Mouteh Wildlife Refuge is located in Mouteh village in
northwest of Isfahan. Mouteh Wildlife Refuge is a home of Goitered gazelle in
Mouteh wildlife refuge covers a vast area including mountains, hills, meadows and plains. The highest altitude of the region is about 3000 meters and the shortest is about 1500 meters above sea level. The difference between the highest and lowest altitude and the diversity in geographical features makes Mouteh a special habitat for plants and animals.
Mouteh Wildlife Refuge, although situated in Iran plateau, has a cold or semi-arid climate. The average minimum and maximum temperatures over a 25-year period are -8.5 and 30.8 degrees Celsius, respectively. The absolute minimum and maximum temperatures during the same period are -29.4 and 37.4 degrees Celsius, respectively. Yet, the average annual rainfall is 249.16 mm and maximum is 336.12 and minimum is 195.77 mm. However, 45.05 percent of the rainfall falls during the winter months.
Vegetation and Plant Life
Mouteh as a part of Irano-Turanian region has 478 plant
species belonging to 240 genera and 53 families. You can find shrubs such as
Artemisia, Astragalus, Alhagi, Prangos, Prunus scoparia , Pistacia terebinthus
Animals in Mouteh
There are 25 mammal species, 88 bird species, 25
reptile species and one amphibian species have been identified and recorded in
Urial also known as the arkars or shapo, Wild goat, leopard, Sand cat, Pallas’s cat, fox, Wolf, hyenas, jackals, Pika, Porcupine, Gerbil etc. The most important feature of Mouteh Wildlife Refuge is goitered or black-tailed gazelle.
Iran is rich in term of Birds. But, Mouteh is limited birdwise. Despite its arid region, Mouteh is a home to 5 species of birds belonging to 2 genera and 2 families have been identified so far. Golden eagle, Falcon, Eurasian hoopoe, Partridge and Bustard are some of the birds you can see in this area.
So far, 5 species of reptiles belonging to 1 genus and 3 families have been identified in Mouteh: Desert monitor, Rough-tailed Gecko, Agamas, royal snake, False cobra, and Macrovipera lebetina, etc.
Where is Mouteh Wildlife Refuge?
It is at a joint border of Markazi Province and Isfahan Province. This wildlife refuge, nearly 205 thousand hectors, is surrounded by several villages.
North: Delijan, Nimvar and AtashKooh Village with its Sassanid Fire Temple (AtashKooh Fire Temple)
Northeast: Rabat-e Tork and Hastijan along the Isfahan-Tehran highway
Northwest: Gol Cheshmeh and Yekeh Chah villages
East: Varkan Village
West: Golpayegan and Golshahr
South: Laybid village, Hasanrobat and Lushab
How to get Mouteh Wildlife Refuge?
Drive south from Tehran. There two ways to get there from
Tehran. First route: Take Tehran-Qom Highway. When you get to Qom, drive westward toward Salafchegan. Then drive south to Delijan. Second route: Take Tehran-Saveh Highway. Pass Saveh and continue your drive toward Salafchegan and Delijan.
Once you are in Delijan, you can take one of the following route;
Green Route: Drive from Delijan toward southwest. Pass Nimvar to get to Khomein. Next, drive south to Golpayegan. Next, take the Red Route to the Wildlife Refuge.
Blue Route: If you are driving to Mouteh from Isfahan, pass Shahin Shahr. Drive toward northwest to Golpayegan. Next, take the Red Route to the Wildlife Refuge.
Mouteh Wildlife Refuge Permission
This area was first introduced and registered by the Supreme Council of Hunting and Hunting in 1968. However, in 1990 it was officially turned into the Wildlife Refuge. Isfahan Department of Environment is in charge of it now. If you want to acquire Mouteh entrance permission, you have to contact Isfahan Department of Environment. You can contact me to get the Permission.
Park-e Shahr Birdwatching is an interesting recreational activity for visitors, backpackers, and hitchhikers in Tehran.
Most of visitors or
travelers in Tehran, go for historical and cultural sites which is quite a wise
thing to do. But, the starting hours of museums in Tehran is 9:00 in the
morning. If you are an early bird, go birdwatching. Yes. Birdwatching in
Tehran. I did it and it was quite an interesting thing. So, I would like to
share my experience with you in here. It might trigger you to catch the early
Where is Park-e Shahr?
Park-e Shahr or City Park
is located in the heart of Tehran. You can use Tehran Metro to get there. Get
out of Emamkhomini Station-Metro. Walk to the west for 5 minutes until you
reach 30th Tir Street. Turn left toward the Bus Terminal. Park-e
Shahr is behind the bust Terminal. You can’t miss it.
You need to have bird watching binoculars. That’s is the Must! But, don’t worry if you don’t have one. You can get one from the Park-e Shahr Bird Watching Site. A birdwatching guide will also accompany you to help you detect the birds. It’s free of charge. Awesome, isn’t it?
