23 Days
Duration
Min 3, Max 12
Group Size
22 Breakfast, 30 Meals (lunches and/or dinners), Snacks and Souvenir
Meals
3/10
Physical Activities

Ancient Persia was home to one of the human race’s greatest artistic flowerings. The scale and beauty of Persian architecture, painting, sculpture, pottery and poetry and sculpture will astound you. Step into our Persian Dreams and be bewitched!

Together we’ll spend 22 days travelling through this fascinating land to discover refined Islamic cities, colourful bazaars, ancient Persian ruins, glorious gardens and shimmering deserts. NZ Travel and Tour guarantees an authentic experience. We take care of every detail of your journey, leaving you free to relax and enjoy Iran’s beautiful culture and diverse scenery.


Our expert guides will take your Persian experience to the next level. Whether you’re relaxing in a tea-house in Tehran, exploring ancient cultural sites or breaking bread with nomads on the harsh Iranian plateau, you’ll be charmed by the warmth and hospitality of the Iranian people.


We believe Iran is a safe Middle Eastern country to travel in and we are proud of the part we play in helping our guests create memories that will last a lifetime. We’ll work hard to ensure your smooth travel through one of the world’s oldest (and yet little-known to Westerners) cultures.

See below for your Persian Dreams itinerary.

START Shiraz, Iran
FINISH Mashhad, Iran
TRANSPORT Private Mini Bus, Train, Public Transport
ACCOMMODATION (double/twin) Hotel 3&4 star, Boutique Home Stay, Traditional Home Stay, Village Stay

INCLUDED IN QUOTED PRICE


  • Iranian visa invitation letter with reference number issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Inbound and outbound airport transfers
  • Transportation in a fully air-conditioned, non-smoking vehicle
  • Professional English-speaking tour guide for the duration of the tour
  • Entrance fees to various sites as per itinerary
  • Daily breakfast, 30 lunches and/or dinners
  • 19 nights at 3&4-star accommodation & Boutique Hotel, 2 nights at Traditional Home Stay, 1 night at Farm Stay
  • Tehran – Shiraz flight ticket if you arrive in Tehran

EXTRAS


  • Tips – driver and guide
  • Meals where not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees for sites not mentioned in the itinerary

Our first day in Iran is in Shiraz, the beautiful city in South of Iran known as the Pearl of Persia. The very name evokes images of ancient times: exotic, tranquil gardens, lavish mansions, colourful woollen rugs, art, philosophy, poetry and of course, the famous Shiraz wine (although it is no longer found here). Shiraz is also a renowned centre of learning and boasts many of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country. Shiraz is known as Iran’s cultural capital, home to two of Persia’s most famous poets in the 13th and 14th centuries, Hafez and Sa’adi, whose mausoleums are found here. People of Shiraz are famous for being laid back and relax, growing up surrounded by gardens and poetry.

  • At Shiraz International Airport, your tour guide meets and accompanies you to Khaneh Bagh- Irani (http://khanebagheirani.com), or a similar class hotel, to check in and relax. Then we gather for refreshments and a brief welcome meeting at noon in the Hotel.
  • We enjoy a delicious homemade meal for lunch at Khaneh Bagh Restaurant.
  • We start the afternoon walking though the holiest site of Shiraz, Shah-e-cheragh, a beautiful mausoleum. Shah-e-Cheragh (King of the light) is of two of Imam Reza’s brothers; Ahmad and Mohammad that took refuge in the city during the Abbasid persecution of Shia Muslims at the beginning of the third Islamic century (approximately 900 AD) . The forecourt is usually busy with pilgrims coming from different cities of Iran.
  • We enjoy our traditional Iranian dinner in the evening and relax in the evening.

