Javaher Deh – walking in the village of clouds.
A short story about a day trip to mystical Javeher Deh in Iran. Eternally covered in clouds, this dream-like destination breathes life, sparks imagination, and proves itself a lot more challenging than expected. Tips for a DIY journey included.
A humble wake-up
Waking up to the calming sound of a distant river, and the vision of moving trees as a mild wind blows through their leaves. A crescent moon against a bright blue sky peaks over the mountains in front of me. Standing there, inside the small pergola at the back of the sizable, colourful garden of a remote mountain house, I breathe in the fresh morning air. And overlook the magnificent views of the surrounding nature.
The mountains opposite the valley are so close, that it almost feels as if I can touch them. Their soil covered in a layered, colourful palette of trees. The lowest line still green, with touches of yellow ochre, orange and grey. The area above them, at higher altitude, a dense mass of burnt red. Topped by a sparse line of brown and, eventually crowned by a thin layer of white snow. It’s the kind of prestige, pristine view of nature that makes me feel humble and grateful as a human being.
Behind me, an elderly gardener is weeding in the soil, his old hands pick dry leaves and grass while he harvests garlic and a variety of herbs with his bare hands. Both products, ‘Sir’ and ‘Saabzi’ of which the last one literally translates to ‘green’ in the local language, are a vital part of the food in the Northern provinces of Iran. And almost eaten daily. In the far distance, the irregular sound of sheep with bells grab my attention. The sound echoes around the valley. When a weak autumn-sun touches the mountains and slowly crawls up to my face, I can only smile. Together with the cool wind on my body, it’s a soothing start of the day. Meditative even.
Maéde, my host and yesterday made friend calls me from the door. Her mother Rahel is worried. I’ve been up for a while now, but haven’t eaten a thing. She gives me Lavash, a thin, flat local bread with honey, homemade orange blossom jam and walnuts from her garden. Together with a hot cup of tea, it’s an enjoyable, sweet start of the day. ‘Kheli Mamnoon Rahel, in raza kheyli kosmazast’ I thank her for the tasty meal in my best Farsi. ‘khahesh mikhonam’- you are welcome, she replies with a warm smile on her face. Followed by ‘Boghor’ –eat, while she serves me another piece of bread with jam and nuts. The generosity and kindness of this family is overwhelming. I’ve met these ladies just one day ago, but they already feel familiar.
‘How do you like it here? Maede asks me, while she stretches the tiredness out of her body. ‘It’s absolutely beautiful and such a large contrast with Tehran! I reply relieved. ‘The air is clean, and there’s so much space! I just can’t wait to hike in the mountains’ I continue. ‘Well, that’s great! she replies with smiling eyes. ‘Because today I’m taking you to the beautiful mountain village of Javeher Deh’ One of the most locally favoured mountain villages Ramsar Country’s central district. I had already read about this village and desired to go there.
Javaher Deh- a cosy start
To my surprise, Javaher Deh is barely a 10-minute drive up from where we were. Small shops selling a variety of locally produced handicrafts and delicacies welcome visitors along the way. As most products are displayed in the open air, they bring a cosy, market-like feeling. Dozens of colourfully knitted dolls, felt woven wall decorations and even stuffed goats are for sale. Additionally, home-made honey, sweet flower jams, and a variety of pickles are on display. Most of which you can taste before purchasing. Together with small road-side tea stops and signs of apartments for rent, they seem to be the only source of income around here.
‘At the end of the road, there’s a small waterfall on the right side. You can go up there’ Maede says when we reach the village. ‘Aren’t you coming?!’ I ask confused. But she has work to do. Walking alone through the near-empty streets of Javaher Deh, I observe the luxurious villas against an autumn coloured mountain backdrop. The sun shines comfortably and I feel safe as the area breathes peacefulness. Halfway the road, at an intersection I see a sign that possibly indicates hiking trails and places for sightseeing. But because it’s all written in Farsi, I cannot understand what it says. Following Maede’s instruction, I just keep moving forward in the direction of the mountain. Leaving the village behind. When all of a sudden more people, small shops and tea-houses appear I know I’m in the right place.