Best time of day for
Best time for birdwatching in Park-e Shahris in the morning. Don’t go early into park because it is packed with early bird sportsmen and sportswomen. Be there at 7:30 in the morning, when the sport lovers are gone and its quiet to hear the bird’s short and high-pitched sound chirrups.
Park-e Shahr Birds
I saw 18 different birds within one hour in late September. I know it is not a great deal, but for a novice like me. It was too many! The birds I saw in Park-E Shahr were Great tit, Syrian woodpecker, Common starling, Myna, White wagtail, Rose-ringed parakeet, Alexandrine parakeet etc.
Reasons Behind Park-e Shahr Bird Watching Site
Over 8 million people
live in Tehran and it is considered as one of the fast-developing cities in the
Middle East. Due to the development, people are losing their contact with
nature and natural animals. In order to fill the gap between the fast-pacing life
and nature, authorities have tried to promote sustainable development of
ecotourism and raise awareness of its city dwellers in term of birds.
Therefore, Park-e Shahr Bird Watching Site should be taken as a positive act
toward the ecotourism. I suggest you to give it a try. It only costs you 2
sleeping hours. Be early bird to catch the worms!
Koker is a mud-brick village in Rostam Abad, Rudbar County,
Guilan Province, Iran. Koker is not a tourist city, nor does it have any
monumental or historical tourist attraction. An ordinary mountainous village at
the foot of Alborz Mountain Range like Koker has no attraction for travelers or
tourists. In other words, no one go to Koker for a one-day tour or a vacation
either solo or with friends or family.
But, one of out of millions does so. Abbas Kiarostami. While
travelers go to Masuleh, a popular terraced-stepped village in Guilan,
Kiarostami chose Koker. Selecting this small village for shooting his film
clearly shows his singularity and uniqueness in seeing the world with a
different frame. Heavily influenced by Shorab Sepehri, Kiarostami attempts to
practice his poetic worldview in magical world of cinema. Which he did and was
Where Is the Friend’s Home?
Kiarostami made his film, Where Is the Friend’s Home?Or in Persian Khane-ye dust kojast? in Koker in 1987. A film revolves around Ahmad who looks for Mohamed Reza Nematzadeh to return his notebook he mistakenly picked up at school due to the exact similarity. He spends the entire afternoon to prevent another embarrassing situation at school for him. Read the detailed summary of Where Is the Friend’s Home? in here.
Life, and Nothing More
After the devastating 1990 Manjil–Rudbar earthquake, killing over 37,000 people, Kiarostami once more return to Koker to acquire about his film characters. And in doing so, he made another film out of Koker named Life, and Nothing More…(in Persian Zendegi va digar hich) in 1992. A film director and his son go on a trip to Koker to find Ahmad and Mohamed Reza Nematzadeh who played in Where Is the Friend’s Home? In the earthquake-stricken area. Click to read the detailed summary of Life, and Nothing More.
Through the Olive Trees
And last but not least, Through the Olive Trees(in Persian Zir-e Derakhtan-e Zeytun) in the earthquake-ravaged Koker in 1994. In this self-referential film, Kiarostami focuses on the real love story behind the two characters of his previous film, Life, and Nothing More…, Tahereh and Hossein. Click to read the full summary of Through the Olive Trees.
Koker may has not colossal architecture like Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan or the mesmerizing beauty of Historic city of Yazd, yet it has it own poetic beauty which bestowed on it by Kiarostami’s camera. Kiarostami captures a historic moment out of it and takes us to a long inner journey where touches every human being. You can grasp similar feeling in Koker Trilogy Tour.
Living without cinema and film is futile! I have been pondering on the topic of tourism and its link to cinema for a quite a long time, but I couldn’t find any. At first, I though to make a film on tourism, which after some calculation, I found it costly. Then the idea of arranging a meeting between the film locations and film crew came to my mind. I asked some of my friends, however, since they have to idea about cinema, they were unable to help me out! Shoot!
Film Tourism in the world
That’s when the google stepped in! I surfed the net and came across hundred pages of movie-themed tour, film-themed tour, and film tour in different parts of mother earth. I got excited, but it didn’t last long. No block-buster movies were made in Iran, nor great filmmaker or cinema auteur chose part of Iran as her film locations after Iranian Revolution. Asghar Farhadi, who won the Best Foreign Language Film Award twice, has no specific or detectable film location. I mean you can’t put your finger on a certain spot and claims that the shooting was here. The viewers might be able to feel the spirit of Tehran in Farhadi’s movies; yet one cannot locate it. Farhadi thought and style have been dominating and imitating the Iranian cinema over the last decade. So, I had to go back in time to spot what I had on my mine. And that’s where Abbas Kiarostami popped in. yeah! It is him I have been seeking for.
