The Tour Price displayed here is for the tour only and does not include international flights. Our flight prices are very competitive, please ask for a quote when making your booking
This trip is an overland trip run in an overland truck. In addition to paying for your trip, you're require to make a separate payment to your tour leader at the start of the trip, usually in USD. Kitties are flexible and change as prices are updated. Therefore you should check the latest kitty amount on this website before you depart.
A kitty is a group fund which covers all accommodation, meals while camping (not in hotels) and activities listed as included. It's a system unique to overlanding to provide the maximum flexibility and best value on the road (you get everything at cost price!). The kitty is your money, not ours, so any amount left over is divided among the group as a refund.Close
|Trip Code||Start Date||End Date||Currency||Kitty|
|Saturday 22 Jun 2013||Saturday 29 Jun 2013|
|Saturday 06 Jul 2013||Saturday 13 Jul 2013|
|Saturday 17 Aug 2013||Saturday 24 Aug 2013|
|Saturday 31 Aug 2013||Saturday 07 Sep 2013|
|Saturday 14 Sep 2013||Saturday 21 Sep 2013|
|Saturday 28 Sep 2013||Saturday 05 Oct 2013|
|Saturday 12 Oct 2013||Saturday 19 Oct 2013|
|Saturday 26 Oct 2013||Saturday 02 Nov 2013|
|Saturday 09 Nov 2013||Saturday 16 Nov 2013|
|Saturday 23 Nov 2013||Saturday 30 Nov 2013|
|Saturday 07 Dec 2013||Saturday 14 Dec 2013|
|Saturday 14 Dec 2013||Saturday 21 Dec 2013|
|Saturday 21 Dec 2013||Saturday 28 Dec 2013|
|Saturday 04 Jan 2014||Saturday 11 Jan 2014|
|Saturday 18 Jan 2014||Saturday 25 Jan 2014|
|Saturday 01 Feb 2014||Saturday 08 Feb 2014|
|Saturday 15 Feb 2014||Saturday 22 Feb 2014|
|Saturday 01 Mar 2014||Saturday 08 Mar 2014|
|Saturday 15 Mar 2014||Saturday 22 Mar 2014|
|Saturday 29 Mar 2014||Saturday 05 Apr 2014|
|Saturday 12 Apr 2014||Saturday 19 Apr 2014|
|Saturday 26 Apr 2014||Saturday 03 May 2014|
|Saturday 10 May 2014||Saturday 17 May 2014|
|Saturday 24 May 2014||Saturday 31 May 2014|
|Saturday 07 Jun 2014||Saturday 14 Jun 2014|
|Saturday 21 Jun 2014||Saturday 28 Jun 2014|
The welcoming nature of Iranian locals brings you to a world of culture that has to be embraced.
In the heart of the country lies one of the largest cities in Western Asia; Tehran. It is a city full of amazing sites to admire. The Milad Tower stretches up to a fantastic height of over 400 metres and is one of the tallest freestanding structures in the world. It's octagonal base is a traditional symbol of Persian architecture. Tehran has many art galleries and lots of wonderful restaurants. In these restaurants comes the lovely food of Iran. Often said to be the national dish of the country, Ghormeh Sabzi is made with curried vegetables and is served with Tadik, better known as crunchy rice. Usually there are many dishes that are served at one meal. This is a sign of the welcoming gesture by Iranians, who are famous for their hospitality.
One of the main cultural highlights in Iran is Persepolis. Darius I built Persepolis around 500 BC as his empire's ceremonial capital and its wealth and opulence became legendary. Alexander the Great destroyed the city in 330 BC, but even today its past splendour is easily appreciated from the ruins that remain.
Iran has many forests that stretch thousands of miles across the country, and are home to some of the world's rarest animals. Iran is the home to the largest species of leopard, Asiatic cheetah and many types of birds.
Iran is a country full of pride and history. It is the birthplace of the sport polo, which dates back to the first century and was used as training for the king's troops. Now known all over the world, it is a sport Iran can say they have shared. The music in Iran is also another part of their proud history, and it dates back thousands of years. Opera is another worldwide phenomenon that was originally from Iran. The music industry is diverse, from traditional folk music to a thriving hip hop scene. Despite what western media would show, modern Iran is a mix of traditional values and 21st century culture.
The most important festival in Iran is Persian New Year; this is on March 21st and celebrates the beginning of spring. Families gather together and the symbol of fire represents the start of the new day.
