Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiari Province, a land of historic antiquity and heaven for Nomadic tribes, is one of the most beautiful regions and an ideal destination of ecotourism when you travel to Iran.
Shahrekord is located in southwestern Iran, neighboring two other attractive provinces, Isfahan and Khuzestan. Because of its unique geography, sitting high in the Zagros mountains and having inexhaustible resources of ranching and agriculture, Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiari has been THE motherland for nomadic cultures of Iran, and also inaccessible to most of the historical powers and armies who had ransacked the Iranian lands for millennia.
These features give it safety and serenity that you can rarely find in middle-east regions.
(Maybe that’s exactly why it has been a home for human-settlers forever. The oldest human remnants found in this area date back to the Paleolithic period, almost ten thousand years ago.)
These being said, we must add that it’s the best detention for ecotourism in Iran. winter sports, water sports, sightseeing, hiking, climbing, camping in magnificent woods and forests, felling in love at the foot of its famous waterfalls and birdwatching on the shore of its internationally well-known wetlands and lagoons… al these and more await you in Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiari.
Charmahal on map
What is the best time to Visit Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiari Province:
There is no one right answer to this question. The province boasts the highest altitude among Iran’s provinces. So naturally, the winters can harsh and very cold. But its snow-laden mountains provide some of the best Ski resorts in the country.
Think of this way: you can go skiing on the weekend, and then travel a short distance to the neighboring Province of Khuzestan later-on and enjoy moderate sunny weather there.
So to visit Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiari in cold seasons has its own benefits. But also during warm season, especially during summer, its unbelievable green valleys and lush landscape come to life and its unique ecosystems bloom and you can find yourself drawn to roaming its lands to the degree that your fellow travelers have to talk you out of joining Nomadic tribes there.
So depending on the kind of tour you’re joining and on your own kind of fun, any time of the year can be a good time to visit Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiari Province.
There and back again, or How to reach Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiari:
Shahrekord, the capital of the Province, a city called “the roof of Iran”, is 555km south of Tehran and you can traverse this distance on a well-kept highway that takes you from Tehran to Shahrekord in more or less 6 hours.
If you’re in Isfahan (one of the main tourist destinations in Iran) then traveling to Shahrekord can be arranged most easily since it’s just a 90km trip through the mountains.
You can easily take a bus to Shahrekord from almost every major city in Iran. Also, there is an airport in the city and after a one-hour flight from Tehran, you’ll reach Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiari.
Other major cities in the province include
Accommodations of Shahrekord (and some advice):
Look! This one is a Y.O.L.O trip to Iran, You know, as in you only live once trip, as in take a risk and be outdoorsy like hell trip. So don’t think too much about hotels and stuff. Don’t worry about being in a room that you can rent, say, in Isfahan.
Go out there (to the places that we’re gonna mention shortly) and experience something nomadic and emancipating. But that’s not saying that there aren’t decent places for you to stay here in the Province. Consider these hotels (none of which are particularly luxurious, but all are clean and easily affordable):
Azadi Hotel – Shahrekord
Address: Farabi boulevard
Tourism Hotel – Shahrekord
Address: In front of the city hall, Shariati street
Damoon Hotel Apartments – Shahrekord
Address: Basij square, Northen Moharram, Twelfth street
Baam Grand Hotel – Boroujen
Address: After Jihad square
Kuhrang Hotel – Kuhrang
Address: Across the waterfall, Kuhrang county
Darreh-ye-Eshgh waterfall, a place to fall… in love?
We start our list of places to go in Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiari with this marvelous one, one of the most beautiful places in Iran’s natural scenes. In a valley of Karun river, between the low hills and green mountains, near Ardal county 130km away from Shahrekord, there is a hole in the parapet of a mountain and from it rushes a strong flux of clear water that falls for 100 meters.
All around you lie rice fields and pomegranate gardens in this heavenly valley. No wonder they call it Darreh-ye-Eshgh, which translates to “the valley of love”. You cannot help but fall in love with this place.