Film Tourism in Iran
Abbas Kiarostami, the poetic image maker, was fond of road film. Bang! I have the road. It is the first connection to Travel. His characters are discoverers! Bang! Travelers love to discover new things. And above all, the films have specific film locations, for instance, Koker Trilogy. So, I got the main thread and I could develop it into a bigger idea.
Oudlajan walking tour was a light promenade delving into history of old Tehran. Oudlajan sightseeing is perfect for tourists and travelers in Iran.
Despite the general belief, Tehran has various tourist attractions. Besides the beautiful Golestan Palace (Iran UNESCO World Heritage Sites), one could go for a walk in Oudlajan, one of the four old neighborhoods in the heart of Tehran, in downtown district. Going on a walking tour of Tehran historic center is a real fun. You get away from all the metropolis noise and modernity.
I organized Oudlajan guided tour and shared it on my Instagram Pages. Before the evening, nearly ten people responded to my story on Instagram. I kept the group small because of ease of management. Our meeting place was next to Baharestan Metro Station. We took the yellow cabs down in Mostafa Khomeini Street and get off at Nasrollahi Alley. Stella (My bestie) had been waiting for us there for a while. We started our walking tour at Nasrollahi Alley. The first stop was Fakhr al-Muluk House. An old mansion turned into a traditional restaurant named Nan-o- Namak, which means “bread and salt”. Unfortunately, due to Nowruz Holidays it was closed. So, we just passed by.
Home Museum of Modarres
The first visiting place in Oudlajan was Home Museum of Modarres. The house is located down Javidi Street, on Modarres Alley. It is a large mansion in Persian architectural style. The house was renewed for public under Tehran Municipality supervision. Flowers pots on the edge of howz in the big yard makes the mansion beautiful. So did the wooden windows.
Down in the basement you could hear the Old Iranian music and sit on the decorated wooden benches ordering hot and cold non-alcoholic drinks. The average price is one dollar per a glass of drink. You shouldn’t miss it!
Mehrangiz Kambiz Mansion
We stepped outside the house, turned to right and walked in the narrow alley. Our next visiting place was Mehrangiz Kambiz Mansion. It was the location of the most popular TV Series in 1993 named Pedar Salar (means Patriarch). In order to introduce the mansion, I just hummed the theme song of the TV Series. A clever act to ring the bell (You might think that I am a self-satisfied person. But, the fact is that creativity adds spice to my guided tour). After all, action speaks louder than words! Back to our business. Unfortunately, the house was partially destroyed after shooting the TV Series. The entrance and the vestibule or antechamber was wrecked. Oudlajan could be your next shooting film location!
Dabir Ol-Molk Mansion
Dabir Ol-Molk Mansion was another sightseeing place on our visiting guided tour list. Marriage of Persian style with European style makes this mansion more beautiful. Don’t forget to take pictures on the long Iwan!
We resumed our tour by walking along the Bazaar. While we were visiting the bazaar on the way to Navab Bath, we came across the open doors of Memar Baschi Moqsue and Clergy School. You can’t visit the school because it was off. I was quite surprised to see it open. I led the group in, but the person in charge of the school prevented us from visiting the chambers. We just had a glance of the yard. Taking pictures is prohibited in this school, too. So, I had no picture to show (Sad).
Navab Bath was the fourth sightseeing place in Oudlajan. We stepped down into the Bath. Masoud Kimiai, one of the great Iranian filmmaker who used to live in Oudlajan, made this bath famous by shooting his blockbuster film Qeysar 1969 in there. The interior structure of the bath has changed over times. Nevertheless, fortunately, the roof remained intact. Navab bath’s roof is alike Kashan and Yazd rooftops.
Next, we visited one of the four Imamzadeh shrines in Tehran: Imamzadeh Yahya. Its cone-shaped dome with seven color tiles is visible hundred meters away. The interior design is quite stunning. It has detailed mirror work. One could rest there and stare at the celling for quite a long time! On the right corner of the entrance, rest the oldest living creature of Tehran. A 900-year-old maple tree! Its diameter is roughly two meters.
Kazemi House Museum
Our last visiting place in this Oudlajan was Kazemi House Museum. One could call it the hidden gem of the entire Oudlajan neighborhood. Big blue howz, beautiful flowers, the mesmerizing stained glass windows, the wooden window frames and the colorful paintings on the walls, honestly, makes this mansion my favorite visiting place in Oudlajan.
We also walked in the Oudlajan Bazaar and had a short stop at the first bank of Iran in Timche Akbarian. The smell of Dizi made us all crazy. However, Moslem restaurant, with its delicious and various options was irresistible. So, we left the place to stop at Moslem.
Standing on the long line of Moslem restaurant, especially after three hours walk, was quite a nightmare. However, if you are on guided tour with me, you can find a table less than five minutes. That was what I did. No sooner had we sat at the table than the food was ready! Moslem restaurant service is really fast.
