To anyone contemplating a visit to Iran I would say GO! Unlike the experience of travel in many parts of the world, especially those that are highly frequented by tourists, you will have the opportunity to really experience the culture and way of life and to interact with local people in a way that is not possible in many places. You will also be exposed to centuries of history, a wonderful literary tradition, some of the best cuisine in the world, fantastic and contrasting landscapes and most of all as a traveller you will feel welcomed and very safe.
I felt my tour with NZ Travel and Tour to Iran was very thorough. I felt that I was exposed to a wide range of activities and different aspects of the country and the culture.
It is difficult to pick just a few highlights of my trip as each day was a highlight. No one could fail to be impressed by the outstanding hospitality and friendliness of the people throughout the country and this was an overarching highlight and a major factor in making the trip such an enjoyable experience.
The visit to Persepolis. For anyone interested in history this is a must visit. Having an excellent guide really added to the experience. She was able to make the history come alive.
Cooking class (food tour): This was a wonderful opportunity not only to have a go at cooking a few Persian dishes but also to visit the local market and learn about some of the unique ingredients used in Persian cooking. It was a very fun experience with an experienced and totally unflappable chef who was able to multi task and keep everyone involved and engaged.
The visit to the Shrine of Iman Reza in Mashhad. I include this as a highlight for several reasons. The buildings themselves are magnificent, it was very moving to see the devotion of the pilgrims and it was a privilege as a non-Muslim to be in such a holy place. But most of all it was the communication with the young woman who was our guide and who was very open and sharing about her life and hopes and dreams that made this visit so memorable for me.
It was a privilege to be invited into people’s homes and I really appreciated this opportunity and the effort made by the hosts.
Mashhad: The visit to the saffron factory in Mashhad was great and it was good to see such a well-run enterprise where the staff are obviously happy and where the employers appear to genuinely care about the welfare of the staff. Lunch was excellent and very abundant.
Neyshabour: I really enjoyed the visit to the turquoise mine and found the information really interesting.
22 days: I think the length was very appropriate, long enough to get a good overview of the country and the culture but not so long that it becomes exhausting.
I had visited Iran before in 1974 and was curious to see how things are now. I have also spent a lot of time in the Middle East working and travelling and it is somewhere I feel very comfortable. I follow Middle East events/politics quite closely. The itinerary looked interesting and my impression of the tour guide, Mehdi, was very positive and I felt he could be trusted to provide a great holiday which proved to be the case.