For those seeking an authentic immersion into the art, poetry, architecture, and history of Iran, we offer our Iran: Wonders of Persia expedition. Guided by Middle East expert Gary Wintz, this Iran expedition offers an in-depth view of the turbulent and colorful history of Iran. Formerly Persia, the country’s magnificent ruins and ancient cities, architecturally astounding mosques and citadels, and savory cuisine is sure to leave a lasting impression. We also include a Tehran tour, visiting the Sa’ad Abad Palace-complex and the National Museum of Archaeology. Along the way, we may be invited into people’s homes and to family celebrations--it’s Iran adventure travel at its very best.
Iran Expedition highlights include:
- Yazd, regarded by UNESCO as one of the oldest towns on Earth and the center for the Zoroastrian faith.
- A picnic lunch under a 4,500-year-old cypress tree in Abarqu, followed by a visit to Paradises, the ancient Persian royal city-gardens.
- The countless shrines, gardens, tea houses, and bazaars of Shiraz, one famed for its vineyards of Shiraz (or Syrah) grapes.
- A hallmark of Iran adventure travel, a stop in Persepolis, rediscovered under desert sands in the early 1930s.
- The breathtaking mosque of Masjed-é Imám, formerly the Shah Mosque, covered by blue tiles and surrounded by minarets.
What to expect:
Iran adventure travel is for experienced travelers only. Please be aware that the infrastructure is poorly developed and occasional delays and amendments are likely. Accommodations on the Iran tour that we may call “three-star comfortable and acceptable” may be touted as “five-star elegance”—for this reason and more, a flexible attitude and healthy spirit of adventure are the most valuable items you can pack. Some days will be long, with extended trips by bus. And strict dress codes will be required; complete information on this, as well as local customs and traditions, will be provided prior to your departure.
USA / Tehran, Iran
Depart from the USA for your independent overnight flight to Tehran. Arrive in Tehran after midnight, transfer to our hotel for an overnight.
After breakfast and an introductory briefing, we explore Tehran, Iran’s bustling capital of twelve million people. Included in our tour is a visit to the National Museum of Archaeology, the National Jewels Museum—possibly the best in the world—and the National Carpet Museum. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Tehran / Yazd
After breakfast we depart on our flight to Yazd. Regarded by UNESCO as one of the oldest towns on Earth, it was officially recognized for its unique wind-tower architecture, a natural cooling option in this dry, hot climate. Yazd is the center for the Zoroastrian faith, a religion which may predate Judaism. In this faith, fire represents life. In our visit to the Zoroastrian fire temple we view a fire that has been burning continuously for over 1,500 years. In the afternoon we visit the “Towers of Silence,” where in past centuries Zoroastrians left their dead. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Spend the Day exploring Yazd. We pass by the 15th-century Mirchakhmaq Square and visit the 14th-century Masjid-e-Jamé Mosque. Crowned by the highest minarets in Iran, the mosque’s façade is decorated with dazzling blue tile work. Afterward we set out for the old section of the city to what is known as the “Prison of Alexander,” actually a 15th-century domed school where legend has it that Alexander the Great imprisoned Iranian elite; we also visit an 18th-century Lari-ha traditional house. Enjoy lunch in an 18th-century public bathhouse converted into a traditional restaurant and teahouse. In the afternoon we visit the Dowlat Abad Garden and its lofty ventilation tower.
Yazd / Pasargada / Shiraz
After breakfast we depart Yazd for our drive to Shiraz and visit the desert town of Abarqu on the way. Here we have a picnic lunch under a 4,500-year-old cypress tree. Next, we visit Pasargada, the resting place of Cyrus the Great and one of Iran’s five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is also the site of Paradises, the ancient Persian royal city-gardens. In the evening we arrive in Shiraz for dinner and overnight at our hotel.
We enjoy a full Day here to explore this truly fascinating city, once famed for its vineyards of Shiraz (or Syrah) grapes, and known as the “City of Poets.” This amazing metropolis offers a bewildering selection of shrines, mosques, gardens, and monuments in addition to tea-houses, bazaars, and carpet sellers. Highlights of our visit include the Tomb and Garden of Hafez, a celebrated Persian poet; the Narenjestan (orangery) Garden; Jame’ Atiq Mosque, one of the oldest in Iran; Khan Theological School; the nomadic bazaar; and the charming Eram Garden where the delightful 19th-century Ghajar Palace lies alongside a beautiful pool. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Shiraz / Persepolis
Rediscovered under desert sands in the early 1930s, Persepolis is one of Persia’s greatest treasures (and one of the great highlights of this expedition). Built over a period of about 150 years, beginning in 512 B.C., it was ransacked and burned by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C.
Included in our visit to this Achaemenian showpiece will be Xerxes’ Gateway, the immense Adadna Palace, and the Palace of 100 Columns, probably one of the largest buildings constructed during the Achaemenian period and once used as a reception hall for Darius I. We also visit Naghash-é Rostam, housing four tombs believed to be those of Darius I, Artaxerxes, Xerxes I, and Darius II. We return to Shiraz for dinner and overnight.
Shiraz / Esfahan
After an early breakfast we embark on a scenic drive north to the stunning city of Esfahan, one of the pearls of the Islamic world. ToDay’s impressive journey takes us through the lovely Zagross Mountains and includes the possibility of seeing nomadic tribes. We arrive in Esfahan late in the afternoon for dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Esfahan has a wealth of treasures to explore and we have two Days to discover its architectural wonders. Built by the Safavids between the 16th and 18th centuries, the city’s great courtyard, adjacent mosques, and towering blue minarets show a lavish delicacy and patience of both design and execution unrivaled by Asian and European craftsmen. Perhaps the most imposing edifice is the Masjed-é Imám (formerly known as the Shah Mosque). This magnificent mosque is one of the most breathtaking buildings in Iran, covered inside and out with pale blue tiles and surmounted by exquisitely proportioned minarets. The result is a stunningly sophisticated union of grandeur and harmony. Other sites we explore include the Imám Square, the Chehel Sotun Museum and Park, and the Vank Cathedral. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
We continue our tour of Esfahan and spend another full Day visiting the highlights of the city including: Hasht Behesht (Eight Paradises) Palace, Naqshe-Jahan (the Royal Square), Ali-Qapu Palace, Sheikh Lotfollah (Ladies) and Imám Mosques, a traditional Sufi-style teahouse, and the bazaar. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Esfahan / Abyaneh / Kashan / Tehran
From Esfahan we drive along a winding rural road through the Karkas (vulture) Mountains to visit Abyaneh, a remote village known for its reddish-hued architecture and people who have maintained their traditional dress and customs. On the way to Tehran we stop in Kashan where we view Bagh-e Fin, a superb example of a Persian garden; the 19th-century tiled mausoleum of Emamzadeh Ebrahim; and a traditional 19th-century house. After lunch in Kashan we continue to Tehran where we have dinner and overnight at our hotel.
After breakfast we depart for a tour of the Sa’ad Abad Palace complex, once the residence and working office of Pahlavi kings (Shahs). Following the Islamic revolution, the palaces were made into ten museums where stunning Iranian and non-Iranian artwork is on display. The afternoon is at leisure to explore Tehran. Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner and relaxing evening as we prepare for early morning flights.
Tehran / USA
Early morning transfer to the airport for independent flights homeward.
All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.
Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.
Options and Extras
Flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements. Since many of our expeditions embark and disembark from remote destinations, the airports that serve these areas often have limited carriers and/or daily flights. As such, our air team is well-versed in planning complex routings for our travelers.