Meals: Lunch, Dinner

  • From Shiraz will drive to one of Iran’s premier attractions, Persepolis (trip approximately 1 hour). Persepolis was once the centre of the Persian Empire and one of the great cities of the ancient world, constructed in the reign of Darius I and taking 150 years to complete. The imposing gateways, exquisite relief carvings and towering columns will leave everyone in no doubt that this was once the centre of the known world. In 330 BC, Alexander the Great destroyed the city, and while today only the smaller ruins remain, the grandeur is still impressive. Today, we’ll have a local tour guide, specialised for this World Heritage Site, to fascinate you with Persepolis.
  • For lunch, we head to a local restaurant.
  • We continue to visit Naqsh-e-Rostam (10km, 15min away), a cave-tomb containing the bodies of several Achaemenid kings, including Darius the Great.
  • It’s been a long day so far, so we head to our accommodation to take some rest. In the afternoon, we visit Naranjestan or Qavam House, which is one of the most beautiful traditional houses in Shiraz and it’s famous for its citrus trees.
  • There’s a nice café here and we stop to enjoy the atmosphere and have some snacks/drinks.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Evening snack

  • In the morning, we visit the incredibly colourfully decorated Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque also called Pink Mosque, to see sunlight streaming through stain glass windows fills the interior with kaleidoscopic colours, or the theological college of Khan Madraseh.
  • We continue our tour to see one of the oldest mosques in the county, Jame Atiq Mosque. It is uniquely designed to take your breath away with its beautifully written verses from the Qur’an and arabesque designs with flower-and-bird motifs, with its ceilings decorated with stalactites in an appealing way and ornamented with Qur’anic verses on all four sides.

We visit a mud-brick citadel – Arg-e karimkhan – from the 18th century, a time when the whole of Persia was ruled by Karim Khan from Shiraz and we enjoy the display of historic photos from the 19th and 20th centuries, and the legendary tales depicted on the tiles at the entrance gate.

  • We head into Vakil Bazaar for shopping, the main bazaar of Shiraz located in the historical centre of the city. It is thought that the market originally was established by the Buwayhids in the 11th century AD, and was completed mainly by the Atabaks of Fars, and was renamed after Karim Khan Zand in the 18th century. The bazaar of Shiraz has beautiful courtyards, caravansarais, bath houses, and old shops which are deemed among the best places in Shiraz to buy all kinds of Persian rugs, spices, copper handicrafts and antiques. Like other Middle Eastern bazaars, there are a few mosques and Imam-zadehs constructed beside or behind the bazaar.
  • We have dinner in bazaar and you will have time to enjoy the night.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch/ Dinner

  • Today we start with visiting the lovely, vast garden complex known as the ‘Garden of Paradise’ (Bagh-e Eram). We take our time to wander the grounds, filled with local visitors, where artificial rivers run through an impressive collection of cypress trees and a pool in front of a colourful palace.
  • After the garden, we go to the most famous ice cream shop in Shiraz, known as Baba Bastani (father of the ice cream) to try the most famous ice cream  in shiraz and compare it with Kiwi ice cream!
  • For lunch we go to Brentin restaurant to explore some special dishes from Shiraz.
  • In the evening, we visit the tombs of Hafez, known as Hafezieh. Hafez was a Persian poet who is regarded as a literary giant and folk hero. His collected works are regarded as a pinnacle of Persian literature and are to be found in the homes of most people in Iran, who learn his poems by heart and still use them as proverbs and sayings. His life and poems have been the subject of much analysis, commentary and interpretation, influencing post-14th century Persian writing more than any other author.
  • We visit the tomb of Sa’di known as Sa’dieh. Sa’di, another great poet and writer from Shiraz, was more of a scholar. As visitors of Hafezieh and Sa’dieh we appreciate the intricate artwork of their tombs and understand their continued relevance and importance in Iranian society, and perhaps listen to some poetry being recited.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch/ Dinner

Today, we leave Shiraz to experience a unique stay at the organic eco-village of Bavanat in Bazm village.

On our way to Bavanat, we will stop at Pasargadae, an ancient city in old Persia. It was the first dynastic capital of the Achaemenid Empire, founded by Cyrus II the Great, in the homeland of the Persians, in the 6th century BC. Its palaces, gardens and the mausoleum of Cyrus are outstanding examples of the first phase of royal Achaemenid art and architecture, and exceptional testimonies of Persian civilization. We take our time to explore this UNESCO world heritage site.

