Iran Express
from $1776
Duration: 9 Days
Embark on a compact nine-day journey through Iran. Not only is this fascinating country a world apart from what’s often represented in the international media – it’s a delight to visit in the winter. Discover refined cities, colourful bazaars, ancient Persian ruins, and shimmering deserts. Whether you're relaxing in a teahouse in Tehran, enjoying guided tours of ancient cultural sites, or hanging out a local board game cafe in Shiraz, the warmth and hospitality of the Iranian people and the profound beauty of their land is mesmerising.
  • Be invited into an Esfahan home for dinner and savour traditional, long-simmering and lovingly prepared Iranian dishes along with incredible hospitality.
  • Explore the ancient ruins of Persepolis on a guided tour that will take you back in time, to an era when the city was the centre of the ancient world.
  • Travelling with a local leader means more opportunities to visit real local hangouts, like a boardgame cafe popular with young folk in Shiraz where you spend a night mingling.
  • Learn some of the secrets of Iranian cuisine during a hand-on cooking lesson in Shiraz, crafting dishes using local ingredients.
  • Wander alleyways lined with mud-brick buildings in Yazd and wonder at ingenious windcatchers – high, hollow towers that provide ventilation to the traditional buildings in this dry desert city.
  • Tehran - Tabiat Nature Bridge
  • Tehran - Iran National Museum
  • Yazd - Jameh Mosque of Yazd
  • Yazd - Water Museum
  • Yazd - Fire Temple and Towers of Silence visit
  • Yazd - Amir Chakmaq visit
  • Shiraz - Home cooked meal
  • Abarkuh - Cypress of Abarkuh
  • Abarkouh - Ice Houses
  • Shiraz - Nasir al Molk Mosque
  • Shiraz - City tour
  • Shiraz - Vakil Bazaar
  • Shiraz - Shahcheragh guided tour
  • Shiraz - Hafez Tomb
  • Persepolis - Entrance and Guided tour
  • Esfahan - Home cooked meal
  • Esfahan - Chehel Sotun Palace
  • Esfahan - City walking tour
  • Esfahan - Imam Square
  • Esfahan - Shah Mosque
  • Day 1 Location: Tehran
    Salaam! Welcome to Iran. Home to 15 million people, Tehran is exciting, noisy and chaotic, and where the country's true national identity is found. Expect to see women wearing full-length chador competing for space with young girls in figure-hugging manteau and headscarves. The locals love nothing more than to chat, so prepare to be stopped to discuss anything and everything. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at midday on day 1. Afterwards, head out with your group to visit the Iran National Museum and be at its priceless pieces. Later, during your free time, maybe try some fine Iranian cuisine like dizi (soup stew mashed into paste) while enjoying traditional music at a local restaurant.
    Day 2 Location: Yazd
    Enjoy a later start to your morning before heading out to explore the covered Grand Bazaar of Tehran. With corridors over 10 kilometres long, it could take a while. This is a great place to buy dried fruit, nuts or sweets for your train journey this evening. With your free time this afternoon, maybe ask your leader to show you the way to the magnificent Golestan Palace and be sure to get their tips on which of the sections are worth paying entry for. Glitz and glamour can also be found in spades at the National Jewelry Treasury, where historic and opulent pieces are on display in an over-the-top setting. Transfer to the train station later this afternoon for the 5-hour journey to Yazd. Arrive and transfer to your hotel.
    Day 3 Location: Yazd
    This ancient desert city was a major stop on the caravan routes to Central Asia and India during the Silk Road period and it still retains a rustic feel. Yazd is also the heart of Zoroastrian religion, which you'll learn more about during visits to the Fire Temple and Towers of Silence. The fires within the Fire Temple are said to have continuously burned since AD 470. Enjoy a hearty local breakfast then set out on a walking tour to visit the Jamesh Mosque and the older parts of the city. Walk the narrow kuches (lanes) past simple courtyards and ornate doors on mud-brick buildings. One of the most distinctive features of Yazd is the presence of wind towers, that capture the softest of breezes and send them to the buildings below in a forerunner of modern air-con. The water museum shows how the underground channels brought water to the city from the mountains for thousands of years.
    Day 4 Location: Shiraz
    Say farewell to Yazd and travel by private bus to Shiraz, the city of poets. The trip will take approximately 5.5 hours and you'll pass through some incredible desert scenery on the way. After arriving in Shiraz, head out for dinner. This, however, is dinner with a difference – you'll make it yourself while learning some of the secrets of Persian cuisine.
    Day 5 Location: Shiraz
    Rise early and drive to the ruins of Persepolis, an ancient city that was sacked by Alexander the Great. It was once the centre of the Persian Empire, one of the truly great cities of the world, which took 150 years to build under the reign of Darius I. The imposing gateways, exquisite carvings and towering columns will leave you in doubt that this was once the centre of the ancient world. Return to Shiraz and spend the afternoon on a walking tour, visiting Nasir-al-molk mosque and Shahcheragh, one of the most important and beautiful shrines in Iran.
    Day 6 Location: Esfahan
    This morning we highly recommend an early return visit to Nasir-al-molk mosque, where the morning light provides a quite incredible glow in the building. Then it's back on the bus for a 5.5 hour journey to Esfahan, one of the finest cities in the Middle East. A 16th-century rhyme called it 'half the world' and, after spending a few days here, you may well agree. There are many fine Islamic buildings covered with the blue mosaic tiles Iran is famous for, as well as an enormous bazaar, superb palaces, tranquil gardens and picturesque bridges crossing the Zayandehrud. Arrive in the later afternoon and visit the picturesque Safavid Chehelsotoon Palace and then, in the evening, enjoy a home-cooked meal with a local family. Being invited into an Iranian's home for dinner is a highlight for most travellers, and the traditional food is carefully prepared for hours, sometimes even days. Prepare yourself for plenty of food and some truly incredible hospitality.
    Day 7 Location: Esfahan
    Spend today discovering the wonders of Esfahan. You'll have plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere during a tour, starting at the immense Imam Square, which covers an area of 82,500 square metres and is the second-largest square in the world. Many grand buildings surround the square, including the Ali Qapu Palace, which covers six floors and was originally built as the main palace of Shah Abbas. Continue on to the atmospheric bazaar, complete with exotic scents and spices, musical merchants' cries and, of course, thousands of locals bargaining at the stalls. Walk the covered lanes of the sprawling marketplace, where shafts of light filter through ceiling and lattice, then visit the astonishing Armenian Vank Church before an evening stroll along the river.
    Day 8 Location: Tehran
    Journey from Esfahan to Tehran after breakfast, (5 hours). Join your new travel companions for an optional dinner with the group at a local restaurant this evening.
    Day 9 Location: Tehran
    There are no activities planned for the final day and you are free to depart at anytime. Check out time at the hotel is 12 pm.
    Dates
    Prices
    Availability
    Departure Date:
    21DEC2019
    Return Date:
    29DEC2019
    2865NZD
    not available
    Departure Date:
    25JAN2020
    Return Date:
    02FEB2020
    2090NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    22FEB2020
    Return Date:
    01MAR2020
    2255NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    07MAR2020
    Return Date:
    15MAR2020
    2185NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    31OCT2020
    Return Date:
    08NOV2020
    2145NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    14NOV2020
    Return Date:
    22NOV2020
    2145NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    05DEC2020
    Return Date:
    13DEC2020
    2145NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    19DEC2020
    Return Date:
    27DEC2020
    2145NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    23JAN2021
    Return Date:
    31JAN2021
    2090NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    13FEB2021
    Return Date:
    21FEB2021
    2090NZD
    available
    Last modified (date)

