring the importance of education leads to a weak education system for indigenous people. In order to preserve their culture and make them capable enough to keep up living their lives the way they do, we need to provide them with an appropriate education system.

In this article, first of all we will talk about why it is important to have an education system for indigenous people. Then it is time to discuss some prominent factors in that system. In the end, we will talk about different education system in various communities.

In this article first, we will talk about the Indigenous people’s right for education. After that, we will bring the statistics for indigenous diversity. Then, it is time to discuss musts and must-nots in the education system for indigenous people. Last but not least, we will talk about examples and ideas for this system.

Indigenous People’s Right for Education

There are different Indigenous People around the world like the Inuit of the Arctic, the White Mountain Apache of Arizona, the Yanomami and the Tupi People of the Amazon, traditional pastoralists like the Bakhtiari in Iran. To get to know a great vision of nomads, check out Nomads Around the World.

Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights – United Nations – Article 14

In the United Nation’s Sustainable Development section, they have provided a list on “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. Goal 4 in this agenda is “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Below you can see a section of this goal:

4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations.

Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform

Despite all the concerns for the education provided for all the indigenous people, we are confronting a lack of facilities in practice. Their cultures, language, practices, and most noteworthy traditions are sadly ignored. Unfortunately, we see a noticeable gap between education for indigenous people and the general population.

Each day, indigenous people confront a lot of different barriers in their education. They have low self-esteem and accordingly these barriers decrease their self-esteem. As a result, they confront discrimination and racists attitudes in schools’ environment and the textbooks as well.

Statistics of Indigenous People

There are about 370 millions of Indigenous people around the world in 90 countries. This number is about 5% of the world’s population.

The shocking point is that according to the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) statistics “The world’s 370 million indigenous peoples are estimated to speak more than 4,000 different languages. Approximately 600 languages have disappeared in the last century and they continue to disappear at a rate of one language every two weeks.”

According to Cultural Survival statistics:

Indigenous people belonging to 5,000 different cultures live in every region of the world, but about 70% of them live in Asia. It is estimated that Indigenous territories contain 80 percent of the earth’s biodiversity.

Cultural Survival

Consequently, these numbers and statistics just show the importance of preserving indigenous people lifestyle and culture.

Education System for Indigenous People

With all the things we discussed above, we are all aware of why it is so important to have a suitable education system for these people. The sad story about the loss of indigenous knowledge through globalization and modernity is a concern for a lot of cultural seekers. They are thinking of revaluing their culture, language, and traditions. We should observe the below tips to be able to design a suited education system:

  • We should provide an education system for indigenous people which is culturally and linguistically appropriate. It must not lead to unwanted assimilations.
  • Instructions preferably should be taught in their mother language. If not, their mother language may not transmit to their generations.
  • Indigenous women and girl must have full access to education as well as boys and men.
  • They should be taught indigenous knowledge, models, methods, and lifestyle.

Different education models for indigenous people are discussable. The indigenous community itself is so interested in models in which their traditional knowledge and language are being taught. Postmodern scholars want to ensure that both teachers and students benefit education in aspects of culture.

The indigenous children must get aware of their importance in the community and their country as well. They must be encouraged to take part in learning and teaching their culture, lifestyle, and language. Not to mention the essentiality of learning the needed and suited skills depending on their lifestyle.    

Various aspects of Indigenous culture need to be considered when discussing Indigenous learning, such as: content (how culture is portrayed in text and through language), social culture/ interactions (relations between class interactions and interactions within Indigenous communities), and cognitive culture (differences in worldview, spiritual understandings, practical knowledge, etc.)[1].  

Cooperative learning can be pretty useful in the indigenous community. Another important aspect of indigenous education is the relationship between students and teacher. It can be much better if the teacher does not hold an authoritative role. The teacher can be a co-learner and balance between the friendly connection and academic gain with his students.

Ideas on How to Educate Indigenous People

In 2007, Gilliard and Moore presented research on “How Culture Shapes Curriculum in Early Care and Education Programs on a Native American Indian Reservation”. They observed three factors:

1. Respect of children, families, and communities.
2. Building an atmosphere of belongingness by observing their rituals
3. Understanding and respecting family values and beliefs (like their home language).  

So, it is important for each educator to learn, plan, and respects the communities’ values, rituals, and beliefs.  

This is an idea of Cultural Survival for educating Indigenous people:

Radio’s universal and free nature and its ability to access many remote communities makes it a key medium to reach Indigenous audiences. Indigenous-produced programming strengthens Indigenous peoples’ capacity to assert and demand their rights and enables access to information on climate change, environmental issues, women’s rights, education, languages and cultures, self-determination, and Free, Prior and Informed Consent. Cultural Survival’s partners are amplifying Indigenous voices on issues that matter to their communities. Broadcasting in Indigenous languages ensures widespread understanding and cultural continuity.

Cultural Survival

Examples of Indigenous Education

  • In Mexico, teachers have been observed to let their students move freely about the classroom while working in order to consult with other students, as well as using their instructors for occasional guidance[2].
  • Teachers in indigenous classrooms in a community in Alaska rely on group work, encourage the students to watch each other as a way to learn, and avoid singling out students for praise, criticism, or recitation[3]
  • Observations in the Yup’ik and Mazahua communities show that indigenous teachers are less likely to solicit an answer from an individual student, but rather encourage all of the students to participate in classroom discourse. In the Yup’ik classroom direct questions are posed to the group as a whole, and the control of talk is not the sole responsibility of the teacher. Classrooms in indigenous communities that incorporate indigenous ways of learning utilize open-ended questioning, inductive/analytical reasoning, and student participation and verbalization, in group settings[4].

Mohammad Malekshahi is a Local Community Development Researcher. It has been a long time he is working with Iranian Nomads. This is how he puts his idea on the education system for the indigenous people:

Well, in my book the Eskimos education system is a practical and useful model. The stuff that is being taught to the general population is not taught to Eskimo children. They teach their children practical things based on their needs and lifestyle. Unfortunately in Iran, the same things are being taught to nomad children. I don’t find it suitable.

He talks about it in more details:

They teach a nomad child how to do piping or difficult mathematics. It is just not perfectly suited for their lifestyle. Accordingly, it kind of encourages the children to leave their lives behind and move to cities to actualize all they have learnt on how to be a good citizen, and not how to keep up being indigenous. It is practical for those who are about to leave the nomadic lifestyle. But what if they want to keep up their lifestyle? What if they just need practical information for their lifestyle?

In this article, we tried to discuss important concerns of indigenous people’s lives; EDUCATION! And then talked about the needed elements in that education system and examples of the education in different communities.

