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Middle East

Iran: Women's Expedition

From €2,580pp excluding flights
Depart From
Fly from Dublin, tour starts in Shiraz, Iran
Departure Date
07 Mar 2020 - 19 Mar 2020
Alternative dates available on request
Duration
12 Days
Destination
Shiraz, Iran
Price
From €2,580pp excluding flights
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Fly from Dublin to discover the beauty of Iran and experience its culture from the female perspective.

Discover culture and comradery from the perspective of local women on this female-only expedition in Iran. Connect with Iranian women in city salons and sleepy villages. 

Spend 12 days exploring with a local female leader and a group of female travellers and partake in a range of experiences otherwise off limits to mixed gender groups. Step inside the hidden world of an Iranian beauty salon, wander through a women-only park, and travel by public transport in the women-only carriage of the metro, local buses and an overnight train.

Experience rural nomadic life with Qashqai people, meet female entrepreneurs and learn secret recipes from those in the know. This trip will expose you to a range of fascinating local women – young and old, religious and secular, conservative and liberal.

Before booking on this trip we recommend that you read the ‘Safety’ section in the Essential Trip Information regarding special safety considerations for Iran trips.

Shop for produce in a lively Iranian bazaar, prepare the food alongside local cooks and then feast on a five-course meal of age-old secret recipes with your new friends.

Enjoy a picnic in one of Iran’s women’s-only parks, one of the few places women can enjoy the sunshine without a hijab.

Immerse yourself in rural nomadic life on a beautifully remote homestay with the Qashqai people. Enjoy a meal, sing songs, try on the local dress, and give bread-baking a go.

Step inside the fascinating hidden world of an Iranian beauty salon. You’ll see that these are oases for many local women, providing a safe space for them to relax and (literally) let their hair down.

Experience the wondrous remains of the ancient capital of Persepolis – the scale and grandeur will leave you in no doubt that this was once the centre of the known world.

We would love to open up these real life experiences to all our travellers; however, in order to operate in a socially responsible and culturally sensitive manner this is simply not possible. At least not yet! If you're interested in travelling to Iran on a similar itinerary in a mixed gender group, check out some of other group departures or speak to your booking agent about a tailor-made itinerary.

While summer is a tempting option, there’s the equally attractive option of beating the crowds and going in winter. It’s actually our favourite time of year to experience this magical country so consider booking on a departures that runs during the cooler months of December through to February.

As a traveller, Iran is incredible safe and welcoming. However, it is very conservative. You’ll need to be committed to a strict dress code in what may be quite warm weather. On arrival in Iran, all women must wear a headscarf, and must also have their arms and legs covered. Part of travelling with Intrepid means respecting local cultures and sensibilities. That way you get the most out of your interactions with local people and environments.

Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Iran and those trying to bring any in will incur severe penalties. Drug laws are also extremely strict, and travellers face lengthy jail terms if caught. Most foreigners are whisked through customs without any delays, but random bag checks do occur.

The pathways around some sites may be uneven, rocky or dusty, and there’s exposure to the elements on some activities. Remember to bring a hat and sunscreen and drink plenty of water, and don’t forget to pack comfortable shoes!

In order to see as much as possible, this tour involves some long travel days. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates.

The village homestay is a wonderful opportunity to witness everyday life outside the city. Facilities are simple and multi-share but comfortable.

Note that we use a local supplier for our arrival transfer. As tourism is a developing industry in Iran, it is possible your driver will not speak English.

Debit or credit cards can’t be used in Iran, so you’ll need to bring cash to last you the whole trip. For more information on this, see ‘Money matters’ in the Essential Trip Information.

Getting a visa for Iran can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. It may take a couple of weeks to get your authorisation code, and then it can take up to 30 days to receive your visa back from the embassy or consulate. Rules can and do change often – this is the nature of the destination. But we are here to help you through it.

