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Passage Through Persia

February 29 – March 13, 2016

Home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations, Iran will leave you sated with culture and history. The warmth of her people, the beauty of Iran’s natural world, and the magnificence of the monuments will make you wonder why you waited so long. Join us to explore this 2500 year old land on a 14-day itinerary incorporating some of the oldest archaeological sites in the world.

You will travel with on the ground experts who can ensure that you have access to these incredible sites and learning experiences. Visit the highlights of Iran, including Tehran, Kerman, Shiraz—the city of nightingales and poetry, and Isfahan—the city called Half the World.

Our groups are small, allowing for a more intimate experience, easy communication with your guide, and ease of movement through sites. We operate the tour with a minimum or 6 people and no more than 16. 

Price: $4800 per person, double occupancy, land only, 6 people minimum

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Feb 29: Arrival in Tehran.

Suggested flights: Emirates EK979 departs Dubai DXB at 4:10 pm, arrives in Iran IKA at 5:55 pm, or Lufthansa LH600 departing Frankfurt on the 29th at 5:25pm arrives at IKA 12:55am on March 1st. (Arrivals earlier than 3pm on Feb 29 will be charged an extra day in the hotel.)

Mar 1: Tehran
After breakfast we will begin our sightseeing in Tehran with a visit to the former residence of the last Shah of Iran at Sa’ad-Abad Palace and Museum Complex. After visiting the grounds and museum, we will then go to visit the Imam Khomeini Residence, followed by a visit to the Crown Jewels Museum. On display at the Crown Jewels Museum is an impressive collection of some of the most famous and spectacular jewels in the world including many priceless pieces. Many pieces have disappeared over the years but the remaining collection of gemstones, jewelry, royal emblems, ornamental guns and jewel-encrusted furniture is still impressive. The majority of the items on display were given to Safavid kings as gifts but many pieces taken by Nader Shah on his conquest of India are also exhibited. These include the Darya-e Nur diamond, The Peacock Throne and the Jeweled Globe. Other pieces include the crowns of the Qajar and Pahlavi Kings. Overnight in Tehran.

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Alabaster throne at Golestan Palace

Mar 2: Tehran – Kerman
We will have further visits of Tehran including Golestan Palace, the Archeological Museum, and the Abguineh (Glass & Ceramics) Museum, which houses a valuable collection of pre-Islamic and Islamic glass and ceramics, beautifully displayed and located in an elegant early 20th-century mansion.  In the late afternoon-early evening we will transfer to the domestic airport and fly to Kerman. Overnight in Kerman.

Mar 3: Arg-e-Rayen and Mahan
Today we will have a morning excursion to the village of Rayen, to visit the Arg, or Citadel, of Rayen, a miniature version of the Arg-e-Bam, with all the architectural features of a desert citadel, now on the map as a result of the tragic earthquake in Bam, which destroyed the town and its magnificent citadel in 2003. Rayen is an excellent example of the mud-brick/adobe construction, and this castle is thought to be over 1000 years old. On the return journey to Kerman we will stop at Mahan, to visit the blue-tiled Mausoleum of Shah Nematollah-e-Vali, the great 14th century Sufi Leader, and the Shahzadeh Garden (late 19th century Qajar period garden/house). Return to Kerman to see the Ganj-Ali-Khan Complex (17th century Safavid period bathhouse/caravanserai and bazaar), plus the Friday Mosque and bazaar. Overnight in Kerman.

Mar 4: Drive to Shiraz via Sarvestan
After breakfast we will depart for Shiraz, and en-route visit the remains of the Sassanian Palace at Sarvestan. This fifth century A.D. building is thought by many to be a hunting lodge or small palace built by Bahram V (420-440 A.D.). Continue on to Shiraz for overnight.

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Tomb of Hafez and surrounding gardens

 

Mar 5: Shiraz
We will begin our exploration of this vibrant city with a visit to the tomb of Iran’s greatest lyric poet Hafez. We will visit the grounds and gardens, then we will visit the pink tiled 19th-century Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque and the Arg-e-Karim Khan (18th-century citadel). We will end our day at the Vakil Bazaar of Shiraz for some shopping and people watching. Overnight in Shiraz.

 

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Gates to the ceremonial capital of Persepolis

Mar 6: Persepolis and Nagshe Rostam
Today we begin with a half day excursion to Persepolis, one of the most important sites of the Ancient World, the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings with remains of the palaces of Darius the Great, Xerxes and Artaxerxes, and its famous bas-reliefs, depicting kings and courtiers and gift-bearing representatives of tributary nations of the Persian Empire. We will have plenty of time to wander the site after an overview tour of the many highlights. Afterwards we will have lunch then visit nearby Naghsh-e-Rostam to see Ka’be-Zardosht (fire temple/sanctuary), and Royal Tombs (also Achaemenid). We will also see the series of seven magnificent Sassanian rock-reliefs (including Shapur the First’s famous victory over Roman Emperor Valerian) tucked in a back corner of the site. Return to Shiraz for overnight.

Mar 7: Drive to Yazd, via Pasagardae
After breakfast check out and we drive to Yazd, en-route visiting Pasargadae, the site of the simple, but impressive, tomb and remains of the palaces of Cyrus the Great (the Founder of the Persian Empire). Continue to Yazd with additional stops along the way to stretch our legs and take photos of the natural beauty of Iran, or have a snack. Overnight in Yazd.

