Iran – Magic of Persia

P1050915-Esfahan, Iran - Naghshe Jahan Square (c) Joe Staiano

Overview

Length: 13 Days
Dates:
May 03 – 15, 2016

Level: Moderate
Walking / Light hiking

Price: From $2,695

Day 1– Tehran
Day 2– Kashan, Isfahan
Day 3– Isfahan
Day 4– Garmeh
Day 5– Yazd
Day 6– Yazd
Day 7– Zeinodin, Caravanserai
Day 8– Kerman
Day 9– Shahdad Desert, Kerman
Day 10– Shiraz
Day 11– Persepolis, Shiraz
Day 12– Shiraz
Day 13– return


Summary

“I am an 80-country explorer, and Iran is easily one of the most magical and fascinating places I’ve ever visited” Meaningful Trip founder, Joe Staiano. “I’ve always dreamed of visiting Iran, having always heard that the people of Persia are some of the most friendly and hospitable on earth. Well, I just visited there recently, and my god, is that an understatement!”

Iran is one of the most fascinating regions in the world to visit. 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites… The history of Persepolis… Museums… world-famous gardens… simple desert beauty… amazing cuisine… outstanding travel photography… clean… safe… and, some of the warmest and most hospitable people on the planet.

Special ‘Founder’s Trip’, May 3, 2016

Exciting chance to join 80-country world explorer, photographer, do-gooder and founder of Meaningful Trip, Joe Staiano.

SAVE Thousands!

Save $3,000 – $4,000 compared to other companies. Meaningful Trip founder, Joe Staiano has personally explored this region and works with the best guides and local travel partners. Your safety and health is our paramount concern. Our 4-star lodging and exclusive desert caravanserai will surround you in comfort, the food is tantalizing, and local female guides will care for you every step of the way.

Responsible Travel – Making it Meaningful

On this trip, its all about getting to know a people and culture, making meaningful people to people connections as well as experiencing cultural events, unique accommodation, amazing cuisine and renowned hospitality. We’ll challenge preconceptions and beyond news headlines and stereotypes. Meaningful Trip absolutely believes that meaningful, socially responsible tourism fosters peace and global understanding. It starts with you… join us.

Reserve Now

Itinerary

Note: Day 1 is the day you arrive and meet the group. This may require departing your hometown a day in advance or on an overnight flight.

Note: May 3, 2016 (Founder’s Trip).
Join world-explorer, do-gooder and Meaningful Trips founder, Joe Staiano

Note: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

P1020840-color

Day 01: Tehran
Arrival at Imam Khomeini airport in early morning. You will be met and transfer to the hotel. After rest, have a half day city tour of Tehran. Visiting National Jewels Museum, owned by Central Bank, most of the collection dates back to Safavid times. Enjoy walking in Park-e Shahr, one of the largest and oldest parks in Tehran. Overnight in Tehran. (Hotel/Dinner included)
Please be informed that:
• Jewelry Museum is closed on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Day 02: Kashan-Isfahan
After breakfast drive toward Isfahan. Visit Kashan enrout, an ancient city in the Isfahan province of Iran, runs along the edge of the central deserts of Iran. Visit some highlights of Kashan such asTabatabaie ha house which is one of the beautiful examples of 19th century houses of merchants in Iran. Then visit Hammam-e Sultan Mir Ahmad. This 500 years old traditional bath is a superb example of an Iranian bathhouse and from its roof you will have a nice panorama of the town. After lunch head to Isfahan and visit historical bridges of Isfahan at night such as Si-o-Se Pole (33 bridges) and Khajoo are two of the eleven bridges of Esfahan. Si o Se Pol means, 33 Bridge, it is the place that almost every visitors of Isfahan had seen , or walked over it, this Historical Bridge was built in about 1600 and can show you best example of Safavid Bridge Design.
Have dinner in one of the oldest hotels in Iran which has been a Caravanserai during Safavid Era. Overnight in Isfahan. (Hotel/Dinner included)

