CNN Travel: Hills, hairpins, harmonies: On the road in Iranian Kurdistan


A British photographer’s adventure into the heart of Kurdistan in Iran.  Adam Chidell’s piece is published on CNN’s Travel Section.

(CNN)“Yavash, yavash,” the small, gray-haired doctor says, leaning across from the passenger seat to put a hand on his friend’s shoulder, imploring him to slow down the black Toyota as we approach another hairpin bend in the dusty road.

The driver cheerfully ignores the doctor’s pleas and continues to take the corners at a clip, smoking all the while and occasionally breaking into wailed bursts of Kurdish folk song.

We’re traveling from Sanandaj, the capital of Iran’s Kurdistan province, to Marivan, a small city just a few kilometers from the border with Iraq.

It’s the final day of Nowruz, the Iranian new year, and my companions, a doctor called Ghaffar and a taxi driver named Jahan — both from Sanandaj — are still on holiday.

In a typical display of Iranian hospitality, they’ve offered to accompany me on the journey.

To the left of the narrow road is a vertical, sand-colored mountain wall.

To the right, a 50-foot drop and a view across the spectacular Howraman Valley, a sparsely populated and beautiful part of the region.

On the eastern edge of Iran, Kurdistan province makes up part of a broader Kurdish region, which also spans adjacent sections of Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

Over the border in Iraq, the territory has been targeted by the Islamic militant group known as ISIS, but Iranian Kurdistan remains unaffected, a peaceful world away from the violence.

It also seems a world away from Iran.

Although we’re still within Iran’s borders, the Kurdistan region is quite different, and more traditionally Persian compared to the country’s heartland.

The Rest of the story from CNN

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