Trip Tips: In summer, Iranians cool off at 'jeweled plains'
By Michelle Moghtader
DUBAI (Reuters) - For those who prefer to bundle up rather than strip down in summer, Iran's highland pastures offer something cooler than the usual coastal retreats.
Javaher Dasht, which translates as "jeweled plains," is 2,000 m (6,500 ft) above the Caspian Sea in Gilan province.
Tehran residents must drive several hours northwest, then climb into old Jeeps for a bumpy 90-minute journey on unpaved roads. Halfway up the mountain, travelers stop for a tea and hookah before reaching emerald meadows that sit above the clouds.
"It's one of the only places in the Middle East where you can find green pastures at such a high altitude," said Farhang, a tour guide with the Kalout tour company which has been running trips up the hills for 15 years.
Iran is not short of mountains, but most slopes are too steep to allow for such lush vegetation, he said.
Javaher Dasht, like most "yelaghs," is nearly deserted during winter and fall, but repopulates in the summer months.
Every year the Gilani village sees nearly 1,000 tourists, in addition to the 1,500 people who live there in summer. In winter, that number falls to 10 or so, one guide said.
RUSTIC BREAK Continued...