Wetland ecotourism flourishes in winter

Financial Tribune- With the arrival of migratory birds in the wetlands of northern Iran during fall and winter, the provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran are seeing a boom in ecotourism, especially in birdwatching tours.

The wetlands of Fereydounkenar, Sorkhroud and Miankaleh in Mazandaran and Amir Kalayeh, Kiakalayeh, Bojaq, Estil and Anzali in Gilan are the destinations of birds such as cranes or swans from Siberia and Central Europe.

The offices of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization in Mazandaran and Gilan have been arranging bird-watching tours in fall and winter to help boost tourism in the colder months of the year when there are smaller number of travelers.  Gilan’s ICHHTO office is even holding bird-watching workshops, providing “a great opportunity” for private tour operators to learn more about the activity.

“Travelers can even take part in the Gilan’s bird photo exhibition,” said Reza Alizadeh, the head of Gilan’s ICHHTO.

Delavar Bozorgnia, the head of the provincial ICHHTO office in Mazandaran, said although the waters of Caspian Sea is too cold for swimming, other water sports such as sailing and jet-skiing are still possible during this time.

“These water activities can help attract tourists to the region during fall and winter,” he was quoted as saying by Mana.

The rural cultures, customs and lifestyle are of great interest to many travelers. Therefore, the provinces hold festivals and seminars as well as tours of villages and natural landscapes during the low travel season.

Among other alluring features of the northern regions is net casting (fishing with a cast net), which is a popular practice in winter.

“Watching cast net fishing closely and shopping for fresh fish on the beach are very appealing to tourists not used to the local lifestyle,” Bozorgnia said.  According to the official, the increase in the number of eco-lodges has also helped promote tourism in the north over the past year.