With such beautiful courtesy and welcoming gestures, Iran is one of the friendliest places in Asia to visit.
Travel to Tehran, the chaotic capital of Iran. Venture through teeming bazaars and chaotic streets to the ornate Golestan Palace. The exquisite marbled terraces, artistic treasures and gilded mirrors all attest to the power and influence of the Qajar rulers.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 12 noon on Day 1.
Discover the ancient ceremonial capital of Persepolis on a guided tour and perhaps experience the riches of Iranian culture in a traditional teahouse.
Fly from Tehran to Shiraz (approx 1 hour).
The Iranian city of Shiraz is located in an attractive valley, once well known for the wine that was produced here. It is widely considered to be the intellectual capital of the country and the heart of Persian culture and tradition, having once been the capital of the Islamic world during medieval times. The city has been the home of many important Persian poets and there is still a vibrant arts scene here today. If you're interested in seeing the work of some young Iranian artists, stop off at Khan-e Zinat ol-Molk, near the Orange Garden, as many of the beautifully decorated rooms here are used as galleries. Wandering the streets here can be an enjoyable way to discover the city, getting lost in the Bazaar and admiring the impressive arcitecture, particularly some of the incredible Mosques and shady gardens.
Enjoy an overnight stay with local nomads in a communal tent.
Leaving Shiraz, our first stop is Iran's premier attraction, Persepolis.
Get off the beaten track with a visit to the town of Eghlid, dramatically perched between the desert and the mountains.
Eghlid acted as the main gateway from the north to Persepolis in ancient times, as other routes were mountainous and difficult to pass. Some of the surrounding mountain peaks are covered by snow throughout the year. We visit Sassanid empire ruins dating back 1800 years, a Zoroastrian 'tower of silence' and the sacred shrine of Eghlid.
Step into the exotic shoes of a Silk Road merchant with an overnight stay in a classic caravanserai. Set in the desolate Dasht-e Lut Desert, this place of shelter has changed little since the 16th century.
Our journey first takes us to the historical town of Abarqu. This is located in the desert valley beneath the Zagros Mountains. Attractions in Abarqu include the famous ice house, the 11th century Gonbad Ali Dome, the Khan-e Aghazadeh Qajar-era mansion, the Jameh Mosque and a 4,000-year-old cypress tree. We then travel across the stunning Zagros Mountains and reach the Zein-o-din Caravanserai.
Visit the sacred Zoroastrian Fire Temple in Yazd, an ancient town of wind-catchers.
Be led through the fascinating history, tree-lined boulevards and atmospheric bazaars of Esfahan, the jewel of ancient Persia. Don't miss the sunset over the dome of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque - the tiles shimmer from cream to all shades of pink.
Our journey from Yazd to Esfahan is on a local bus and takes approx 5 hours.
The friendly and beautiful city of Esfahan is often described as "the jewel of Persia". During the reign of Shah Abbas in the 1500's, some of the most beautiful and inspiring architecture in the Islamic world was built. The cool, blue tiles of the buildings contrast perfectly with the hot dry Iranian countryside around it - and as you wander the city's streets, get lost in the bazaar and relax in the beautiful municipal gardens, it won't be long before you find yourself falling in love with this magical place. A good place to start your explorations is Imam Square, with the Imam Mosque, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Ali Qapu Palace and Chehel Sotun Palace all located nearby. From the Ali Qapu Palace you can get excellent views of the bustling Meidun-e Emam Square and Esfahan's enormous covered bazaar that houses over 5km of narrow winding alleyways. The bazaar is famous for its brass work, miniature paintings, block-printed cloth and, of course, carpets. Other sights worth seeking out are the Friday Mosque and the many magnificent river bridges.
Travel to Abyaneh and inspect the intricate architecture in this ancient red-rock town.
See some fine examples of traditional wooden houses and try khoresht - a tasty Iranian stew - on a visit to a local family's house.
Our journey continues by private van to Kashan. This is a beautiful oasis city with a very long history - human settlements in the area date back to the 4th millennium BC.
Visit the holy city of Qom before visiting the shrine of Imam Khomeini on the journey back to Tehran. Perhaps head to a lively teahouse and reminisce with the group about this unforgettable Iranian adventure.
