Bon voyage

Photo essay: Group trip to nine Iranian cities

by Mary Loosemore

Trip organizeds by Wild Frontiers: Tehran to Hamedan; Hamedan to Kashan; Kashan to Yazd; Yazd to Bavanat; Bavanat to Shiraz via Persepolis; Shiraz to Yasuj; Yasuj to Esfahan; Esfahan to Tehran; Tehran to Bandar-e-Anzali; Bandar-e-Anzali to Tehran.

Wild Frontiers was founded in 2002 by the acclaimed adventure travel writer, Jonny Bealby, on the premise of developing 'a company run by travellers, for travellers'. Our reputation has been forged by creating exciting itineraries that combine true off-the-beaten-track travel with a unique blend of luxury and adventure, a variety of transport and activities and fascinating cross-cultural interaction. We uncover the lives of the people as well as exploring the landscape, history, culture and cuisine, ultimately leaving our clients with the unforgettable experience of having journeyed beneath each region's surface and discovered the heartbeat within>>>All 604 photos of Iran in Mary's flickr page



here is my e-mail...

by BeeTaraf on


Thank you BeeTaraf ...

by alborz on

...for your thoughtful responses.  It is always a pleasure to have a meaningful exchange.

Evolution indeed has many facets and in this context I am referencing advancement and progress in civilization.  We as Iranians are very proud of ours, because we associate "civilization" as that which belongs to a bygone time and era, and more specifically we select the very best of its "fruits".  Adaptation is an integral component of our survival as individuals and collective units of family, tribe, nation and the world community.  Fundamentalism in Iran and elsewhere is the force that works against our adaptation.  We as humans are both physical and spiritual beings, and the latter is what differentiates us from other manifestations of this creation. Since both aspects define us as a unique individual, then the interplay between the two must not be denied.

When Iranians are disillusioned with the "prescriptions" being wrapped in the cities of Qom and Mashad and see that blood is being shed in the cities Najaf and Karbila, and that nothing worthy has come forth from the "doctors" of divinity during the past 600 years, then is there any wonder that we cling to the remaining artifacts of a bygone age, as we do?

We as a people have adapted physically to a changing world, just as others have.  However, how we have adapted has been shaped by those whom we have empowered to "interpret" our needs and "prescribe" our lives based on the doctrines of Islam.  Therefore our adaptation has placed us squarely where we are today.  This is why we need to examine our approach and reconsider it if we are not satisfied by our present condition, and one which seeks to find a glimpse of hope in a sea of travesty.

We cannot say that we don't know which nation is more or less fundamentalist. Just look at the key indicators in a society that defines civilization.  There is no question that most people do this subconsciously without much thought and therefore adopt whatever that comes their way and later they are considered as having adapted.  This is by far the worst form of adaptation as it is unexamined and responsive to only our basest needs. We can only view nations as an aggregate of its parts.  Fundamentalism and its influence on each nation is very clear in this context.  I agree that it is not predictable with certainty, but I do think that that trends and their consequences in the near term can be observed and to the extent that it relates to my life time, then it is relevant and predictable.

I agree with you that our diet affects our environment and there is no question that there are more vegetarians today in societies that have a choice. 

You can send me an email if you wish to continue this dialogue, as I would welcome it.




Thank you

by HH (not verified) on

I'm an Iranian Jew and left the Country at age 4. I've looked at all 600 of your pictures twice already---thanks so much. I wish I felt it safe to go and visit that land, especially Hamedan, the town of my ancestry. I wish you had some more pictures of the tomb of Queen Esther. If you do, can you please post them?


Evolution, Progress & Kabob

by BeeTaraf (not verified) on

Dear Alborz,
The degree of influence on the evolution of a society! That is a huge issue! The funny thing about evolution is that it cannot be predicted! The only constant is that nothing stays the same, everything is changing all the time, and there is no judgment, progress is a relative term; here is an excerpt from: “THE IDEA OF PROGRESS, AN INQUIRY INTO ITS ORIGIN AND GROWTH”
By: J. B. BURY published in 1920

"…that the constancy of human nature, so frequently alleged, is a fallacy. For change is the law of all things, of every single object as well as of the universe. "Nature in its infinite complexity is ever growing to a new development." It would be strange if, in this universal mutation, man alone was unchangeable, and it is not true. "He also obeys the law of indefinite variation." Contrast the houseless savages with Newtons and Shakespeares; between these extremes there are countless degrees of difference. If then humanity is indefinitely variable, perfectibility is possible.

