Blessed with diverse cultures and climates, Iran is a unique place where travelers get to experience lifestyles unlike any other, mingle with the locals and enjoy unspoiled natural landscapes.
From captivating deserts to towering mountains and verdant forests, Iran has it all: the perfect destination for those seeking a truly authentic experience, even on a budget.
To take full advantage of what Iran has to offer, you’re encouraged to stay at an ecolodge. These remote yet well-equipped accommodations are located in pristine natural environments, allowing their guests to experience indigenous cultures, taste traditional dishes and tour untouched landscapes.
What follows is a list of only five of the many ecolodges in Iran that you could stay at.
1- Gileboom; home of Gilakies
As one of the most famous ecolodge in Iran, Gileboom in the northern Gilan Province is located on the foothills of Gishar with a clear view of Somamous, the province’s highest peak. The lodge is only 20 minutes away from Ramsar (a popular destination) and is within walking of distance of the Caspian Sea and a mere 20 minutes from the famed Caspian Hyrcanian Forests.
The two-storey lodge can accommodate up to 17 guests, while a cottage (called eco-Kolbeh) in the yard can host up to three people. The cottage is made of mud and wood and every room in the establishment is adorned with felt and decorated with items made by the locals.
Most rooms don’t have beds; instead, guests are encouraged to sleep on traditional Iranian bedding similar to the Japanese futon.
Every floor has quality heating and air conditioning and clean bathrooms; however, only the first floor has WiFi connection.
You get to eat local (Gilaki) foods, most of which are not found in the rest of the country. These include Morgh-e-Torsh (a sour chicken dish), Pela-Sar-Tareh (vegetable stew over rice), Torshe-Tare (sour herbal stew), Baghala-Ghatogh (bean stew), Mirza-Ghasemi (type of gravy) and Doogh, a traditional yogurt-based beverage.
The owners, Mahin and Khosro, organize excursions which take the guests around Gileboom, where they get to meet the locals and participate in activities such as picking oranges and creating handicrafts. The tours also include hiking, walking and trekking.
Gileboom, which means the habitat of Gilak or Galesh people, helps the locals display and sell their products while taking advantage of their in-depth knowledge of the area to conduct unforgettable tours. So, if you do visit, support the locals by buying their products!
2- Barandaz Lodge; the spell of desert
Located in the heart of Dasht-e-Kavir, Barandaz Lodge is perfect for those seeking the sort of tranquility that can only be found in the desert.
The lodge is made up of two small mud-and-brick houses near Mesr Village, around 425 km from Isfahan. The houses aren’t small: one has five rooms while the other has six.
Elements of local architecture can be seen in the porches and curved ceilings, while the establishment’s modest interior decoration is reflective of the local people’s simple lifestyle.
In Barandaz, delicious local foods are cooked in-house and served with homemade bread. One such food is “lakhooli”, a meat soup cooked in a covered pot under ashes. The guests and owner’s family eat their meals together on the floor like a big family.
After food, freshly-brewed tea made on a wood stove is served. In cold winter nights, guests gather around a “korsi”, which is a low table covered with thick blankets with a heather underneath.
Due to its location on the edge of a desert, Barandaz is dubbed by some as “the end of the world”. Barandaz itself is an old Persian word for a place to rest.
Guests get to go on safari rides and stargazing tours, camp out in the desert with a trained guide and ride camels.
To get there, you can take a bus or travel by plane to Isfahan or Yazd, take a bus to Khur, and hire a cab to Mesr.
3- Nartitee; A house tinged with pomegranate
Nartitee is a 100-year-old house surrounded by pomegranate gardens in a Zoroastrian neighborhood in Taft, Yazd Province.
Tina and Ramtin, the young owners of the establishment, are very friendly and speak fluent English. If you have any questions about Yazd or Zoroastrian culture, they can help.
The beautiful adobe ecolodge is decorated with traditional items connected with the local culture, the rooms are very quiet and the shared bathrooms are clean.
Pomegranate is the symbol of Nartitee, which in the local dialect means “the blossom of pomegranate trees”. The fruit is used to flavor some local food ingredients and its influences can be seen in handicrafts.
Dinner, which normally includes local dishes such as Dal Adas, is cooked by Tina and served at the establishment. During cold evenings, you get to sit around a fire in the courtyard.
There are many Zoroastrian ceremonies held in the neighborhood, and while Ramtin doesn’t want to intrude, more often than not the locals welcome tourists in their ceremonies.
Aside from participating in ancient rituals, there is much more to do in Taft, such as cycling around the block and taking part in tours recommended by the Nartitee owners, including visiting historical sites and taking part in pomegranate harvesting during autumn.
You can get to Yazd by bus, train or plane from Tehran and then take a bus or taxi to Taft.
4- Noghli Traditional House; in the comfort of history
Noghli House is a beautiful, quiet historical abode in tune with the pace of Kashan in Isfahan Province.
It may not be as fancy as famous Kashani mansions from the Qajar era (1785-1925), but it allows its guests to genuinely feel like living in a common house of that time: a mudbrick house with porches, two yards, a fountain in the main courtyard and louvers. There is a teahouse on the rooftop where you can enjoy watching the Sun set on a mesmerizing ancient city.
Traditional teahouse-style benches are placed around the fountain, where guests can sit and talk or simply enjoy the view.
Located in the center of Kashan, Noghli House is close to the Old Town neighborhood with traditional houses and a bazaar where you get to experience the hustle and bustle of city life.
The house has eight rooms equipped with fan and air conditioner for summer and korsi for winter. Some rooms have an en-suite bathroom but there are also shared (and clean) restrooms available.
The staff is helpful and well-informed. Aside from making suggestions about what to do around the city, they can arrange tours for you.
During your stay, you can participate in camel riding or desert tours. Biking in the historical part of city and helping with cooking are among other activities you can take part in. Given its vicinity to the desert and mountains, various types of excursions are available.
Like in other eco lodges, traditional dishes are prepared at Noghli House, including Goosht Nokhod (lamb and peas) and Shefteh Bademjan (meatballs and eggplant).
5- Noor Khooneh Ecolodge; a place to bind with local people
Owned by “Monir Khanoom”—Miss Monir— Noor Khooneh is the closest ecolodge to Khar Touran National Park in Semnan Province, the largest protected area in the Middle East.
Noor Khooneh in Qal’e Bala Village is the perfect place for tourists whose main purpose for traveling is ecotourism. Besides getting a chance to spot the endangered Asiatic cheetah and Persian zebra in the national park, guests can also try their hand at shepherding in nearby villages.
If you’re lucky, on a clear night you’ll be able to see the Milky Way!
Although Monir Khanoom is not a native of the village, she has cultivated a very good relationship with the locals and her establishment has helped get the residents involved in the village’s tourism sector. The foods served at Noor Khooneh are made from locally-produced crops by the villagers.
The place itself used to be a traditional school (Maktab Khaneh), which is why it is named Noor Khooneh, meaning “the house of light”.
This three-room house is neat and has one bathroom in the yard, which is kept clean.
The best time for traveling to this lodge is between March and May and also September to December, when the weather is mild. In May and November, various handicrafts and food festivals are held close by.
As mentioned earlier, Iran is a country full of diverse cultures and a variety of climates. As such, there are more ecolodges spread across the country. If you enjoyed a stay at an ecolodge that has not been named on this list, we’d love to know about it!
It would be great if you share your ideas and comment on this post.