The story of this modest Bavanat farmer is an extraordinary one. It began nearly 20 years ago when two German cyclists, lost in the rain, were welcomed in by Abbas Barzegar and given traditional Persian hospitality. Uneducated and poor, the father of three never expected that this simple act of kindness would lead to a profound change, not just in his own fortunes, but in the life of the community of Bavanat. The Germans, wanting to send thanks to their welcoming host, requested friends to call in on the family while visiting Iran. The story goes on, and we hear the rest from our host in the village.

Meals: Breakfast, Snacks, Dinner

  • We wake up early to enjoy the organic farm and will have one of our tastiest breakfasts here with our host and his family.
  • We leave the village towards Yazd the ancient desert city.
  • We continue on your journey (160 km, approximately 2hrs trip), arriving at the historical town of Abarqu, located in the desert valley beneath the Zagros Mountains. We visit the town’s main sights, an ice house (a specially constructed house that acted like a fridge), the 11th century Gonbad Ali Dome, the Khan-e Aghazadeh Qajar-era mansion, and a 4,000-year-old cypress tree.
  • We have our lunch in a traditional restaurant and experience old local recipes of Abarkouh before we reach Yazd (another 165Km, 2 hrs trip).
  • Upon arrival in Yazd, we go to our accommodation, Naranjestan, and we rest for the rest of the evening.
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Snack

Yazd, this historic desert city was the major stop on the caravan routes to Central Asia and India during the Silk Road period – Marco Polo visited the city on his way to China – and it retains a rustic feel. Yazd is the heart of the Zoroastrian religion.

  • We start our tour in the fascinating city of Yazd with a walking tour to visit the Jameh Mosque, notable for its fine mosaics and beautiful exterior designed to draw people inside.
  • We explore the old part of the city, one of the oldest on earth according to UNESCO. A walk in the narrow kuches (lanes) is the best treat, passing simple courtyards and the ornate doors of the mud brick buildings.
  • We enjoy one of the most distinctive features of Yazd the wind towers (‘badgirs’) that capture even the softest of breezes and direct them to the buildings below in a forerunner of modern air-con.
  • After lunch, we visit the water museum that shows how the quants (underground water channels) brought water to the city from the mountains for thousands of years.
  • We have time to visit local shops and enjoy our afternoon in Yazd before dinner.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch/ Dinner

Day 8. Yazd – B, L/ D

  • On this day we enjoy an excursion outside of Yazd, to see the impressive Kharanak mud brick village, Chak Chak fire temple, and last but not least the Meybod citadel.
  • We explore the abandoned structures of Kharanak a striking town believed to be 1,000 years old. We enjoy this hillside settlement, peering into the houses of wealthy merchants and “hamams” (bathhouses), the valley and nearby mountains. Here, we find the aqueducts that formed part of the underground water system that is still used to irrigate the fields here – with shocks of green against the brown desert.
  • After a climb up the mountainside, we reach the fire temple of Chak Chak– one of the most important Zoroastrian pilgrimage sites in Iran. Chak Chak means ‘drip, drip’, named for a trickle of holy water that drips inside the temple.
  • After lunch, we will visit Narin Castle, one of the oldest mudbrick structures in Iran, to explore the still growing town of Meybod before returning to Yazd.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch/ Dinner

  • In the morning, we explore the Fire Temple and Towers of Silence, both vestiges of the city’s Zoroastrian heritage. In the Zoroastrian religion, fire and water are elements of ritual purity, and the fire in the Atashkadeh Fire Temple is said to have been continuously burning since 470 AD.
  • Then we head to a traditional restaurant to have our lunch. Later this evening, we’ll go to the countryside of Yazd to see how the tradition goes back for centuries and to experience a night at this village. We have our local guide lead us through this old village. He will introduce us to the villagers and we will listen to the villagers’ stories about their life before heading to Hossein’s house to experience one of the most traditional meals in Iran Dizi.  Here we learn how to bake Iranian bread and you are welcome to participate in making your own bread. This promises to be an unforgettable night!