National Garden, Tehran
Our next stop was National Garden, Tehran. Walking on the cobbled path with tall maple trees on both sides and big flowerpots in the middle is pleasurable. National Garden, Tehran used to be the Tehran city icon before building the Azadi Tower.
Our last vising place was Moghadam Museum on Imam Khomeini Street. I took the taxi to get there because I could sense a little tiredness on their faces. Exhaustion could lead to disinterest on behalf of the travelers. So, never let your travelers feel tired. Some say that Moghadam Museum is the most expensive house in Tehran. The juxtaposition of Persian House and the castle in European style is unprecedented. Japanese garden in the middle of the yard is almost astonishing, too. Drinking hot green tea with chocolate cake could be the best option to end the tour.
Oudlajan walking tour could be your next exciting trip! You could read Oudlajan must-see places in here.
Nandal village hiking is exciting and uplifting. Nandal village is close to Mount Damavand in Mazandaran Province, Iran.
Desperate for a Trip
My heart was beating for a long trek. Twenty days without an even short trip to a small hill around Pardis country, especially in Ramadan, is a real drag. I felt a little under the weather. However, I was desperate for a trip. My brother in law, Ishmael, called me on Wednesday evening and said; “we are heading to Nandal village. Are you coming with us?” My answer was positive.
Nandal Village Road
You have to drive a zig-zag narrow road from Haraz Road upward to get to Nandal village. It takes nearly 40 minutes to get to Nandal village from the very beginning of the road at the bottom. It was cloudy, but there was no wind.
Getting Ready for Nandal
We started out hiking trip at around 9:00 in the morning with my brother-in-law, Ishmael, and my cousin’s husband, Muhammad. It was cloudy and misty. Hiking in a misty weather could be dangerous and interesting at the same time. You might get disoriented when the cloud is close to mountain. But we were in safe hands. I packed my stuff and put my backpack on my shoulders and hit the mountain trail.
Hiking in the Mist
The trail was not easy to hike. The trail was steep and stony. The stones were slippery. I fell down nearly twice. We occasionally stopped to rest. Since it was misty, I had no idea how high we were on mountain. After a while, we heard barking. Barking means a flock of sheep. The sound was getting closer and closer, but nothing could be seen farther than two meters away. The mist got weakened and three dogs in different colors appeared on the left side. Barking dogs never bite. Two shepherds waved for us and we waved back. So, we stopped on a first peak and had some fruits and refreshments. It boosted me up.
After a while, we heard barking. Barking means a flock of sheep. The sound was getting closer and closer, but nothing could be seen farther than two meters away. The mist got weakened and three dogs in different colors appeared on the left side. Barking dogs never bite. Two shepherds waved for us and we waved back. So, we stopped on a first peak and had some fruits and refreshments. It boosted me up.
Climbing Up to the
We resumed our track fresh. The mist was ebbing and flowing. We could hear the thunderbolt ahead of us. We were heading toward it. The volcanic stones on our path suddenly changed the scenery. They were covered with orange and white lichens. The dew and the lichens on the stones increased the chance of losing our footings. Nevertheless, we managed it. We came across a large group of Barberry Shrubs. I picked up some of leaves and tasted them. It was sour, but not sour yuck. It was tasty and worth trying.
Hidden Gems up on the
Grazing sheep high up on Alborz mountain range is quite common. One can spot the flocks of sheep on the mountain far away. Shepherds put up a tent and take the sheep out in the morning and return before sunset. But they leave something precious behind: lambs. Sheep should gaze out on the steep mountain which is literally impossible for little lambs. Therefore, shepherds put little lambs in a covered dry-stone shelter to protect them from potential danger. Quite interesting, isn’t it?
Dry-Stone Shelter Stock
The rain began beat against us harder and harder. We continued the mountain trail until we reached the big round dry-stone shelter wall. It was around one o’clock in the afternoon. At the left corner, it was covered with waterproof fabric supported by wooden poles. It was smelly to rest there. So, we stayed out side. The blizzard struck while we were trying to build a fire. I rummaged through my backpack and found ground sheet. Ishmael got the wooden poles and Muhammad got the stone. We put up a so-called tent and made an herbal tea.
Two local shepherds joined us for a drink after the blizzard stopped. They were out looking for mushrooms. Hills round the Nandal village are filled mushrooms in late April and May. We offered them some snacks and hot tea.
As they decided to leave, it started to rain. It was time to eat something delicious. Yes, grilled corn. We barbecued sweet corns on charcoals and ate them voraciously as a lunch!
Hiking Down through the
It was raining cats and dogs. It was 15:00 P.M. and it was time to climb down to Nandal village. The mist got thicker and thicker on our way back down.
