When we planned our long-awaited Iran travel it was one of our main wishes to experience the pristine nature of Iran and therefore to spend some days hiking in the Zagros mountains.
As it turned out that hiking in Iran is not that easy on your own we were very happy when we found Iran Nomad Tours. Their amazingly friendly and reliable team suggested several options and finally, we decided to do a 5-days hiking tour accompanying a nomad family during their migration from their summer to their winter camp.
Excited about the project we started our tour with a long ride from Tehran to Zagros. After spending our first adventurous night in a bed underneath a beautiful starry sky in Houssein’s garden we started the hiking tour with our two motivated guides Mohammed and Saeed. As it was already mid of October many nomad families already arrived in their winter camps and it was not sure if there would be many families left that we could join. Passing rivers, walking along tiny paths into a beautiful steep valley we tried to find a nomad family, who had passed Houssein’s place a day earlier. After a challenging and exhausting hike of 7 hours, it turned out they already left their sleeping site. Instead, we met a half-nomad, who was collecting fruits and hunting animals for his family.
Fortunately, he agreed to stay one night with us. He packed all of our stuff on his mule and we hiked another 4 hours to another high plateau with a spring, where nomad families oftentimes spent some days on their Kooch. Although we did not find a nomad family there, we spent one of the most exciting and interesting night there. On our way, the hunter showed us fresh traces of a bear and later he shot a wild pigeon that we grilled in the fire. In the evening we sat around the fire and talked about the different lives we are living – we were all very much impressed by each other and so touched by the close insight we were allowed to gain.
Unfortunately, the next day the hunter had to leave for his family. Thus, heavy-hearted we decided to go back to Houssein’s place. Without anyone around with a gun, who if the occasion arises can protect us from bears, it would have been too dangerous to stay in the mountains.
Suddenly, during our lunch break on our way back, we heard the sound of goats and sheep’ bells coming along the valley with a shepherd, the son of the following nomad family. That moment was so special! The nomad family finally invited us to stay with them for the night. We had plenty of tea with all the family members, had interesting talks about their nomadic life. Children’s education, the dangers they have to face in the mountains (bears are a very important topic for the nomads!) and we welcomed the newborn baby sheep.
We felt very honored when the head of the family invited us to sleep with him and his family on his carpet. In the early morning at about 5 am everybody got up and within half an hour their whole household goods were packed, tied to the donkeys and mules backs and the whole family moved on with their Kooch. We only joined them for a little while, but as there was only the option to move on with them for at least 4 more days (there was no earlier possibility to descend from the mountains) or to turn around, we decided to turn around and stay one last night at Houssein’s place before leaving to Isfahan.
Altogether our hiking tour was a really great experience with so many special, heart-warming as well as challenging moments that it is hard to describe the whole adventure in words. We really appreciated that nomad tours attach great importance to subordinating to the nomad culture. Of course, this requires plenty of flexibility for the travelers and the tour guides, because you never know for sure if and where you find a nomad family, and if they like you to join them. But at the same time, this offers the great chance to make unpredictable, really unique experiences that we definitely never want to miss!
For us, it was very important, that the nomad tour guides were very sensitive in contact with the nomad families and very seriously taking care not to change the nomads’ rhythm in anyways.
We can really recommend this fantastic experience!