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch/ Dinner

  • We head to visit Garmeh that is a small village in the middle of central desert of Iran, with 260 people, three camels, a few goats and 3 dogs resting in shades of palm trees the source of unlimited fresh dates.
  • On our way to Garmeh we stop in Bayazieh an ancient castle with 700 rooms near Khor-Bianak located 400km from Isfahan. Bayazeh Castle, also registered on National Heritage List, will capture you with its antiquity of thousands of years. It is designed in several stories, protected by the high walls from the attacks of thieves and plunderers.
      • We enjoy staying at the guesthouse in the village, Ateshooni the traditional Homestay where you can enjoy traditional Iranian meals and at night you will sleep on mattresses on the floor, and enjoy the peace and privacy of your desert stay. This guesthouse and a charming coffee place are family-owned business. They have improved the life of locals of this oasis.
      • After lunch, we leave to catch the sunset by the Salt Lake with an enchanting ambience in the evening. After a beautiful afternoon, we can enjoy the hospitality of oasis people before we return to the hotel to rest in our traditional bed-settings.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch/ Dinner

Accommodation: Traditional homestay in a beautiful Oasis in the middle of the central desert of Iran.

  • In the morning, after a light breakfast, we start our day walking through Palm Orchards to reach the village’s only water source, the spring of Garmeh. The life of this oasis depends on this spring that flows out of the foothills of the aforementioned mountains, quite close to the heart of the village. This is the only source of life for the gardens and Date Palm orchards that make this oasis such a special place.

Many travellers have passed through the area for many years. A good example is a famous Persian poet, philosopher and adventurer by the name of Nasser Khosro who passed through the area about 950 years ago and mentioned this area in his famous travel writings very well known to literate Persian readers. As an example of the more well-known European travellers of the last few centuries; one can note the names of Seven Hedin and Alfonse Gabriel who visited Garmeh about a century ago. But why did these famous people noted Garmeh specifically? Well, this day is your chance to find the answer.

  • From Garmeh, we will arrive in Mesr, a village in the heart of desert. We come here to listen to the incredible silence of desert. Mesr an oasis located in the central desert of Iran – is known as Dashte-Kavir in Persian. As far as we know, it has been there for several thousand years.

The documented history of human settlement in the area is as far back as 4,000 years ago but there exists some relatively reliable evidence that suggests human habitation as far back as 7,000 years ago. The main activity for the natives during this incredibly long period had been some form of agriculture and wresting sustenance out of the harsh and unforgiving conditions that are the reality of this land.

During more recent historical times (from about 2,000 years ago), the oasis was placed on the main route of the famous Silk Road and therefore the main trading route between China and Europe. We will have lunch before a desert safari to the heart of the sand dunes. We will catch the sunset as we enjoy a traditional drink around a bonfire.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch/ Dinner

Accommodation: Traditional Homestay in desert

  • We depart Garmeh to the city known as Iran’s jewel, Isfahan. But before Isfahan, we will stop to visit a few oases and enjoy the scenery.

Isfahan is simply one of the finest places in the Islamic world with tranquil gardens, picturesque bridges and superb palaces. Isfahan offers an abundance of fine Islamic buildings, most of which are covered with the blue mosaic tiles Iran is famous for, and an enormous bazaar, perfect for shopping for exquisite Persian carpets and unique silver handcrafts. A 16th-century rhyme called Isfahan ‘half the world’ and after this trip, you might agree.

  • We will arrive into Esfahan late afternoon and first we stroll to the ‘Zayandeh-Rood’ river to enjoy the historic bridges, which seem to have come straight from a fairytale. At several of the bridges locals gather to talk, drink tea and sing beautiful folk songs. This is truly a magical place to while away some time, and an atmospheric place to enjoy our evening before we arrive at your hotel. In Isfahan, we stay at the ‘Boutique Sunrise Hotel’ (http://sunrisehotel.ir), one of the most beautiful hotels in Isfahan.