    14 Dec 2019

    Trip title

    Iran Express

    Trip code

    HPSW

    Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020

    Introduction

    Embark on a compact nine-day journey through Iran. Not only is this fascinating country a world apart from what’s often represented in the international media – it’s a delight to visit in the winter. Discover refined cities, colourful bazaars, ancient Persian ruins, and shimmering deserts. Whether you're relaxing in a teahouse in Tehran, enjoying guided tours of ancient cultural sites, or hanging out a local board game cafe in Shiraz, the warmth and hospitality of the Iranian people and the profound beauty of their land is mesmerising.

    Style

    Original

    Themes

    Explorer

    Transport

    Private Vehicle,Train

    Physical Rating

    2

    Physical preparation

    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.

    Joining point

    Roudaki Hotel

    12 Shahriar Street

    Tehran

    IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF

    Alternate Joining point

    For trips departing on the following dates, use this joining point.

    25 Jan 2020 (HPSW200125), 22 Feb 2020 (HPSW200222), 07 Mar 2020 (HPSW200307), 31 Oct 2020 (HPSW201031), 14 Nov 2020 (HPSW201114), 05 Dec 2020 (HPSW201205), 19 Dec 2020 (HPSW201219)

    Roudaki Hotel

    12 Shahriar Street

    Tehran

    IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF

    Alternate Joining point description

    The Roudaki Hotel is located in the heart of Tehran. Museums, shopping malls, recreation centres and palaces are all within easy access. The hotel boasts a restaurant on the ground floor with a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere serving a variety of Persian dishes, noodles and seafood. WiFi is available throughout the hotel. The hotel has 48 suites, all with 40 square meters of space. The rooms are all equipped with a LCD TV, free WiFi, 24-hour central air-conditioning, refrigerator, safe box and more.