A visit to the holy shrine of Imam Khomeni, the leader of the Islamic Revolution is fascinating. Still under construction, when finished it will be one of the greatest buildings in the Islamic world. Revered as the father of the 1979 revolution, Imam Khomeni was laid to rest here in 1989. His funeral was attended by an incredible 10 million people, making it the world's biggest funeral. People from all around Iran come here to pay their respects. Also visit the nearby Behesht-e Zahra, an enormous cemetery where many who lost their lives during the Iran-Iraq War are buried. Over 200,000 people are buried here and it serves as a moving reminder of the futility of war.
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. Our brochure is usually released in November each year. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.imaginative-traveller.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Imaginative Traveller nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Imaginative Traveller.
There are many opportunities to purchase souvenirs and handicrafts while on this trip. While we do not make arrangements for specific shopping excursions due to our passengers feedback, there may be opportunities where your local guides can offer services if you are particularly interested. Please note it is customary for local guides (not Imaginative Traveller group leaders) to accept commission from the factory or shop in exchange for their service. You are under no obligation to purchase anything from local guides and we do encourage you to enjoy shopping in the markets to compare prices and quality.
The official unit of currency is the Iranian rial (IRR), but locals almost always talk in terms of tomans, a unit equal to 10 rials.
Iran is very much a cash economy. This means travellers can rarely use debit or credit cards or travellers cheques while in Iran. There may be rare occasions in tourist-orientated shops that credit cards are accepted, otherwise cash is the main method of trade in Iran.
US dollars and euro notes are the only hard currencies accepted by Iranian banks and money changers (please don't bring British pounds as it's very difficult to find banks that will change them). Having those notes changed into Iranian rials is a fairly simple exercise. Please make sure that all the bills are unmarked and undamaged in any way and were printed since 1996. New and fresh notes are preferred in most banks. You'll get a slightly higher rate for larger notes (50 and 100 notes) but also bring plenty of smaller denominations (5, 10, 20 etc).
Upon arrival at the Tehran airport there are a few places where you can change money and we recommend you do so before leaving the airport.
Please note that if you run out of money while in Iran it can be difficult, expensive and time consuming to find banks that can transfer money over to you. Before leaving for Iran, calculate how much money you think you'll need in either US dollars or euros and take that with you, plus a bit extra. This should cover all optional activities, meals, special clothing requirements, some souvenirs and other items. If you're a big shopper (and there are so many great things to buy in Iran, especially carpets) we recommend you bring more. Please take into consideration the safety issues of carrying so much cash with you - bringing a money belt with you is absolutely essential. Thankfully Iran is one of the safest countries that you'll probably ever visit and crime against foreigners is virtually unheard of.
Banks and money changers can be found in most of the places that we visit throughout the country. The largest Iranian rial note is the IRR20,000 note (approx US$2) but the IRR10,000 notes (approx US$1) are far more widely used. Thankfully new 'Iranian travellers cheques' make dealing with such large numbers of rials much easier. It's a lot safer and easier than carrying around huge wads of notes. It's especially useful for people who may need to spend up big on that special gift (carpets!). These cheques are available in 1 million and 500,000 rial denominations and can be organised easily in most Iranian banks. Changing them back into Iranian rial notes is trouble free. Note: you can't change Iranian rials into hard currency outside of Iran.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
The Middle East is often misjudged as being an inexpensive destination. With tourism booming and the influx of cheap flights from Europe, prices for some items are becoming more equivalent to prices you would be used to at home. Eating in local restaurants, roadside stalls and from markets can be inexpensive, but for nights out at tourist-friendly restaurants you can expect to pay much more. Budgets are a personal choice but please bear in mind that you shouldn't expect the Middle East to always be a budget destination.
Tipping - known as 'baksheesh' in the Middle East - is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry. 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.
We recommend that any group tips are collected in a envelope and handed directly to the intended recipient as a collective 'thank you' by the group. The below amounts are suggested figures in USD for ease of calculating budgets, but should always be offered in local currency.
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - leave the loose change. More up-market restaurants, we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$1-2 per person per day for local guides.
Drivers: You may have a range of private drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however US$1-2 per person per day is generally appropriate.
Public toilet attendants: When using public toilets there will most likely be a attendant that will expect a tip. 20-50 cents is appropriate.
Desert Camp hosts: If you have a night camping included on your itinerary, US$2-3 is appropriate for the camp hosts.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2 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.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
In 2012, the important month of Ramadan will be in progress from mid July through until mid August, and the Eid ul-Fitr festival will be held directly at its conclusion (around 19th August) 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 effected.