Day 03: Isfahan
Full day city tour of Isfahan including, Naghsh-e Jahaan Square, one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. The square is surrounded by buildings from the Safavid era (1501-1739). Such as Imaam and Sheikh Lotfo-Al-Lah Mosques are two of the architectural masterpieces of Safavid Iranian architecture , Ali Qapu and traditional Bazaar (leisure time for shopping some souvenirs such as inlaid work engravings, woodwork, filigree work, Persian Carpets and miniatures. Local sweets, especially gaz are very delicious and well known through Iran.) , ChehelSotoon (40 Pillars) palaces is a pavilion in the middle of a park at the far end of a long pool. in the afternoon visit Vank Cathedral which was one of the first churches to be established in the city of Isfahan in Jolfa district by Armenian deportees settled by Shah Abbas the first. Overnight in Isfahan.(Hotel)

Day 04: Garmeh
In the morning drive toward Garmeh village. Garmeh is an oasis located in the central desert of Iran, (known as Dashte-Kavir in Persian).Only source of water for the gardens and Date Palm orchards makes this oasis such a special place. During more recent historical times (from about 2000 years ago), the oasis was placed on the main route of the famous Silk Road and therefore the main trading route between China and Europe. You will stay in Ateshooni House, which is a 400 year old house located next to the remains of a Sassanian period citadel in the Oasis of Garmeh. Maziar and his family are originally from this village and live there. They have hosted many visitors from around the world in this unique setting. Their friendly and welcoming style has charmed many visitors since 1999 and they do their utmost to make the visits of their guests memorable by serving homemade delicious traditional Iranian food and entertain them with music performances using traditional Persian and other exotic instruments like the aboriginal didgeridoo. You will explore Garmeh Village in the evening and enjoy the sunset in desert. Overnight in Garmeh. (Local House/Lunch & Dinner included)

Day 05: Yazd
Drive toward Yazd in the morning and have a half day city tour in Yazd. In the evening visit some highlights of Yazd such as Amir Chakhmagh Complex, including a spacious square ringed by water well and an impressive mosque and have a shopping over there. Water Museum, For the lowdown on qanats, head for the impressive Yazd Water Museum , located in a restored mansion that happens to have a qanat or two underneath. Saheb A Zaman Club Zurkhaneh Which is worth seeing both for its Iranian brand of body building and an amazing structure. Take part in to the cooking class with locals in Yazd and learn how to cook an Iranian food. Overnight in Yazd the city of wind towers.(Hotel/Dinner included)

Day 06: Yazd
After breakfast visiting highlights of Yazd such as Congregational Mosque, and the tallest Wind Tower of the world in Dolat Abaad Garden, a residence of Persian regent Karim Khan Zand, was built about 1750 and consists of a small pavilion set amid quiet gardens. In the evening have a leisure time for shopping and walking in old part of Yazd.Overnight in Yazd.(Hotel)

Day 07: Yazd-Zeinoldin Caravanserai

In the morning visit some highlights of Yazd such as Tower of Silence (Dakhmeh) which is a circular, raised structure used by Zoroastrians for exposure of the dead, particularly to scavenging birds. Then visit old Fire Temple which was founded with the financial helps of Yazdi and Indian-based Zoroastrians, the fire of Varahram is burning in a brass cup in a special chamber. After lunch drive drive toward Zeinoldin Caravanserai. The Caravanserai Zeinoldin in Yazd features a rooftop terrace, home-cooked Persian cuisine, and was used as an overnight stop for traders traveling along the Silk Route. (Caravanserai/ Dinner included)

Day 08: Kerman
After breakfast drive toward Kerman early morning. In the evening visit some highlights of Kerman such as Ganjali Khan complex which is composed of a school, a square, a caravanserai, a public bath (located in the grand bazaar of Kerman serves as an anthropology museum today), a water reservoir, a mint house, a mosque and a bazaar, this complex has been built during the Safavid era (1499 – 1723 AD), enjoying a modern architectural style of the time. Visit Shazdeh Garden which is 5.5 hectares with a rectangular shape and a wall around it and ornamented with water fountains that are engined by the natural incline of the land back in to the Qajar dynasty (1794 to 1925). Have dinner in Mahan Garden and enjoy its pleasant weather. Overnight in Kerman.(Hotel/ Dinner included)

