Western Iran 15 day tour

“An extraordinary journey through the lesser-known cultural pearls of ancient Iran. Explore six UNESCO World Heritage Sites including Choga Zanbil on a tour of western Iran ideal for the adventurous and curious traveller.”

Highlights

Tehran tour | Museum of Contemporary Art | Mount Darband | Soltaniyeh mausoleum | Qazvin | Zanjan | Takht-e Soleyman | Saqqez | Marivan | Lake Zarivar | Palangan | Howraman | Ali Sadr Cave | Hamadan | Ganjnameh | Hegmataneh | Kangavar | Bisotun | Anahita Temple | Kermanshah | Khoramabad | Choga Zanbil ziggurat | Masjed Soleyman | Eshkaft-i Soleyman | Hong-e Nowrozi| Chelgerd | Isfahan |

Description of Western Iran 15 day tour

Departing from more conventional itineraries, this two-week tour of western Iran takes you to parts of the country and landmarks that most visitors miss. Travelling as part of a small group, you’ll journey from Tehran to Ishfahan, the former Safavid capital, staying in locally owned hotels, and accompanied throughout by knowledgeable guides.

An early highlight comes as you leave Tehran for Zanjan, stopping along the way the mausoleum of Soltaniyeh, a masterpiece of Islamic and Persian architecture, and justly a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other treasures rapidly follow, in the shape of the temples and palaces of Takht-e Soleyman, and the stunning Lake Zarivar.

The labyrinthine hilltop village of Palangan is a joy to explore, with the roof of each house serving as a courtyard for its upper neighbour. There are also many fascinating archaeological gems to admire, most notably the carvings of Ganjnameh , and those of Bisotun, dating back to 521BC and another World Heritage Site.

From lakes hidden in vast caves to the amazing ziggurat of Choga Zanbil and the Sassanid bridge over the river Kashkan, Iran never ceases to enthral you. And all this accompanied by cultural encounters, such as the chance of meeting the mountain nomads around Chelgerd, and exquisite Persian cuisine throughout.

This trip involves some long drives through challenging terrain, but for those up for the adventure, it will prove incredibly rewarding. The warmth and hospitality of Iranian people, coupled with sublime scenery, make it well worth heading ‘off piste’ for a while.

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Western Iran 15 day tour

Environment

We have a strict environmental policy to make sure that the environments we visit are not damaged or spoilt in any way. Our “Leave No Trace” ethic is applied to this trip and as tour operators, it is something we are careful to promote. Your guide on this trip will have been trained to uphold this policy and all clients are fully briefed on appropriate/responsible behaviour whilst in wilderness areas.

Through visiting UNESCO world heritage sites like the Soltaniyeh mausoleum on day 3 of the tour, we are making a contribution and showing appreciation for the restoration and conservation of some of the most impressive Persian and Islamic architecture in Iran. It is also worth noting that this particular itinerary is extremely off-the-beaten track and so the sites and museums we visit are much less frequented than those within central and northern Iran. By taking a smaller group of intrepid travellers to regions farther-a-field we are reducing the environmental pressures on major cities and popular destinations elsewhere in Iran.

Travelling in somewhat barren, volcanic landscapes – this trip offers you the rare occasion to experience a very different side to Iran and to sample some of the magnificent scenery it offers. As part of our environmental responsibilities we do try where possible to use eco-friendly modes of exploration. There is plenty of wandering on foot to be had in and around Tehran whilst exploring the foothills of Mt Darband or visiting Lake Zarivar on day 5 near the Kurdish town of Marvan. Not only does walking on foot enable closer interaction with nature and less impact on your surroundings but it increases chance encounters with nomads and locals like the walks in and around Palangan on day 6.

When you take one of our trips, we make a contribution to “Carbon Clear” – an organisation devoted to ‘offsetting’ or ‘neutralising’ harmful greenhouse gas emissions caused by your flight. This is done by funding projects across the world that will reduce greenhouse gases on your behalf through sustainable energy or rainforest restoration.

Community

Throughout Iran we use local ground handlers – this means that all the operational costs go directly into the local economy and helps to improve employment opportunities in remote regions. By incorporating locally owned hotels, local restaurants and the services of guides and drivers into our itineraries, we ensure that the money you spend on your trip goes directly into the local economy and local communities benefit from tourism.

We believe there is a lot to gain from engagement with local communities. Not only is this a great opportunity to learn about local culture, traditions and history but it is a chance to give something back to the country we are visiting and to demonstrate support for local people. By visiting smaller, more remote communities on this trip like the minority Kurdish population in Howraman on days 6-7 and the Bakhtiari nomads in Chelgerd on day 13, travellers will get a feel for the differing lifestyles of Iranian people. On this particular itinerary there is plenty of time allocated to meet welcoming and friendly locals and see the Country from their point of view. It is also important to note that in support and respect of local customs in Iran, we ask all travellers to dress appropriately and adhere to Iranian dress code so as not to offend locals and blend in with daily life in Iran.

We consider it of paramount importance to deepen our travellers’ awareness for a community’s history as this in turn allows for a sounder understanding of regional development, culture and tradition. This itinerary is filled with excursions to visit unique historic, religious and culturally important sites. Be it the mausoleum at Soltaniyeh, the bas-relief carvings at Bisotun or the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Takht-e-Soleyman, there will be plenty of opportunity to experience first-hand some of the less-visited and best-preserved archaeological and architectural wonders of Iran, which in turn helps with their preservation.

In order to facilitate an enduring support structure for the communities we visit, and to show a commitment to these values, in January 2009 we set up a charitable foundation through which we can directly channel funds to both existing NGOs and our own development projects. In addition to organising ethically sensitive tours, having our own charitable foundation allows us to raise money – through the cost of our tours, charity trips and fund raising events – which can then be used to fund various projects in education, sanitation, reforestations and a number of other important issues facing developing communities.

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