I am instinctively drawn to nomadism. As a passionate traveller, the view of nomadic life that is typically portrayed in popular culture is very alluring: a life of endless wander, free from the routines and conventions that entangle us in civilisation; a life not of self-sufficiency but of esteemed reliance on human kindness and nature.
In May 2019, I had the opportunity to accompany a bakhtiari family as they migrated on foot across the north-western tip of the Zagros Mountains: from their winter residence near Lali, in Khuzestan province, to the pastures surrounding Fereydunshahr, a small town in Isfahan province. This part of the mountain range is in an almost pristine state: there are no roads, no electricity, no phone signal… In normal conditions, the journey takes approximately one month. Families follow the routes that have been passed down by previous generations. According to some accounts, nomads have been populating this part of the Zagros range for 10,000 years.
Nomadic life in the Zagros is strenuous, perilous and stressful. Amidst the hardship, however, there were glimpses of another story: a story of resilience and determination, of pride in tradition and relish for simple pleasures. A story that does chime well with the popular yet idealised view of what it means to be a nomad today.
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Photography & Words by Javier Solana
Edited by Laura Beneyto