    Alternate Joining point instructions

    A private arrival transfer is included on this trip. Please ensure you have provided your booking agent with your flight details at least 30 days prior to travelling to Iran and that this transfer is confirmed. If you are travelling on a British, US or Canadian passport, you must pre-arrange private transfers through Intrepid Travel. On arrival you may be asked to fill out a standard customs declaration form, which you show to the customs officer, who stamps it. It’s best that you keep this form until you leave Iran. Please look out for our transfer operator after clearing customs, who will be holding a sign with your name.

    Finish point

    Roudaki Hotel

    12 Shahriar Street

    Tehran

    IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF

    Alternate Finish point

    For trips departing on the following dates, use this finish point.

    25 Jan 2020 (HPSW200125), 22 Feb 2020 (HPSW200222), 07 Mar 2020 (HPSW200307), 31 Oct 2020 (HPSW201031), 14 Nov 2020 (HPSW201114), 05 Dec 2020 (HPSW201205), 19 Dec 2020 (HPSW201219)

    Roudaki Hotel

    12 Shahriar Street

    Tehran

    IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF

    Alternate Finish point description

    The Roudaki Hotel is located in the heart of Tehran. Museums, shopping malls, recreation centres and palaces are all within easy access. The hotel boasts a restaurant on the ground floor with a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere serving a variety of Persian dishes, noodles and seafood. WiFi is available throughout the hotel. The hotel has 48 suites, all with 40 square meters of space. The rooms are all equipped with a LCD TV, free WiFi, 24-hour central air-conditioning, refrigerator, safe box and more.

    Alternate Finish point instructions

    We highly recommend you arrange a private departure transfer through Intrepid Travel. If you are travelling on a British, US or Canadian passport, you must pre-arrange private transfers through Intrepid. Taxis can be arranged for around USD$50. The trip can take up to two hours depending on the time of your onwards flight and subsequent traffic conditions. 2020 Departures will include a departure transfer.

    Important information

    1. Single Supplement - A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information. 2. Welcome Meeting - There is a welcome meeting at midday (12.00 pm) on day one of this trip, please check in the hotel lobby for a welcome notice. 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. 8.Safety - We recommend that before your departure you check your government's latest travel advice for information on travelling in Iran and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas of your itinerary. We have links to prominent government travel advisories and regular updates on issues affecting this trip on our Travel Alerts page: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/en/travel-alerts

    Group leader

    All Intrepid 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. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region 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. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

    Safety

    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.

    Visas

    PASSPORT 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 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. IRAN: Most foreign visitors require a visa to enter Iran. Please be aware that this can be a frustrating and stressful process, and can take from 6-8 weeks. You will need to allow sufficient time for this and plan any other travel around your Iran trip accordingly. 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). If you are travelling on UK, USA or CANADIAN passport please be aware that your visa process can take longer due to government regulations. Please check that you will have sufficient time to obtain a visa before departure. 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. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/iran-visa-application-form

    Why we love it

    Be invited into an Esfahan home for dinner and savour traditional, long-simmering and lovingly prepared Iranian dishes along with incredible hospitality.

    Explore the ancient ruins of Persepolis on a guided tour that will take you back in time, to an era when the city was the centre of the ancient world.

    Travelling with a local leader means more opportunities to visit real local hangouts, like a boardgame cafe popular with young folk in Shiraz where you spend a night mingling.

    Learn some of the secrets of Iranian cuisine during a hand-on cooking lesson in Shiraz, crafting dishes using local ingredients.

    Wander alleyways lined with mud-brick buildings in Yazd and wonder at ingenious windcatchers – high, hollow towers that provide ventilation to the traditional buildings in this dry desert city.

    Is this trip right for you

    One of the biggest misconceptions is that Iran is an unfriendly or unsafe country for visitors – this couldn't be further from the truth. See the ‘Safety’ section of the Essential Trip Information for more. 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. On arrival in Iran, all women must wear a headscarf and must also have their arms and legs covered. Men should wear long trousers and have shoulders 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. Pork, material deemed obscene by Iranian law (which can include non-pornographic materials like fashion magazines), and controversial literature will all be confiscated by custom officials. As a foreigner you will likely be whisked through customs, but random bag checks do occur. 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 the elements. Iran is a big country and this trip covers a lot in nine days, so be prepared for some long days on the road with lots of opportunity to take in the great landscapes or catch up on some sleep. Please note that we use a local supplier for our arrival transfer. As tourism is a developing industry in Iran, it is possible your driver will not speak English.