Meals: Breakfast, Snack, Dinner

  • On this day you will soak up the atmosphere of Isfahan, beginning with a half-day tour of the city. Your guide will provide insights into life under Persia’s greatest ruler, Shah Abbas, with the city reaching its peak during his 16th century reign, when it became the capital of Persia. Even though the capital moved from Isfahan to Shiraz before Tehran, Isfahan retains much of its past glory and you will have the chance to see this through this tour.
  • We explore the immense Imam Square (formerly Naqsh-e Jahan Square); covering an area of 82,500 square meters. It’s the second largest in the world. The square is surrounded by many grand buildings, such as the Ali Qapu Palace, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Qeysarieh Portal and the majestic Imam Mosque. It’s truly a remarkable sight. In the Safavid era, this square was a place for parades, military reviews, polo games and festivals; and once home to entertainers, storytellers, preachers and Silk Road caravans.
  • This is also a good opportunity for travellers to mix with locals as “Naqshe-e Jahan Square”, which is popular for local families to meander around and picnic at in the early evenings. Located in the west of Imam Square, the Ali Qapu Palace covers six floors and was originally built as the main palace of Shah Abbas, who used it to receive guests and foreign ambassadors.
  • We visit the colourful bazaar of Isfahan with its wonderful scents and spices, musical merchants’ cries and, of course, thousands of locals bargaining for their most desired items. You will walk the covered lanes of this sprawling marketplace, where shafts of light filter through ceilings and lattice, and browse for fabrics, spices, jewellery and other treasures. This will be your golden opportunity to collect a few unique items either to pass as gifts or to keep as memoirs of this day. Also, you will enjoy the most delicious traditional cuisines specific to Isfahan that are famous for being so good that their taste will never leave your memory.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch/ Dinner

  • After two weeks traveling and visiting so many sites, today we rest.
  • There are many activities you can do on this day. You may enjoy the morning by walking through spacious gardens, go back to the bazaar, wander around Isfahan’s historical bridges or just stay at your hotel and relax.
  • We visit the Jameh Mosque (Friday Mosque), the biggest in Iran and full of lovely designed stuccos, and the fresco-filled Chehel Sotun Palace, a relaxed complex with a water pool surrounded by shady trees. Following that we arrive in the bizarre Manar Jomban (shaking minarets) before heading to the Armenian quarter of the city and the Church of St. Joseph of Arimathea.
  • The Church of St. Joseph of Arimathea has a striking interior of gilded ceilings, walls and paintings. The stunning, delicate artwork of the dome depicts the Biblical story of Genesis, from the Creation to man’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden. We also take time to see the museum inside the church that contains some very historic manuscripts, before we leave to have lunch and enjoy some traditional cuisine of Isfahan.
  • Now, it’s shopping time. We head back into the bazaar for some shopping and to find one of the teahouses tucked away here – the perfect place to rest tired feet and refresh your spirit.
  • We take a stroll by the Zayandeh Rood, the largest river of the Iranian Plateau in central Iran  and stop for a well-deserved chai (tea) at one of the stunning bridges, Si-o-Se-pol (thirty three bridges) that gives this part of the city a relaxing, but colourful ambience.
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch/ Dinner
  • We leave Isfahan to travel on to our next stop – the charming mountain village of Abyaneh (approximately 2.5 hours). Set at an altitude of 2,500 metres and nestled at the foot of Mt Karkus, Abyaneh features mudbrick houses that are arranged in a stair-step shape.
  • We take a walking tour to inspect the interesting architecture of this ancient red-rock town. The wooden doors – most of which have two knockers (one for men, one for women) – are built in the traditional style, with beautiful patterns and poems carved on them (often the names of the owner and mason). These etchings offer a good picture of ancient Iranian culture. The layout of the houses also hints at the country’s occasionally tumultuous history – the buildings were huddled together to protect them from frequent raids by passing armies.
  • We pass through the local shops and mosque, and enjoy great views of the valley below.
  • We then head to Kashan.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch/ Dinner

