Iran: Wonders of Persia
Based on the expeditionary nature of our trips, there may be ongoing enhancements to this itinerary.
Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.
Depart USANovember 9 — November 10
Board your independent overnight flight.
Tehran, IranNovember 11
Arrive after midnight; transfer to Espinas International Hotel. After breakfast and an introductory briefing, explore Tehran, Iran’s bustling capital of twelve million people. Included in your tour is a visit to the National Museum of Archaeology and the National Carpet Museum, filled with beautiful examples of Persia’s ancient and iconic art form.
Tehran / YazdNovember 12
After breakfast enjoy 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. Then depart overland for Yazd, stopping for lunch and dinner en route. Arrive in the late evening and check in to the Moshir Al Mamalek Garden Hotel for overnight.
Regarded by UNESCO as one of the oldest towns on Earth, Yazd was officially recognized for its unique wind-tower architecture, a natural cooling option in this dry, hot climate. It is also the center for the Zoroastrian faith, a religion which may predate Judaism. In this faith, fire represents life. Visit the Zoroastrian fire temple to view a fire that has been burning continuously for over 1,500 years, then visit the “Towers of Silence,” where in past centuries Zoroastrians left their dead. 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 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; and 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 visit the Dowlat Abad Garden and its lofty ventilation tower.
Yazd / Pasargada / ShirazNovember 14
After breakfast, depart Yazd for your drive to Shiraz and visit the desert town of Abarqu on the way. Here enjoy a picnic lunch under a 4,500-year-old cypress tree. Next, 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. Arrive in Shiraz this evening with dinner and overnight at Grand Bozorg Hotel.
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.” Highlights of your 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 / PersepolisNovember 16
Rediscovered under desert sands in the early 1930s, Persepolis is one of Persia’s greatest treasures. Included in your visit to this Achaemenian showpiece will be Xerxes’ Gateway, the immense Adadna Palace, and the Palace of 100 Columns. You will also visit Naghash-é Rostam, housing four tombs believed to be those of Darius I, Artaxerxes, Xerxes I, and Darius II. Return to Shiraz for dinner and overnight.
Shiraz / EsfahanNovember 17
After an early breakfast, 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 you through the lovely Zagross Mountains and includes the possibility of seeing nomadic tribes. Arrive in Esfahan late in the afternoon for dinner and overnight at the Abbasi Hotel.
EsfahanNovember 18 — November 19
Built by the Safavids between the 16th and 18th centuries, Esfahan’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. Here, explore the imposing Masjed-é Imám, Imám Square, the Chehel Sotun Museum and Park, Vank Cathedral, Hasht Behesht (Eight Paradises) Palace, Naqshe-Jahan (the Royal Square), Ali-Qapu Palace, Sheikh Lotfollah (Ladies) Imám Mosques, and the bazaar. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Esfahan / Abyaneh / Kashan / TehranNovember 20
From Esfahan, 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, stop in Kashan where we view Bagh-e Fin, a superb example of a Persian garden, and the 19th-century tiled mausoleum of Emamzadeh Ebrahim. After lunch in Kashan continue to Tehran and check in to Espinas International Hotel for dinner and overnight.
Today visit the Golestan Palace and the National Jewels Museum—possibly the best in the world. The afternoon is at leisure. Tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner and relaxing evening as you prepare for early morning flights.
Tehran / USANovember 22
Early morning transfer to the airport for independent flights homeward.