Day 09: Shahdad Desert-Kerman

After breakfast visit Yakhdan-e-Moayedi (traditional refrigerator) and an old library in Kerman. Then head to Rayen and visit Rayen Citedel, the medieval mudbrick city of Rayen is similar to the Arg-e Bam city which was destroyed in an earthquake in December 2003. Rayen displays all the architectural elements of a deserted citadel, this citadel back in to Sassanid era (224-651 CE). Have a picnic beside Rayen Water Fall.
In the afternoon drive toward Shahdad City and Lut Desert. Shahadad is located at the edge of Lut desert, from some archaeological evidences of this city, its history back in to the 6000 years ago. There is too many date gardens around this city. Visit Shafi Abad Castle near Shahdad, back in to the Qajar dynasty with its special desert architecture. Then driving toward Lut Desert and enjoy the scene of Nebkas (the flower pots of the desert) en rout, one of the most important accumulations landforms in desert area. You have the chance to walk in Lut Desert, 25th largest desert in the world and one of the world’s driest places. Enjoy impressive land structures carved out of sand hills made by wind called Kalout. Visiting beautiful sunset from kalouts while driving back to Kerman. Overnight in Kerman. (Hotel/Lunch included).

Day 10: Shiraz
Drive toward Shiraz in the morning. Have a lunch box on the way. After rest in Shiraz have dinner in one of the most beautiful houses in Shiraz. Overnight in Shiraz. (Hotel/Lunch & Dinner included)

Day 11: Persepolis-Shiraz
After breakfast driving toward Persepolis, one of the famous heritages in Iran which has been registered in UNESCO list, Persepolis is one of the most impressive sights surviving from antiquity back in to the 2500 years ago. After Persepolis visit Naqsh-e Rostam which is a burial place of four Achaemenid sovereigns .Then driving back to Shiraz. In the Evening visit Hafez mausoleum. He was one of the greatest poets in Iran and his tomb located in a beautiful garden with orange trees, paths, streams, and flower beds. Overnight in Shiraz.(Hotel)

Day 12: Shiraz
In the morning, visit some highlights of Shiraz, the city of flowers, gardens and literature, Eram Garden, the garden traces its history from seljuk period (1040–1196) and much enlarged during the subsequent years, it’s building is one of the most impressive Qajar (1794-1925) structure in Shiraz. Visit Zand Complex including Karimkhan Citadel, Pars Museum, Vakil Traditional Bath, Vakil Mosque and traditional bazaar which are related to the Zand dynasty (1750–79), a dynasty that ruled in Persia from Shiraz. Have a shopping in traditional bazaar. Overnight in Shiraz. (Hotel/ Dinner included)

Day 13:
End of the tour with hotel check out and transfer to Shiraz Airport.

Note on Itinerary

Although we do our best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control. This itinerary will have a very flexible schedule throughout and all participants are asked to have patience and tolerance.

Trip Details

Departures:
May 03 – 15, 2016

Group Size: 4 – 12 persons
Minimum Age: 16 (see below)
7 – 12 persons: $2,695
4 – 6 persons: $2,895

International Airfare not included
Per Person, Double occupancy

Own Room: $300 (see below)
Only for 10 nights total in: Tehran (1), Isfahan (2), Yazd (2), Shiraz (3), Kerman (2)

What’s Included

  • Visa Authorization
  • Airport transfers on first and last day
  • Expert local guides
  • Accommodations, meals, sights, entrance fees as noted in itinerary
  • Ground transportation
  • In-country support team
  • Contribution to Global Giving. (Meaningful Trip is proud to partner with nonprofit, Global Giving, specifically to support hunger and poverty needs in the USA.)