  • We continue on by private van down the mountains, into the desert through Qamsar and back to Kashan. 
  • We will stop in Qamsar which is famous for its rose gardens and rose water. The people of Qamsar collect roses, boil them in special pots and collect their water in beautiful containers. It is a proud tradition for the city that each year, the most sacred Muslim place on earth, Ka’aba (Mecca), is washed with rose water from Qamsar.
  • In the afternoon, we visit the rest of Kashan – a beautiful oasis city with a very long history. Human settlement in the area dates back to the 4th millennium BC. It’s also a merchant town know for its high quality ceramics, silks, carpets, and some of the finest traditional houses in Iran.
  • We explore these houses with visits to the Khan-e Borujerdi and Khan-e Tabatabei.

These 19th-century khans were funded by wealthy merchants and feature lovely courtyards, lush gardens and fine intricate relief designs carved into stone and stucco work. Khan-e Borujerdi was built in the 1840s for the affluent Tabatabaei family because a father set one condition of marriage that his daughter must live in a home at least as lovely as his own.

18 years later, this exquisite Persian residential home, full of minute architectural details, was completed (though she did marry in the interim). Khan-e Tabatabei is known for its intricate stone reliefs, stucco and great mirror and stained-glass work.

  • We visit the most impressive Islamic complex in Kashan – the Agha Bozorg Mosque and Madraseh, famous for its symmetrical design.
  • Later, in the evening, we explore the town’s other sights such as the Fin Gardens, a classical Persian vision of paradise and one of the most beautiful gardens in the Middle East.

Meals: Breakfast, Meals (lunches and/or dinners)

  • This morning, we make our way from Kashan to Tehran (approximately 4 hours). 
  • We head to the capital through Qom, Iran’s second-holiest city after Mashhad. Qom is famous for a brittle toffee called “Sohan” sweets considered a souvenir of the city and sold by 2,000 to 2,500 “Sohan” shops. We will stop here for some refreshments, and to shop and taste some “Sohan” (1.5 hrs).
  • On our way from Qom to Tehran (approximately 2hrs), we stop along the way to visit the still under construction holy shrine of Imam Khomeni, the leader of the Islamic Revolution.

When completed, the Iranian’s believe the shrine will be one of the greatest buildings in the Islamic world. Revered as the father of the 1979 revolution, Imam Khomeni was buried here in 1989. His funeral was attended by an incredible 10 million people, making it the world’s biggest. People from all around Iran come here to pay their respects.

  • We will then arrive at Tehran in the afternoon and we head directly to the Imperial crown jewels of Iran. The National Jewellery Treasury is a stunning place. Iranian people see their country’s glory, power, wealth and art here. From Queen Farrah’s coronation, to an all-diamond Naderi throne reminds us how magnificent and rich our kings were.
  • After the National Jewellery Treasury, we explore Golestan Palace which is an UNESCO world heritage site. The lavish Golestan Palace is a masterpiece of the Qajar era, embodying the successful integration of earlier Persian crafts and architecture with Western influences. The walled Palace, one of the oldest groups of buildings in Teheran, became the seat of government of the Qajar family, which came into power in 1779 and made Teheran the capital of the country. Built around a garden featuring pools as well as planted areas, the Palace’s most characteristic features and rich ornaments date from the 19th century. It became a centre of Qajari arts and architecture, of which it is an outstanding example and has remained a source of inspiration for Iranian artists and architects to this day. It represents a new style incorporating traditional Persian arts and crafts and elements of 18th century architecture and technology.
  • Then we go to our hotel to have dinner and a rest.

