Conservative and unconventional, deeply religious and deeply surprising, Iran doesn’t fit into any easy pigeonhole. Spend two weeks following the ancient Silk Road through this under-touristed country to discover refined Islamic cities, colourful bazaars, ancient ruins, fascinating nomadic cultures and shimmering deserts. Whether you're relaxing in a teahouse in Tehran, enjoying guided tours of ancient cultural sites, or breaking bread with locals on the harsh Iranian plateau, the warmth and hospitality of the Iranian people is endearing, and the profound beauty of their land is mesmerising.
Ages: 15 - 99
Accommodation: Hotel (10 nights), Guest House (1 night) Eco Lodge(1 night), Home Stay (1 night)
Welcome to Tehran! Iran's capital is exciting, noisy and chaotic. Home to 15 million people, Tehran is the country's beating heart and where its true national identity is found. Expect to see women wearing full-length chadors competing for space with young and hip girls in figure-hugging manteau and headscarves. You will be met on arrival at Tehran International Airport and transferred to your hotel. There will be a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. After the meeting, your leader can give you advice on where to go for good Iranian cuisine like dizi (soup stew mashed into a paste). Most traditional restaurants will also feature a live band playing classic Iranian tunes.
Discover Tehran on a walking tour with your local leader. Visit the World Heritage-listed Golestan Palace, an opulent masterpiece of the Qajar era that is decorated with beautifully painted tiles and set around an elegant garden and the National Museum. Check out the labyrinthian Tehran Grand Bazaar before heading to the train station in the afternoon. Remember to grab some snacks before you go so you’ve got something to munch on for dinner on board your train journey this evening.
Welcome to Yazd! This ancient desert city was a major stop on the caravan routes to central Asia and India during the Silk Road period – Marco Polo even visited the city on his way to China – and it retains a rustic feel to this day. Hit the streets on a walking tour, visit the Amir Chakmaq complex, then walk through the narrow kuches (lanes) past simple courtyards and the ornate doors of local mud brick buildings. One of the most distinctive features of Yazd are the badgirs (wind towers) that capture even the softest of breezes before sending them to the buildings below, cooling them off as a forerunner of modern air-con. Learn how underground water channels kept the city hydrated with H2O from the mountains with a visit to the Water Museum. Finally, stop in at the local Fire Temple and Towers of Silence, both vestiges of the city’s Zoroastrian past. In Zoroastrianism, fire and water are agents of ritual purity, and the fire in the Fire Temple is said to have been continuously burning since AD 470.
This morning join an excursion outside of Yazd, including stops at the abandoned Kharanak mud-brick village, a hike to the mountaintop Chak Chak fire temple, you will also explore the valley and nearby mountains with their ancient irrigation system and water ducts. In the afternoon, continue to Zein-o-din Caravanserai. Set in the Dasht-e Lut salt desert, this classic desert inn was built during the 16th century. A night's stay in a caravanserai is a wonderful chance to step into the shoes of a Silk Road merchant, as most of the rooms remain unchanged from days gone by, with carpets covering raised wooden floors and heavy curtains separating rooms from the hallway. Like Silk Road travellers before you, experience a rich red sunset while the night sky fills with stars.
After breakfast, begin the 6-hour journey to Shiraz, with a stop en route at Abarkooh. Spend a little time checking out Abarkooh’s ancient icehouse (a passive refrigerator), and a 4000-year-old cypress tree. Continue to Shiraz, arriving in the late afternoon. A city of poets and gardens, Shiraz has been considered the centre of Persian culture for thousands of years. Get your bearings on a walking tour with your leader.
Rise and shine for a day of exploring this artistic city. First thing this morning we visit the colourfully decorated Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque, where sunlight streaming through stain glass windows fills the interior with kaleidoscopic colours, best enjoyed in the early morning light. Take to streets on a walking tour and discover the Karim Khan citadel before strolling the alleys and lanes of one of Iran's most loved Bazaars Vakil, a great spot to sit and chat and enjoy a glass of orange blossom tea. The highlight of the tour today may be your guided visit of Shahcheragh. This glittering mosque and funerary monument is a popular pilgrimage site, sure to impress even non-believers with its beauty and grandeur. We finish our tour today at Bagh e Eram Gardens arguably one of the most famous and beautiful Persian gardens in all of Iran. Later perhaps get your leader to take you to the Tomb of Hafez see his intricately carved tomb, where Iranians come to pay their respects and place flowers, your local Leader just may recite some poetry for you. Settle in this evening for a home-cooked meal with some locals. A city of artists and dreamers, the perfect introduction to Shiraz is through its people.