What’s Not Included

  • International airfare
  • Any hotel costs while en route prior to Day 1
  • Meals not noted on itinerary
  • Insurance
  • Tip for your guide (optional)
  • Excess baggage charges; airport taxes
  • Cost of medical immunizations
  • Cost of obtaining a passport
  • Cost of tourist visa
  • Items of a personal nature (sodas, alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.)

Visa Information

A visa is needed for Iran for US citizens. First, visitors must obtain a Visa Authorization number. You must have a valid passport. Passport must be valid for 6 months from the date you enter Iran (start your trip). We ask that all passengers read and familiarize themselves with traveling to Iran guidelines listed in the US Department of State website:
www.travel.state.gov

Air Travel

International airfare is not included. This trip starts in Tehran and ends in Shiraz. Please always check with us before purchasing your airline tickets to verify your arrival and departure schedule and to ensure your trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate. Contact your local travel agent, airline, or preferred on-line booking service for airfare needs. We recommend Turkish Airlines as one possible carrier.

Tier Pricing

Meaningful travel works best with a small group of people and some trips have tier pricing. We initially invoice you at the highest tier level price (the smallest group size we can operate). If the price drops due to an increase in group size, your final invoice will reflect the lower price. Note: trips are priced according to the number of full-price passengers on the trip. (Meaningful Trip staff, travel writers and other discounted travelers are excluded from the count for this purpose.)

Single Travelers

If you specifically request single accommodations, you will be asked to pay the full single supplement noted above. If you wish to share accommodations, we will assign you a same-gender roommate if one is available. If a roommate cannot be found, you will be asked to pay a reduced single fee which is half of the full single supplement. There are only a limited number of single rooms available on most departures.

Single supplement is ONLY for hotel nights in Tehran, Yazd, Isfahan and Shiraz (10 nights total). There are no requested single accommodations in our village homestay in Garmeh and in the Caravanserai.

Customized Private Groups

Family reunions, corporate groups, wedding parties, student groups, church groups, and any groups interested in a customized departure are welcome to contact us.

Private Group Discounts

For private groups with ten full-paying passengers, each person gets $100 off. (international airfare not included).

Payment & Cancellation Policy

Deposit
$500 due at time of reservation. The final balance is due 90 days prior to trip departure.

Cancellation
If you cancel prior to departure (we need written notice), cancellation fees are:

  • 91 or more days… $0
  • 61 to 90 days… $500
  • 31 to 60 days… 50% of Trip Cost
  • 0 to 30 days… 100% of Trip Cost

Insurance

Meaningful Trip requires purchase of travel insurance. Our preferred travel insurance provider is World Nomads. Their ‘Standard’ policy starts at $69 and covers Medical, Trip Cancellation, Baggage, and Emergency Evacuation. Links can be found on our Deposit, Sign-up, and ‘Travel Resources’ pages.

Trip Level and Qualifications

Easy to Moderate
Fit travelers with a sense of adventure are welcome. Travel at a relaxed pace. Activity: easy walking and light hiking from 2 – 5 hours, at low elevation. Travel to Iran requires a certain flexibility and sense of adventure.

Minimum Age: 15
As most all of our travelers are adults, our minimum age on most all trips is 15 years old (unless on a specifically-designated ‘Family Trips’ or ‘Private Trips’). Ages 15 – 20, must be accompanied by an adult.

Tiam

Guide

We really “dig” Tiam! She was born in the garden-city of Shiraz and has a masters in archeology. Tiam has worked in tourism for 8 years as an ecotourism guide and office manager. She loves guiding as it allows her to meet people from all over the world. She is passionate about history and archeology and is working on a thesis about Persian Carpets.

Weather

The spring and fall are the two best times to visit Iran, with sunny days, and low to no rainfall. In the spring (April, May), daytime temperatures are in the high 70’s to 80’s and evenings in the high-50’s. In the fall (September, October), days are typically sunny and clear with daytime temperatures in the high 70’s and nighttime temperature in around 60.

