We arrived to Palangan, right at the moment the lamp and sky hold hands. Having gone there without any early reservations, we headed to the first sign calling “house for rent”. In less than 30 minutes we were with a clean spacious home overlooking the village that was also dirt cheap.
We’re big on stepped villages in Iran, where someone’s roof is someone else’s balcony. Among the many we have, Masooleh has been always stealing the spotlight. I love Masooleh just as much but that’s before I got to Palangan, a small stepped village in Iranian Kurdistan.
Read our full itinerary for the Kurdistan trip here
Here in Palangan there was no sign of dress-up photo studios or chinese products sold as local souvenirs. In fact, there were hardly any souvenir shops to be found. Instead, there were locals dress in their traditional attires, women sat on steps chatting Kurdish and doing chores or children in school uniforms going to school. Everyone was open to conversation and super friendly. You could tell they weren’t overly exhausted by tourists flocking the streets as in Masooleh for instance.
It was too late to go anywhere and a rocky stepped village is not somewhere you’d want to go wandering in the dark. After having gone through a very long drive all the way from Tehran, we decide to chill at home and make dinner ourselves.
I’ve stayed in quite a few houses around Iran and I would normally have them booked in advance. This time, I was actually happy we hadn’t gone through any further arrangements. We got to see two houses and pick the one we liked. It turned out great! It was very clean, there was a hot shower and clean blankets for all of us and the small kitchen facilities were more than enough. Not to mention we had a breathtaking view not just from the rooms, but also from the shower! 😉
We woke up the next morning fresh and ready to explore Palangan. We had an early breakfast with local bread and cheese along with the other stuff we had brought and were out the door by 9.
We were told to take the steps down to the river and then follow along until we reach a waterfall. Little did we know, the path itself was going to be a decadent feast for the senses. Walking down the never ending steps and having to jump off rooftops or go down ladders we encountered locals busy cleaning their vegetables, washing clothes or even carpets. We stopped for a few rambling conversations and a few camera shots which the local women were very open to. Only a few months back I would have begged fully covered women with masks on their faces for a photo in Hormozgan and here I was asking a woman for a portrait and her wanting a few seconds only to drop her scarf and arrange her hair on her shoulders. She even asked to check my photo afterwards! 🙂
Like always, I was gobsmacked by how distinct cultures can be just a few hundred kilometres apart within Iranian borders.
Hopping off balconies aka rooftops the views only got better and better. After stopping for way too many photo sessions, we reached the river where views of pristine green valleys and snow caped mountains came to sight.
Following the road along the gushing river and through luscious greenery where we would randomly meet shepherds and their flock, we relished every second. Leaving our hectic lives behind at the metropolis, we could appreciate the thrumming rhythm of slow life here in Palangan.
We finally arrived at the waterfall. Apparently, there were quite a few more to discover along the road but we decided to make a turn as we were short on time.
Tips on travelling to Palangan:
How to get here?
There’s no way you could get to Palangan apart from hiring or driving your own private car. It’s quite a long ride from Tehran, but as you’d be passing cities like Hamedan or Kermanshah along the way, it would be wise to stop there for a night and continue the next day.
We encountered two French guys who had made it to here with their own rented car. I know everyone seems to advise against driving in Iran as it can get crazy in big cities, but I’ve met many people who did and they were absolutely ok with it. It also rewarded them with off the beaten tracks that they would have not taken otherwise.
What to eat here?
We stayed in Palangan for only one night. Arriving late in the evening meant we didn’t get much to do and the next day we left at noon. I would have easily stayed here for two full days but nothing more than that as the village is just tiny. But remember the roads leading to the village are not well lit at night, so make sure you arrive and leave soon enough before it gets dark.
What to eat here?
Barbecued fish is the most famous local dish here and it’s absolutely delicious. Along the route to the waterf,all we found many picnic spots and restaurants serving it.
What about accommodation?
Like I said we went without having any contacts in Kurdistan but it turned out to be extremely easy to rent a house here. Right next to the parking lot there was a man renting local homes and that’s where we got ours. The prices ranges from 80-120 Tomans per night for a humble accommodation that’s clean and comes with pillows and blankets. Don’t expect anything fully furnished. The houses are usually big enough to accommodate up to 10 with no extra charge.
When’s the best time to visit?
Kurdistan in general is at its full glory during spring. Mid or late spring would be the time to go as plains are fully green, trees are covered in blossoms and strawberries are to be found everywhere. Temperatures in Palangan were delightful during the day and got very chilly at midnight. So you would definitely need blankets for a comfortable sleep.