We descended the mountains and reached a valley. A flock of sheep were gazing there. We had a small chat with the shepherds. They were Afghans, not locals.
And then we trekked slowly down the slopes until we get to the pathway. Although the mist disappeared, Mount Damavand was stilled encircled with thick clouds.
Nandal village is perfect for hiking and trekking. In my following trips, I will let you know about the hiking trails and trekking routes in the area. I will announce the upcoming trip on my Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/bahram_gur/
Hitchhiking to Hormuz Island is everyone dream. Everyone talks about Hormuz Island and its beauty, but you should see it on your own to believe it. After all, as the proverb goes, “seeing is believing”. The idea of visiting colorful Hormuz Island has been on my mind for a long time, but I was waiting for the best visiting time, February.
I called for hitchhiking trip to Hormuz on my Instagram account (https://www.instagram.com/the7beauties) and within 24 hours received numerous responses. My buddy, Muhammad Qanjal, and I picked the qualified travelers. Since it was a long hitchhiking trip, nearly 1,300 km, from Tehran to Bandar Abbas, it was necessary to select the patient ones.
Hitchhiking from Tehran to Isfahan – Scrambled Eggs
My travel buddy, Elahe (a girl name meaning “the goddess”) and I join the group in the evening to start our new adventure. This time our hitchhiking trip is different because we take north to south route in Iran. We were 14 hitchhikers, including Elahe and I. We got late, but luckily we were second to get a ride. The first impression is the last impression in hitchhiking, so always wear a smile on your face. A truck driver pulled over and I went after it and opened the door. A kind truck driver showed up and curiously asked where we were going. I quickly noticed his accent. He was from Shiraz, the city of poems and flowers.
Initially, he was a little surprised to see us, especially me with a large red backpack. He kindly asked us where we were heading and then said, “Hop on”. Elahe got on the truck first and helped me with the backpack and then I quickly got on. It was an easy hop on. In fact, we dragged us up! We introduced each other to him. His name was Saeed. He was from beautiful Shiraz, but he was heading to Isfahan that day. He played some old romantic Iranian music for us while we enjoyed the horizon. we passed Mamuniyeh, Salafchegan, Hesar-e Sorkh, Delijan, Mouteh Wildlife Refuge, Meymeh, Vandadeh, Murchehkhort, Shahin Shahr.
After sunset, near Isfahan, he pulled off to offer us something to eat. He brought the pan, the small portable cook and some bread. Elahe got the pan and cooked us quick Scrambled eggs. Saeed dropped us at Moallem Freeway at Isfahan and bid us farewell.
Hitchhiking from Isfahan to Nain – Getting Stone
This was the difficult part of our trip. Since tomorrow was a national holiday, the streets were literally emptied from trucks. Most of truck drivers are off on national holidays. Therefore, we were forced to hire a car in Snapp App to the very beginning of Isfahan- Nain road. We paid 2 dollars to get there. It was getting more and more difficult to get a ride, let alone a free ride! However, we never lost our hope. We were determined to get to Shahr Babak, our meeting place tonight.
Cars and trucks passed us with at a fast speed and the pushed us the cold wind to our faces. We walked for a while to reach the lights we saw a head of us. The lights were not the lights from the houses, but a restaurant. We were lucky because there were nearly ten trucks there. Cheerful as we were, we paced up. We did not want to lose our chance at such a dark night. Elahe and I head to trucks. Some had no drivers on. Some refused to offer us a ride.
All of a sudden, we an old greenish blue truck, an old Mercedes-Benz short-bonnet trucks, aka Khawar, in Iran. It was so beautiful. The truck was decorated with numerous things. A man of late 50s showed up and we asked for a ride. He was a sheepish man with a dark jacket on. He had a short gray hair and blue eyes. He said, “I am heading to Tabas. So, I can just take you to Nain.”
We were as happy as a lark, although a long way was a head of us. He was not much of a talker because he was an opium smoker. While Elahe had a short snap, I seized the time and scrutinized the different things in the cabin while the opium smoke was in the air. I was literally stoned! He dropped us at Nain ring road after midnight. A pitch-black road!
Hitchhiking from Nain to Yazd – A Ride into the Darkness
Darkness was all we could see. I wore my headlamp and resumed my path. We could hear dogs’ barking far away. Three or four sedan cars passed us speeding. We were not in a light spot to be visible. Elahe began to cracking jokes to raise the spirit. She is very funny from time to time and she did it on the right time. We stood near the streetlights for roughly twenty minutes. It was about one in the morning. Who would stop for a couple on after midnight on almost desert road? A humanist, maybe.
Up on the road, a Mini Truck Isuzu began to appear. I rose my hand and a few meters a head of us, it stopped. I was happy and scared simultaneously. Two men were in the vehicle. Usually, I do not go for a truck with two passengers on, but I had no choice. They curiously asked our destination. They were from Yazd. The accent was revealing.