In the second place, evil is not a permanent necessity. For all evil results from the non-adaptation of the organism to its conditions; this is true of everything that lives. And it is equally true that evil perpetually tends to disappear. In virtue of an essential principle of life, this non-adaptation of organisms to their conditions is ever being rectified, and one or both continue to be modified until the adaptation is perfect. And this applies to the mental as well as to the physical sphere.

In the present state of the world men suffer many evils, and this shows that their characters are not yet adjusted to the social state. Now the qualification requisite for the social state is that each individual shall have such desires only as may fully be satisfied without trenching upon the ability of others to obtain similar satisfaction. This qualification is not yet fulfilled, because civilized man retains some of the characteristics, which were suitable for the conditions of his earlier predatory life. He needed one moral constitution for his primitive state, he needs quite another for his present state. The resultant is a process of adaptation, which has been going on for a long time, and will go on for a long time to come…"

I don’t know which nation is more fundamentalist than another, however it is the human nature in general that interests me. The main issues with any living organism are population densities! As more people are concentrated into a certain area, the more they have to adapt to their collective needs and greed’s. India and China are good examples of how huge masses of people have managed to somehow respect each other! It is a matter of necessity and collective survival.

The other very important item in our evolution is the issue of diet; what do we consume? And how does this slaughter of animals also known as: “Kabob” affects our lives and our environment?


Anonymous - taking a picture with the Mulla...

by alborz on

...from Qom and Mashhad is the same as taking pictures on a safari.  The question is whether you will choose to cancel your return ticket from the safari and stay in the wild and everything it has to offer today.  That is the question.  Clearly, so far, you have chosen to use the return part of your ticket and to have your buddies in the form of a photo...which is what I said in my first response, "Iran, today, is best experienced through the photos on this site".

I agree with you that poverty and dignity are two different things and this why I said what I said previously.  Perhaps you need to read it again, to get that.

Also, do you care to explain why you keep saying "uho"?  Is this the way you normally express yourself or is it just when you get excited and you are at a loss for words.



Uhho ... uhho... I was ... uhho ... in Iran last year

by Anonymouse on

I love Iran.  I don't love the halo of Iran. I always loved it as it presented itself to me and how I mingle with the people.

You sir are certainly no good lawyer for Iran and its people. I know a good lawyer and you are no lawyer.

I like to go to Safaris in Iran.  I also like to sit next to a red blooded Mullah from Qom or Mashad and take a picture with him. Poverty and dignity are 2 separate things.  Many people loose their dignity to poverty and many are rich with low self esteem.

You stay here and call me and others shallowless expats  .... uhho ... uho .... god damn these words ... uho ... uho... you don't go on Safari to Iran ... uho .... uho ...

Dast as sar-e .... uhhho .... uho... kachal ma bardar ... uho ... uho


Anonymous - Poverty and Dignity

by alborz on

From your comments I gather that you believe that the world is static.  Again my comments were not directed at the beautiful nomad tribes of Iran.  They were directed at YOU!  You who longs to visit Iran and see these nomad tribes on your next vacation travel safari as a form of entertainment.

Ask yourself again the question what defines poverty.  The per capita income of Iran during the time of the Shah adjusted to 2008 dollars was $7000.  Today with $120 per barrel oil prices it is about $1000.  Are we not poorer today than before?

Now you mention dignity as if you were able to see it in the photos.  Please tell me if you believe that the people of Iran are more honest and trustworthy under the rule of the Mullahs than they were under the rule of the Pahlavis. Please tell me.  Dignity is when you respect yourself for these qualities and virtues.  With this definition the people of Iran live in a far less dignified manner irrespective of whether they live in small villages or multi-millon dollar penthouses.  Today, their dignity is challenged and compromised far more by the system that has its stranglehold on them.