Meals: Breakfast, Snack, Dinner

  • After breakfast, we pack our bags and we meet at the lobby of our hotel to start our culinary day. We check out of the hotel and leave our luggage with the reception of the hotel to pick them up on our way to the train station. We meet our culinary expert guide, Matin at Tajrish bazaar starting with a walking tour of Tajrish Bazar where we are introduced to exotic spices and Persian ingredients only to be found in this part of the world. This is your unique chance to experience shopping for fresh ingredients like locals in Tajrish Bazar.
  • We then will be heading over to the kitchen where our host chef, Shirin from Tehran will show us her magic to create the most delicious Persian dishes.  After a brief introduction, we enjoy a 35 course meal adjusted to the season. Once the wafting aroma of the delicious meal dissipates the kitchen, the table will be set and gather for a huge Persian feast as you chat and exchange experiences.
  • After our late lunch, we first pick up our luggage from the hotel and then we head to the train station to take the overnight train to Mashhad. This train takes us through the desert to Mashhad, the holiest city and second biggest city in Iran.

Meals: Breakfast, Snack, Dinner

Upon our arrival, we go to the shrine of Imam Reza.

Mashhad is Iran’s holiest and second-biggest city with a shrine of Imam Reza in its soil. Its raison d’être and main attraction is the beautiful, massive and ever-growing Haram (shrine complex) commemorating the AD 817 martyrdom of Shia Islam’s eighth Imam, Imam Reza by the Abbasid caliph al-Ma’mun (ruled 813–833).

The pain of Imam Reza’s martyrdom is still felt over a millennium later and around 20 million pilgrims converge here annually to pay their respects (and no small amount of money) to the shrine. Witnessing the tears and prayers of the believers can be a moving experience, even if you’re not a believer yourself. 

Many come here with their problems from a sick or dying family member to those who lost hope in all other ways, holding this belief that Imam Reza can hear and respond to their prayers. Here, we may experience the sound of Naqare-Khane which is the sound of a sort of trumpet and drums played in Imam Reza’s shrine in special occasions. The instrument has a very specific sound that represents a nostalgic role and all the interviewees mentioned that they’d like to be at the shrine in those specific hours to hear that sound.

  • After the shrine we go to the hotel, former Hyatt, to check in and relax. In the afternoon we go to the Ferowsi tomb and later visit Mehdi’s mother’s apartment to mix with his friends and family, and we’ll have dinner there.

Meals: Breakfast, Meals (lunches and/or dinners)

  • In the morning we explore the countryside of Mashhad famous for its vibrant atmosphere with lots of traditional restaurants. Here you will experience one of the most traditional Iranian meals called Dizi.
  • We continue to the beautiful village of Kang. The old stepped village of Kang is about 30km from Mashhad, climbing above a scenic river valley. It is very quiet and not yet discovered by many tourists.

Here, the weather rapidly changes from cold winds and light rain to sunshine every hour. We go to Kang Valley to enjoy a two-to-three hours return walk through the orchards. We’ll see apricots, walnuts and other fruit trees on our way.

  • After lunch we visit the village of Jaghargh. Jaghargh is famous for its handcraft and dried fruits where you can taste and collect souvenirs from the locals.
  • During the evening you will have time to wander around the city, and take time to walk and enjoy the rest of evening. After enjoying Dizi for lunch, many feel full for the rest of the day.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

  • After breakfast, we head south towards Neyshabour, city of Khayyam.
  • We visit the city of Neyshabour to explore Khayyam and Attar’s tombs. Neyshabur or Nishapur occupies an important strategic position astride the old  Silk Road  that linked Anatolia and the Mediterranean Sea with China. On the Silk Road, Nishapur has often defined the flexible frontier between the Iranian plateau and Central Asia. Little archaeology has been done on this vast and complicated site. George Curzon remarked that Nishapur had been destroyed and rebuilt more times than any other city in history.

Neyshabur is located in 115km south west of Mashhad in the province of Khorasan. This ancient city has been the home of the great poet and mathematician Hakim Omar-e-Khayyam and the great mystical poet Attar-e Neyshaburi.

In addition, Neyshabur has been a major source of Firouz-e (Turquoise) for thousands of years and still a major centre of Turquoise trade.