Just 1 hour from Shiraz lies the ancient city of Persepolis. Once the centre of the Persian Empire and one of the great cities of the ancient world, Persepolis was constructed during the reign of Darius I and took 150 years to complete. The imposing gateways, exquisite relief carvings and towering columns still impress today. Enjoy a guided tour of this splendid and somewhat mysterious ancient city. In the afternoon, journey into Fars Province. Your hosts this evening are Qashqai, Turkic speaking pastoral nomads who winter near the Persian Gulf and summer on the central Iranian Plateau. For many, migration is still a way of life, though some traditionally nomadic communities are now settled in villages scattered throughout the region. Spend the evening with a family in one such local village, sharing a meal, stories and songs.
Spend the morning baking bread with your host family, before saying goodbye and hitting the road for the 4-hour drive to Izadkhast. On arrival settle into your eco-lodge and get to know your hosts. Izadkhast is a relatively small city with a population of around 10,000, primarily known for the unique ancient buildings that lie within the city boundary. Your night here is a great opportunity to experience more of local life in Fars Province.
After breakfast explore the Complex of Izadkhast with your leader. Many aspects of the ancient city remain, such as the caravanserai where Silk Road travellers would have stopped to rest hundreds of years ago. You’ll also explore a bridge from the Safavid era and go inside the city’s eponymous castle to wander through alleyways and rooms built, like all structures here, from earthen materials. But perhaps the most poignant structures in this ancient city are the small homes where it’s easy to imagine common folk living over 1500 years ago. Continue to Esfahan (2 hours), which a 16th-century rhyme described as 'half the world'. After spending a few days here, you might be inclined to agree. On arrival head out for an orientation walk with your leader, making your way to Khaju Bridge. Join the locals, who gather to talk, drink tea and sing folk songs in the evening.
Soak up the atmosphere of Esfahan during a half-day tour of the city. Your leader will give you some insight into life under the rule of Shah Abbas, also called Abbas the Great, who came to power in the 16th century and moved the kingdom’s capital to Esfahan. Begin the tour at the immense Imam Square (formerly Naqsh-e Jahan Square), which covers an area of 82,500 square metres and is surrounded by Iranian master architecture like the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Qeysarieh Portal and the Imam Mosque. Continue to Ali Qapu, a grand 17th-century palace with six floors that can only be accessed by a spiral staircase. Next up is the local bazaar, where you can walk the covered lanes and browse for fabrics, jewellery and other treasures with the locals. After the tour, the rest of the day is free for you to do as you please.
Set out on a morning walking tour of the Christian-Armenian quarter of Esfahan with your leader. This area of the city, known New Jolfa, was established the early 17th century. Abbas the Great transported over 150,000 Armenians here and offered them an oasis of religious freedom in exchange for their contribution to the economy and culture of Esfahan. After exploring a little with your leader, you are free to check out Esfahan at your own pace. The Vank Cathedral is worth a look if you’re impressed by frescos (even if you’re not, these are particularly stunning), as are the famous Manar Jomban (Shaking Minarets). The Chehel Sotun Palace, with its garden and pools, is a serene place to while away an hour. Your leader is there to help you get the most out of your free time, so don’t forget to ask their advice on which sites to prioritise.
This morning drive 2 hours to Kashan, a merchant town known for its high-quality ceramics, silks, carpets and fine houses. Spend time at the fascinating Tabataei House, built in the 1840s for the affluent Tabatabaei family, exceptional attention was paid to every architectural details of this building as dictated by the geographical and climatic conditions of the area. Enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure in Kashan, perhaps relaxing in your accommodation. In the evening, travel to a local family’s home to share dinner and enjoy some classic Iranian hospitality.
After breakfast check out the lush Fin Garden (Bagh-e Tarikhi-ye Fin), a historic and classical Persian garden that contains Kashan's Fin Bath. It was also the site of an assassination in 1852. Bid farewell to Kashan and return to Tehran (approximately 3 hours). As this is the final night of your tour, be sure to pick your leader’s brain for any last-minute tips on where to shop and what to eat, and consider organising to eat dinner as a group.