Surprised to see us at wee hours, they began to ask several questions about Elahe and me. I tried to be alert all the way to Yazd and kept talking about any topics available despite the overwhelming sleepiness. While the driver was friendly and kind, the other guy was too nosy. Frankly speaking, I felt a little unease with him. The road lingered on and on as if it was endless. Seeing the road sign written Zarach on it, we decided to get off.
Hitchhiking from Zarach to Hazrat Abolfazl Mosque –
Lightness in Horizon
After getting off the truck at Zarach Meydan Velayat, I was relieved a bit because of saying goodbye to the nebby guy. Up ahead the road, on the right side, rest a group of trucks. We headed toward them with sleepy faces and shivering bodies. Four or five of them did not even bother to answer our greetings at that ungodly hour. Almost all track drivers turned blind eyes to us, expect a couple. Two young men, one 21, and the other 27, inquired about our affairs cautiously. I quickly told them our destination. They were heading towards Shahr-e Babak, our very destination. My prayers were answered. Hurrah. Our happiness did not last long because they said, “We are going to stay at Hazrat Abolfazl Mosque, after Mehriz for sleep”.
Loaf of bread is better than none. I felt safe with them, so I slept for a while. I was waken up by the driver’s voice. “We got to Hazrat Abolfazl Mosque”. The yellowish red hue appeared at horizon, as the sun began to rise. Hazrat Abolfazl Mosque was a life saver. Elahe and I dragged our wearied bodies with heavy steps towards the mosque. Into the mosque, we entered. It was packed like sardines. We squeezed ourselves between the sleeping people and in a blink of an eye we were in arms of Morpheus.
Hitchhiking from Hazrat Abolfazl Mosque to Anar –Short but sweet
Persian says “Sleeping is a rose” and indeed it is. I passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow. We slept for 4 hours. By the time we woke up, the mosque was almost empty. The sun was shining lightly and the sky was clear. We had bread and cheese for breakfast and hit the road again. I posed for the pictures and Elahe took a nice shot of me. Almost after 15 minutes, a sedan car pulled up a few meters a head of us. A young couple with big smile offered us a ride to Anar city in Kerman.
Hitchhiking from Anar City to Sirjan – The Curvy Hills
Soon after waving goodbye to the friendly couple, a lovely Sirjani guy picked us up. He was driving on the road from early day from Yazd and was heading toward Sirjan. The weather was awesome and the sky was clear. Every now and then, two or three fluffy clouds made a shade and passed slowly. As we passed Shahr-e Babak, the road began to curve and rippling hills started to appear.
The mountainous pass is a perfect place for photographers and nature lovers. I might go there for biking and camping some day! On the right wing of the road, there lied small one-storey houses made out of stones and soils. It seemed that a river used to flow there. One could see the mud cracks along the road. The name of the city was, Zeydabad. It seemed a lovely city. But, we could not stop. We had a higher goal. The driver kindly served us some dried nuts with hot tea.
Hitchhiking from Sirjan to Bander Abbas – Fast and Furious
If you want to take a taxi or hitchhike from Sirjan to Bander Abbas, Imam Ali Square is the best place. The taxi fare from Sirjan to Bandar Abbas is 3 dollars. We were running out of time. It was 2 p.m. in the afternoon and we had a ticket for Hormuz Island at 17:00 with Bandar Abbas Ferry Boats. Three hours might not be enough. Unfortunately, the taxis were not there. It wasn’t surprising, it was holiday, after all.
While Elahe and I were crossing our fingers to get there on time, a sedan car, a couple with a 4 year-old girl offered us a ride. They were Sirjani. They warned us about the potential dangers of hitchhiking on the road. But, it was daylight and we were immune to possible dangers. Soon after he heard we would be late for the ferryboat, he drove a little faster but with lots of care.
It was a 310 kilometer drive. But, you couldn’t drive fast because it was mountainous and curvy. It even had tunnels! Zagros Mountains stretching from northwest of Iran, Tabriz ends here at the Strait of Hormuz. The mountains were in different shapes and colors. I was so immersed in watching them that I wished it never ended! We got there Port martyr Haqqani at 17:20 despite the speeding.
Hitchhiking inside the city is literally impossible. So, using Al Pacino’s phrase in Donnie Brasco “Forget about it”. Anyway, let me give a tip for better photography. While you are in Shiraz, try to wear bright colors. Yellow and pink are top priority because the tiles are mostly pink and yellow. In this case, you will be matched with tiles and your pictures will be more beautiful. Colorful scarfs are available there for women for beautify themselves and color their photo while on travel.
We visited Vakil Bath, Vakil Bazzar and Vakil Mosque. Each has its own beauty and style. You can’t have a bath in Vakil Bath. It is a museum right now. But you could be familiar with the architecture and the culture of Hammam. In Vakil Mosque, the spiral columns are a perfect place to take artistic photography. I am an amateur, of course. We met two Turkish travelers who took pictures with Yalda and Mahsa.