Their education system needs to be perfectly suited depending on their needs and priorities. Some communities have neglected education for these people. It can be quite harmful to both indigenous people and cultural diversity. Providing a suitable education system for the indigenous people not only results in more capable children with higher self-esteem but also it helps to preserve theses cultural diversity and fight against their extinction. We would be happy to hear your ideas on how to have a better and more practical education system for these people.


[1] Kitchen, Cherubini, Trudeau, Hodson (2009). “Aboriginal education as cultural brokerage: New aboriginal teachers reflect on language and culture in the classroom”. McGill Journal of Education44 (3): 355–375. doi:10.7202/039945ar


[3] Deyhle, D; Swisher, K. (1997). “Research in American Indian and Alaska Native Education: From Assimilation to Self-Determination”. Review of Research in Education22: 113–194. CiteSeerX×022001113JSTOR 1167375

[4] Paradise, Ruth; De Haan, Mariëtte (13 July 2009). “Responsibility and Reciprocity: Social Organization of Mazahua Learning Practices”. Anthropology & Education Quarterly. 40 (2): 187–204. doi:10.1111/j.1548-1492.2009.01035.x

Curwen Doige, L. A. (2003). “A missing link: Between traditional Aboriginal education and the western system of education”. Canadian Journal of Native Education. 27 (2): 144–160.

Nomads Tent

Habitation of Bakhtiari Nomads

Nomads are a very characteristic community not only for their movement (Kuch) but also for their settlement. A settlement as subtle and temporary as life itself. The most important and emblematic element in the Bakhtiari life is the tent (“Bohon”) and the whole family lives there. The compartments (“mâl”) gather the extended family and it is formed by several tents. If we look closely at these compartments we will be able to find out much information about the families living in there:

  • The season: light and open tents are for the summer, and bigger and hotter ones are for the winter.
  • The social status: from 10 to 12 for a chief compartment and from 2 to 5 for the simple nomads.
  • The wealth: A spacious tent in good conditions with more than 10 posts means that it belongs to a rich family, and a used and repaired tent with seams and patches is for a poorer family.

Nomads’ Lodge

  • Nomadic Tents

The traditional tent has an awning form. It consists of black vellum, made of strips of goat hair stitched together lengthwise, which is supported by two parallel rows of vertical poles simply placed on the ground. The stability of the whole is ensured by the tension of the velum created by the ropes that are connected to the floor by big stones or stakes planted on the earth. The central row of masts delimits two sections, one descending to the ground, over a stone wall (“Chol”), the other being raised towards the front by the second row of masts.

Habitation of Bakhtiari Nomads
Habitation of Bakhtiari Nomads
  • Caves as Nomads’ Shelter

In the mountains of the central part of Bakhtiari territories, the broken relief offers numerous natural caves (“Eshkoft”). These caves are used in winter as sheepfold or in some cases adjustment as habitations.

  • Leer

    One of the famous nomadic settlements is called Leer. It’s a roofed stony space that nomads build in the colder seasons to protect themselves and their belongings from rain and cold. The history of leer construction probably goes back to the transition of settlers toward a semi-nomadic life. Farmlands in these areas are a testimony to this speculation. The basic materials for these temporary settlements are stone, oak wood, plaster of clay, and straw which are usually found easily in the proximity of nomads’ environments.


    To build these settlements, nomads should first level the ground. Then they place half-meter pits of solid oak wood as a pillar of the house. In order to cover the moisture of these woods, they cover the wood bases that are placed in the ground with bitumen.
    After this stage, the distance between the woods is covered with stone, which is called “kareh”.  Butter is also used as the fence for the livestock. After this stage, nomads cover the walls of the settlement with clay so that the butter becomes stronger and wind and rain do not leak inside. Straw is used in the clay mortar so that the clay does not crack or collapse after drying.


    The roof of these settlements has several layers. The first layer is the beams whose weight is supported by the oak columns. The pole is covered with dry oak branches and leaves, and finally a layer of clay mixed with plaster of clay and straw.


    Leers are usually divided settlements. Nomads set aside a section for family members, a section for supplies and a place for their livestock. But the architectural design of each and every leer is quite different from the other according to the nomadic family’s requirements and the accessible material. 

  • Concrete Houses

Concrete houses (“Khuna” or “khonwa”) are common among Bakhtiaries. Especially after the sedentarization campaigns carried out by the government at the beginning of the XX century. Normally, these houses have a high wall made out of stones and/or adobe. The roof is covered with earth. Nomads living in houses doesn´t mean that they have abandoned the nomadic tradition. It’s usual to find nomads moving from one house to the other or from house to a camp for the summer.

The Inner Layout of Nomads’ Lodge

The inner layout is pretty much the same everywhere among Bakhtiaries. On one side, there is a domestic space (“Keyvânu”) for women and young children. Here we can find the firebox; the wood for the fire; the bottles for water and yogurt and bags with flour, sugar, thé or the loom. On the other side, we have the space reserved for the men (“lâmerdon”) which is adorned with a carpet, mats and pillows to receive visitors. In some cases (but not always), these two spaces are divided with a movable partition (A curtain or a mat).

Nomad Tents

Nomads’ Belongings

Likewise the tent, all the belongings must be flexible and transportable. Goatskin Flask (“mashk”), saddlebags (“khorjin” or “hurzhin”), and bags will be always better than pottery or chests. These containers are aligned, with the bedding, on the stone wall that marks the bottom of the tent

The article is about Bakhtiari Nomads based on the book “Une épopée Tribale en Iran” written by Jean-Pierre Digard

No more MAss Tourism

An Ultimate Guide for Alternative Travel; Examples in Iran

Have you ever wondered to travel differently? Or travel to less touristic sites? Are you tired of the crowded touristic sites? Have you ever looked for a neverland where everything is yet untouched? Where there is no showing off and people are only living their lives.
Well, Alternative Travel is just what you are looking for. In this article, we will discuss what alternative travel is. And explain its’ examples and ideas a bit. We will provide you with the ultimate information on alternatives for mass tourism in Iran.

No More Mass Tourism!

Mass Tourism is travel by groups on pre-scheduled tours, usually under the organization of tourism professionals. The relationship between tourism companies, transportation operators and hotels is a central feature of mass tourism

Golden Age of Mass Tourism: Its History and Development, Erkan Sezgin and Medet Yolal, Anadolu University, p. 73

Due to the negative impacts of mass tourism on economy, environment, and local community; The new trend “alternative travel” just began in the early  70s. It is an alternative for the current popular mass tourism where thousands of people go to specific places in holidays! It is about no more tour package deals.

People are concerned about adding meaning to travel and not just go visit someplace nice! It is recharging your soul beside your body. People just started to be considerate about all the unsustainability, inauthenticity, and pollution that mass tourism brings. Hopefully these days people tend to like places which are more quiet, pure, untouched, and authentic.

What is Alternative Travel?

