Part II - Iran & East Turkey
Our flabbergasting encounter with an ancient land without formal recognition.
Traveling around these parts of Kurdistan, we saw that most Kurds live in small villages in remote mountain regions. A typical Kurdish house is made of mud-brick with a wooden roof. In the summer, the family sleep on the roof where it is cooler. Some homes have under-ground rooms to use in the winter to escape the cold. There is rarely indoor plumbing or heating. Water is carried into the house in jars and cans from a central village well. We also saw how a few remaining nomadic Kurds live in tents made of blackened hides.
Traditional Kurdish dress is becoming rare but it can still be seen many places. Kurdish women wear colorful skirts and blouses. Men wear baggy, colorful pants with a plain shirt having very full sleeves, tied at the elbow. Bright-colored vests and sashes are worn over the shirt. Most men wear a silk turban on their head.
One striking thing about Kurds, which we saw very clearly, is that Kurdish women freely associate with men in most gatherings.
Locations: Iran and East Turkey, during 1 month
This is leg two on a longer journey traveling overland across most parts of Kurdistan in Iraq, Iran and Eastern Turkey. On leg one of this journey we made a deep exploration of Kurdistan in Iraq. Here, on leg two, we explore the Irianian and Turkish part of Kurdistan.
This part is more remote and rural. There are only a few larger Kurdish towns such as Mahabad and Sanandaj in Iran, and Diyarbakir (a sort of capital for Kurds) and Van in Turkey.
We start out in Sanandaj, the capital of the Iranian Kordestan province. A super friendly place where we stayed with a local Kurd who drove us into the mountains and many small Kurdish villages during several days. We found the Kurds in these areas to be the most traditional across all of Kurdistan. Especially around Howraman and Paved thay are very traditonal and speak peotic Hurami.
We then continue along the border with Iraq towards Sardash, Hasanlu, Orumiyeh and Razi, and from there we cross into Eastern Turkey. Here, we explore the most significant Kurdish towns and villages.
Selected pics from this encounter:
Kurds comprise nearly 10% of Irans population along the border with Iraq. There are however many different tribes scattered across Howraman, Paveh, Marivan, Sanandaj, Hanasalu, etc.
A common element in traditional Kurdish dress for most Iranian Kurdish menis the headscarf (mezare) and baggry trousers. If you are lucy, you will see men wearing kolobal felt jackets with shoulder "horns".
...is inside the Jameh Mosque in Sanandaj, one of the most beautiful mosques in Iranian Kurdistan
In Teheran we meet two Polish travelers who gave us the number of a local driver. We gave him a call, and after a few days he was our driver for a whole week in the Kurdish region of Iran.
A good place to take a stroll and enjoy the low, rolling mountains fronted by marshlands and the lake.
In Mariwan, which was our base for a couple of days, we slept on the floor (carpet) in the house of our driver. Kurds are extremely hospitable!
Brilliant Palangsan is one of the most picturesque villages of Kurdistan. Wobbly old bridges cross the river either end of town, and you will meet many intereseting and talkative locals in the streets.
To the left of the valley: Iraq To the right: Iran. The slippery road from Paveh to Howraman-at-Takht village is 90% hairpns and marvellously scenic but spine-jarringly exhausting driving. Probably impossible if wet or snowy (most of the winter).
The mountain views and villages was out of an adventure movie
This is one of Kurdistan's (and Iran's) least known and most spectaular towns. This is litterally where the asphalt ends. A particularly impressive and steep array on rock-and-mud bungalows, you can easily spend some time here to suck up the atmosphere.
Ultra-Kurdish amtmosphere and culture is guaranteed!
Inside the Muslim prayer room in Howraman-at-Takht.
View of the village
We had this for lunch many times. Unforgettable!
Past the rolling hills lies Iraq
A phenomenally hospitable place with a fine setting
After a few weeks in this corner of Irian Kurdistan it was time to move on. We tried to pass the border to Iraq but wasn't allowed to due to the turbulent situation in Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyeh near the boarder. So, we had to travel along the border of Iraq to the Turkish parts of Kurdistan. Okay, we could still explore the northern parts of Iranian Kurdistan.
Riding through Iranian Kurdistan you will see plenty of charming villages such as Saqqez. Knowing even a few words will delight locals you meet.
...half-way to the Turkish part of Kurdistan from Sanandaj