You will land on barren soil. The sun will burn your skin during the day and no tree will give you shade, as they are simply not there. Below, almost half a kilometer down the vertical wall you may see water, or maybe it will be a mirage. You have already started to feel dizzy. The chill will penetrate your body lying in the tent at night. By car, through the mountains and the rocky desert, you can reach the nearest shop in 30 minutes … So take the car and go!
Still staying? No car or are you such a gambler?
You are in the middle of Haygher Canyon, also known as Hayghar Valley, or the Grand Canyon of Iran, and you will never, in your life, regret the decision of coming here.
Anticipating the question – yes, sometimes it rains here, and the speeding waterfalls fall down the walls from several hundred meters.
Place: Hayghar Valley, Fars Province, Iran
Date: March/ April
Length of lines: 42 – 427 m
Height range: 140 – 340 m
Spots distance: 1 min
Spot availability: flip-flops
Security: daily checking of positions on shorter lines, buddy-check
Additional: a visa to Iran (you do not need a visa if you carry a passport from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Egypt, Georgia, Malaysia, Oman, Syria, Turkey, and Venezuela)
You must enter Iran. To do so, you need a visa (everyone except citizens of the above mentioned countries). There are two options to get one.
First is getting a visa at the embassy or consulate. In Poland, it takes 2-3 weeks and costs 50€ (check how much is it in your country). I didn’t choose that option.
The second one is getting a visa at the airport. At 3 in the morning, at the airport in Shiraz, it takes about 10 minutes and costs €80 (€75 visa + €5 bank commission) for Polish citizens – check for your nationality. It’s just a formality. You fill out a form with your and your correspondent’s (your host’s) details. If you do not have a correspondent, write your hotel information, where you booked the accommodation. In the meantime, you need to give the customs officer your passport for an’x-ray’, make a payment and … you get the visa. Your Iranian visa is online, which means you won’t have a stamp in your passport. You will be able to travel to countries that currently have no love for Iran, without exchanging your passport.
You have a visa, you are at the airport. If this is the airport in Shiraz, then you don’t wait any longer. Just exchange money in an exchange office. Later you will not have the opportunity, and your cards will not work with local ATMs. After that take a taxi straight to the festival. The distance from the airport to the festival is 140 km, which will cost you €8- €10. Of course, you can still reduce the travel costs and take a bus from the center of Shiraz to Firuzabad and a taxi from there. Just do what you want. If you have landed at another airport, you need to work this out yourself.
It should be mentioned here, though probably you’ve already observed that – or, maybe you missed it? Persians are a proud nation, and at the same time very cordial, kind, and not intrusive. Most likely, they’ll offer you help, if they see you are overwhelmed. Even if a language is an obstacle, they will provide wi-fi to communicate or to check the map. They’ll lend you a phone to call. If not, do not worry and do not be afraid to ask for help – you will definitely receive it. Otherwise, you are just out of luck. Well, sometimes you can get beaten up even in an empty forest.
Go by taxi, bus or whatever you want. Talk to people through the translator, in sign language, or a common language. After leaving the city, the first thing that will draw your attention are wide-open spaces. On the horizon, you will see the outline of the mountains. These mountains bring to mind
The Great Wall Of China. You can see their flattened ridge at the top, but neither looking to the right nor the left, the end of the ridge can be seen. You drive through numerous tunnels and finally exit the main road to reach, after a few kilometers, the Meeting’s place.
When arriving, you rub your eyes with wonder and amazement. The Canyon unexpectedly emerges from behind the hill and it is breathtaking. Most likely you and the taxi driver will see it for the first time. Interestingly, although in foreign guidebooks it is considered one of 5 or 10 (depending on the guide) must-see places in Iran, the Canyon is little known in the country.
You stop the car and both you and the driver take your pictures. However, this is not the end of the journey yet. In a kilometer or two, you stop on a hill, because a pin on the map indicates the destination. A few steps towards the place and your eyes will see the cape that cuts into the middle of the canyon. You are here. This cape is a highlining spot with a campsite next to it.