If you are looking to escape from mass tourism, alternative tourism might be a perfect choice. The passion for famous touristic places have decreased; these days, people ask for more authenticity and originality. They choose places where they can touch real lives with the pure local community; where they can taste real culture, people, nature, and food. It is saying goodbye to luxury package deals, fancy restaurants, crowded spas, and etc.

An example of the interest changing among people is the popularity of traditional guesthouses and eco-lodges in Iran. When tourists get aware of these places, they mostly choose them over fancy hotels. People want to travel differently away from all the hustle and bustle of crowded touristic places. They quest for epic places with an untouched lifestyle where tourists have not meddled in community culture and the pure culture has been stilled preserved as well.

Alternative Travellers Characteristics

These travellers are just tired of fixed programs in large groups where they are only a passive visitor. Alternative Travellers prefer to be active. They are looking for tailor-made yet flexible tours at which they can make spontaneous decisions. These travellers want to let the tour goes where it goes. It is about being not that planned and see how it goes and pause for whatever gets your attention. Alternative travellers care for the environment and also the community around them. They try their best to have the minimum ecological footprint on the earth.

Another important point about alternative travel lovers is being active, they don’t ask for services that much; they accompany the local community in their tasks. These travellers do not visit, they practice living in that community. They also travel without any hassle.

Additionally, being respectful to the locals’ values and customs is a key factor in alternative tourism principles. Beside all the educational, professional, or any other reasons people travel, they are just some of us who travel for the adventure. This is where alternative travel takes place.

Below you can see some choices that alternative travellers make. They ….

  • Want to live like a local to taste the culture in which they have access to local’s knowledge, advice, and pure lifestyle. 
  • Prefer local operators over fancy well-known agencies.
  • Travel in low season and investigate the beauties of that place in a time where nobody goes there that much.
  • Choose mostly low-density areas which are not that famous and touristic.
  • Use public transportation frequently.
  • Buy stuff like food and souvenirs from the local to help them continue their lifestyle.
  •  Ask for the services directly from the local to allocate the most income of the tourism in that area to the locals themselves, and not to have mediators that much.
  • Like to do a digital detox.

Types of Alternative Travel

Adventure Travel

It is definitely something different and new. It is about to get inspired by the unknown. In Iran, there are plenty of adventures you can find; Skiing tours in Tochal, hiking in mountains, cycling tours in the middle of nowhere and desert adventures are some to mention.

Cultural Tourism

The unique and authentic culture of different Persian tribes is definitely something so interesting for culture seekers. Its variety and purity catch every travellers attention. You can go and investigate different ceremonies and rituals in various communities in Iran. In the article on “Iranian Cultures and Traditions“, you get to know different ceremonies being held in Iran.

Cooking Courses

Food is an important reason for some of the travellers. Therefore culinary Tourism is a famous type of tourism where people go to places where they can explore different dishes and recipes. In Iran, you can take different cooking classes at which they teach you how to make local dishes. Persian Food Tour is actually one of the good operators in Iran for taking cooking courses.

Become a Freelancer

You can just be your own boss and become location independent. Just start your own business or work remotely as a freelancer and live in different areas consequently. The number of digital nomads is just increasing day by day. Writing, photographing, web design, translating, graphic design, programming, marketing, and coaching are just a few examples of what people do as freelancers. You can find different freelance jobs on online platforms.     


They are so many educational plans around the world. One of the mains is to teach language abroad. You can be an ambassador of your language and culture and teach it to kids in any part of the world. Not only will it help the kids to get a better vision of the world they are living in, but also it will be fulfilling for you to have a step in introducing your culture and language to others. It is also a great step forward in preserving various cultures and languages. Nothing is better than learning a new language with locals.

You can learn Persian in different educational programs in Iran.

House Sitting

It’s been always a concern for families with pets in the time of vacations. Finding a person to leave a dog or house to, is not always easy. They might be also other tasks in the absence of the family, like taking care of the plants. Some choose to have a mutual benefit. So they offer to live in their house for free to take care of the pets and plants. If interested in animals, house sitting can be a suitable option for you. Above all, there are different house sitting platforms where you can find a suitable house based on the place you want to visit.


Well, we all –in a corner of our mind- have the idea of making the world a better place to live. Not only it is an added-value for us, but also it is a fulfilling experience where we feel our being matters! Fortunately, there are so many organizations in any part of the world where you can join and do something useful. Volunteerism is not about the time you put without being paid, most noteworthy it is about your soul and mind with a fulfilling experience. It is about you who becomes a different person afterwards. In different projects, you will pay for the costs of your meals and accommodation within a small fee.

There is also another option for you to work and instead use free tour packages. There might be different options in Iran, you can also join nomad tours for free and instead you are offered a free accommodation and tour. For more information, please contact

WWOOFing and Green Travel

WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. In these projects, organic farmers host the volunteers. The volunteers are committed to helping the farmers. While the farmers provide free accommodation and meal for the volunteers. They also teach organic farming to them. The tasks are mostly in the field of farming, agriculture, renovation, and painting. The remarkable point about WWOOFing is that you are only committed to 4-6 hours of work per day, as a result, the rest of the time you can enjoy nature and get in touch with people. Barzigardi is a company offering WWOOFing experiences in Iran.   

Wellness Retreats

Travelling is not limited to know other cultures and personalities anymore! It can also be about getting to know oneself and have a deeper relationship with our soul and body. Travelling can offer a unique experience where we can discover our selves, likes and dislikes, weak and strong points of our personality. So to have a better relationship with others and have a better understanding of different cultures, first things first, one needs to get to know his/her self. They are different yoga and meditation retreats around the world. Before attending any wellness tour, make sure to choose the right one depend on your preferences, goal, and interest.

There is also this another option for alternative travellers in Iran. If you are looking for travelling differently in Iran, living with Iran nomads might be what you are searching for. You can get in touch with these indigenous people in the middle of nowhere. Not only will you get to know a pure culture and lifestyle but also you will let them know that they matter and help them regain their low self-esteem. In Nomad Tours, you will be an active, responsible, and alternative traveller.

Well, there are so many alternatives for mass tourism. This was just what came to my mind. We’d be happy to hear your ideas and experiences in any corner of the world. If you have any question or comment, feel free to comment below.

iran nomad tours team

Iran Nomad Tours, Who We Are?

“Iran Nomad Tours” is a social business working in the Iranian Ecotourism industry and aims to help preserve cultural diversities by facilitating the development of community-based tourism in partnership with the local community groups. In our first step, we began with Bakhtiari nomads; a main nomadic tribe who are indigenous people of Iran.  We are trying for better branding of Iranian nomadic tourism, internationally. Here you can see a short report of our endeavor.

