Tour the Real Life of Qashqai Nomads

Tour the Real Life of Qashqai NomadsTour the Real Life of Qashqai Nomads

A nomadic community tourism plan has been developed by the Qashqai tribes, CHN reported. The plan aims to provide tourists the opportunity to experience life among nomadic tribes in Iran.

It is among the most coveted of touristic experiences to live among nomads, and many are willing to pay a pretty penny for the experience.

The program includes over-night stays in the traditional black tents. Programs such as these have some precedent.  A particularly successful one has been developed by the Heybatlu clan of the Shesh-Boluki tribe. It has been running for eight years. The concept was created by Qashqai people concerned about the gradual loss of their rituals and traditions. For them, “it is a bout preserving what is left of their culture,” a representative of the Shiraz Qashqai Foundation, Shima Amiri said.

Officials devising the plan soon realized that they could not work in isolation. Particularly since the Qashqais enjoy a coherent structure of tribes, clans, and families, and so any tourism plan must take into account and be sensitive to the interwoven relationships; thus the Heybatlu clan is seen as a model, Amiri said.

The nomadic tourism plan of the Qashqai tribes by the Heybatlu clan, is facilitated by the Center for Sustainable Development (CENESTA), and supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

It aimed at reviving rituals and traditions, focusing on local territories and environmental protection. A fund called ‘Sustainable Livelihood’ was established and officially registered. The fund supports various plans, including the tourism plan. All profits are transferred to the fund, and later disseminated among tribal partners.

The plan has been implemented on a small scale. If it succeeds, it will be extended to other Qashqai clans. Alongside the tourism initiative, a plan to for a nomadic handicrafts trade is also being devised.

Tribe members will manage and guide the project themselves. The materials are also supplied by the tribes. Program board members are clan members. They devise the rules and regulations, and undertake evaluations, Amiri said. “It a community led project; they are not mere laborers.”

Both the tourism plan and the Sustainable Livelihood Fund are officially authorized by Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO). The plan is based on a thesis written in 2008 by Fereshteh Fazel-Bakhsheshi; drawn from community based tourism models  that have long been implemented throughout the world.

It has only been two years since the program became operational. It took a lot of time to prepare the ground, run the workshops, and convince the clans of the plan’s profitability. The tribal society was keen to preserve its culture and traditions, “so we succeeded to acquire the elders’ consent,” she said.

The tours involve packages of one to three-night stays. One-night tours are flexible around the tourists’ preferences, with a maximum 25 tourist capacity.

A two-night tour will cost $110 per head. This includes transportation, traditionally food and drink.    The tourists will be living among the tribes, nothing will be staged or choreographed. “The tourists will experience the routine life of the tribe, living with them for a couple of days.”

Milking, baking bread, making curd, rug-weaving, and live folk music are among the routine tasks among the tribe.  The tours have attracted tourists from Germany, France, Italy, and Denmark.

  Qashqai People

Qashqais are a conglomeration of clans of different ethnic origins, including, Arabs, Kurds, Lors and mostly Turks. They mainly live in the provinces of Fars, Khuzestan, Kohgiluyeh-Boyer-Ahmad Province, Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari Province, Bushehr and southern Isfahan, especially around the city of Shiraz and Firuzabad in Fars Province.

Qashqais move across the southern and southwestern deserts and mountains of Iran. Though they are of different ethnic origins, they call themselves “Turks”. Their spoken language which is Qashqai Turkish, which only a spoken language and has not written form, and thus they use Farsi for writing.

Due to a lack of sufficient written documents, very little is known about their history. The nomads left central Asia for Iran in the 11th century. A proud people, determined to maintain their way of life, they have resisted integration into mainstream society.

The wealthy Qashqais possess lands and herds. Others are laborers for hire, and serve as full-time shepherds, cameleers, sharecroppers, and part time farm hands. Some, who have no land or herd, are paid in kind - in food, clothing, supplies, or animals - in return for their goods and services. Children over eight are usually expected to work.


Cenesta is a non-governmental, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable community- and culture-based development.

Its main area of work is Iran and Southwest Asia, with programs and projects in other parts of the world, according to

CENESTA works with a variety of partners, from local communities in Iran and other countries to local and national government agencies, universities, research organizations, as well as national and international NGOs. The UN bodies with which CENESTA and its experts have entertained collaboration include GEF/SGP, FAO, UNICEF, UNDP, IFAD, UNSO, and the UN Secretariat.

CENESTA’s activities include the following areas:

Restoration of the rights of indigenous peoples (IPs) and traditional local communities (LCs) over their natural resources and territories, including facilitating the self-organization of IPs and traditional communities— through strengthening customary institutions of governance. Special emphasis is on working with the 700 indigenous nomadic tribes of Iran as well as farmers and rural and urban traditional and local communities;

Sustainable agriculture, food sovereignty and agro-ecology including: conservation farming, participatory plant breeding, evolutionary plant breeding, non-chemical management of pests and crop production, regenerative soil management, agroforestry, farming systems research, GMO-banning advocacy, agro-fuels, social and environmental responsibly of agribusiness, local food systems, safeguards on industrial agriculture and animal husbandry, national seed laws and democratization of food and agricultural research, land tenure rights;

Community empowerment, voice and equity (participatory development and conservation planning, social animation, Community Investment Funds including community-owned and –operated rural credit schemes, women and development initiatives).