We return to Mashhad and you will be transferred to your hotel to have dinner.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • After breakfast, we will check out from the hotel and leave our luggage with the hotel reception. Then we then go to the saffron factory to see and hear the story of the world’s most expensive spice.  We’ll have lunch in the village called Shandiz that is famous all around Iran for its specialty dish called ‘Shishlik’, lamb rib kebab.

  • You will be transferred to Mashhad international airport after having your lunch to catch your flight back home.
  • If your flight is from Tehran, you’ll be transferred to the domestic airport to catch your flight to Tehran Mehrabad airport (1hr flight). You will then take an airport taxi to the International Imam Khomeyni Airport (taxi trip between the two airports is 57km, 1hr).

Tour Reviews

5.00 based on 5 reviews
July 16, 2018

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.

July 16, 2018

Meeting Iranians in their own country; visiting mosques and monuments; the food. We had great guides, and a fantastic driver. The pleasures of a trip to Iran will stay with visitors for a long, long time. The tour met and even exceeded my expectations. I certainly recommend this tour of Iran by NZ Travel and Tour.

July 16, 2018

I wanted to do something out of the ordinary, to celebrate my 70th birthday. I enjoy “adventure travel” that goes beyond the must-see destinations and takes a group to lesser known places as well, off the beaten track. When I looked at NZ Travel and Tour proposed itinerary, it looked such an exciting tour, to a country I never dreamt I’d have the chance to visit. So, I went ahead and booked, after talking with friends who’d been to Iran, and who each strongly encouraged me to go.

I can only give Mehdi the highest praise for his care and thoroughness of his approach to every aspect of our tour. Being Iranian himself it was a real advantage to have a tour manager who could talk to local guides or hosts in Farsi, especially in situations where their English wasn’t confident. I felt Mehdi went above and beyond on our behalf. Apart from creating a flexible itinerary, he took us on a number of off-the-beaten-track experiences that added so much to the richness of the tour. In some cases, eg the tour of the turquoise mine, it was not something even the local people had done. A real authentic experience. That’s an example of the ‘adventure travel’ side of the tour, which I really enjoyed – although I certainly relished the guided tours of the cities we visited, as there were so many magnificent mosques and other buildings that we explored.

The tour met exceeded my expectations! It’s a tour I shall remember for years to come. I enjoyed it immensely.

July 16, 2018

IRAN proved to be fascinating, friendly and colourful within both its borders and its beautiful peoples.
Having travelled from SHIRAZ in the south thru to the magnificent MASHAD in the north the history, the scenery, the culture and the sights to me proved to be a wonderful experience.
Most notable highlights (although too many to list here) were the historical site PERSEPOLIS outside Shiraz, viewing the salt lakes at sunset and staying in the central desert before venturing on to Isfahan and Kashan.
Equally Yazd and Isfahan show the diversity of each area. Tehran with its bazaars, cooking class and traffic chaos was an interesting few days.
Mashhad: My favourite must see area with its shrines, minarets, museums and bazaars was MASHHAD!
Mashhad: A day trip to the KANG mountain Village my most precious memory of the trip.
Organised thru NZ TRAVEL & TOUR, operator Mehdi Shariati provided us with a unique experience not available with large travel groups. He gave us an inside into an IRAN that I would love to visit again. He provided professional guides throughout and his local knowledge proved to be invaluable.
I thoroughly recommend Iran as wonderful place to visit especially thru Mehdi and his travel group at NZ Travel and Tour.

July 16, 2018

I felt incredibly safe in Iran.  As I was easily identifiable as a foreigner, locals would just come up and talked to me.  At first, I thought this was some sort of scam – then I realised that people just wanted to practice their English and genuinely wanted to help you.  Iranians are the friendliest people and because they don’t have a large tourism industry they are so interested to ask you about why you are in Iran and what you think about their country.  If people can’t speak English – they will phone a friend or relative that does, or in one case we had a driver who was using google translate!

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