A short video that explains all we do

Although Iran has the highest population of nomads in the world, if you search for a nomad tour you will be guided to Morocco or Mongolia. We hope for a reborn of Iran nomadic tourism through new products such as Kuch tour or other ecotourism experiences. Due to the constraints of local community development and the training which should be delivered to the locals before hosting travelers, our grow-up speed is not so fast. and these small group eco-tours have limited availability each year.

Iran Nomad Tours vision

Iran nomad tours have chosen “preserving cultural diversities and the intangible assets by utilizing ecotourism as an Instrument for local community development” as its social goal and like any other business it should have enough income to sustain economically.

brochure iran nomad tours, Ecotourism, iran tour, nomadic tour, iran nomad
brochure iran nomad tours, Ecotourism, iran tour, nomadic tour, iran nomad

What problems are we trying to solve?

In Short, the problem is either “danger of extinction of traditional cultures” or “scarcity of CBT development which helps to preserve the cultural heritages from extinction”. In other words, the problem is the extinction of cultural diversities, especially the extinction of nomadic intangible assets. the reason is a lack of True development of “Community Based Tourism” or CBT among the Nomads and villagers in Iran. I will explain more in below:

Starting our activities goes back to around three years ago when we came across a group of Bakhtiari Nomads on their way to their summer pastures. Although they really liked their lifestyles & seasonal transhumance, they were somehow dissatisfied with some aspects of their life. In this video you can see how a nomad woman likes a nomadic-lifestyle for herself but does not like it for her son:

Are Iran nomads really fading away?

After that, we (Iran Nomad Tours) started conducting some researches. We found that 50 years ago, Iranian Nomads were one-quarter of the population of Iran. While today they are only 1.5% of the population. Consequently, this indigenous culture is threatened by extinction. ‘By their going to extinction, not only a cultural diversity is going to vanish, but also lots of their precious tacit knowledge goes away with them’, the knowledge which is accumulated during centuries and thousands of years. Nomads’ lifestyle is completely nature-based and they have the knowledge of using nature in a sustainable way. this knowledge can be quite helpful for human beings. Look at the trend of vegan people and environmentalists these days. They could learn a lot from traditional nomads if it does not go extinct.

population of nomads of iran
Figure 1 population of nomad people; As the population of Iran raised from about 12 million to about 80 million, the nomads who migrate seasonally decreased from 8 to about 1.5 million, nowadays. About one hundred years ago the estimates show that they made up to 40% of Iran’s population and now it is less than 2 %. Source: census data from the Statistical Centre of Iran

As the population of Iran raised from about 15 million to about 80 million, in the last century, the nomad’s population decreased from 6 to about 1.5 million, nowadays. About one hundred years ago the estimates show that they made up to 40% of Iran’s population and now it is less than 2 %. Source: census data from the Statistical Centre of Iran

what anthropologists suggest?

All of these made us think about the issue and do research on them and the practical possible solutions. After consulting with some researchers who have already studied on nomads[1], we came to the conclusion that although at first glance, it seems that nomads are abandoning their tents and campsites due to the hardships of their lifestyle and low income, the main reason for the extinction of the culture among them is that they don’t have the self-esteem they need to have; they feel outdated, not suitable for the modern world. The fact that they are not aware of their unique lifestyle was quite thought-provoking. The financial problem was the second main issue they were dealing with.

how ecotourism development in local community could help preserve a cultural heritage
what anthropologists suggested us, on the subject of “how ecotourism could help preserve cultural heritage”

Ecotourism as a solution to preserve diversity

We will facilitate the development of a community-based tourism model in partnership with the local community which could help them preserve their intangible assets or in general preserve cultural and sub-cultural diversities. In the near future, we want to be a platform for experience-based tours. but for the first step, we have started working with the Bakhtiari nomad, an ancient tribe in West of Iran, living in Zagros mountains. They migrate twice a year to provide their flocks with fresh grass, and we have made a pilot from the model in our mind. Now we are extending this model slowly to other nomadic tribes and other villages (cultural diversities) that are in danger of extinction hoping to protect them from extinction. 

The main problem in rural areas is the lack of self-esteem about their life and about their precious cultural heritage. And Normally poverty is also a problem. “Iran Nomad Tours” belives ‘Community-based tourism’ can solve these two obstacles at the same time. It helps not only to better recognition and documentation of their lifestyle but also it would provide supplementary income for them and they’d see how everybody is appreciative of their lifestyle. In fact, it will make a mutual benefit for Bakhtiari nomads and those who want to experience something authentic which is in danger of extinction.

local community as a partner

In our work, we partner directly with the nomad communities, and villagers, so that we can pave the way for small groups of responsible visitors to kindle a sense of self-esteem in the nomads and villagers about their culture and traditions. Visitors seeking to experience the locals way of life and take home precious memories and those who wish to help the people believe their ancient lifestyle is precious and worth maintaining.

 In Kuch tours with the Bakhtiari tribe, we will accompany nomads in their transhumance as the most iconic aspect of this lifestyle. We spend some nights with them, live their lives, help them with migration and earn a first-hand experience of their authentic lifestyle.  Operating such a tour is a little complicated but completely fits ecotourism approaches. Assume the nomadic areas do not have mobile coverage and the nomad has no permanent place because of the nature of their lifestyle. isn’t it hard to manage a tour with them?

local community , iran nomad tours, ecotourism

Our local community development model

“Iran Nomad Tours” normally follow the same role model in all our projects. Following you can read about its four steps.  these steps are common in any ecotourism friendly project. In the last step, we come out and continue our role as a platform of experience based on local tours or marketplace for local handicrafts (in the future). so the local community will have enough time to internalize the changes and absorb the progress.  

Step1- Cognition

knowing better the village and the social system of people, then speaking with the influential ones and inviting people for a general meeting.

Step2- Facilitating Local Community Development Participatory Planning

As the rules of rural development require, we need to hold a general meeting with the villagers and after speaking about their needs and desires they would see if they want to develop tourism in their village or not. There would be more such meetings to reach more operational plans with the villagers. Moreover, in parallel with the meetings, we will try to increase the knowledge of locals about the tourism industry.

Step3- Operation

At this level, we need to concentrate on putting the decisions made in level 2 into practice. For sure it is the villagers who have the main role in performing the tasks and we are the facilitators. Building on the villagers’ own strengths, knowledge, and skills & working in partnership with them is at the heart of our goals.

Now, It would be of double benefit if we invite national & international volunteers to take active participation in the procedures. Doing so, not only accelerates the working process but also helps the villagers know more about ecotourism during the time they are working with each other in a friendly environment. 

Step4: Exiting

We can call a project of “developing community-based tourism” successful, if after the due time, and leaving the village, the works continue and the development processes have been internalized in the mindset of the nomad partners. So we should start transferring all the duties to the locals and continue our role as a platform of ecotourism.