Day 1: Tehran

Salam! Welcome to Iran. You will be met on arrival at Tehran International Airport and transferred to your hotel for an important welcome meeting at 6 pm today, where you will meet your female leader and fellow travellers joining you on this adventure. Many people have a preconceived idea on the appearance of Iranian women; however, once you start exploring the country, you’ll notice a diversity and range of clothing, facial coverings and styles on display. Tonight, be hosted by local Iranian women for a dinner with your group. Each night is never the same and so it will feel like a very personal experience with these women – learning about their lives while tasting different Persian specialties.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

Tehran - Welcome Dinner

Meals Included

Dinner

Special Information

It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

Day 2: Tehran

Head out on a leader-led orientation walk this morning, checking out the Imam Khomeini Mosque and the labyrinthine maze of the Grand Bazaar. A real highlight of this morning is gazing at the 182-carat pink diamond of Darya-ye-Noor and the sparkling 26,733 jewels of the Naderi Throne at the Treasury of National Jewels. Afterwards, pass by a small fashion boutique where you’ll learn different techniques of tying a headscarf, then continue on to the lively Behjat Abad Market for a food adventure. You’ll shop for fresh seasonal produce and fragrant spices, then head over to a cooking school where a local female cook will teach you how to create some of the most delectable Persian dishes. This class will include tahchin (Iranian savoury rice cake), morasa polo (jewelled rice), mirza qasemi (grilled eggplant), and the Iranian dessert of Sholeh Zard (saffron rice pudding). Take in the flavours and aromas of these delicious meals as the wafts fill the kitchen, then set the table and gather for a huge Persian feast as you chat and exchange stories.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

Tehran -Treasury of National Jewels

Tehran - Market shopping & Persian cooking class

Tehran - Orientation walk

Meals Included

Breakfast

Dinner

Day 3: Yazd

Rise and shine nice and early for a 6 am train bound for Yazd (approximately 5–6 hours). Do not fear – the train is very comfortable and there will be time to rest on your way, if you can keep your eyes off the magic desert landscapes! On arrival, get exploring with your leader, perhaps stopping off for a sweet snack as you walk – Yazd is well-known for its range of confectionery featuring plenty of nuts, rosewater and flaky pastry. Continue to the Jameh Mosque, notable for its fine mosaics and beautiful exterior. Visit the Amir Chakmaq complex, then walk through the narrow kuches (lanes) past simple courtyards and the ornate doors of local mud brick buildings, explore the local Bazaar with your Leader and enjoy a free evening in Yazd.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

Yazd - Jameh Mosque of Yazd

Yazd - Amir Chakmaq

Yazd - Water Museum

Meals Included

Breakfast

Day 4: Yazd

Start your day with an exploration of Zaroastrian culture with a visit to two vestiges of Yazd’s Zoroastrian heritage, the Fire Temple and the Towers of Silence. Zoroastrianism, dating back over 4000 years, was the state religion of Iran before the arrival of Islam. In the Zoroastrian religion, fire and water are agents of ritual purity, and the fire in the Atashkadeh Fire Temple is said to have been continuously burning since AD470. The intriguing Towers of Silence are part of the Zoroastrian tradition of raised circular structures where the dead are laid out to be picked clean by scavenger birds. Afterwards make the short journey to the village of Taft, and spend some time discovering modern Zoroastrian culture and how to prepare some delicious local cuisine. Return to Yazd in the late afternoon.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

Yazd -Zoroastrian Lunch and Village Visit

Yazd - Fire Temple and Towers of Silence visit

Meals Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Day 5: Shiraz

After breakfast, get on the road and head towards Shiraz (approximately 5.5 hours). An hour into the journey, stop by the town of Abarkooh in the Zagros Mountains to explore its historic sights, including an ancient ice house, the 11th-century Gonbad Ali Dome, the Qajar-era mansion Khan-e Aghazadeh and a 4000-year-old cypress tree. