|BETWEEN||Shiraz and Tehran|
|COUNTRIES VISITED – 1||Iran|
|MAXIMUM GROUP SIZE||12|
|WHATS NOT INCLUDED||
With a cultural and historical legacy dating back millennia, the lands occupied by modern day Iran have witnessed the rise and fall of many notable empires. This short but insightful trip takes us on a journey through the heartland of Iran and ‘behind the veil’ of the much this misunderstood country. This is a varied and rewarding trip which will very much appeal to anyone who has ever wanted to see the treasures of ancient Persia or has ever wondered what life in Iran is really like.
From the beautiful gardens and shrines of Shiraz, we’ll travel via the atmospheric and timeless remains of the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis to the town of Yazd, with its well-preserved traditional houses and Zoroastrian burial towers. From here we will continue to one of the Middle East’s most spectacular destinations – the C17th and C18th capital of Isfahan. Home not only to some of the region’s finest Islamic architecture and the world’s second largest square, the Mayden-e Imam, this is also a great place to wander through the narrow corridors of the extensive souks with their handicrafts and carpets. But perhaps more memorable than any of this is the warm hospitality of the people we’ll meet along the way. Most Iranians are incredibly well-educated and widely read and will enjoy nothing more than putting the world to rights with passers-by, and for many visitors such interactions will remain their most enduring memories of the country.
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Day 1: Shiraz
The tour begins today in Shiraz. Accommodation is included for tonight as the suggested UK group flight arrives in the early hours of day 2. Eram Hotel or similar (no meals)
Day 2: In Shiraz
Our late morning walking tour includes a visit to the imposing Arg-e Karim Khan fortress, with its 14-metre high circular towers which dominate the city centre. There will also be time to explore the bazaar and some of Shiraz’s famous gardens and teahouses before soaking up the atmosphere at the tomb of the great Persian poet Hafez. Eram Hotel or similar (B,L,D)
Shiraz is a city of sophistication and has always been celebrated as the heartland of Persian culture. It is the capital of Fars province, and is one of the most beautiful historical cities in the world. Farsi (Persian or Parsi) the language of Ancient Fars (Pars) has become the official language of Iran (Persia). According to Islamic historians, Shiraz came into existence only after the Arab conquest of Iran. The Arab invasion, in fact, contributed to its importance and by the 13th century, Shiraz had grown into one the largest and most popular Islamic cities of the era. Shiraz is spread out like an immense garden on a green plain at the foot of the Tang Allah-o-Akbar Mountains. Shiraz was one of the most important cities in the medieval Islamic world and was the Iranian capital during the Zand dynasty (1747-79) when most of its beautiful buildings were built or restored. Through its many artists and scholars, Shiraz has been synonymous with learning, nightingales, poetry, roses and at one time, wine. Today Shiraz is a relaxed, cultivated city, with wide tree-lined avenues and enough monuments, gardens and mosques to keep most visitors happy for several days. The university here is one of Iran’s finest, and you’ll come across lots of students eager to speak English with you.
Day 3: Shiraz – Persepolis - Shiraz
Today we have the whole day to enjoy what must be surely a highlight of Iran if not of the entire Middle East: Darius the Great’s fabulous Persepolis. We will also visit the magnificent Achaemenid tombs at Nagsh e Rostam, cut high in cliffs above the ground, facing respectfully towards Persepolis. After ample time exploring the site we will make our way back to Shiraz where there’ll be time to discover this beautiful city at your leisure. Eram Hotel or similar (B,L,D)
On top of the rocky mountain of Rahmat in the plain of Marvdasht, the ruins of Takht-e-Jamshid Palace are preeminent. Takht-e-Jamshid is a UNESCOWorld Heritage Site. Known as the Throne of Jamshid, it was a massive and magnificent palace complex built from about 512 BC and completed over the next 150 years. This magnificent site embodies the greatest successes of the ancient Achaemenid Empire, exemplified by the monumental staircases, exquisite reliefs, immense columns and imposing gateways. Persepolis was burnt to the ground in 331 BC during Alexander the Great’s time, although historians are divided about whether it was accidental or in retaliation for the destruction of Athens by Xerxes. The ruins you see today, rediscovered in the early 1930s, are a mere shadow of Persepolis’ former glory, but you can still get a great idea of its majesty if you carry a map and use a bit of imagination. One of the first things you’ll see is Xerxes’ Gateway, covered with inscriptions and carvings in Elamite and other ancient languages. The gateway leads to the immense Apadana Palace complex, where the kings received visitors and celebrations were held. Plenty of gold and silver was discovered in the palace, but it was predictably looted by Alexander the Great, and what he left behind is now in the National Museum in Tehran. The largest hall in Persepolis was the Palace of 100 Columns, probably one of the biggest buildings constructed during the Achaemenian period, and once used as a reception hall for Darius I.
Day 4: Shiraz – Pasargadae - Yazd
Today we head for Pasargadae with its six-tiered tomb of Cyrus the Great, founder of the great Persian Empire. Later we’ll continue to Yazd in time to watch an eerie sunset from the Towers of Silence, the unique Zoroastrian burial towers. Moshir Garden Hotel or similar (B,L,D)
Day 5: In and around Yazd
Our first port of call is the Bagh-e-Doulat Abad Gardens, which were once a residence of the former ruler Karim Khan Zand. They consist of small pavilions set in peaceful gardens and the tallest Badgir (wind tower) in town. Then on to visit the magnificent Jameh (Friday) Mosque and the informative Water Museum. We then have time to wander the winding old city streets and bazaar. In the evening we will try and visit a Zurkhaneh (House of Strength), which mixes Sufism, nationalism, music and sport into this ancient spectacular. Moshir Garden Hotel or similar (B,L,D)
This ancient Sassanian city’s narrow, winding streets are home to the largest community of Zoroastrians in all of Iran. It can be very cool in winter but the badgirs (wind towers) that dot the mudbrick town skyline trap even the slightest zephyr to give a cooling respite to the city’s citizens in the long hot summer months.
Day 6: Yazd - Isfahan
We depart for the old Persian capital of Isfahan today. Once known as “half the world” this is a truly fascinating city and it will be our base for the next three nights. Upon arrival we will check into our hotel, relax and take a leisurely walk to orientate ourselves with this most memorable of cities. Abbasi Hotel or similar (B,L,D)
Day 7: In Isfahan
Our sightseeing today will include visits to the Chehel Sotun Palace and Museum, and the magnificent Nasqh Jahan Square. Here we will explore some of the world’s most beautiful mosques, the Imam (Shah) Mosque and the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. We will also visit the magnificent six-storey Ali Qapu Palace, built in the 16th century to serve as a gateway to the royal palaces that are situated in the parklands beyond. Abbasi Hotel or similar (B,L,D)
Isfahan is one of Iran’s oldest cities and served as Persia’s capital from 1598 to 1722. When Shah Abbas I came to power in 1587, he pushed out the Ottoman Turks who had occupied a large area of Persia and then set out to make Isfahan a great city. However, this period of glory lasted little more than a century when an invasion from Afghanistan came, and the decline began. As a result the capital was moved to Shiraz, and then later to Tehran. Isfahan is one of the finest cities in the Islamic world and was a crossroad of international trade and diplomacy. This therefore meant that it was a kaleidoscope of resident languages, religions, and customs. This city is renowned not only for the abundance of great historical monuments and exquisite blue mosaic tiles of Isfahan’s Islamic buildings, but also for its Life-Giving River, The Zayandeh-Rood, which has given the city an original beauty and a fertile land. Isfahan is filled with beautiful old gardens and some of the best sights in Iran.
Day 8: In Isfahan
Another day to explore this fascinating city. Visit the Jameh Mosque, the Armenian Quarter and the many bridges that cross the Zayandeh River. Plenty of time to explore and shop in the famous bazaar, or just to chill out and people watch. Abbasi Hotel or similar (B,L,D)
Day 9: Isfahan - Tehran
We depart Isfahan in the morning, arriving in Tehran for a chance to do some sightseeing in Iran’s cosmopolitan capital. Asareh Hotel or similar (B,L,D)
Tehran is a sprawling city at the foot of the Alborz mountain range with an immense network of highways unparalleled in western Asia. It has numerous large museums, art centres, palace complexes and cultural centres, and is the greatest for the Iranian markets, with numerous bazaars covered like a railway station. The city, thought to have been inhabited since Neolithic times, is populated by a number of different ethnic communities. In addition to Persians, there is a population of Azeris in Tehran, as well as Armenian, Assyrian, Kurdish and Jewish communities. 98.3% of Tehran’s residents speak Persian. The city is dotted with mosques, and there are also a number of churches and synagogues.
Day 10: Tour ends in Tehran
The tour ends with breakfast at the hotel. For those on the suggested group flights, there will be some free time this morning to explore Tehran before transferring to the airport for your flights home. (B)
- Meeting Iranians and enjoying their warm hospitality
- Visiting the ancient site of Persepolis
- Admiring the astounding architecture of Isfahan
- Wandering through the old city streets of Yazd
- Drinking a lot of tea!
Tour Dossier Notes
Climate – Spring and Autumn are great times to visit Iran those who want to avoid the extreme heat of the height of summer – where temperatures can reach the late 40s – but are still happy to have hot days and warm nights. Expect daytime temperatures in the mid to late 30s and many bright sunny days.
Is this trip for me? – It may sound obvious but Wild Frontiers tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. The team at Diesel Adventures can provide the details and expertise you need to help you choose the right trip for you.
Airport transfers– Not included but can be arranged. If you’re booking flights yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers.
Accommodation– As an overall ethos, wherever possible we aim to use characterful accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience, not just offers a bed for the night. This can obviously vary dramatically from country to country and from trip to trip. On this particular trip we will be in comfortable hotels throughout. Please note that the accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is intended as a guide only and is always subject to availability.
Guides – Full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides and drivers.
Meals – In most cases a “Full Board” Meal plan as detailed in the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner) with the majority of meals being taken in local restaurants where viable. Plus bottled drinking water as required
Entrance fees – Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, we can arrange if possible and these would be at your own expense.
Visas – We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then can request for this to be arranged for you. If you need any advice with visas just give us a call, or alternatively a visa agency such as CIBT can assist.
Airport taxes – If there are any departure taxes to pay that are not included within the cost of your ticket, these are at your expense.
Please note that there is more detailed tour dossiers available specific to each departure date, contact our Sales team and we would be happy to send these to you