Recently we had someone call the office who was interested in joining one of our Iran tours, and asked if they could contact a past tour participant to get their feedback about the tour. The client we referred him to was nice enough to share with us what she sent to the prospective traveler, and here it is. If you know someone who is a bit hesitant about traveling to any of our destinations, we are always happy to put you in touch with clients who have already traveled there so you can get their impressions of the tour.
Below is copied from the email she sent:
“I told Maha I would be happy to help you with information because I absolutely LOVED the trip to Iran. I’ve traveled to quite a few countries doing field work as a biologist, and am not normally a “tour” person, but as you know, you need a licensed guide to go to Iran if you’re American. I can’t speak highly enough about the company, our guide Bahman (he was extremely knowledgeable and also quite humorous), the organization of the trip, etc. The hotels were actually nicer than the ones I normally choose when I travel, although the one in Shiraz (which was the nicest one in the city) suffered from a few issues for some people; I believe there were a couple problems with air conditioning, plumbing, etc., though my room was fine. The food was, in general, wonderful, and actually had me longing for a Persian restaurant here at home. Again, there were a couple meals that weren’t quite up to the caliber of the others, but they were rare, and still more than adequate. Our bus was modern and comfortable and the drivers were wonderful. At various times they prepared lovely snacks of fruit and Persian cookies for us while we were touring sites. Bahman was also very generous in buying fruit, nuts, and ice cream for us along the way so that we could munch on the bus or between stops.
I found the people on this tour delightful. They were all very seasoned and intrepid travelers and I felt that, considering a bunch of strangers spent 2 weeks together in a fairly small group, that we got along well.
The only bad thing about the trip was that, while the hotels all had European/American-style toilets, many of the public places we went only had the squat toilets in the floor, which, when clean, were fine, but in some places they weren’t very well-maintained and we dealt with them by jokingly giving them a rating of 1-5 stars, making light of the only part of the trip that wasn’t as comfortable as the rest.
I’ve shown the photos of my trip to several sets of friends and they’ve all been amazed at the sights we saw there. The architecture is beautiful. While I had read that the people are very friendly to Americans, I honestly wasn’t quite prepared for just HOW friendly they would be. At every turn, when people heard us speaking English, we would be stopped and greeted by Iranians, asking us how we liked their country and telling us how happy they were to see American tourists. Many of them wanted their pictures taken with us. One of the tour participants and I were walking around the bazaar in Shiraz together and a local news film crew stopped us and talked to us a bit. They were doing a segment about tourism and asked if we wanted to be filmed for it, so we talked briefly about where we were from, how much we were enjoying the trip, how friendly everyone had been to us, how delicious the food was, etc. I don’t know if it aired, but since there aren’t many American tourists there (yet), I’m hoping it did. We had people offer us food from their picnics, ask us to their homes (which of course we weren’t allowed to visit!), and some older women in black chadors in a car reached out and gave a flower to the elderly woman I mentioned – it actually made her cry. The hospitality was just amazing.
As far as other tour companies, I’m not sure what else you could get that would make the extra expense worthwhile. We stayed in the best hotels or next-to-best hotels everywhere we went, the food was definitely not second-rate, and unless you were guided in a much smaller group or individually, I’m not really sure what could be improved on, but, having not traveled there with another company, I can’t really say.
I hope this is helpful to you in deciding whether to go. Honestly, there are three places I’ve traveled that, if I had unlimited funds and time, I would return to, and Iran is one of them.
If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!”