Your Intrepid Iran Adventure has come to an end. If you’re not flying out until tomorrow, consider taking an Urban Adventure to get to know the city a little better. Perhaps meet a local family in their home for enlightening conversation over a delicious home cooked meal on the Persian Hospitality tour. Find out more at urbanadventures.com/destination/Tehran-tours.
- Kashan - Fin Gardens entrance and guided tour
12 Shahriar Street
IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF
12 Shahriar Street
IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF
A reasonable level of fitness is expected and will certainly help increase the enjoyment of the trip. Some of the archaeological sites and activities included involve a fair amount of walking.
1. Single Supplement - A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 4 (Caravanserai) Day 7 (Home stay) Day 8 (Eco-lodge) where you will be in shared accommodation, and is subject to availability.
2. Welcome Meeting - This trip starts at 6.00pm on day one.
3. Transfers - A complimentary airport arrival and departure transfer is included; valid if you are arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-tour accommodation through us. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.
4. Visa Information - Please note that US, British and Canadian passport holders will need to book this trip at least 3 months before departure as this is the length of time it takes to process a visa for these nationalities. The application for visa should be made at the time of booking or at least 3 months prior to departure date. There may also be further travel restrictions that apply to these nationalities including restrictions for when you can arrive and depart. Please see the visa section in this essential trip information below for more details and ensure you discuss options with your booking agent before confirming non-refundable airfares.
Please see our online visa information for more details. Simply select the relevant nationality in the drop down list to access detailed visa information http://www.intrepidtravel.com/iran-visa-application-form
5. Important Money Matters
Please note that travellers cannot use debit or credit cards while in Iran. You will need to bring all the money you will need for your entire trip with you. Please read through the money matters section of your essential trip information for further details
6. This itinerary has many included activities and free time for you to rest, relax or discover. Please keep in mind that under the regulations of the Iranian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, US, UK and Canadian travellers must be accompanied by a local host (Intrepid's local Operator) on all activities. For this reason your Tour Leader may suggest optional activities during this free time that are organised by our Operator at your own expense. Alternately this free time is the perfect opportunity to relax in your hotel.
7. Booking Conditions
Please note deposits on this trip are non refundable and non-transferable as per our Terms and Conditions. You are required to pay a non-refundable deposit per person for your booking to be confirmed.
All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. You can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. In Iran, in accordance with local regulations your Leader will also be a licensed Tour Guide and will not only have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip; but will also have specialised knowledge on the sites visited and provide full guiding services.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field: www.intrepidtravel.com/safety
FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms. BALCONIES: Some hotel balconies don't meet western standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm. TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware! SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts. PICK POCKETING & PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking at night and encourage you to walk in groups and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing. WATER SAFETY: Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water. TRAVEL ADVICE & TRAVEL INSURANCE We recommend that you check your government's advice in relation to the areas you will be visiting for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers.
SAFETY IN IRAN: Following recent incidents in Iran, we recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before your departure and that you ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas in your itinerary. We have links to all major travel advisories and regular updates on issues affecting your trip on our travel alerts page. Is Iran safe? This question will be asked of you many times before you arrive in Iran and long after you return. One of the biggest misconceptions is that Iran is an unfriendly country - this couldn't be further from the truth. You are likely to be greeted with salaams (hello) by the many friendly faces that you'll see during your time here. The Iranian people are famous for their warm hospitality and welcoming nature so don't be surprised if locals invite you into their homes where you'll suddenly find yourself reclining on a Persian carpet with your smiling hosts, drinking tea and sharing food and plenty of laughs. Tourism is in its infancy in Iran and you'll find that the local people will show a genuine interest towards you and want to try out their English on you. Of course, petty crime does exist but probably the only danger you'll face while here is the country's chaotic traffic, especially when crossing the road or even while walking on the footpath.
No all hotels and guest houses will have Internet facilities. You may want to consider purchasing a prepaid sim on arrival for data usage. Iran’s operators offer good roaming rates and sell prepaid credit. Most providers offer customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Passports and visa stamps must be shown before the SIM cards can be registered for use. Please note that as in most Middle Eastern countries, there is a great deal of censorship that goes on. Many sites are not accessible.