Please note that the Iranian New Year will take place from 19 March to 2 April. Many Iranian banks and government offices will be closed for the first week of this period.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry will be closed from 12 March to 2 April and will not be processing any visa applications over this time. Please have your visa application in well before this date.
Iran has a lot of public holidays. The dates of many of these holidays change annually as they are scheduled according to the lunar calendar.
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.
Please bring two (2) photocopies of your passport. These may be used to assist with hotel check-in, and sometimes at road security points.
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
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.
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 Trip Notes.
Hotel (12 nts), Nomad Tent (1 nt), Guesthouse (1 nt)
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Imaginative Traveller trips than your own. Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
As a desert region, this part of the world has extremes of weather. Winter (approx. November to February) can be very cold. Not all of our hotels have heating so consider bringing thermals, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket for travel in this period. Summer (approx. June to August) can be very hot. Not all our hotels have air-conditioning, and in those that do, it's not always functioning.
When we have three single female travellers or three single male travellers on a trip we occasionally make use of triple-share rooms.
Nights spent camping can be in recognised camps or wild camping in the desert. Some campsites do have facilities but are usually not to the same standard as you would find in western countries, often toilet paper is not provided. Wild camps obviously have no facilities at all, and the toilet is simply a hole dug into the sand! Some nights can be spent in a tent whilst other nights will be under the stars. Mattresses and blankets are often provided, however some trips will require a sleeping bag. Please see the 'What to Take' section for more information.
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
10 Breakfasts, 2 Dinners
Budget for meals not included: USD 300.00
Breakfast is generally a very simple affair. It typically consists of bread, jam and tea/coffee, and on occasions tomato, cucumber and juice (or similar).
Vegetarians may choose to supplement meals with supplies bought from home - ie. protein bars, dried fruit, etc - although vegetarian options (while limited) are always offered for all included meals.
Private Bus, Plane, Bus
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.
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.
All our 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. We endeavour 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. 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.
DJomhouri St, between Pole Hafez & Chahar rahe 30 Tir, koochehye shahrokh
Djomhoori Avenue (District)
Parastoo Hotel is located in central Tehran, close to the Iran National Museum and Grand Bazaar. Rooms have en suite bathrooms, satellite TV and air-conditioning.
You'll arrive at Iman Khomeni airport, located 40 km south of central Tehran. 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.
From the airport taxi booth, taxis should cost around US$30 with bargaining. There may be some delays waiting for an available taxi. The trip will take between 1 and 2 hours depending on the time of the day and subsequent traffic conditions.
If you have booked an arrival transfer please look out for our transfer operator, who will be holding a sign with your name, after clearing customs. If you have difficulty locating the driver or you encounter unexpected delays before clearing customs and immigration - please call our local representative Mr Reza: +989 1771 42602
Check-in time at our joining point hotel is after 12 noon. Early check-in is not guaranteed, however if you arrive early, luggage storage is available. Speak to the hotel reception on arrival.
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
DJomhouri St, between Pole Hafez & Chahar rahe 30 Tir, koochehye shahrokh
Djomhoori Avenue (District)
Parastoo Hotel is located in central Tehran, close to the Iran National Museum and Grand Bazaar. Rooms have en suite bathrooms, satellite TV and air-conditioning.
The standard cost of a taxi to the airport is approx IRR300,000-400,000 (US$30-40). The trip will take between 1 and 2 hours depending on the time of the day and subsequent traffic conditions.
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Imaginative Traveller's Melbourne Office can be reached on Tel: +61 3 9473 2650.
We also have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left the UK and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.
If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked. Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
All foreign visitors require a visa to enter Iran except citizens of the following countries: Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia and Turkey. Citizens of these countries can stay for up to 3 months without a visa.
Iranian visas are issued in a two step process:
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.
For your nearest Iranian Embassy please check the Iranian Ministry of Foreign affairs of Iran website: www.mfa.gov.ir
How to apply for your authorisation code:
Please immediately fill in the visa authorisation form sent to you by our sales team at the time of booking. If you are arriving early or staying on afterwards this needs to be written on your application form. As you are technically the responsibility of our Imaginative Traveller operator for your entire stay, only Imaginative Traveller-booked activities/accommodation are able to be nominated as part of this visa application. If you don't receive this form at the time of booking please enquire with your agent.
We recommend your flight to Iran should be as close to the starting date as possible. We also recommend your flight dates should be changeable in case of delays at the embassy issuing the visa.