What is Marketing strategy for Iran Nomad Tours?

If you search Nomadic tour you will be guided to Morocco or to Mongolia. However, Iran has the highest population of nomads in the world, while not so many all around the world are aware of this fact that there are still nomads in Iran. So, we have to undertake a great deal of marketing activities to introduce Iranian Nomads to potential travelers who are interested in adventure, culture, and nature. To do so, we have learned that the best strategies are to generate content about the nomad[1] on our channels. another way is to invite influencers and well-known travelers to join our tours and help us spread the word.

Focus on Ecotourism as a bonus in marketing

As we are working with the local community people, it is a big bonus for us because we can benefit from lots of ecotourists who want to give something back to the locals… among the different Marketing channels, we gained more outcomes from cultural adventurers who do vlogging, blogging and taking photographs. They will produce valuable content and help us in its promotion. You can see some examples in our different channels (i.e. Youtube or Instagram). For spring 2020, we will host more of them who will help us to show Iran’s capacities in Ecotourism and nomadic tourism.



Kooch, A Trending Destination for Ecotourists

ِYou want to be on the cutting edge of an exquisite destination of ecotourism in 2022? You probably should try to explore it in an unmatched country like Iran. Although we can provide different tours, we are specialized in nomadic journeys. Our featured tour, Kooch, is one of the trending destinations for cultural adventurers. Kooch tour is getting more and more popular these days and it is a mixture of an ancient nomadic culture, pristine nature, and warm welcoming people. Nothing can explain this tour better than the following videos:

Nomadic tourism is no longer limited to Mongolia & Morocco anymore! Iran has the biggest nomadic population in the world. Thanks to the new developments in Iranian tourism, nomadic tourism would be one of the trending hot destinations for cultural adventurers in the near future.

“I had a dream to visit mighty Mt. Zagros. But I had no idea we still have ‘Nomads’ behind those majestic unspoiled ranges. Around two years ago, I made my dream happen. When I reached there, I was totally mesmerized by the out-of-this-world landscape and truly surreal experience of visiting the most authentic people I have ever met: the ‘indigenous people of Iran’. Still, I can remember quite clearly all the emotions I felt when I first got to know about these unique people. To me, what they were doing was like an Odyssey, ‘a long journey with a lot of adventures and difficulties’, moving with their families & herds of livestock in Zagros valleys between their summer & winter pastures. It was also an adventurous, spiritual odyssey for me; an epiphanic trip in which I got to know more about myself and my life. How? Let’s read about the very epitome of Nomadic life: KOOCH.

Kuch Destination for Ecotourists in Iran

Kooch: Nomads’ Transhumance 

A nomadic transhumance, or simply seasonal migration (Lori: “kooch” or “kuch”) is an epic experience in which the nomads embark on their odyssey in the great Zagros mountains twice a year to accomplish their most important goal of their lives: seasonal migration. In this epic, ten-thousand-year-old hard-labor pilgrimage, nomads move between the pastures with their livestock while carrying all of their belongings. They do kooch either in summer to reach high valleys of Zagros, or in winter, to lower valleys where the weather is warmer. Then, for a few months, they temporarily settle, before it is time to undertake the journey once again.

Kooch Tour: An Odyssey Where We Belong

After the unique experience of kooch with the nomads, we got to connect and know more about our roots. It was like traveling back to hundred years ago, living with a nomadic tribe in a serene mountainous area. We learned: 

  • These nomads are the indigenous people of Iran.
  • They are the only ones who still do transhumance in Iran.
  • They used to be half of the whole population 40 years ago, but now they are only 1%.
  • They play a vital role in the environment. (watch the Ted Talk).
  • We MUST DO something to help them preserve. 

So, we came up with the idea of ‘Nomads’ Odyssey’ (Kooch Tour) in which we, in a small group, join the nomads in their seasonal migration while they are trekking the ancient nomadic trails in the  Mt. Zagros. We designed the kooch tour because:

Kuch Destination for Ecotourists in Iran
Iran Nomad Odessey; On Their Way to Summer Pastures
  • When the nomads see people from all around the world come to have a first-hand experience of their nomadic life, they get to know how precious their lifestyle is.   
  • We wish to encourage the nomads to preserve their unique lifestyle.
  • We care about the environment & sustainable tourism.
  • We wish to give travelers a chance:
    • to live the ancient lifestyle of Iran Nomads.
    • to enjoy the scenic beauty of the mountainous areas.
    • to experience the adventurous nomadic life away from the hostel & bustle of city life.

Who Can Make the Most of ‘Kooch Tour’?

As one of the most exciting destinations in Iran, ‘kuch tour’ and living with the Iran nomads are highly recommended to these people: 

  • Nature-lovers who wish to discover the true meaning of pristine nature of Iran. By joining the nomads behind the Zagros mountains, deep in the heart of nature, one can see the sublime beauty of Iran’s landscape. 
  • Anthropologists who wish to live, know and listen to Iran indigenous tribes. The unique culture of these people can be a great source of inspiration for those who like to know more about humankind.
  • Adventure-seekers & Mountain-climbers who love the mighty, snow-covered mountain peaks. Zagros is without a doubt one of our greatest mountains; a land of contradictions where one can experience both the rugged mountain ranges and vast rolling hills. Standing on the summits, you can see what the sun is touching.    
  • Environmentalists who have environmental concerns, and wish to do something for the Earth. Those who know how important it is to preserve cultural diversity in various communities. Please read the following articles to see how nomads practice permaculture
  • Photographers & Video-makers who seek to capture special, novel moments and sceneries; a kind of beauty they’d only expect to see in postcards. Here you can read why it is a perfect photography spot. 
Kuch Destination for Ecotourists
Ancient Nomadic Destination: A Perfect Photography Spot
  • Families who would like their children to experience the nomads’ authentic life, rather than just reading about them in books. In Kooch, children have the chance of living with the nomads in the heart of nature; as if they are in a nature school. The more they see, the more they want to discover. Here is what children can learn from the nomads. 
  • Wellness Destination Seekers who like to spend some time relaxing, putting some time focusing on their mental health. Here you can read how nomads of Iran can be a retreat destination. 
  • Slow Travelers who wish to keep themselves open to new experiences. 
  • Voluntary Workers who are looking for a chance to try their skills in a completely different environment. Those who are more concerned about the cultural aspect of the nomadic life and wish to help these people survive have the best opportunities with these indigenous people. 
  • And all who like to challenge themselves to see their potentials. Here are four main reasons why Iran should be your next adventure destination

overcrowding in tourism

Impact of Tourism on Local Community

“People leaving behind all their unique stories, local skills, cultural traditions, and natural habitats for economical issues and joining a community to which they don’t really belong”.

