IRANomad on Mountain Day
It goes without saying that mountains and mountain people matter (especially since they are one of the most natural-smart and eco-friendly communities on earth). But sometimes, from denial or simply negligence, we forget their importance. Hence it is an absolute necessity to spread awareness and set reminders for ourselves and others of the significance of mother earth’s magical mountains and their phenomenal people.
International Mountain Day 2021
A webinar held on International Mountain Day 2021, hosted by Mountain Partnership* and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), was a practical example of such a required awareness program and reminder. IRANomad was honoured to be one of the five chosen success stories in the field of sustainable mountain tourism in this webinar. Sara Shokouhi (the co-founder of IRANomad) introduced our social business and explained our research-based programs and real-life experiences and practices aimed at sustainability and empowering Nomadic Tribes in Iran through Ecotourism and operating nomadic tours in small groups of responsible travellers which function primarily as an exchange program and learning opportunity both for the host (the nomads) and the guests (the travellers).
is a United Nations voluntary alliance of partners dedicated to improving the lives of mountain peoples and protecting mountain environments around the world. Founded in 2002, the Mountain Partnership addresses the challenges facing mountain regions by tapping the wealth and diversity of resources, knowledge, information, and expertise, from and between its members, in order to stimulate concrete initiatives at all levels that will ensure improved quality of life and environments in the world’s mountain regions.
After reading Mountain Partnership’s articles thoroughly, we realized how much we have in common with them and what kind of fundamental values we share. They hold the belief, for example, that “the involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities is a prerequisite for sustainable mountain development”. A belief which we share with them as well.
For reading more on Mountain Partnership’s opinion about indigenous peoples and communities, check out: Indigenous peoples and local communities
It would be harder to find a more extraordinary experience than going on a migration with a nomadic tribe. The tribes of Iran historically reside in mountainous areas, migrating twice a year so that their cattle can graze.
However, the remoteness of their communities and the unique lifestyle often result in social exclusion and poverty, causing younger generations to abandon nomadism and settle for generally low-level jobs in cities. This only exacerbates the communities’ poverty and risks the ethnicity and culture of these nomadic tribes gradually disappearing forever.
Ecotourism, on the other hand, offers nomadic peoples the chance to keep living in the mountains while maintaining financial stability and preserving their local culture.
IRANomad Tours has developed an ecotourism model that allows small groups of responsible foreign travellers the chance of joining a nomadic family from the Bakhtiari tribe on its migration. This tribe moves between the provinces of Bakhtiari, Chaharmahal, and Khuzestan in the Zagros Mountains in southwestern Iran. During the journey, tourists share food, chores, and tents with the family. Increasing tourism has sparked the ambition of nomadic youth to become certified tour guides. A nine-month training course will give them a local guide certificate issued by the Iranian Ministry of Tourism, allowing them to offer their own customised tours.
The future of travel should be one that respects and supports local communities. Sustainable tours and experiences not only protect the environment but boost livelihoods for local communities and keep mountain areas thriving for years to come.