My intent here by these comments is to not point a finger at the Iranians of Iran nor its government, but YOU !  Yes YOU who enjoys the opportunity to examine the world more thoughtfully because you can without bias nor censure

If we can past the surface of any subject, then there is hope for us.  Until then "az mast ke bar mast'



Again who goes this much road?

by Anonymouse on

People can use "longing", "love" and "pride" in making comments about these beautiful photos.  No one has to pay a tax for making these comments. Certainly not to anyone in this website.

As far as cults of "shakles of a cult of fundamentalism" .... uhho ahho ... uhho .... sorry I was just eating and just choked .... big words for me ... uhho ..... aho..... 


Be Taraf...I am mostly with you...are you with me?

by alborz on

I agree with everything you have said about the human condition.   My  comments were intended for the expats that commented on the photos with such "longing", "love" and "pride".  As with many other aspects of our culture of "duplicity" and "shallowness", even those of us that have had the opportunity to lead an "authentic" life, we continue to express ourselves in "superlatives" that attempts to cover up the very sentiments of "disdain" for what we have in our homeland.

While you rightly suggest that "fundamentalism" exists in every part of the world, the issue is that of the degree.  In fact every challenge that the Iranians of Iran face, are found in every other part of the world.  This is however not the point.  The point is the way and the degree to which these issues exist and exert their influence on the evolution of a society.  Today, members of the FLDS and their children are under seige in these United States.  Indeed one can argue that this is an example of "fundamentalism", and I would agree with this assertion.  However, you cannot argue that fundamentalism charts the path of this nation.  So for this reason, I argue that the nation of Iran is bound by the "shakles of a cult of fundamentalism".  I hope that my intent in making this point is now clear to you.

While history plays an important role in defining the character of a nation, change and progress is not defined by history.  In fact let me propose an alternative perspective.  "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. "  Fundamentalism by its nature supresses and squelches any desent from the prevailing norms irrespective of whether the norms are organic or imposed.  Many expats on this site argue that Islam was imposed on us as if it is a "foreign body" invading the "Persian soul".  Far from it, in my opinion.  Our geography has subjected us to numerous invading groups that have helped define the "Persian Soul".  Just like Arabic terms are integral to Modern Persian, Islam is integral to Iran's identity.  Let's accept this and then ask ourselves how we want to evolve into a society that embraces change and leverages everything that is now within our potential.  Our comments of "longing" are more akin to a desire to "devolve" towards a culture that only values the "kababs" and "noon sangak" of Iran. 

In the hope that the discourse on these subjects, is elevated to a more thoughtful and responsible level, just as you have demonstrated. 




Alborz who goes this much road?

by Anonymouse on

These people have the same kind of expressions as they had during Shah's time.  It is just more of them, more population.

Poverty was rampant during Shah too.  Are we forgetting the chapar neshinha or halabi abadha in the outskirts of Tehran?

These people live with dignity and that says a lot about their characters than we can ever imagine. Ever.


Inside vs. outside, Us and Them, etc...

by BeeTaraf (not verified) on

Dear Alborz,

Your comments are good, however, we can take it up to another level by thinking about the “Humane Condition” of the Planet, after all we have the Planet as Common Ground! There are poor people everywhere and these images are not frozen in the early 20th century! That is how most of the people live on this Planet.

The Ghashghaee tribes have been living as nomads for 1,000’s of years! We are where we are because of our History, and as my favorite writer has said History is not a spectator event, we are all participants! My point is that does it really matter where one lives? If a “bad” person lives inside of Iran or outside of Iran, does it change his or her contributions to Humanity?