This is definitely a truly sad story happening almost every day in a corner of the world. As time passes by, environmentalists and cultural anthropologists are becoming more concerned about cultural diversity which is on the verge of extinction. Additionally, responsible tourists and travellers are trying to fight against the current flow. They are indeed trying to preserve cultural diversity by tourism. You may already know how it works. Or you may be curious about how tourism can possibly affect the local community. In this article, we are going to explain both positive and negative impacts of tourism on the local community.

Why Should We Worry about the Local Community at all?

Although tourism can have a prominent role in the economic growth of an area, concerns about the negative impacts of tourism on local community arise in spite of all the social benefits that tourism brings for that community or the fact that it can play a significant role in preserving nature including national parks and protected areas.

Environmentalists who are concerned about the authentic communities which are about to vanish should probably be reminded that expanding tourism in local communities results in various social benefits. This entails improvement of infrastructures, more jobs, and no more leaving villages for occupational opportunities. Tourism can offer job opportunities directly and/or indirectly through the supply of goods and necessary stuff for cities or suburbs.

Tourism impacts the economy, environment, politics, and socio-cultural wellbeing of the host community.

Elements of the Tourism Industry
Elements of the Tourism Industry (Esmaeil Zaei & Esmaeil Zaei, 2013)[1]

Why Tourism Matters?

In developing countries, the first purpose of promoting tourism is to earn foreign currency. It results in creating more jobs. It can even lead to ending unemployment, eliminating poverty, and promoting dialogues among civilizations. Additionally, it provides an atmosphere in which different cultures can meet and mingle. It’s important to know this and be aware of the importance of tourism on economic and social development.

Categorizing tourism impacts on local communities into different terms might be quite challenging. They may be somehow inseparable sometimes and they may overlap quite a lot. We believe that these interrelated categories can have so much in common and affect each other in so many ways. But for the purpose of clarification and understanding, we have put each subject in the most related category.

Tourism planners must realize that these three concepts, ‘the environment, the economy and the society are inextricably linked… like a spider’s web- touch, one part of it and reverberations will be felt throughout’.

Hall, 2000

Positive Impacts of Tourism on Local Community

Sociocultural Aspect

Maintenance of culture and traditions like the handicraft industry and preservation of ecosystem is a notable point of tourism. Meeting different cultures and getting to know their art and skills is an example of positive impacts of tourism on local communities.

  • Better local facilities and infrastructure: This includes better education, health care, and job opportunities.
  • More cultural and social events for the local community.
  • More leisure facilities.
  • Preservation of cultural heritage: It leads to the rebirth of crafts, architectural traditions, and ancestral activities.
  • The revival of both urban and rural areas: Since a large number of people are moving to urban areas for more job opportunities, it can be a great factor to pause all the immigration.
  • National Integration: Interacting with different people with various cultures and linguistic backgrounds leads to the Expansion of Literacy and Education among people.
  • An Increase in the Standards of Living
  • Improvements in the areas of health and family welfare.

Economic Aspect

When more money is circulated in the urban or rural areas, it stimulates the creation of new businesses and brings out a more positive image of the area, and reduces poverty. Economic benefits entail income creation, foreign exchange achievement, and more employment. We will face the economic growth of the country through industrialization, technology, education, better advertising, and liberal trade policies.

  • Generating jobs includes sectors such as food service, entertainment, accommodation, automobile transportation, public transportation, and tour operators.
  • Creation of infrastructure utilities is not only for tourists but also for the local population. Undoubtedly the infrastructure must be developed in a planned manner. There must be awareness about the probable overpopulation, overcrowding, and possible damages to the environment.

Environmental Aspect

  • Increased investment in the area and more useful environmental actions and initiatives.
  • Educating the local community to raise awareness for environmental concerns.
  • Increase income for the preservation of facilities in each area to have minimum pollution consequently.

The more involved a local community gets in tourism development, the fewer damages of tourism will be on the area. Although we must be concerned about the negative effects and costs of tourism on that community as well. That is why we must focus on raising public awareness.

Negative Impacts of Tourism on Local Community

In spite of all its positive benefits, tourism can have some negative impacts on the local community as well.

Sociocultural Aspect

Tourists, out of ignorance or lack of awareness, may fail to respect local values and customs which can cause irritation for the host community. The different cultures of outsiders may disturb the local’s culture and cause social uneasiness. If locals copy the outsiders’ behaviour and attitude, they may change over time and turn into a new community losing their unique identity, culture and traditions.

Economic Aspect

Development of tourism may result in overcrowding. Overcrowding with a poor infrastructure may worsen the life situation for locals. It may, for example, worsen the sanitation status. It is important then to be cautious about the tourism income and allocate a noticeable percentage of its income to the local community to be utilised in such matters.

Environmental Aspect

The more people come to the area, the more natural resources are needed. The pollution may increase and disturb the ecological balance of the area. Soil erosion, natural habitat loss, forest fire, and more vulnerability of endangered species are some of the other negative impacts.

To Where Tourism Income belongs?

Since money spent in tourism, percolate through many levels; so it is important that the tourism industry allocates a noticeable percentage of the tourism income to the local community benefits. As Holloway & Robinson (1995) put it:

One of the important economic features of the tourism industry is that an income earned in places of residence is spent in places “visited”

Tourism and Economic Development Issues, Tanja Mihalic

However in tourism, there is clearly an uneven distribution of benefits; this is threatening the social, economic and environmental sustainability of tourism in some developing countries. Tourism is one of the fundamental pillars of the development process in many developing countries. Although, for some particular places (like in islands and small economies), it is the only source of foreign currency and employment; therefore it constitutes the platform for their economic development[2].

How to Minimize Negative Environmental Impacts?
  • Respect the local land and give attention to the signs. Do not contribute to any sort of further degradation.
  • Support local businesses and organizations.
  • Support the hotels, tours, and services that are eco-friendly and sustainable as well.
  • Use sustainable transportation

Surely there are so many individuals and companies involved in the mentioned concerns and tourists may be the end of the supply chain. Governments must provide the required infrastructure for growth. They must ensure that growth is well managed based on the growth of tourism in that area.t area.

Iran Nomad Tours; An Example of Min Negative & Max Positive Impact

IRANomad Tours is an ecotourism startup. A social business working toward a more sustainable tourism. We try to maximize all the positive impacts and minimize the negative impacts of tourism on the local community. We are concerned about the consequences of mass tourism. So we focused on developing Nomadic Tours in Iran. In this local community project, we aim to empower the nomad families. So in the end, we will be only a platform for the local operators.

Moreover, IRANomad Tours has a code of ethics in which we are committed not to change and interfere with the local community’s culture and elements that shape its identity. We try to respect their values and do our best not to hurt them in any way.