Food in Iran

Ask anyone that has been to Iran about the Persian food and watch their eyes glaze over in rapture. The dishes have influences of Arab, Persian, and Turkish cuisine. Typical breakfasts include: eggs, fresh breads, cheeses, yogurt and olive oil. Tasty salads are popular at lunch.

General Information

This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the Meaningful Trips Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully. Additional pre-departure information including a Packing List, Medical Form and Liability Release Form is emailed upon sign-up.

Signing up is Easy!

A no risk $500 deposit reserves your spot and is 100% fully refundable if you change your mind for any reason at all, more than 90-days out! Call or click today. Reserve your spot. Then leave the rest to us.

Your meaningful trip awaits. Space is limited. Reserve today.

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What We Believe

At our core, we believe that meaningful and responsible tourism is a conduit for peace and global understanding. Way beyond tourism… we gain insight, discover new perspectives, develop lifelong memories, we become change agents for creating a better world.

Making Your Trip to Iran Meaningful

Bear witness to the issues and complexities of this region. Go beyond the news headlines and stereotypes. Come to know and understand this region, its cultures, its land and its people through meaningful and enriching people to people connections.

Our Pledge

All our tours support environmental, economic and social endeavors in the areas we visit. We hire locally. We choose hotels based on their efforts toward sustainability. We promote women’s employment, education and empowerment with all our partners. We support local livelihoods on every element of our tours.

 



Lodging & Amenities

 Hotels are selected for their comfort, service, staff friendliness and uniqueness.  Most hotels will be 4-star.  Rooms will have single or double beds with heat, full toilet bathrooms and other amenities.Enjoy a village homestay in Garmeh. And feel like you are a silk road explorer when you stay overnight in a real caravanserai.

 Food in Iran

Ask anyone that has been to Iran about the Persian food and watch their eyes glaze over in rapture. Over the centuries, ancient Persia (now present-day Iran), invaders and conquerers exposed the area to new customs, beliefs, and foods. The ancient Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Turks are just a few of the groups that have had an influence on Persian food and Iranian culture.  Typical breakfasts include: eggs, fresh breads, cheeses, yogurt and olive oil. Tasty tomato and cucumber salads are popular at lunch.  Typical Persian dinners consist of meat kabobs, rice dishes and tasty vegetarian dishes mixed with various herbs, nuts, fruits such as pomegranates, apricots and raisins, and flavorings such as saffron, lime and cinnamon.

Some popular dishes:

Breads
Nan (Naan) bread is found at every meal and comes in several varieties:  Barbari (thick oval-shaped), Lavash (thin and flaky), Sangak (triangle-shaped) and Taftoon (a little thicker than Lavash).

Mains:

Kabob: Long strips of minced lamb, chicken, or beef grilled over a fire and served alongside charred tomatoes, rice sprinkled with sumac, a parsley salad, and flatbread.

Fesenjoon: Stewed pomegranate puree, ground walnuts, chopped onions, with cubes of chicken or meat.

Sweets:

Kolompe: Traditional sweet date-filled cookie.

Faludeh: Frozen sorbet made with thin starch noodles and rose water.

Drink:

Doogh: A sour drink mixing yogurt, mint and cucumber

Embassies

US embassies abroad
Foreign embassies located in USA

Passports

US State Department (passports) – Everything you need to know about passports.

Visas Link

US State Department (visas) – Visa and entry & exit requirements

Visa Services

Zierer Visa Services – ZVS has offices in San Francisco, New York, Houston, Miami, Washington DC, and Florida

Destination Information

Geographia – This site contains concise profiles of major countries in Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, and Latin America. Provides information on: geography, climate, culture, people, history.

World Time

TheTimeNow.com – Find out what time it is, anywhere in the world.

Money Matters

Currency Converter

Health Information

Information on vaccines and advice on how to stay healthy while traveling.

Center for Disease Control – Travel health information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Includes reference material and recommendations by geographic region.