As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required. Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
All foreign visitors require a visa to enter Iran except citizens of the following countries: Lebanon (15 days), Azerbaijan (15 days), Georgia (45 days), Bolivia (30 days), Egypt (20 days) and Turkey (90 days) China (23 days)
Please be aware that applying for a visa can be a frustrating process, and can take from 2-4 weeks for most nationalities. UK, US and Canadian passport holders please be aware that your visa process can take much longer due to government regulations. Please check that you will have sufficient time to obtain a visa before departure, you can expect this process to be 10-15 weeks, and we do not recommend booking nonrefundable flights until you have obtained your visa authorisation. The cost of a visa also varies dependent on your nationality, and also changes regularly, making it hard for us to advise of the actual cost. But you should plan for it to cost somewhere around 100-180EUR depending if you get a visa before departure or on arrival.
Iranian visas are issued in a two-step process and this will differ according to your nationality.
1. An authorisation code for your visa must be issued by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
2. A visa for your passport must then be obtained at an Iranian Embassy once the authorisation code has been issued, or on arrival (depending on your nationality).
UK, US and Canadian passport holders please be aware that your visa is only obtainable at your nearest Iranian Embassy and only after obtaining the authorisation code, please allow enough time for embassy processing.
Follow the link below and select your nationality in the drop-down list to access detailed visa information relevant to you. When your trips has been confirmed you can then proceed to the online visa authorisation code application.
Update: No Iranian stamp will be put in our passport anymore if you have a printed visa grant notice.
Why we love it
Discover an Iran beyond the media portrayals of a repressive and dour regime – this is a country full of warm, lively and friendly people.
Explore the rich history told in the ancient ruins that lie across the country, many of which sit in remote and isolated landscapes that only add to their magic.
Experience the wondrous remains of the ancient capital of Persepolis – the scale and grandeur will leave you in no doubt that this was once the centre of the known world.
Immerse yourself in rural nomadic life with a remote homestay with the Qashqai people in Fars Province, enjoying meals, stories and songs.
Slip into the heeled-sandals of a Silk Road merchant with an overnight stay in a classic 16th-century caravanserai, located in the vast salt desert of Zein-o-din.
Is this trip right for you
Part of travelling with Intrepid means respecting local cultures and sensibilities. That way you get the most out of your interactions with local people and environments. It is very important that before you sign up for this tour you are committed to following a strict dress code (particularly for women) in what may be quite warm weather. Women must wear a headscarf and must also have their arms and legs covered. Men must also be conservatively dressed with arms and legs covered.
Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Iran and severe penalties will be incurred by anyone attempting to bring it into the country. Drug laws are also extremely strict, and travellers face lengthy jail terms if caught. As a foreigner, you will likely be whisked through customs but note that random bag checks do occur.
This trip has some wonderful accommodations experiences that really immerse you in the culture of Iran. For this reason, on three nights there is no single supplement available, as we stay in unique accommodations like a restored caravanserai, the home of a nomadic family and an eco-lodge. These are all basic with limited or shared facilities
You’ll find many of the spectacular ruins and sites in Iran are not managed as tightly as you may be used to. The pathways around some of the sites may be uneven, rocky or dusty. Some of the guided trips may involve quite a lot of walking in remote locations where you will be exposed to the elements. Please bring comfortable walking shoes and be prepared with hats, sunscreen, water or layers for cooler weather.
Iran is a big country and this trip covers a lot in two weeks. Be prepared to sit back in your private vehicle (or on a train) and watch the scenery go by on some long travel days.
Please note that we use a local supplier for your arrival transfer. As tourism is a developing industry in Iran, it is possible your driver will not speak English.
Getting a visa for Iran can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. It may take a couple of weeks to get your authorisation code, and then it can take up to 30 days to receive your visa back from the embassy or consulate. Rules can and do change often – this is the nature of the destination. We are here to help you through it.
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip.
As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it may contain much higher levels of different minerals than the water you are used to at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Many hotels and lodges provide safe drinking water, while bottled water is another alternative. Water consumption should be about two litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
Food and dietary requirements
Your group leader or representative will endeavour to cater for specific dietary requirements where possible, and vegetarianism and gluten intolerance will be catered for in most instances. There are, however some meals and activities that are fixed in advance and therefore cannot be modified to suit dietary requirements.
Please notify your booking consultant of any dietary requirements at the time of booking. For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader or representative will endeavour to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic.
When it comes to money matters on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping and laundry. It’s always better to bring a little more than you think you’ll need.