The other important concern for us is to allocate a reasonable percentage of our tours’ income to the locals themselves. So that they can develop their facilities and most importantly preserve their lifestyle. We don’t want to be visitors. Accordingly, we try to live with nomads like a family member: eat what they eat and do as they do.

[1]. The Impact of Tourism Industry on Host Community


Modern Digital Nomads to work with Traditional Nomads

Modern Digital Nomads to work with Traditional Nomads

In a digital time that we live in forms of marketing, advertising and promotion have changed a lot in comparison to only few years ago. Social networks have become a powerful tool for some to promote and also powerful tool for others to make a living from it, one of them is nomad tour.

Until one or two years ago most didn’t even know what does being an influencer mean whereas today modern tourism industry (among many other industries) heavily relies on those who offer their digital social space for promotion.

Obviously, quality of content posted in social networks together with well defined target group is of crucial importance for influencers and something that separates less from more successful ones.

Iran Nomad Tours is the only agency in Iran that provides nomadic migration tours for public. Not only is the lifestyle and story of the Bakhtiari nomads specific but their seasonal migrations take place in some of the most remote and inaccessible areas of Iran.

Such combination of anthropological component on one side and beautiful landscapes that are otherwise almost impossible to reach on the other side make Iran Nomad Tours migration with Bakhtiari nomads a very unique product.

Authentic Classic Iran Nomad Tours

What it means is that the posted materials in forms of photography, video and text are extremely exotic because they simply cannot be found elsewhere. Nomads’ simple daily routines of making bread, milking sheep, collecting firewood, producing yogurt and migrating present a very photogenic material on a daily basis. With Zagros mountain’s snow capped peaks in the background we get a unique and original storytelling material.

Iran Nomad Tours is making effort to preserve the dying tradition of Bakhtiari migration and would like to introduce their wonderful lifestyle to everyone interested in nature, tradition, anthropology and generally tourism. Therefore we invite social media influencers and modern nomads to contact us to discuss possibilities for potential cooperation.

Related Article: Why Iran should be your next adventure destination?

As a photographer and promoter I joined the “Kuch” in May 2019 in a nomad tour and I am almost sorry that I came to join the Bakhtiari migration as a photographer because it was all so beautiful and interesting that I couldn’t fully enjoy the moment because of „having“ to take photos.

Joking aside, photographing during kuch was personally interesting because of above mentioned reasons – combining lifestyle and nature. Social and anthropological component of nomads living like they used to live thousands of year ago integrated into beautiful landscapes. At the same time it was very challenging and a lot of fun.

Kuch A Perfect Photography Spot

Kooch: A Perfect Photography Spot

Seeking for untouched yet eye-catching photography spot is one of the concerns of photographers. Photographers are searching for locations at which they can bring creativity. Iran has so many ideal destinations for photographers which offer a unique subject, history, culture, characters, to sum it up great for photography destinations. Nomads of Iran are an indigenous community. A number of them are still practising transhumance by foot in an untouched area. In this article, we will discuss how come nomad’s migration is an intriguing opportunity for photographers; and at the end, we will bring some photographers ideas who have experienced this journey.

Everyone Can Become a Photographer

Fortunately, to become a photographer or videomaker you do not need expensive equipment anymore. You can start with cheap gears and even cell phones; after making money out of it, you can buy the more expensive ones. Within the development of technology, cellphones are also offering great photography options. They can do today what a $ 3000 camera does. The photography gears have become smaller, lighter, and faster. Drones are also giving us a great perspective of the environment around.

Nomads’ Transhumance:
A Unique Photography Destination

For sure, there are so many great options for you to choose from as your next photography spot. If you have aimed to travel for shooting photos, most of you are not a fan of places which are being already shot millions of times. Not to mention that even in touristic destinations, people can bring creativity to capture moments and events. For photographers, finding unique destinations different from popular spots is something valuable. So they search for out-of-the-way places which are not crowded with photographers and tourists.

In Iran, about 1,500,000 of nomads still migrate on foot. Migration is called “Kuch” among nomads. They have preserved their traditional way of living in the middle of untouched mountains of Iran. There are so many customs, traditions, and lifestyle among nomads that are about fading away. Photographers going to the nomads’ tents is a great chance both for photographers and nomads. Photographers can document theses precious lifestyle and landscape before anything vanishes. Nomads also get aware of the speciality of what they are doing and where they are living.

The Specialty of Nomad’s Migration among Photographers

Photographing is not taking captures anymore. Taking a great shot is not where the task of the photographer finishes. These days, photography goes beyond all of this. It is about deepening into a culture, nature, landscape, character, or a subject. It is about narrating a story behind the photo. There are so many characters, traditions, rituals, landscapes, and stories unsaid among nomads. Women making bread, children playing, young girls helping domestic chores, boys shepherding, the love tales in tribes, the authentic landscape, and so many other subjects are intriguing for photographers.

If you have gotten a room left on your bucket list, Nomad’s migration in Iran is quite an adventure and a unique photography location. Kuch is actually for the ones who want to get really “out there”. In Kuch, all the culture, nature, history, and colour come together on a grand scale.

What Photographers Must Know Before Kooch

* During the days that we are with Nomads, we live in their way. Respecting their customs, culture, traditions, practices, and trying to conform to their local conditions are of great importance. *‘Flexibility’ is a keyword when we are living with Nomads. * They need to know how we appreciate their lifestyle. * Nomads would open up to us much more if we get involved in their daily routines. * We do our best to have the least effect on them. * It is highly recommended not to take pictures of the nomads, especially nomad women. Like anybody else, they find it intrusive when the visitors snap a picture of them or their children without saying or doing anything. If you want to take a picture, wait for them to warm up to you, and then ask for their permission. * We highly appreciate your professional & moral integrity. If you have joined the nomads’ transhumance, it’s because to make this less known community & their heritage known to the world and share the experiences you have learned from these people and their lifestyle with others. So, please note that your focus MUST be on the nomadic people & their stories. * Please DO NOT FILM the nomads all the time. We don’t want to make them feel like a human zoo, so filming must be kept at a reasonable amount. Before filming them, you should explain your reasons to them. For example, you want to film this because you have never seen how nomads make flatbread from scratch and you want to be able to share it with your family and friends. * Please DO NOT Use their pictures without their permission. Even though some of their values might seem excessive to you, for example, the way they don’t like to have photos taken of their daughters, it’s not up to you to change that in one night. These indigenous cultures are very old and intricate, and we should have the humility to know that we don’t always know the best answer to everything. If their culture is supposed to change, it has to happen gradually and by their own people’s choosing.