High Altitude Issues

ISMM, International Society for Mountain Medicine – Comprehensive information on Acclimatization and Acute Mountain Sickness, including prevention, recognition, and treatment of altitude illness.

Weather

Intellicast Weather Site – This site gives current weather all over the world, as well as historic average temperatures and rainfall, and sunrise/sunset, moonrise/moonset, and the phases of the moon.

Clothing & Gear

Meaningful Trip’s recommended outdoor retailers specializing in adventure and responsible travel.

Altrec – The number one source for all your favorite outdoor adventure brands including Mountain Hardwear, Arc’Teryx, Mountainsmith, Oakley, Marmot and many more! A true leader in online shopping.

Columbia Sportswear – “Trying stuff takes us to places we never imagined”

Dana Design – At Dana Design, we seek comfort for those who travel far. It’s why serious trekkers aren’t just partial to Dana Design. They’re devoted.

EagleCreek – Eagle Creek offers the most comprehensive selection of packs, wheeled luggage, duffels, packing, and travel accessories.

ExOfficio – Ex Officio’s adventure travel and urban travel clothing collections are designed to play an active role in your comfort when traveling. The perfect blend of function, low maintenance and multi-climate comfort for everything from hiking, rafting, safaris and cultural tours.

Kelty – Manufacturer of quality outdoor apparel, backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, travel gear and child carriers.

The NorthFace – The North Face provides an extensive line of performance clothing, equipment and footwear.

Patagonia – Patagonia is world famous for its quality clothing and gear. MeaningfulTrip loves Patagonia for their environmentalism and their 1% for the planet program.

Salomon – Find out why their boots are the best in the business.

Teva Footwear – Teva Footwear. Buy your Tevas direct from Teva.com. Select from over 100 models.

Books & Maps

Lonely Planet – With content sections labeled The Thorn Tree, World Guide, On the Road, and The Scoop, you know Lonely Planet’s site is much more than just their terrific guidebooks.

Maps – An online World Atlas which covers 7 continents, 12 regions, 190 countries, and 50 US States.
Activity Levels and Qualifications

Activity Levels

Easy
All welcome. Travel at a relaxed pace. May include driving of 3 – 4 hours on some days. Activity: easy walking and light hiking, 1 – 3 hours, at low elevation. May include less demanding, half-day trips that may include: bicycling, sea kayaking, or rafting (Class I-II rapids), and these activities are optional. Minimum Age: 16* (see note below).

Moderate
Recommended for fit travelers with a spirit of adventure. Travel at a moderate pace. Activity: moderate walking and hiking, 3 – 4 hours daily, at elevations which may range from 5,000 – 10,000 feet. May include less demanding half-day or day-trips that may include: bicycling, sea kayaking, or rafting (Class I-II rapids), and these activities are optional. May include driving of 3 – 4 hours on some days.

Minimum Age: 16* (see below).

Vigorous
Recommended for fit travelers. Moderate hiking experience and conditioning are required. Activity: 5 – 8 hours trekking daily at high elevation, while carrying your own small daypack (water, essentials and warm layers). Surfaces: mountainous, exposed terrain with steep ascents/descents and uneven trails. Elevations: will range from 6,000 – 14,000 feet. It is important that you read our information about Altitude Mountain Sickness. A doctor’s release is required for persons age 60 or older. Minimum Age: 16 (see below).

Strenuous
Designed for very fit travelers. Typically, for extended high-altitude trekking or mountaineering. Activity: 8+ hours/day. Distances: Trek 10 – 12 miles most days. Elevation change: up to 4,000 ft/day. Altitude: may exceed 15,000 ft. Surfaces: remote, mountainous, exposed terrain with steep ascents/descents, uneven trails with loose features. Experience and conditioning required. A doctor’s release is required for all participants. Minimum age: 18.

Minimum Age

As most of our travelers are adults, our minimum age on all trips is 16 years old (unless on a specifically-designated ‘Private Group Departure’ or ‘Family Departure’). Ages 16 – 20, must be accompanied by an adult.

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