The Mokhtiari family belongs to the Bakhtiari tribe, one the biggest nomadic tribe left in Iran.

The tribe is the only one left in Iran that still practise Kooch, their seasonal migration, in the traditional way: twice a year around 200,000 Bakhtiaris pack all their belongings and, along with their livestock, walk for up to two month across the Zagros Mountains.

The tribe moves from their winter home in the low hills of Khuzestan to their summer pastures in Isfahan’s western highlands on the Zagros mountains. The seasonal migrations vary in length and can reach up to 300 km, this journey is very unpredictable and it can last from one to six weeks.

As there are no facilities on the journey, each family carries everything it needs for up to two months. During migration no day is like the other and each families has to adapt their journey according to the weather, the conditions of the roads and the animals well-being. There is no departure or arrival time and no predefined routes: they stop when the animals are tired and eat and sleep only when they find a suitable place to camp.

Twice a year they made this intrepid journey, moving everyday from one place to another, trekking for weeks with their flocks and living a very basic, yet fascinating, life.

Iran’s nomads have been making the same migration for centuries although this ancient way of life it’s slowly disappearing. While migration is still an important part of the nomads life, nowadays most nomads move from one place to another using trucks, bikes and other form of transportation. Only a small percentage of Bakhtiari families still practise the migration in the traditional way, by crossing the mountains on foot.

Today, it is estimated that only a third of the tribe remains nomadic. More and more Bakhtiari are leaving the mountains and many have settled down to become agriculturist. Some others were forced to move to cities due to economic hardship and unemployment. Few grazing lands and water resources are left for nomadic life and, if this trend continues, there will be no more nomads living in Iran in the next 20 years. Yet, those that continue this traditional nomadic lifestyle undergo one of the most challenging and fascinating life.

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