The “shakles of a cult of fundamentalism” are everywhere; they are not all in Iran! The children are always innocent and it is our fundamental duty to preserve that innocence as long as possible. So here is what this poet has asked:

The child lay
In the starlit night
Safe in the glow of his Donald Duck light
How strange to choose to take a life
How strange to choose to kill a child
Hoover, Blaupunkt, Nissan Jeep
Nike, Addidas, Lacoste and cheaper brands
Cadillac, Amtrak, gasoline, diesel
Our standard of living, could this be a reason
That we would choose to kill the child
That we would choose to kill the child

Allah, Jehovah, Buddah, Christ
Confucius and Kali and reds, beans and rice
Goujons of sole, ris de veau, ham hocks
Lox bagels and bones and commandments in stone
The Bible, Koran, Shinto, Islam
Prosciutto, risotto, falafel and ham
Is it dogma, doughnuts, ridicule faith
Fear of the dark, or shame or disgrace
That we would choose to kill the child
That we would choose to kill the child

It's cold in the desert
And the space is too big
The rope is too short
And the walls are too thick
I will show you no weakness
I will mock you in song
Berate and deride you
Belittle and chide you
Beat you with sticks
And bulldoze your home
You can watch my triumphant procession to Rome
Best seat in the house
Up there on the cross
Is it anger or envy, profit or loss
That we would choose to kill the child
That we would choose to kill the child

Take this child and hold him closely
Keep him safe from the holy reign of terror
Take this child hold him closely
Take this child to the moral high ground
Where he can look down on the bigots and bully boys
Slugging it out in the yard

Lyrics by Roger Waters

iraj khan

Beautiful country, Please send an email to Clinton

by iraj khan on


This is a critical juncture in US history. Therefore, as Americans, we must speak out with a clear voice to ensure that President Bush’s cowboy diplomacy leaves the White House when he does, and is not emulated by the next US President.

Click here to take action: //

It only takes a moment to make your voice heard!  Personalize and send the below e-mail to Senator Clinton’s campaign headquarters today!

Thank you. 


Don't Worry be happy...because someone else did it?

by alborz on

Yes...indeed.  As long as we as a people look to either US, the British or the Mullahs to blame, things won't change.  One day it is the foreign agents, another the Shah, and today religion.  Never will these people get beyond the past and its tragic consequences.  Progress is not measured only by where we are today, but also where we should be and we are not.   A grown man being able to read a 3rd grader's text book is nothing to be proud of.  It is all relavtive is it not?



Mr. Damavand, don't worry, be happy!

by gol-dust on

I was there a few months ago. what the photos don't show is how much our roads have improved (much safer), people wearing and believing in seat belts; many new industries, etc. but we still have a long way to go. When there, I realized one of the reasons they have so many sanctions against us is to slow down irans progress; as they are working with mollahs while they are working against them! we want to preserve what we have, yet we want to move forward and we will, if they (israel, us, mollahs) allow us. Meanwhile, enjoy watching the beautiful photos! Arent they gorgeous? Love Iran!


How sad and tragic...

by alborz on

How sad and tragic. Yes. Tragic.

As I viewed these photos, entitled "Wild Frontiers", I thought about the comments of the expat Iranians, lamenting how they were homesick, how they wished they could be there, and how proud they were of Iran having withstood the test of time.

A group of fair skinned, blond and blue eyed tourists visit Iran, compare their visit to an African safari and all that we are enamored with is the images of the landscape, a few kabab plates, tea and sweets ! Do we really not see the images that show a people that live in conditions that has been frozen in the early 20th century? Do we not for once ask ourselves, what is it that we can be proud of in the past 200 years? For that matter, should the images not be a reminder of a lost century? A century that has placed us amongst the poorest nations in the world? Should we not ask ourselves where we should be today and yet where we are given the talent and resources we have had and squandered?

I cannot help but ask all of those that miss Iran so much, to ask themselves why is it that in balance they remain outside of Iran? Now don’t tell me it is all about politics, because you know quite well that it is not. Iran is what it is today. If you choose to modify it to suite yourself, just as many in Iran struggle to do so, then let’s admit that with all of its zits and pimples, Iran, today, is best experienced through the window of the photos posted on

Not one of the travel photos shows the masses with happy and smiling faces. If there is an occasional smile caught on camera, it is that of a child that has no clue as to what awaits him or her as they face one of the darkest futures in terms of opportunity to develop, express, and live freely as you and I can. Bound by the shakles of a cult of fundamentalism which breeds contempt for anything the expands the mind and challenges the long established doctrines, the children of Iran should indeed enjoy their short-lived joys of being innocent and unaware.