You will put up your tent at exactly 1400 meters above sea level. The land here is very barren, rocky, so you won’t be able to carve the moat for the rain around the tent, without a pickaxe or jackhammer. There are, however, many flat places. A portable toilet, if it’s not standing there yet, will arrive soon. The excavator has already dug a deep ditch for its base.
A water tanker will be here soon. Although people will tell you, that the water is safe to drink, do not get fooled. People drinking straight from the tank have not been spotted, and stomach problems, in these circumstances, may be inconvenient. However, it is great as a body wash, shower and toilet flush water.
Take care of your tent. Treat it with devotion. Remember that this will be your only protection against the midday sun and possible rain. It won’t protect you from the cold at night, so take a warm sleeping bag. Supposedly mountains, stones, rocks, but still you are in the desert.
Relax now and feel that you are alive. Your brain will rest from the daily dose of unnecessary information. Here, even Iranians do not have mobile reception.
Info-point will be located in one of the tents at the cape’s entrance. Here, in addition to usual official festival formalities, you will also be asked to place your index finger – print next to the signature.
The last city you pass through on your way is Firuzabad, mentioned earlier. Shop there if you have not already done it and do not forget about buying drinking water. Of course, if you won’t make it, like the author of this text, you won’t die of hunger or thirst. Help will be provided.
Food? What you bring, you’ll cook. You will share some food and someone will share their food with you. It’s worth having a gas stove. If you accidentally forget to buy a gas cartridge, (guess like who), you are going to borrow one or cook over the campfire. It will take definitely more time but it can be done. There is no problem with bonfires. It is true, that the rickety bushes will not make big flames, but you will boil the water for coffee or soup and in the evening they will warm you up slightly. You can buy real firewood in the store. The derivative of the tree – the toilet paper – is also worth buying in advance.
If you’re lucky and get invited to an Iranian home for a real Iranian meal, you’ve won a life. Iranian hospitality and culinary skills are second to none.
Grazie mille Syrus & la famiglia di Syrus & cari amici italiani, grazie per avermi portato con voi
If not, it leaves you driving to probably the best restaurant in Shiraz – Haft Khan Restaurant. You will eat here very exquisitely to your hear’s content, and you will pay as much as for the taxi. Just don’t go to the second floor with international cuisine. Stay on the first – with Iranian cuisine.
The surrounding area is very picturesque, painted mainly with the color of caffe latte with a dash of greenery. You will see, nothing to add here. The highlining spot is the cape, mentioned above. To the left shorter lines, hung at 140 to 240 m high, to the right longer lines that are above 330 m high.
You will definitely have a large audience later in the day. The people of Firuzabad know the place well. Additiona, the beginning of the festival falls on Iran’s New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Everyone has two weeks off – isn’t it beautiful?
At first, the spot and camping ground will be separated from the fans with the security of several policemen or military, or both. In the evening, when they leave, everyone will enter the spot.
You have never had so many photo sessions, videos or shared selfies in such a short time. Well, unless you work in modeling.
If you have time and want to explore more, you won’t run out of attractions to see. On the way back, just out of Firuzabad, you pass numerous ruins. The most famous ones of Qal’eh Dokhtar Castle you can see at the top right. Near Shiraz you can visit the ancient city of Persepolis – it’s rather a full-day trip. Besides, you have the attractions of Shiraz itself – find out more by yourself.
If you don’t want to sightsee, climbing or BASE jumping is for you – don’t forget to bring equipment.
Finally, don’t be sad like this abandoned doll at Shiraz airport. Wash your hands nicely and come here next year for the next edition of the festival. You only have one life.
/The first edition of the festival took place elsewhere, however, according to the organizer, Hayhger Canyon will remain the destination now. I think there is a possibility to rig lines here that beat the current world record. Let’s wait and see./