Pars Museum is another highlight of Shiraz one shouldn’t
miss. The paintings inside the Pars Museum are marvelous. The tomb of Karim
Khan Zand is there, too. It is a small museum but it totally worth visiting.
I really love the space between the Vakil Mosque and Arg-e
Karimkhan. Tables and chairs in the open space are lovely for relaxing and
having something to drinks.
The medieval-like fortress in the middle of Shiraz built during Zand dynasty was our next stop. Bitter orange trees surrounded the fountain inside the Arg. The amorous smell were there as well. I couldn’t cease to smell blossoms’ mind-altering smell.
Next was Madrese e-Khan or Khan School. The school was a two-story building like the one I saw in Oudlajan, Tehran or Agha Bozorg School in Kasha. But, this one is more beautiful than the two others are. Palm trees and dancing of fountains in the yard created an splendid view. While we were there, we met a group of French travelers. They were four. Three women and a man. I spent some time talking to them about Iran culture and lifestyle. When I see a traveler, I become talkative. They were patient enough to listen to my words. They were heading to Isfahan, Kerman desert, Varzaneh and Kashan. I wished them nice and safe trip and then we said farewell.
Qavam House or Narenjestan Garden is so beautiful you can’ stop falling for it. The colorful flowers, green trees and sound of water soothe your body and soul. While you are inside the mansion, look up to see the decorated ceilings. On the second floor, you could see the images of western women surrounded by the images of flowers on the ceilings. The mirror-work’s on the first floor is striking to watch. No wonder it was registered under the Persian Gardens on Iran UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Next to Qavam House, there is beautiful traditional house which is called Zinat Al-Molk House. It is not as eye-catching as Qavan house; however, it has its own beauty. Besides, it is close to Qavan house. It takes 15 minutes to visit it.
Tomb of Saadi
and Tomb of Hafez
Literature is my life. I can’t live without it. Reading Hafez and Saadi is one of the most pleasurable activities I have ever done. Their poetry is so rich in philosophy and worldview that their reputation go beyond the Iranian border. Goethe, one of the greatest German poet, openly confessed Saadi Shirazi’s influence on him. And Hafez’s influence in Iranian daily life is inevitable. Having said that, seeing them was like seeing old friend who helped me through sadness and laughed with me in my happiness. I lost myself in the poetic atmosphere and began murmuring the verses quietly.
We returned two Arg-e Karim khan area to have dinner at Qavam Cafe & Restaurant. The food was yummy. I ordered Kebab Tabeii with special sour mayonnaise on it. Oh my God! I highly recommend it. It was soooooo delicious! We talked over the dinner about our hitchhiking back to Tehran.
Shiraz to Sa’adat Shahr – Indecent Proposal
Tight schedule always increase the pace of your travel, particularly on hitchhiking trips. We decided to hit the road at night. At least cover one third of our path to Tehran. We got a taxi to the first police station outside the city. It is eight kilometers away from Quran Gate. You can find it on google map. Its name is Traffic Police Station. I never risk hitchhiking at night, especially in the lower part of Iran. I don’t want to generalize that the lower parts of Iran is unsafe. No, not at all. But, when the night comes, the darkness may lurk at the corner.
While Yalda and Mahsa were determined to begin our trip to Isfahan, I had butterflies in my stomach. But, I kept the spirit up. We thumped up. A truck driver stopped. He was heading to Tehran. What a chance! We hooped in. He was not alone. His son was with him, a pre-school quite boy. Yalda and Mahsa were in the backside and I sat in next to the driver. He spoke Arabic on the phone. He was from Ahvaz. Ahvazi people speak Arabic. I didn’t understand Arabic. The presence of the child assured us that we are safe. He was a man of family. We could trust him. I began a conversation and tried to get as much information as possible. By getting info, I could knew him better.
After 30 minutes’
drive, his phone rang and he handed it to me and said: “My brother is on the phone. He wants to talk to you.” He had
told me that his brother is driving another vehicle just behind him. But, I had
no idea why he was eager to talk to him.
-Hi, how are you?
Me- How are you?
I am fine. Thanks for giving us a ride.
-you are welcome.
Can one of you come with me? I am alone and I need someone to talk. Ask one of
the girl to come here.
Ok. But…they seem asleep. I will join you. But I warn you. I am talkative.
(With a laugh) I might talk your head over.
-Okay. No problem.