So my fellow expats, reflect on these images again and tell me what would it take for you to be true to Rumi’s words:

Who Roams in exite from his parent bough

Pants to return, and chides each ang’ring hour

“Har kassi ko door manad az asl-eh khish

Baz jooyad roozegar vasl khish?

So, we as expats have a choice. We can either falaciously long for what we would not want for ourselves and our children or remain steadfast in not accepting anything less than that which we enjoy in our daily lives, for our countrymen that endure the Iran of today.

With much love for Iranians, particularly those in Iran, and the hope that one day we will wake up and remove the blinders. No one is doing this to us, but us. “Az maast ke bar maast”.


Khodadad Rezakhani


by Khodadad Rezakhani on

Have seen about half of your pics! Wow, I am so homesick now. Wish I could also go over during the spring, but I always end up going in the summer. Anyway, here are some custom comments:

11: not really Mithra's bull, just a bull!

14: the headless statue is not from Persepolis, but from Egypt, with Egyptian hieroglyphs on it!

32: I remember when the trend of colouring chicks started. That was when I stopped begging my mom to buy me one of them.

34: the cheek of it!:D

51: Man, all that Chaghale Badoom and Goje Sabz! I am so jealous now...

54: I am sure there is a "don't mount the stag" sign somewhere near there...



by kfravon on


Thank you so much for taking us through your wonderful trip to Iran.

I have never been to Hamadan, so I especially enjoyed those pictures, and I understand what you mean about the pictures not doing those amazing caves justice- I've heard that from others also.

I have a question for you or anyone else who can tell me what is the name of that cookie/pastry on 156?

I'm going to share these with my non-iranian friends-so they can see Iran from your point of view.

Faranak Ravon


enjoyed all specially #151

by Tahirih on

I have a picture with my friend standing on that spot.brought back lots of tender memories.Alas you could be there not me,an Iranian !!!!

Thanks for sharing your pictures.



Iran will be Iran

by Anonymous123 (not verified) on

Dear ones,

Thanks for sharing beautiful pictures of my home country. We all come and go but our country stands tall and proud. God willing some day we all can live and work happily together.Be proud of our heritage and what it has to offer to the world of humanity.



Amazing Pictures!

by Feshangi on

I so much enjoyed looking at your beautiful pictures and your informative captions. I learnt quite a lot of things about Iran .  I also learnt that it did not take you too long to break the law in Iran (#34). I have many favorite pictures, but I am only going to mention three: #s 44, 160, and 162.


Thank you dear Mary for posting them here. I am certain that today there are going to be a lot of homesick Iranians.  






by deev on

For someone who hasn't been back for many years your photos brought a wealth of warm fuzzy feelings, and what made them even more special is the fact you saw more of Iran than many normal Iranians get to see, and btw the wedding dress looked fantastic, thanks a ton for sharing...


I loved your photos! I'm

by Camron (not verified) on

I loved your photos! I'm glad you all were able to see the country for yourselves, despite the media's poor portrayal of it.


Fantastic photos!!!

by Anonymouse on

Thanks for sharing your photos. I loved them all. The food pictures made me hungrier than I already am and the pictures of people made me imagine looking through their eyes.

My favorite photos, 19, 21 (hotel room), 40, 42, 90, 126, 136, 146, 156, 169, 170 and 172 (I liked the gaze of this guy).


Thanks Mary

by Abarmard on

It was a joy watching your pics. Looks like a trip of a life time. Wish I was there with you guys.


thank you

by oprbxk1 on

at 38, i have now been out of my country for 30 years now. i count on photos such as these to stay connected to my country and it's great, hosbitable people. i hope to be in a position where i can visit, soon. in the interim, i appalud you for visiting and sharing your experience.


by on

If our employers complain about lack of productivity, we'll have to blame you for all the gorgeous pictures you have sent that we feel obliged to look at!! All 177 of them pics!