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Crossing beautiful
KURDISTAN

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.

If Middle East adventures excites you, check our pages on travels in Syria and greater Middle East, Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea, and a long trip on the Hippy Trail through Turkey and Iran.

 

Selected pics from this encounter:

 

Part two of Kurdistan
Part two of Kurdistan
Arrival in Sanandaj
Arrival in Sanandaj

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.

Traditional Kurdish dress
Traditional Kurdish dress

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".

Atmosphere in Sanadaj bazaar
Atmosphere in Sanadaj bazaar
Kurd portrayed at street painting
Kurd portrayed at street painting

Kordestan, Iran

Good place to take a nap...
Good place to take a nap...

...is inside the Jameh Mosque in Sanandaj, one of the most beautiful mosques in Iranian Kurdistan

Takab market town
Takab market town
Driving around Kurdistan
Driving around 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.

Mariwan Lake
Mariwan Lake

A good place to take a stroll and enjoy the low, rolling mountains fronted by marshlands and the lake.

Homely dinner in Mariwan
Homely dinner in Mariwan

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!

Two kebabis? Yes please. Mariwan city.
Two kebabis? Yes please. Mariwan city.
Palangan village
Palangan village

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.

Howraman valley
Howraman valley

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).

Howraman valley
Howraman valley

The mountain views and villages was out of an adventure movie

Howraman-at-Takht village
Howraman-at-Takht village

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.

Local in Howraman-at-Takht
Local in Howraman-at-Takht

Ultra-Kurdish amtmosphere and culture is guaranteed!

Locals, Howraman-at-Takht
Locals, Howraman-at-Takht

Inside the Muslim prayer room in Howraman-at-Takht.

Howraman-at-Takht
Howraman-at-Takht

View of the village

Local in Belbär village...
Local in Belbär village...

...near Howraman-at-Takht

Local in Hawasawa village...
Local in Hawasawa village...

...near Howraman-at-Takht

Kordestan Shish Kebab
Kordestan Shish Kebab

We had this for lunch many times. Unforgettable!

Dalani plateau
Dalani plateau

Past the rolling hills lies Iraq

Paveh village
Paveh village

A phenomenally hospitable place with a fine setting

Paveh village
Paveh village
Back in Sanandaj
Back in Sanandaj

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.

Market in Bukan
Market in Bukan
Blacksmith in Bukan
Blacksmith in Bukan
Saqqez village
Saqqez village

Riding through Iranian Kurdistan you will see plenty of charming villages such as Saqqez. Knowing even a few words will delight locals you meet.

Lunch in Hasanlu...
Lunch in Hasanlu...

...half-way to the Turkish part of Kurdistan from Sanandaj

Stroll around the hamlet of Hasanlu
Stroll around the hamlet of Hasanlu