Dowlat Abad, Yazd

Dowlat Abad, Yazd

Mar 8: Full day in Yazd
Today we will have a full day sightseeing of sightseeing in Yazd, the center for Iran’s small Zoroastrian community, who seeking refuge from the invading Arabs found a safe haven within its fortified walls. We will visit one of the two Zoroastrian abandoned Towers of Silence (Dakhma), dating back to the 18th century, where until some 50-60 years ago the dead were carried and left to decompose and be devoured by birds, and the active Zoroastrian Fire Temple, the fire of which has been burning for about 1500 years. Among Yazd’s Islamic sites are the Friday Mosque (1324 A.D.) with the highest portal and minarets in Iran and the Mirchachmagh Maidan and Mosque. Other notable Islamic monuments in the old Fahadan area of Yazd are the Seljuk shrine dedicated to the Twelve Shi’ite Imams, and Ziaieyeh Theological School, known as Zendan-e-Eskander or Alexandar’s Prison. There are also many beautiful old houses in Yazd, among them the Dowlat-Abad Garden, with an 18th century feudal hexagonal house. Overnight in Yazd.

Mar 9: Drive to Isfahan via Nain
Drive to Isfahan, via Na’in, a charming desert town, half way between Yazd and Isfahan, to visit the 10th century Friday Mosque, and the 17th century Pirnia House/Ethnographic Museum (closed on Mondays), with a walk through the old part of the town. Continue to Isfahan for overnight.

Shah Mosque at the Nagshe-Jahan Square in Isfahan

Shah Mosque at the Nagshe-Jahan Square in Isfahan

Mar 10: Isfahan
Enjoy a full day tour of the beautiful city of Isfahan, the 17th century capital of the Safavids, referred to as Nesf-e-Jahan (Half of the World) in Safavid sources, to visit the famous bridges of Shahrestan/Khajou/Sio-se-pol, the Armenian Quarter with several churches, including the important Cathedral of Vank. In the afternoon visit one of the world’s grandest squares, the Maidan-e-Naghsh-e-Jahan, with several sites (the Ali-Qapu Palace with its enchanting music rooms and balcony overlooking the Maidan, from where the Safavid Kings watched polo games, and two of Islamic world’s greatest mosques – the Sheikh Lotfollah and the Shah – with magnificent architecture and tilework),. We end the day with a visit to the Qeisarieh Bazaar with hundreds of shops displaying the arts and handicrafts for which Isfahan is world-famous. Overnight in Isfahan.

Mar 11: Isfahan
Another full day sightseeing of Isfahan to visit the magnificent Friday Mosque, with the famous Uljaitu Mihrab (Prayer Niche) of the Il-Khanid period. The Friday Mosque is considered a museum of a thousand years of Persian religious architecture and is truly one of the world’s greatest mosques. From here we drive to the Chehel Sotun Palace, built by Shah Abbas II in the 17th century. Its twenty wooden columns reflected in the surface of the pool give rise to its name ‘The Palace of Forty Columns’. Our final stop of the day is at the Hasht Behesht pavilion built in 1670 by Shah Solayman and known as the Pavilion of Eight Paradises or the Palace of Nightingales. The small but intricate building is set among tree-lined alleys, a reflecting pool and water rills. Overnight in Isfahan. 

Mar 12: Drive to Tehran via Kashan
Morning drive to Tehran, en-route stop over at the charming town of Natanz to visit a beautiful Islamic Complex (Friday Mosque/Monastery/Tomb of Sheikh Abdol Samad Isfahani), on to Kashan to visit the historical garden of Fin which was first planted during the Safavid period and kept alive with water from the nearby Sulaimanieh Spring. This beautiful garden was expanded by the Zand and Qajar monarchs, with many open pavilions added. You will also visit a fine example of a 19th century merchant residence known as Taba-Tabai House with its beautiful stucco dome and inlaid mirror work, with some of the best examples of existing “badgirs” (wind-catchers). Continue to Tehran and drive by the Mausoleum of Imam Khomeini for a photo stop. Overnight in Tehran.

Children playing in the fountains at Fin Garden in Kashan

Children playing in the fountains at Fin Garden in Kashan

Mar 13: Departure

Early morning transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Price: $4800 per person, double occupancy, land only, 6 people minimum

Single Supplement: $500

Included:

  • Applying for visa authorization
  • Accommodation in 5 star or best available hotels, on Full Board basis (all meals beginning with breakfast on March 1), with breakfast at hotels, lunch or dinner at best available local/traditional restaurants, or hotels
  • Restaurant and hotel tips
  • All land transportation in air conditioned coach
  • All transfers to/from airports, and from/to hotels
  • All portages and entrance fees for main sites and excursions
  • English-speaking national guide

Not Included:

  • International air fare – please see suggested flights above, or call our office for assistance in booking flights
  • Flight from Tehran to Kerman – $100 (subject to change until booked)
  • Visa Stamp and processing fee of $200 per person
  • Tips for the guide and driver we suggest $8-$10 for the guide per person, per day [$100+/- for the tour] and $4-$5 for the driver, per person, per day [$50+/- for the tour] $2 for the driver’s assistant if there is one, tips for transfer guide and driver, tips for local guides if there are any
  • Any personal expenses
  • Any expense that is not included in our services

Please Note: When traveling to Iran, Caravan-Serai Tours and our partner in Iran are responsible for your actions while you are in Iran. In order to obtain the visas for our travelers, it is under condition that you will adhere to all the rules and laws pertaining to foreigners, particularly Americans, traveling in Iran. You are required to stay with the group/guide at all times. Transfers by our coordinator in Iran to and from the airport are required – no taxis are allowed. If you have any questions about this please call us. Thank you for your understanding.

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