Ascending to Qaleh Babak challenging but rewarding

June 24, 2018

TEHRAN – Qaleh Babak is a ruined fortress nested atop a pick in northwest Iran. Ascending the mount to set foot on the ancient fort seems somewhat arduous for many visitors but in most cases proves to be a considerable and gratifying experience.

The fort is named after Babak Khorramdin, an Iranian national hero, warlord and revolutionary leader who fought against Arab invaders until his death in 838 CE.

The fort consists of several stone towers and lodging areas stretched in a space of nearly ten thousand square meters and the origins of the monument is said to date from the Sassanid era (224–651).

The crumbling ramparts of the fortress loom while one approaches the village of Kaleybar in East Azarbaijan province.

There are several access paths though the normal route ascends stairs behind the seasonal Babak Hotel. Access involves a laborious task of one to two hours of uphill walk.

Once at the top, onlookers are greatly rewarded with vistas of the encircling Arasbaran oak forests, jagged cliffs and steep gorges.

Babak fortress is embraced with Arasbaran Protected Area, which is a candidate for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage list for 2018.

Here is a select of comments that visitors to the fortress have posted to TripAdvisor, one of the most popular travel websites in the world:

“Sweat-driving hike to a must-see location”

Babak castle is near the small town of Kaleybar, about a 3-hour drive from Tabriz. The road climbs up high after Kaleybar, there is a seasonal hotel with a large parking lot on about 1800m altitude. A rather steep stair-climb starts just behind the hotel at will take you to the top in about 2 hours, sweat-driving. Start as early as you can, avoid the afternoon hours when the sun beats down.

Alternatively you can ask the hotel owner to call his friend who will take you up a jeep track in his old, battered Nissan 4x4, which will cut down the hike to an easily manageable 40-min walk.

For self-drivers with sturdy cars, continue the road upwards from the hotel until you reach the jeep track (big yellow signs on the right side of the road, and go up until you hit the Nomad camp at the end of the road on 2180m altitude…

Stunning views from and within the fort. You wonder who and why they ever built this up there, high above anything else. (Markus U. from Modling, Austria; reviewed September 2017)

“Beautiful way up and amazing castle”

We booked a taxi ride to this place at our guesthouse in Tabriz. It took us around two hours and a half to get there by taxi; once we got to the base of the hill, we started the walk up and it took us one hour and a half to get to the castle.

It’s a rough climb, but totally worth it, as the views of the castle and from the castle are really beautiful. At the base, where there is a parking lot, you will find a shop selling water and some other drinks, but no food. There is also a public toilet near the parking lot. (Fer Tarran form Apucarana, PR; visited May 2017)

“Stunning scenery and amazing people”

One of my best experiences in Iran (even though I had many). As a 28-year old in fairly average/good shape, I found it to be a difficult trip. The weather was very hot since it was in the middle of July and there’s not really anything to buy once you get there. Luckily we had brought soooo much water and we had just enough.

I also recommend wearing hiking boots or really solid shoes. I wore sandals and it was not a good idea. I fell once and was close numerous times. It was amazing though - once we actually reached the top there were locals yelling out / singing poetry and some were playing instruments while walking down. The atmosphere was unbelievable. (CarinaCPH from Denmark; visited July 2016)

AFM/PA

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