I (Iman) have always been known as a thrill seeker and an adrenaline junky so when the long weekend came up I jumped at the opportunity to go on a rafting trip on Armand River in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province in southwestern Iran.
I met my fellow travelers at the rendezvous point in Tehran at 7:30 am. We were a group of 40, around 30 of us were traveling on the tour bus and the rest had decided to follow the bus in their cars. Our destination was Darreh Yas Village, just before the city of Borujen, which was our base camp. The bus had to stop a few kilometers from the village as the road was too narrow for it to pass and we boarded minibuses that were to transport us the rest of the way.
We stopped at a local restaurant for lunch and were surprised to see the unbelievably low prices on the menu. The restaurant did not have tables and instead served food on Takhts. A takht means bed or throne in the Persian language and is actually a wooden platform covered with a rug that simultaneously serves as a table and a chair. I opted for Qormeh Sabzi, a lamb stew with parsley and other herbs cooked to perfection with beans and dried lime, served with rice. The running joke in Iran is that knowing how to cook this all time favorite Persian dish tops every eligible Iranian bachelor’s list of marriage criteria!!
The remainder of the way to base camp we experienced changing weather at every turn of the road from sunny to an overcast sky and even rain and wind. After passing a few cliffs and a thin line of trees we reached our base camp. A zip line cable extended from a hill above camp to all the way across Armand River. No one dared to try the zip line as it looked very scary.
Out of nowhere spring rain began to fall on the camp and quickly created a beautiful mess. When the rain stopped we had a delicious meal of rice and fish and a pickled side dish. We turned in early to prepare for the adventures of the next day.
Early in the morning we put on our rafting clothes, helmets and life jacket and headed for a draw bridge suspended 58 meters above the river. We rappelled down two ropes hanging from the bridge to reach the river where 6 rafts and fast moving Grade 4 rapids awaited us.
We paddled for 2 hours and stopped at one of the small islands along the river to rest and treat ourselves to some tea/ juice and cake. We resumed paddling until reaching the second camp at Darreh Eshq (Love Valley). There is no better welcome after a day of strenuous physical activity than a delicious campfire kebab.
On day 2 we set out to tackle the fierce rapids of Armand. The rafting guide proposed a challenge to swim across the river and back. Rafts would wait ahead to catch anyone who was swept by the currents. The currents looked fierce and only 10 people volunteered. Only 2 of the volunteers, a water polo coach and a rafting guide, managed to reach the shore.
On the swim back the rafting guide was caught in the rip current and was picked up by the safety rafts. It was the water polo coach who gave us the biggest scare as he suddenly disappeared under water. We feared the worst and thought the currents had pulled him under but suddenly he broke surface near the rafts!
Once everyone was on the rafts, the guide gave us safety instructions on how to swim to the shore or the next raft and not drown if our boat capsizes. Our adventure continued with more paddling and a short stop to rest.
We reached our final camp a bit after noon. This time chicken kebab grilled over campfire awaited us. After lunch, minibuses transferred us back to our bus for the journey back home. We arrived back in Tehran at 5 am. Despite being tired I was full of energy and ready to start work at 9 am.
The 22-kilometer rafting trail on Armand River was an unforgettable experience that I am eager to repeat.
For more information about the rafting tour featured in this blog, check out the Iran River Rafting tour on our website.