Iran: Wonders of Persia

November 9, 2015 - November 22, 2015
November 7, 2016 - November 20, 2016

Activity Level

This is a journey for experienced travelers only. Travelers on our expedition to Iran should be aware that the infrastructure is poorly developed and occasional delays and amendments to the program can occur. Accommodations will range from what Iran tourism might call “five-star elegance” (but what we might call “three-star comfortable and acceptable”), to cheerful and rustic in the more remote areas. Some days will be long, with bus rides over mostly paved roads that require sitting for long periods. Strict dress codes in public will be required, including head scarves and a robe-like covering for women; and alcohol is absolutely forbidden. For the experienced traveler with a sense of humor, a spirit of adventure, and the desire to journey where few have been before, occasional delays, limited food choices, or rustic hotels are a small price to pay for a journey that will take you to the very heart of Persia.

Should you have any physical limitations, please notify us in advance of your departure.

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You will receive your Pre-Departure Packet—including a Personal Information Form and Iran Travel Authority – Additional Information Form that will need to be returned to Zegrahm, a complete packing list, reading list, visa kit, and gift certificates—approximately five months prior to departure. Final documents—including a final itinerary, contact list, and staff biographies—will be sent approximately one month prior to departure.

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The electric current in Iran is 230V/50Hz. Electrical outlets are the European style round 2-prong plugs, though this varies throughout the country. It is advisable to bring a converter and a variety of adapters.

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The manner in which a person publicly conducts him or herself is an extremely significant part of Iranian culture. Many of their social customs may be unfamiliar; please read the following guidelines carefully and always conduct yourself with extreme discretion.

  • When someone enters the room, always stand.
  • When you enter a room yourself, shake hands with both the men and women. However, if a man enters a room with only women, please wait for the women to initiate this contact. Do not shake her hand unless she offers first.
  • The soles of your feet should never point at someone else. Take care when sitting not to let your soles show inadvertently.
  • Do not use your left hand to give or receive any object.
  • You will most likely be addressed by your given name plus Mr. or Mrs., rather than by your family name.
  • Pictures of men, women, and children may be taken with their permission only.
  • Do not take pictures or video of anything that could vaguely be considered related to the military. This includes airports.
  • If you find yourself a guest in someone’s home, it is considered impolite to refuse any refreshment they might offer.
  • Do not attempt to bring alcohol or pork into the country. These offenses are punishable by Iranian law and carry a minimum sentence of three months in jail.
  • When prayer time is called, all commercial activities must stop. There are few exceptions to this rule.
  • When buying something in the souk, it is customary to bargain with the seller.

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Extending Your Stay

Interested in extending your stay? Speak with one of our Expedition Advisors to find out to stay an extra night or two. Or, our Private Travel department is available to design customized extended stays for individuals, families, and groups of friends—the same horizon-broadening adventures and life-changing experiences as our group expedition, but on a flexible, intimate, and personalized scale. Call 800.628.8747 or 206.285.4000 for more information.

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Flight Information

No flights are 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.

You will need to purchase airfare from your home city/Tehran and Tehran/home city. For more detailed information, please contact our in-house Air Department for fare quotes, reservations, or other air-related questions.

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Internet and Phone

To help you in the event that you must be reached during our expedition, you will be provided with a complete list of our local offices, and group hotels with your final departure documents.

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Iranian food is some of the most delicious and fresh in the region. It is also quite healthy, using only small amounts of red meat (lamb or beef), emphasizing larger amounts of grains (especially rice), fruits, and vegetables. Although there are a variety of vegetable dishes, they may not necessarily be “vegetarian.” Please note that the most local restaurants have no vegetarian dishes on their main menu. Though most restaurants are happy to offer “vegetable” stew or other veggie options, do not be surprised if the dish contains meat in some form. Because of the abundance of meat-based dishes, we do not recommend this expedition for strict vegans/vegetarians. You are encouraged to bring a small amount of snacks from home (Gary always travels with a jar of peanut butter!).

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Packing Suggestions

It is essential to maximize the versatility of your travel wardrobe by packing clothing that can be layered. Wash-and-wear, lightweight, natural fabrics are recommended. As you pack, consider your own internal thermostat and personal taste and adjust accordingly.

The nights and early mornings can be quite chilly and a warm sweater and jacket, hat, scarf, and warm gloves (preferably polypropylene) are strongly advised. It is always a good idea to bring a light raincoat in case you are caught in a shower or for misty mornings.

Laundry service is available and by using it you can limit yourself to just three or four outfits and not be inconvenienced by an overabundance of clothing.

Clothing Restrictions

During this expedition, women must abide by a very strict dress code. When in public, women must wear a scarf covering their hair and neck, and a loose, opaque cloak or other covering that reaches below the knees and hides all curves. Iranian law states simply that only the hands and face may show. However, the few women in Iran who are not wearing a chador (full Islamic cover) when they venture outside wear what looks like a trench coat over pants or a full length skirt. Anything other than this will stand out, and while it may meet the letter of the law, it will contradict the prevailing custom which is not to attract attention. Therefore, we ask all of our female travelers to comply with custom and wear a trench coat (or similar) from home. We will offer the opportunity to shop for inexpensive cotton coats and scarves on our first day in Tehran, and an Iranian coat can easily be purchased. Please remember that you must be wearing appropriate attire when you arrive at the airport.

Coats do not have to be black. They can be a lighter, neutral color such as khaki, beige, or gray. We recommend that women bring several scarves for variety. One of these should be a conservative, neutral color, but florals and other patterns are acceptable in most places.


Iranian men wear a garment called a thobe, similar to the chador, and are as moderately covered as the women. Western men are not required to wear a thobe but should instead wear short- or long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Men should not wear sleeveless shirts or shorts. In general, conservative dress is advised.

You will receive a complete Packing List with your Pre-Departure Packet, approximately five months prior to departure.

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With Our Compliments

We are pleased to offer complimentary amenities to our explorers so they can be fully prepared before departing on one of our expeditions. Gift certificates to our Zegrahm Store and Longitude Books will offer you the opportunity to choose one of several specially selected items from our store along with books or maps suggested in the reading list. The certificates will be sent in your Pre-Departure Packet approximately five months prior to departure. Please refer to the gift certificates for more details.

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