Atashgah waterfall, where life springs out of everything:
Yup, another waterfall. If you’re one of those people who can meditate and grow by only listening to the sound of running water, then of all the tours in Iran available to you, the Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiari is the one you want to choose.
Between towering trees, smothered by ancient walnut trees, sycamores, and even oaks, you can find Atashgah waterfall. Atashgah waterfall, near Lordegan county 190km away from Shahrekord, falls for 3km on a mountain range and here and there breaks into numerous other waterfalls. It is a valley of unprecedented beauty and the landscape reminds one of the miniature landscapes of old masters.
Armand River and white water rafting:
While we are exploring Lordegan county, let us drop our boats in the water and go further north and reach Armand. Armand is one of the most important rivers of southwest Iran and every visit to Iranian eco-touristic destinations must include a trip to Armand. Its main attraction id, of course, the possibility of Rafting on the river.
In the rafting scale, Armand scores 2.5 to 4, which means it’s friendly to amateurs rafters as much as it can be interesting and challenging for more professional athletes.
To go to Armand river is an adventure not unlike the one Frodo and Sam when they were fleeing the Uruk-hai. So you probably need some equipment like the ones they had. We recommend Suitable hiking shoes, small backpack, proper ecotourism clothing, extra clothing, swimming equipment, towel, water canteen, etc.
If you’re interested in a challenging raft, the best time to visit Armand River is early to mid-spring. But if you’re like me, a more casual adventurer, then go there in the Summer ‘cause the water would treat you better then.
It’s worth mentioning that in case you wanted to stay in this area you can go to Yas Valley, a nearby village that is remote and unknown but surprisingly has a great campground with all the necessary facilities.
Gandoman Lagoon, a summer highland pasture for the kings:
In the Borujen county, near the village of Gandoman, you can find Lagoon lying on the face of the prairie for a million years. It’s one of the best places for bird watching in Iran. a flat but high altitude landscape, serenity of Iran’s nature comes over you and lets you experience the nomadic trance of being alone with the land.
A diverse fauna in the area around the lagoon used to make it attractive for hunters, most famous of them the great and legendary Sassanid king, Bahram-e-Goor.
Breeding horses and also riding on their back in the meadows around the Gandoman lagoon are among the recreational activities available, although for Bakhtiari people this horse-breeding business is as serious as life itself.
In the warm seasons, when the weather in Gandoman is most pleasant, you can find accommodating facilities for travelers.
Kuhrang, the throne of Anahid, white goddess of all rivers:
If you continue to go west from the miraculous desert glacier of Zard-Kuh, you reach Kuhrang county. 90km from Shahrekord, this region is famous for the incredible amount of water it has (up to 10 percent of all Iran’s water resources. Presumably that’s why they call it The White Paradise.) but that’s not all. One the most beautiful flowers-fields in the world is probably the fritillaries fields in Kuhrang that bloom in springtime and enchant any wondering eye.
Let us note here that these locations mentioned above are but a limited number of what Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiari has to offer in terms of eco-tourism in Iran. So go there and explore more for yourself.
Nomadic Lines of flight, Bakhtiari’s tradition, and souvenirs:
Is there any figure more romanticized and at the same time more unknown than that of the figure of the Nomad? In Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiari you have the once in a lifetime chance to go and see for yourself how these beautiful people are living, what they believe in, what are their rites and feasts, etc.
Bakhtiari people, the nomadic pastoralists that still live up to their traditions, are without a shadow of a doubt one the most important and authentic ethnic groups in Iran. Their historic habitat is here in Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiari, whereby a little help from your tour guides you can get to know them a little better, hear their traditional and wonderful music that has gripped the imagination of somebody like the great Alexander Borodin.
If you’re there around Nowruz, you get to experience them celebrating this ancient Eyd. Also for souvenirs to bring back from Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiari, there’s nothing better than the traditional fabrics that Bakhtiari women weave. But then don’t forget Bakhtiari ‘Giveh’s (a beautiful and ancient kind of summer shoe).
There is also the local Almond that is famous across Iran.
Also The best German food is barbecue and meat dishes.