As a photojournalist I (Shahin) love my job with toiran.com as it takes me to exciting new destinations across Iran where I can take photos of places, beautiful sunsets and sunrises and people. While I have traveled with different toiran.com team members, Amir Sina is the person I have traveled most with and the person who accompanied me on the trip to Chabahar.
Chabahar is a humid city considered the warmest place in Iran during the winter and the coolest port in southern Iran during the summer. It is because of this mild spring-like climate that Chabahar is known as Chahar Bahar meaning four springs.
We arrived in Chabahar in the morning just as the city was coming to life. After driving around for a bit to get a feel of the city we headed for the bazaar. As Chabahar borders Pakistan, the people of the city share their taste for spicy food and traditional dress consisting of shalwar kameez with their Pakistani neighbors. Women cover their heads with a colorful piece of cloth that is a cross between a dupatta and a chador. There was a great shot I just had to take at every turn! We finally stopped to buy grilled spicy chicken wrap with chopped cabbage and special hot sauce from one of the many vendors selling street food in the colorful bazaar. We couldn’t get enough of these delicious spicy bites. I don’t know how, but Amir Sina ate 10 of them! Our next stop was the waterfront. Because Chabahar is a fishing port, you can always see locals weaving fishing nets or painting their boats in vivacious colors by the waterfront. I spoke to one of the local fishermen who told me they sometimes go on tuna fishing trips all the way to Somalia and sell their catch to local tuna canneries when they return. We knew before coming to Chabahar that it was a place mostly famous for its unusual natural attractions. Most of these attractions lie between the city and Gwadar Bay on the maritime border of Pakistan and Iran. Even though I could not wait to start taking photos, it was impossible to fit everything into one day. We agreed to visit the Mud Volcano first and leave the rest of the attractions for our second day.
The Mud Volcano in Bandar Tang is a 100-kilometer drive from Chabahar. This 100-meter volcano erupts and extrudes cold mud every minute. Locals told us that the mud has therapeutic properties. We didn’t need much encouragement and both decided to take a proper mud bath! We returned to the city for dinner at Khalij (Gulf) restaurant which we had photographed earlier in the day. We were greeted by the cool sea breeze and a wonderful view of the sea. I opted for a delicious local dish called Karahi (a spicy stew made with chicken/lamb and tomato considered a Pakistani dish popular in Chabahar) and Amir Sina decided to try one of the many seafood options on the menu. Our second day started with a tasty cup of local Chai Sheer, which is essentially black tea brewed in milk instead of water, and dates before starting our drive to Gwadar Bay. Our first stop was Lipar Wetland or the Pink Lagoon that is famous for its red tide phenomenon. Every year in late winter and early spring as well as end of summer and early fall the water of this lagoon turns pink because of the algal bloom.
The striking view of the Martian Mountains took my breath away! Looking at the grayish-white grooves created by thousands of years of wind and rain I could not help but think that these mountains had been painted on canvas by a skilled painter. We continued to Gwadar Bay where Iran ends and Pakistan begins. There was gray dust in the air and not a single soul in sight. I felt like we had reached the ends of the earth. We made our way onto one of the empty boats and decided to wait until the dust storm passed. We fell asleep and upon waking from our nap found everything, including ourselves, covered in a thick coat of gray dust! Would I ever return to Chabahar again? Definitely! Chabahar has won itself a special place in my heart not just because I loved the food and its picture perfect sites but because of its unique culture that you cannot experience anywhere else in Iran.