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My Experience of a Nomadic Transhumance (kooch)

Iran Nomad ToursstoryMy Experience of a Nomadic Transhumance (kooch)

This spring, I experienced my second main kooch (nomadic transhumance of Persian nomads) with Bakhtiari Nomads. It was unlike anything I’d experienced before. I was fortunate enough to join a very authentic nomadic family to do the migration. Thinking back, several things amaze me. During those days, I had one of my best hiking experiences on beautiful Zagros Mountain ranges. I would never forget the panoramic view I had on my third day of migration when we reached Keyno Mountain.

beautiful landscape of zagros mountain range

Everything was simply amazing; there is no other way to put it. The weather was wonderful and all around us were mountains and plains and an amazing lake. We reached a snow-covered peak … Too lovely for words! From there we all slid across the snow down the mountain, and then a wide green plain came to view. It was the pasture we camped in on the third night of our nomadic transhumance. I had no idea the nomadic transhumance can be so adventurous.

iranian nomad family bakhtiari tribe

Some minutes later all the sheep, goats and mules were all over the field, grazing. I don’t think I could have even imagined there are such beautiful sceneries in Iran. To enjoy views like this, it was really worth doing trying hikes into the high mountains for some days. Keyno was a compeletly different peak from what I’ve seen so far, and many nomads pass it on their way of nomadic transhumance.

goats and sheeps- iran nomad tours

My Nomadic Life in a Nomadic Transhumance

Mr. Ramezan and his wife Setare with their 5 cute children were our kind host and hostess. Our magnificent nomadic transhumance started on Friday, April 26. In nomadic transhumance, the nomads’ day starts with the sunrise or even before it. Every day after having breakfast, while the nomads were packing the donkeys, we followed a big flock of sheep & goats in Mt. Zagros ranges. The herd of livestock moved first, and then the family and the mules moved later. They took different routes but joined together on some spots for quick breaks. It was all the symphony of nature … sounds of birds, sheep’s bells, fast-flowing rivers, and fantastic sceneries.

But the best part of the trip was the experience of living a nomadic life in a nomadic transhumance. For a week, it was like being in another world; away from all common concerns, deep in the pristine nature of Iran, and living with a family of Lor tribe. In nomad families, everybody has his/her share of responsibilities.

iranian nomads packing gear for seasonal migration kuch

The Nomads’ Nomadic Responsibilities

Boys, Ferdos, Mehran and Ashkan, very protective of the flock, took care of the animals and collected wood for the fire … They were nomad boys to their very core. Among those mighty mountains, whenever a sheep or goat went missing or was going somewhere it was not supposed to go, the boys appeared out of nowhere to the help the poor animals.

bakhtiari shepherd with flock iran nomad tours

The mother did every day chores including making Tiri bread and sometimes milking the goats. Some of them can often be found sitting outside the black tent, making Choqa or black tent by goat wool while they are not on their nomadic transhumance.

iranian nomadic family milking a goats

Father of the family, who was the head of the family, had control over almost everything. The first two days, I was trying to carefully watch the nomad woman while she was baking bread, so that I can also try it.… the way she was moving the dough in the air to make it thin and then putting it on the stove. But it was REALLY hard. The bread I made, so different from the usual nomadic bread, became the dogs’ share of food. 🙂

iranian nomadic family making bread

When we reached the pastures, the nomad boys began playing a nomadic game; Choob bazi. In this article which is about a nomadic wedding, you can read more about the game.

Worthwhile Nomadic Knowledge

One of the best experiences I’ve ever had was with Bakhtiari nomads when I joined their nomadic transhumance. I was going after the family in their epic Kooch while learning how they can be such resilient and hard-working people overcoming natural obstacles on their migration route. Sometimes, they need to rebuild a wooden bridge so that the herd can pass a fast-flowing river. Almost every day, they have to trek across the mountains several times to shepherd the herd to the suitable pastures with their simple plastic shoes and the sticks they have in their hands. Their knowledge of the environment surpasses all our knowledge, while they have never passed any environmentally sustainable courses. They know how to signal their animals with the different sounds they make. They all work in harmony with the rhythm of nature. So much can be learned from these nomads; their environmentally sustainable lifestyle with Mother Earth, their sense of satisfaction from life, and the way they adapt themselves to nature.

iran nomad tours
TravelerSara Shokouhi
EventNomads Odyssey (Migration with nomads of Iran: Koch)
DateSpring 2019

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