Also, make sure you’ve read your trip details thoroughly so you know what’s included in the trip price and what isn’t. This should make budgeting a little easier. You’ll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that’s this document).
Please note: all recommendations for additional costs, tipping etc. are in USD. You will need to convert these into the relevant local currency.
Gratuities aren’t compulsory on your trip, but they can make a big difference to locals employed in the tourism industry. If you are happy with the services provided, a tip is an appropriate way to thank them. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.
Usually the equivalent of around USD5 to USD10 per person, per day to cover tips is fine. Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, your leader might raise the idea of a group tipping kitty. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running this kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips as you go. The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This kitty does not include tips for your leader and crew.
To give you a bit of guidance, we’ve put together the following tipping notes. These are just suggestions, based on feedback from past travellers and our staff on the ground.
*Basic restaurants; round up to the nearest figure or leaving the loose change is generally fine.
*Up-market restaurants; when checking the bill, if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no ,requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 10% of the total bill amount is appropriate.
*Home Stay; USD2 to USD3 per person
*Private Vehicle Drivers;USD2 to USD3 per person per day
*Local guides; in Iran your Tour Leader is also your Local Guide
*Your tour leader; you may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline USD2 to USD4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
Whilst we have used USD as a guide it is perfectly acceptable to tip in local Iranian Rial
We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved.
TRAVELLERS TO IRAN PLEASE NOTE:
Iran is very much a cash economy. This means travellers can rarely use debit or credit cards while in Iran. There are virtually no opportunities to withdraw cash in Iran. ATM’s are non-existent. Credit cards are also only accepted sporadically; there may be rare occasions in tourist-orientated shops that credit cards are accepted, otherwise cash is the main method of trade in Iran.
If you are arriving into Tehran on Thursday afternoon or Friday we highly recommend passengers exchange money at the Airport as all other currency exchange houses in the city will be closed until Saturday.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip.
GENERAL PACKING LIST:
• Travel documents: passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, air tickets or e-ticket receipts and a copy of this document.
• Photocopy of main passport pages, visa (if required), travel insurance and air tickets.
• Personal medical kit. Your guide will carry a large kit but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes and bandaids.
• Watch/Alarm clock or phone that can be used for both.
• Power adaptors
• Insect repellent
• Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses
• Earplugs and eye mask (you might be sharing with a snorer!)
• Water bottle. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
• Warm clothes including hat and gloves - When travelling in cooler climates
• Wind and waterproof rain jacket
• Toiletries/travel wipes
• Travel Towel
• Closed in, comfortable walking shoes. As most of our trips include some walking elements, we highly recommend that you take a pair of comfortable, closed-in walking shoes. Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings.
• Camera with spare memory cards and batteries
• Swimwear (itinerary dependant)
• Clothes! Bear in mind that laundry facilities will be widely available throughout this trip. The cost varies in each destination.
On this trip, you must pack as lightly as possible because you will be expected to carry your own bag and, although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage, we strongly recommend keeping the weight under 15kg. If your itinerary includes a flight, please keep in mind that some domestic airlines have checked luggage limits of 15kg.
CLOTHING & CLIMATE:
Please note that as a desert region, the Middle East can have extreme weather. Temperatures are generally hot with little rain. This can become extreme during the summer months of June to August. In the months of December to March it can be very cold, particularly next to the river or the ocean and out in the desert where night temperatures can drop dramatically. Even in the hot months, it can get cold in the desert at night. Consider bringing a sleeping bag, thermals, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket for travel in this period, especially on itineraries which include camping such as on a felucca, in a desert camp, or at a Red Sea beach camp. A light water and windproof jacket is useful and a hat is essential.
Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safes to store the bulk of your money, passport, and airline tickets. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden. We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.
Most of our trips have access to power to recharge batteries for phones and cameras regularly. We always recommend that you carry an extra battery for your camera just in case. Charging of batteries is advised before checking out of your hotel rooms. Please bear in mind there may be some nights were electricity may not be as readily available as you might be used to – home stays, beach and desert camps etc.
Generally drones are not permitted into any Middle East destination or they require registration and pre approval please refer to your airline carrier if you are considering taking a drone on your travels or check out drone laws by country on line.
We have had some reports of binoculars being confiscated or causing delay in customs if carried in hand luggage.