An unexpected battle
From here, there’s really only one way up to the waterfall. Making it easy to navigate the way. Visited by many people over time, the narrow dirt-trail is well visible. And leads along a small stream of water and numerous loose rocks. Walking between families and couples I feel happy to see people enjoying their day out in nature. Bursting with energy, I myself am enjoying this day to the fullest.
‘Can we take a photo?’ the youngest from a super friendly family of three asks in his best English. His sister and father join for the photo. Glowing with joy the teenage boy says that they come from the northern Ardabil province. And that I should come over, to see it around. Only in Iran, you get invitations everywhere you go.
Getting higher, a large, snow cover mountain appears in the background. So close that with some serious hiking I could touch it. Shifting from the sunny to the shadow side, the dirt path becomes wet and slippery and increasingly narrow. With extreme caution, I walk on the steep path. Afraid to slip and fall some meters down to water and rocks. Way too late I realize I should’ve taken another road. A safer road. I stand still in fear. Afraid to turn around also, I decide it’s best to just keep moving. ‘I saw other people walking here before, so it must be doable’ I encourage myself. Continued by thoughts like ‘You’ve got this! Let’s go!’ Crouched down I shuffle forward while holding the grass and dirt with both hands. I know it must look ridiculous, but I don’t see another way. Adrenaline rushes through my body and I already fear the way back.
Way ahead of me, the family of 4 has long reached the waterfall and is already on their return while I’m still barely moving. They are the only people around here and I decide not to continue alone. Although I would’ve loved to see the waterfall up close or to maybe even touch the snow-capped mountain it’s been enough for today. Surprised by the easy this family conquers the trail with I join them back to the sunny side of life. Sighing in relieve when reaching safe grounds again, I think to myself how funny it is that the sun quite literary caused the shift from fear to fun today.
Javaher Deh, a village of clouds
Back in my element, I quietly sing while prancing down the mountain. Overlooking Javaher Deh village, a soft blanket of white cotton clouds seems to slowly wrap the mountains ahead of me. Like a caterpillar the clouds crawl over the mountains, leaving nothing but a sea of clouds floating under a bright blue sky. An absolutely majestic sight. Tucked away between mountains at some 2700 meters above sea-level, Javaher Deh is known for often being hidden under a thick layer of fog or clouds and today is no exception. I could’ve stayed the whole afternoon watching the clouds taking over, but I’ve been away long enough and my host is waiting.
On the road again, it takes only minutes before we drive in the foggy substance. From here the clouds look grey instead of white. As she floats through the air, she blocks all vision. Except for some mystic views on tree lines every now and then. By the time we arrive back at the mountain house in Salmal, all views from the garden have disappeared. It’s crazy to realize how fast nature can take over. As for Javaher-Deh, I came just in time to peek at her beauty. And I can’t wait to see her again!
Reaching Javaher Deh
Situated in the Mazandaran province, the village of Javaher Deh is located 27 kilometres from Ramsar.
By (shared) taxi from Ramsar; ask for Istgah Yeiylagh (which translates to ‘Station to the countryside’) in the Lat Mahalleh district. From there the taxi will follow the Javaher Deh road up to the village. Depending on the car it usually takes between 30-45 minutes to reach.
By private transportation from Ramsar; the Javaher Deh road will guide you straight to the village. Depending on the car it also takes between 30-45 minutes to reach.
Best time to visit
While Javaher-Deh is spectacular year round, the best time to visit the village is from March till May. And from September to October. If you plan to visit outside these months be prepared for extreme temperatures as winters tend to be ice-cold and summers scorching hot.
Things to do in Javaher Deh
Javaher Deh is an excellent place for a natural getaway in rural Iran. Climb to the waterfall, hike in the Seighal Mahalleh Forest Park, and feast on local product sold in the markets and locally owned restaurants. Visit either as a day-trip from Ramsar or as an overnight stay.
Check the weather forecast and visit on a clear day. There’s nothing interesting in visiting the village if it’s completely covered in clouds. Also, keep an eye out on the clouds and prevent yourself from getting stuck in the mist while hiking. The chances of getting lost are real.
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