What Photographers Think about Kooch

There are some photographers who have accompanied nomad’s transhumance as well.
Rachele is a passionate Italian documentary photographer seeking for something beyond the usual. This is how she puts her experience:

One of the reasons I love being a photographer is that connection that you build with people. People that you are photographing and people that look at those photographs. 
Kooch was for me a unique experience in this sense because over the course of a week I really got an insight into nomads culture and traditions and had the privilege to capture it. Even tough I wasn’t able to speak the same language of my host family I felt welcomed from the very beginning and being able to share with them such an important moment as their seasonal migration made me feel part of the family. 
The best things of Kooch is that you really feel far away from everyday life and all the caos of the cities. You are fully immerse in nature, in the beautiful peaks of the Zagros mountains, which are a perfect place for stunning pictures and, at night, the view is even better because you can see millions of stars and even the milky way.
Those days in the Zagros Moutnains have been for me the highlight of my trip to Iran, as well as beautiful pictures, I brought home a new perspective on ltiving life, new friends and unforgettable memories.

Rachele Caretti

Julien and Margaux -Serial Hikers- are a French couple. They a little adventurous and very passionate about alternative travel! This is also how they express their experience:

For me it was an incredible way to get to approach such unreachable human beings (by their way of life, the language barrier and their location!). I felt lucky to be able to photograph their lives with their agreement because it is their intimacy.

Julien & Margaux – SerialHikers

You can also read the Serial Hikers article on “Unusual: meet the Bakhtiaris, last nomads from Iran“.

Ivan Dogic is a Croatian photographer and tour guide who is recently living in Iran. This is how he describes his experience as a photographer with Bakhtiari Nomads:

I am almost sorry that I came to join the Bakhtiari migration as a photographer because it was all so beautiful and interesting that I couldn’t fully enjoy the moment because of “having” to take photos. Joking aside, photographing during kooch was personally interesting because it combined both lifestyle and nature. Social and anthropological component of nomads living like they used to live thousands of year ago is integrated in beautiful landscapes so capturing both at the same time was very challenging and a lot of fun.

Have you ever visited nomads? Have you been ever in Iran? We would be happy to hear your ideas and questions in the comments below.

arbaeen- Iran Nomad Tours

My Most Moving Pilgrimages: Arbaeen Walk & Nomads Migration

“On the trail again. Except for the Hajj pilgrimage, no trip compares to the annual 80-kilometer walk from Najaf to Karbala in Iraq to commemorate Arbaeen, the 40th day after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, which took place around 1400 years ago: *Millions* of people coming from Iran, Iraq, and many other countries, walking this distance, united in their purpose, all taking care of each other, and all trying to be better people, worthy of their Imam. I really can’t explain it. This is something you have to experience, believe me. Everything else pales in comparison. My words are so useless and insufficient, I hate them. If you don’t know who Imam Hussain is, it’s worth looking it up. And if you haven’t been on this trip, you don’t know what you’re missing. Believe me, I’ve travelled almost all over the world, and have seen some really beautiful places, but I couldn’t resist coming back here for the fourth year, despite terrible back pain and a hectic schedule. This difficult, dusty, and exhausting trip is yet so calming and so beautiful. All the more so because of the beautiful hospitality of the Iraqi people. Words fail me. Just come see it yourself. I promise you won’t regret it.”

When I first took part in the Arbaeen walk, I had no idea of what awaited me. I’d just heard from others how impressive it is, how it’s going to affect all aspects of my life, how I want to try it year after year. When the time arrived, the feeling was exquisite. It’s like a few days when you can forget about life and all worldly concerns. And, they were right; I wanted more of the experience …I wanted to try it again and again. The feeling was different. I hadn’t felt it in years. Now, being a part of this pilgrimage is a huge part of who I am, and I can’t tell exactly what I’ve been through.

Years passed and I got to know about another movement …a movement not on the roads but the mountains, not towards a holy place but a scenic nature, not a large crowd but a small one … It was when I first experienced ‘nomadic transhumance’ with the nomads of Iran. I’d never forget my feeling when I was walking with unaffected nomads in Mt. Zagros. After some years, I finally had that feeling again… maybe not as spiritual as the other one, but as thought-provoking as Arbaeen walk. Two different worlds maybe, but quite alike to their very core. So, Arbaeen turned out to be my otherworldly sacred pilgrimage and nomads, my worldly one.

I joined the nomads while we were all surrounded by mighty Zagros ranges only to see how I’ve missed the point in my life. Over the past few years, I’ve been having a few epiphanic moments but none of them can be compared to the ones I had in these two seemingly different experiences. Arbaeen pilgrims turned out to be my spiritual inspiration and the nomads of my earthy one. They made me think about my life choices; what is worth trying.

Walking on the road from Najaf to Karbala, I needed to think about things for a bit. I needed to decide how far down the road I wanted to go. With the nomads too, I needed to give more thought to my life and the way I was about to continue. 

Arbaeen Walk: The World’s Biggest Pilgrimage

“… and when I received that invitation, I knew that at the time that come, that I couldn’t delay … couldn’t procrastinate anymore, but it wasn’t just that. It was also that the Imam he himself called me. And he doesn’t call you by telephone or by text message or by email, or by WhatsApp. He calls you in your heart. So, I’m here with 20 million people who have heard that call and who have responded to that call…
John Andrew Morrow

Each year, millions of people from all around the world join the sacred pilgrimage of ‘Arbaeen’. They take part in the walking, from Najaf to Karbala to commemorate their Imam who was martyred on the day of ‘Ashura’ in the planes of ‘Karbala’. On 10 October 680, Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, along with 72 of his followers and family members were martyred. It is common among Muslims to get together 40 days after the funeral to mourn the deceased, and Arbaeen means 4oth. 

  • Pilgrims who are going on Arbaeen pilgrimage are united in one thing: ‘Love of Hussain’. They admire the way Imam Hussain has devoted everything he had, to revive righteousness. 
  • Arbaeen walk is also considered as a cultural, political and geopolitical event.
  • Despite the huge crowd, the atmosphere is all peace and tranquility. The flags bearing the name of ‘Hussain’ are everywhere.
  •  In Arbaeen, Iraqi people do their best to meet the basic needs of those who are participating in this holy pilgrimage. Pilgrims are served by water, tea, food, restrooms, praying rooms, souvenirs, and sleeping areas, because they believe it is an honor to serve the passing pilgrims.

Transhumance: Nomads’ Biggest Pilgrimage

For the nomads of Iran, their seasonal transhumance is like a pilgrimage. The whole year they are enthusiastically waiting for their spring migration in which they move towards summer pastures in the higher altitudes. It is like an odyssey for them and they enjoy the adventures they face on their way of migration. For them, nothing can be more fulfilling than overcoming the obstacles nature puts on their way. Read REDZIB SKOMORAC’s article to see how nomads go on the sacred pilgrimage twice a year to commemorate nature. 

1 2 3 4 5 6