Return the visa authorisation form together with a scanned copy of the first page of your passport via email to your booking agent immediately. Please ensure all details are correct before sending. Any errors may result in your visa being denied or delayed. It's vital that you provide us with an email contact at the time of booking. On occasions our local operator may contact you directly regarding the information provided for the authorisation code processing.
Our local operator in Iran will process visa authorisation applications with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Visa authorisation generally take 3-5 weeks depending on your nationality (up to two months for US citizens).
When approved, your visa authorisation code will be faxed to the Iranian embassy processing your visa (nominated on the authorisation form). Our Iranian operator will also notify you of your authorisation code via email. Once the code is received please apply for your visa directly with the nominated Iranian embassy (see Step 2 for further instructions). The process is complete once your passport is returned with the Iran visa stamped inside.
While not common, there are occasions where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejects a visa application for a variety of reasons (usually unknown to us). Unfortunately we have no control over the success of your application and have little recourse if it's rejected.
It's not uncommon for Iran authorisation codes to be submitted very close to the actual time of travel. Obviously this can be an anxious period but again unfortunately we have little authority to speed up the process. If you haven't received your authorisation code within 10 days of trip departure contact us to make alternative travel plans.
How to obtain your visa stamp:
Once you have received your emailed authorisation code from our local operator, immediately apply for your visa with your nominated Iranian embassy. You'll need to provide a visa application form (usually you can download it from the embassy website), your passport, the visa fee and photos.
The cost of an Iran visa varies between US$60-80 depending on your nationality. Please check with your nominated embassy for visa costs. For women we recommend they provide a photo with their hair covered by a headscarf (not a hat). If you wish to personally collect your visa at the designated embassy you must also arrive wearing a headscarf.
In our experience the turnaround time for your visa to be stamped in your passport and returned to your home address is normally within a week, but can take longer. Please check with your nominated Iranian embassy for their opening times and processing times for visas (some embassies will say that it takes up to a month). Please note that Iran embassies and consulates worldwide may only open for 2 or 3 days a week and have very limited opening hours.
If possible, visiting the embassy personally can speed up the process.
Visas are valid for three months from the time of issue.
We will do our best to secure your authorisation code, however the final decision rests with the government of Iran, therefore we cannot guarantee when and if a visa will be granted.
If you have any questions regarding this process, please speak to our sales team.
1. Please check that the embassy issues you with a tourist visa and not a business visa (the stamp in your passport must state that the visa is a tourist one). If you're issued with a business visa, hotels will charge you the business travellers rates which are often far higher than the tourist rates.
2. A visa will be flatly refused if your passport contains evidence of travel to Israel. Note: this is not confined to just an Israeli stamp in your passport. You will be refused an Iranian visa if there's an Egyptian entry or exit stamp from the Egyptian/Israeli border (at Taba or Rafah) or a Jordanian entry or exit stamp from the Jordanian/Israeli border (at Wadi Araba near Aqaba, Sheikh Hussein bridge or King Hussein bridge, otherwise known as the Allenby bridge) in your passport. Even without actually having an Israeli stamp in your passport, these exit or entry stamps prove that you have visited Israel and entry into Iran will be disallowed.
3. Upon arrival in Iran, women not wearing an Islamic headscarf, long sleeves, covered 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 with you if you choose to buy a manteau after you arrive). A manteau is a loose-fitting trench coat that comes down to just above your knees and is required by law to be worn by all women in Iran. Men must also be conservatively dressed, wearing long trousers upon arrival, or they too may be refused entry.
4. The Iranian Foreign Ministry usually closes over the Iranian New Year period (approx 12 March to 2 April) and will not process visa applications over this time. Please have your visa application in well before this date.
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 if you may speak to their direct manager.
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 you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
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.
All travellers will require good walking shoes for our walk in Abyaneh. A light water and windproof jacket is useful and a hat is essential. Although generally hot, warm clothes will be needed for the cooler nights.
It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary to store your luggage separately (and unattended) from the group. The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas. If your bag does not fit in these areas then often the only place to put it is on your bed or seat. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
Where Imaginative Traveller covers the cost of luggage storage for included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.
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. A light water and windproof jacket is useful and a hat is essential.
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 - but ankles must be covered and full-length shirts must be worn at religious sites.