I said goodbye
and handed the phone back. I never wanted to send either Mahsa or Yalda alone
to the other vehicle. It was unwise to do that. The truck stopped in a parking
area next to road. He got out of the truck and checked his wheels. I shared the
news with my friends. Yalda interrupted me and said” It is fine with me. I go
there. You stay here.” I asked her if it is ok two or three times. Yet, her
answer was the same. I respected her answer, although I was worried. A truck
stopped behind us and went toward him to have a quick evaluation. Yalda got her
backpack, climbed down, and then got up the other truck. I climbed up and I was about to close the door that I saw Yalda
next to the door. I was shocked. She worriedly asked me to get down. I knew
something went wrong. She told me that the driver asked her get laid with him.
Yalda is a strong girl. I knew her well. I looked back and said to the diver
that we preferred to be together. I guessed he knew it. He didn’t flinch at all
at our decision.
When the trust broke, the silent came over. A deadly silent. I was worried and scared. What could I do if she was hurt? It was big mistake to let her go on her own to be with the driver’s brother. Anyway, I asked a driver to turn on a music. Might music replace the suffocating atmosphere. I have tried to engage the driver into a conversation on the recent flood in Ahvaz. Luckily, he took the lead and began talking and taking.
Meanwhile, we cooked up a story to get off the truck. Mahsa’s uncle was in Shiraz and he was coming back the same night. The phone rang and Mahsa told him to stop at the nearest city, Sa’adat Shahr. The driver bought our story. We dropped off at the police station. I asked the driver to come with me and gently told him his brother indecent proposal to Yalda. He knew it of course. But I wanted to throw it to his face to know that we are travelers, hitchhikers and adventures. However, we are not into shady things such as drugs, murder or sex and they were wrong about us. Hitchhiking might sometimes get hard and it was one of those instances.
Hitchhiking from Sa’adat Shahr to Isfahan – Long Ride to Sunrise
The trucks left and stood for a while to shake off the negative feelings. It was the first time I have ever encountered such a misconducts. It is hitchhiker after all. Anyway, a young man pulled over and offered us a ride. He claimed that he was working in a police agency in Tehran. I asked for his ID. I had to be cautious this time. He showed it to me and I felt somehow assured.
He was from Borazjan, the capital of Dashtestan County, Bushehr Province. He was an employee in a special police force in Tehran, but he despised his job. He confessed that they made him and his fellows into mad dogs attacking anyone in uprisings or riots against the government. He introduced some interesting places in Borazjan and I jotted it down into my notebook to google it later on. I felt sleepy and I fell asleep. So did Mahsa and yalda. He woke me up at 6:45 A.M. next to Soffeh Terminal in Isfahan. I thanked him, exchanged phone number, and said goodbye. We used the toilet in Soffeh Terminal and had biscuit and fruit juice for breakfast. Then we got on a bus from Soffeh Terminal, in the southern part of Isfahan to Kaveh terminal, in the northern part of it. The bus fare was 20 cents per person.
Standing there was a mistake. Neither cars nor trucks stopped for us. I searched the net and found the police station outside of Isfahan, Shahin Shahr – Kashan Police Station.
Hitchhiking from Isfahan to Abayneh Village – Unexpected
We took a taxi to get to Shahin Shahr – Kashan Police
Station. Every cars stopped for us asked for money. Isfahan seems
un-hitchhikable. We paid 2 dollars to get there which wasn’t expensive. Out of
surprise, a sedan car pulled over. Two girls were in the car. I welcomed us
with a big smile. Kimia and Paria were heading to Abyaneh on their own. They
were beautiful and lovely to hang out with. Their friendliness made us accept
their offer to Abyaneh Village. The weather was awesome. There were some clouds
in blue sky but the sun was shining brightly.
I met several international travelers from Poland, Hungry, France and China. In order to thank them for a ride, we bought Ash for them and had some fun. A couple asked me to take a picture of them and I did. I love to take pictures. After strolling for an hour, we said goodbye and headed to Kashan.
Unfortunately, the cars were full. It was a religious holiday. Never travel in Iran on national or religious holidays. The chance of getting ride is low. As usual we began walking along the road. It was useless. People passed us waving their hands. We walked for 20 minutes. And out of luck a car stopped. The man got out. He was the same person I took picture. What comes around goes around. It is a Karma, I guess. They couple offered us tea and cookies. They stopped at Anar Boulevard because they were heading to Badroud.
Hitchhiking from Kashan – Qom – Tehran
After 10 minutes, another young couple stopped for us. They
looked like rich. Both of them wearing snazzy baseball caps. They were heading
to Nushabad, the underground city in Kashan. We dropped off at Nataznz – Kashan
Pay toll. Best place to get a hitchhike to Tehran. Cut a long story short, we
hitchhiked from Kashan to Qom and Qom to Tehran. It got home at six. P.M. and took a shower
and hit the bed.
Hitchhiking to Shiraz was a different experience. It had its own joy and danger. It taught us a good lesson. Never hitchhike at night. Never trust easily to drivers with children. On general, Iranian are hospitable. It is undeniable. But, be alert and cautious.