Plans were made quite ahead. After more than one month studying for an exam and having way too much work to spend any time inclusively for myself, I dreadfully needed a holiday. My last couple of trips had been centred around desert-themed parts of Iran. As much as I love marvelling at palaces and architectural masterpieces, I was sick of sight-seeing for now. I wanted to be somewhere green, luscious and remote. Somewhere that I wouldn’t have much to do but to relax and enjoy my time with my friends. I’ve never been the solo travelling type and I never intend to be one. Having to share the most amazing experience with those I love is part of my journey and I wouldn’t change it for anything else.
I always try to portray a bit of Iranian life through my posts and so far my friends have been the best contributors to my blog. This time again, they were happy to let me photograph them throughout the journey and depict our own version of an Iranian road trip. Not that it’s anything unexpected, it’s rather because Iran is constantly portrayed so bizarrely that one needs to show normality in order to prove stereotypes wrong!
I had accidentally read about Filband; this remote village in the north of Iran where it’s only available 6 months of the year to its residents. Not that no one’s allowed inside, but it’s so cold that no one dares! It was exactly what I needed. A very remote, undiscovered village over the mountains with astonishing views and a delightful weather. If anything, it was going to be worth escaping the tremendous heat of Tehran. I quickly found a family who would host us and we agreed to rent the second floor of their countryside home for 200 thousand Tomans a night. It’s not cheap considering the conditions, but you’re basically paying for the view.
And so off we went…
Getting to Filband:
The village of Filband in Mazandaran province is around 4 hours drive from Tehran. We took the famous Haraz road that connects Tehran to the Caspian sea region and just 25km to Amol we took a right turn and entered a road that would lead us to Filband. Little did we know that the one hour and a half uphill drive to the village was going to pass through unimaginable Alps-like scenery and keep having us mouth-dropped with every turn.
As we went higher, temperatures dropped drastically and clouds came further down hugging us. We knew we were almost there. A small entrance fee for the village and we were finally at Filband. We found our temporary home to be right at the very top. Almost the last house before there was nothing but mountains. It came with a huge terrace giving us the most sublime landscape.
The facilities of our accommodation were extremely basic. Chickens and hens were running around in the garden and sheep were bleating all day long. Life in Filband was way different from back home and so we cherished it to the most. We saw our hosts to be a simple family. They kept going and coming and leaving their house open without worries of anything ever being stolen. The woman would hand-wash their clothes and make their own bread and the man was building a barn from scratch. Their child was happy running around the garden without needing an iPad to resolve his boredom. Life was simple, yet beautiful in this part of the world and we were going to live it for a few days.
We arrived too late to have a proper lunch and we hadn’t come very prepared. So they boys experienced their new food inventions on us. We were too hungry to object! 😉
We spent our first afternoon just chilling in the terrace and checking around the village. Just before dusk we went for a short hike to watch the sunset. Filband is famous for its over the cloud views but turns out this is nothing permanent. On our first day we were lucky to experience it and spent hours sitting on cliff tops contemplating the dramatic landscape before our eyes.
On our second day in Filband, we drove further down the mountains passing through quaint villages to the luscious green fields of Sangchal, where we went off for a hike. We marvelled at valleys peppered with sheep grazing in pastures and quaint cottages sneaking out in every corner. The views only got better and better as we snaked our way through unspoilt nature with no one at sight.
After a long hike we got back home and start preparing for the most delectable chicken barbecue.
We had a chilled afternoon, chatting, having tea and playing cards. And right at sunset, we were off for another hike. This time the sky was clear but the views were still marvellous.
We had a simple dinner. Found a woman who baked us local bread and bought Ash-e-Doogh ( a local Iranian soup) from another.
Nights in Filband were quite chilly. There were eight of us and blankets, cushions and mattresses only available for four! We were definitely not prepared for this and it was too cold to sleep uncovered. So we snuggled in and shared. It wasn’t very comfortable but we managed. 😉
I’d recommend bringing your own sleeping bag if you ever visit. Waking up to watch the sunrise is also a must. We were lucky that we could get the most glorious view right from our balcony while we were wrapped in blankets. 🙂
Our last breakfast was a challenge to empty the fridge. It turned out to be huge and scrumptious. We could have stayed until late in the afternoon to go back, but to avoid the traffic near Tehran we headed home sooner and decided to make stops on the way.
Roads up to Filband are in pretty good conditions but you’d better avoid driving there at night since it gets really dark.
Day-trips from Tehran to Filband are becoming more popular in summer and are provided by local travel agencies. They all tell you about the sunset views over the clouds. Honestly, you’ll only be able to see it if you’re lucky. We stayed for 3 days and this only happened once. Considering Filband is four hours from Tehran, I think it’s worth staying the night. We were extremely happy we stayed for two.