Women must wear the hejab at all times, apart from in their hotel bedrooms of course. A hejab consists of the manteau, a loose-fitting trench coat that comes down to just above your knees, plus a headscarf. A headscarf can be of any colour but you'll be better received if you're wearing a darker colour. It's now perfectly OK for women to wear a headscarf that shows some of their fringe and you'll see many ladies doing so. A manteau can be purchased in some of the shops along Ferdosi St in Tehran, a short walk away from the Atlas Hotel, for about US$15 and different styles of headscarves are available for about US$4. 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, sealed 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 if you choose to buy a manteau after you arrive). Men must be wearing long trousers upon arrival and shirts that cover their shoulder, or they to may be refused entry.
Ladies, please don't bring any tight-fitting clothing with you to Iran as it's forbidden to show any hint of the shape of your body. Many Iranian women wear western-style clothing and you'll be shocked at how trendy these girls can be. Make up, lipstick and nail-polish, however are all the rage and don't be surprised if these ladies outdo even yourself when it comes to looking the part. The most comfortable clothing to wear underneath your manteau are full-length, lightweight cotton garments like trousers or even skirts. Women must also wear covered shoes or sandals that cover their ankles and skin.
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, Imaginative Traveller reserves 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. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of different minerals than the water you may have 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. Bottled water is widely available and your leader can recommend safe alternatives when available. Water consumption should be about 3 litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
Iran you say, is it safe? In a word, yes.
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.
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. 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 group 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 Imaginative Traveller itinerary, and Imaginative Traveller 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 group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
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 alone at night and encourage you to walk together 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 and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
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!
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.
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 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 group 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.
We highly recommend the Imaginative Traveller travel insurance which is tailored specifically for adventure travel and covers ALL activities featured in any of our tours. For more details please go to http://www.imaginative-traveller.com/travel-insurance
Responsible Travel is twofold. It’s about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.
Before you depart try to spend some time familiarising yourself with the destination you will be travelling to – their culture and customs. The country dossiers on our website offer detailed information about all the regions we visit. They also include some useful phrases in the local language for you to use on your trip! A few words of the local language can open up many more opportunities for you to interact with the people you will meet.
Although it is tempting to give out pens, sweets and money to people begging, and particularly tempting to give to children, we feel that this encourages a begging mentality and has a long-term negative impact on communities. If someone begging earns more than someone in the same community who works this can discourage local employment. If children regularly bring home money it may discourage their parents from sending them to school.
Always ask permission to photograph local people and respect their decision if they would prefer not to have their picture taken.
Respect local dress codes, especially at religious sites. Our tour leaders are always on hand to give you advice about this.
In many of the countries we visit you might see examples of animal cruelty (for example dancing bears, performing monkeys and snake charmers). Please do not take photographs of this or offer money as it encourages the activity.
Respect the environment you are in. It sounds obvious but do not throw litter, take it with you or use rubbish bins! You may see locals throwing rubbish on the street but do not follow their example!
When shopping in countries where haggling is the norm – enjoy it and only pay what you feel is a fair price for the goods you are purchasing. However, remember that the shopkeeper does have to make a living so do stop once you have reached a price you are happy with. Bargaining should be fun but always remember that a small amount can mean much more to the vendor than to you.
Endeavour to take home souvenirs made locally; the money you spend can be very important to the local communities. However, do use your common sense and don’t buy anything that you think might be made out of endangered animals or plants.
To help keep as much money as possible in the host country - try to eat in locally owned restaurants and order local drinks and produce rather than international brands.
In hotels do be conscious of how much water you are using. Many of the areas we visit regularly have shortages; try not to have hour long showers! Don’t leave lights, air conditioners or fans on when you leave the room – you wouldn’t at home!
Respect the environment you are in, especially when in national parks or reserves. Pay attention to rules about keeping on paths, keeping a distance from animals and not removing any of the natural habitat.
Relax and immerse yourself in the differences of the culture you are in – you’ll be back home in the familiar soon enough (and wishing you were still on holiday!). These cultural differences are part of what makes your experience special.
If you would like to offset the carbon dioxide that will be produced on your flights you can do this on our website (on our Responsible travel page). We work with climatecare, who will reduce the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that you produce in another part of the World through their emission reduction projects. These projects are low carbon efficient technologies in developing countries and not only serve to reduce emissions but also help to spread the adoption of low carbon technologies and improve the quality of life for local communities. Details of climatecare’s projects can be found on their website.
Please do let us know if you have any comments about responsible travel at email@example.com
Carbon Offset C02-e 488.00 kgs per pax.
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