    Health

    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. DRINKING WATER: 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.

    Money matters

    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. MEALS NOT INCLUDED Depending on the style of trip you have chosen (Basix, Original or Comfort), included meals will vary. Breakfast. If breakfast is not included, you can expect to pay between USD5 to USD10 at a local café. Lunch. Lunch at a touristy restaurant should cost around USD10 to USD20. However, local street food can be substantially cheaper. Dinner. At dinner time, your leader will normally recommend restaurants where you can safely try the local specialties of the region. Expect meals to cost between USD15 to USD25 for a main. These are indicative prices only. If you are in a tight budget and are happy to eat just local food you can eat cheaper than this. If you want to try the finest food at the finest restaurants, then you can expect meals to cost as much as in western countries. TIPPING Known as 'baksheesh' in the Middle East, tipping is a part of everyday life and is more than just a reward for services rendered. In countries where wages are extremely low it is an essential means of supplementing income. This practice is not merely reserved for foreigners and locals have to constantly hand out 'Baksheesh' as well - to park their cars, ensure fresh produce and pick up their mail. If you are satisfied with the services provided, a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate and always appreciated. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. 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. TIPPING GUIDE 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. - Local guides – Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest USD2 to USD3 per person, per day for local guides. - 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. EMERGENCY FUNDS 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. CREDIT CARD, ATMS AND MONEY EXCHANGE With the exception of Iran, ATMs are widely available in major towns and cities throughout the Middle East and Turkey. Credit and debit cards are the best way to access money throughout most trips (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Credit cards are generally available in tourist shops and restaurants. Visa and Mastercard are generally preferred over American Express, Diners, etc. Smaller venues take cash only. Check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions. Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to USD100 per day. 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. • Daypack • 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. LUGGAGE LIMIT: 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. VALUABLES: 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. BATTERIES/POWER: 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. RESTRICTED ITEMS 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 RAMADAN 2020 In 2020, the important month of Ramadan will start from the 24th of April and will continue for 30 days until Saturday, the 23rd of May. The Eid ul-Fitr festival 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 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

    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.

    Feedback

    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. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

    Emergency contact

    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

    Responsible travel

    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: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller 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.

    The Intrepid Foundation

    Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation are matched by Intrepid Group dollar for dollar (up to AU$10,000 per donor and AU$500,000 in total each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And because Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

    Accommodation notes

    HEATING AND AIR-CONDITIONING: As a desert region, this part of the world has extremes of weather. Winter months (approx December to March) can be very cold. All of our hotel accommodation contains suitable bedding, and simple light bedding is provided during camping activities such as an overnight felucca, desert camps or at the Red Sea Beach camp stay. Most of our travellers find the bedding provided here adequate, but for your own comfort and if you are particularly sensitive to the cold, consider bringing your own sleeping bag, thermals, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket. Some of our guesthouses / hotels don't supply heating. In many cases this would be a major financial and environmental strain on our hotels and the local towns. Summer (approx June to August) can be very hot everywhere we travel, which means that it can be quite uncomfortable for those not used to the heat. Not all our hotels have air-conditioning, and in those that do, it's not always functioning. ACCOMMODATION Accommodation on this trip is on a twin-share basis unless stated otherwise. If you require a double bed please request this with your booking agent. Double beds are subject to availability and can not always be guaranteed.

    Transport notes

    There are some long travel days and some rough travelling in areas away from main tourist routes. Windy roads, rough surfaces and cramped conditions make for some challenging travel experiences. On some long travel days we depart early in the morning to ensure we optimise our time at our next destination. If you experience travel sickness we recommend you consider medication to help ease the discomfort. SECURITY WHILE TRAVELLING: Occasionally you may experience armed security and convoys between select towns or regions. Convoys are used to ensure all travellers are transported safely and, in many cases, tourists are only allowed to travel in scheduled convoys of buses and jeeps. On rare occasions you may have an armed guard in your vehicle. We want to warn you so you are not alarmed. This is a practice designed to keep tourists safe, although at time it can appear a little overkill.

    Travel insurance

    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. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php

    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. SINGLE TRAVELLERS: 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.

    Itinerary disclaimer

    ITINERARY CHANGES: 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. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: 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. DEPOSITS 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.

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