This trip was sponsored by Key2Persia, who I had the chance to partner up with, in order to promote places off the beaten track within southern and eastern Iran. However, this is an honest review and all the opinions are my own
From the dry and desolate Persian Gulf shore to the rolling, green hills in Golestan province, Iran is one of the most geographically diverse countries I have ever been to, similar to the places I visited when I was traveling in Pakistan.
The Zagros Mountains, a 1,500-kilometer mountain range which stretches from northwest Iran to the shores of the Strait of Hormuz, drawing the Iraqi border, is one of those geographical elements that makes Iran even more fascinating, as they are the reason why a small region drastically switches to a different climate zone in just a few hundred kilometers.
This is the reason why Iran, and especially Zagros, has one of the largest nomadic populations on Earth, as they can find the perfect place to live, according to the season they are in, by just traveling for a couple of hours.
To know all the places I visited, check my ultimate 4-week itineray to Iran
Wandering around the Zagros Mountains in Iran should be a great thing to do, not only for the Qashqai nomads, but also for foreign travelers.
After spending a few days in Tehran and visiting the classic Persian cities, including Yazd, Esfahan, and Shiraz, escaping from the desert and getting a real experience of nature will always be much appreciated.
The city of Shiraz is, perhaps, the best place from where to visit the Zagros Mountain range, as they are just a 2-hour drive away and you could even combine trekking with visiting some Qashqai nomadic camps.
During our visit to Shiraz and the rest of Fars province, we did 2 day-treks, which involved both climbing and river trekking.
Zagros Mountains map – Trek locations
Trek 1 – Dom e Asb
This is a pretty tough and adventurous trek, which involves some serious river trekking.
We left Shiraz at 5am in the morning and got to the starting point around 7am.
At the beginning of the trek, you basically climb the mountains that comprise the edge of the river. After a few hours and some epic views, you start going down to the river shore, where you can have lunch and take a rest before going back along the river.
The highlight of the trek is that the way back to the starting point goes through the river. It is not an easy task, as you will have to jump over rocks and do some occasional swimming, no kidding.
In case you are wondering, we had a 100% waterproof bag, in which we carried my DSLR, a drone, our phones, and food, so nothing got wet. The bag was necessary because, in some sections, you can’t even touch the bottom of the river.
Time to complete it: 6 to 8 hours
Trek 2 – Ardeshiri Straight
This trek is similar to the previous one, in the sense that it also involves river trekking, but it is much less challenging, so it would be a more suitable options for beginners.
The reason is that the beginning of the trek is the river itself, so you don’t need to climb, plus the whole way is much shorter.
Basically, during the whole trek, you go swimming through a narrow canyon and, unlike the previous one, if you don’t want to get wet, you can also follow the river from the top of the canyon, although it would not be as epic.
Time to complete it: 3 to 4 hours
Practical information for visiting the Zagros mountain range
Where are the Zagros mountains?
Like I said, the Zagros stretches for 1,500 kilometers, from north to south of the country, but the city of Shiraz is one of the easiest places to access them from. For both treks, the starting point is around 2 hours from the city.
How to get there
There is no other way than getting there by car.
Do you need a guide?
I am an intermediate trekker and for the last years, I have been trekking in Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and even climbed the Rakaposhi base camp in Pakistan independently but, for these two treks, I would not go alone, as I don’t have any river trekking experience plus, I don’t even own a waterproof bag.
I did the trek with Key2Persia and went with an experienced mountain guide, who brought all the gear needed and even meat for making a barbecue. We had such a great time.
You can organize a day-trek with the same company and, of course, the options are endless, as you could also do a longer trek, stay overnight and even spend some time with the Qashqai nomads.
When to visit Zagros Mountains
Spring and autumn would be the best two seasons. You can also go in summer, no problem, but it will be unbearably hot.