Climate and seasonal
WEEKEND & PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN IRAN:
Thursday (afternoon) and Friday are the weekend in Iran. Please note that there may be changes to operating hours of sites, museums and stores. Iran also has a lot of public holidays. The dates of many of these holidays change annually as they are scheduled according to the lunar calendar. If you are arriving over a weekend or public holiday we recommend you change some money beforehand as Currency Exchanges will be closed over these days
IRANIAN NEW YEAR:
Please note that the Iranian New Year will take place from Friday 20 March 2020 to 23 March 2020. Many Iranian banks and government offices will be closed for and entire week. Iran Authorisation code request forms will not be accepted or processed during this time by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran
In 2020, the important month of Ramadan or Ramzan in Turkey will be in progress from 23 April through until 23 May, and the Eid ul-Fitr festival or Bayram in Turkey will be held directly at its conclusion for 3-4 days. Ramadan is a festival of sacrifice where the devout refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. During Ramadan, business hours are shortened, including opening hours at some tourist attractions. Alcohol is not permitted during daylight hours and many restaurants will be closed. While you should expect some delays and inconveniences during this period, the month is a fantastic opportunity to travel in a Muslim country and witness this unique period, particularly the nightly celebrations when the sun sets and the fast is broken. Please note that although the Eid ul-Fitr festival can also be a fascinating time to travel it's a period of national holiday. Most government offices and businesses will be closed and some tourist site opening hours may be affected.
Ramadan month can differ from country to country and region to region, it can be a wonderful inclusion in your vacation. If you have concerns about travelling at this time, please check with Intrepid or your booking agent before your departure.
A couple of rules
Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.
Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.
The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.
By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.
If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.
ALCOHOL, DRUGS AND CONTRABAND:
Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Iran and severe penalties will be incurred by anyone attempting to bring it into the country. Drug laws are also extremely strict and travellers face lengthy jail terms if caught. If found, pork products, obscene material (even glossy magazines showing people in immodest poses), and controversial literature will all be confiscated by custom officials. Upon arrival, you as a foreigner will likely be whisked through customs but note that random bag checks do commonly occur.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
GENERAL ISSUES ON YOUR TRIP
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below:
Intrepid's Local Operator: +989144546080 OR +98 9024566080
Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.
Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting:
Iran is a traditional Islamic nation and a strict dress code is enforced throughout the country. The code of dress must be adhered to at all times. Men must wear long trousers at all times and generally keep themselves neat and tidy. Loose fitting cotton pants are preferable for the Iranian heat. Short sleeve shirts that cover your shoulders and open-toed sandals are now acceptable for men.
Women must wear the hijab at all times, apart from in their hotel bedrooms of course. A hijab consists of the manteau, a loose-fitting trench coat that comes down to just above your knees, plus a headscarf. It is not necessary for foreigners to wear a manteau. A headscarf can be of any colour. It's now perfectly acceptable for women to wear a headscarf that shows some of their fringe and you'll see many ladies doing so and Its acceptable for women to wear loose long linen or cotton shirts, or even long light cardigans. These need to be long enough to cover your bottom. Your group leader will advise you of what attire is appropriate during the welcome meeting.
Upon arrival in Iran, women not wearing a headscarf, long sleeves, closed shoes and a loose fitting skirt or pants may be refused entry into the country (to avoid this problem bring a thin full-length raincoat, long sleeved shirt or tunic from home). Men must be wearing long trousers upon arrival and shirts that cover their shoulder, or they too may be refused entry.
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made, should this occur. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
TWIN SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin share basis (unless noted otherwise in the day-to-day itinerary). Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite, this is noted in the special information section on each day
In some accommodations bathrooms may be what can be referred to as a "wet room" this simply means that the shower recess will have no lip on it and may not even have a curtain. Extra care needs to be taken as if you are not familiar with this type of facility you may slip. Bathroom shoes are provided to prevent this and we recommend you use them.
Most hotel in Iran do not offer coffee and tea making facilities.
HEATING and COOLING
air-conditioning is not always available and as this is a desert country the temperatures can be warm to very hot in the day and cooler in the evening.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.
A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Please note deposits on this trip are non refundable and non-transferable as per our terms and conditions. You are required to pay a non-refundable deposit of $400 per person per trip for your booking to be confirmed.
Hotel (10 nights),Guest House (1 night) Eco Lodge(1 night),Home Stay (1 night)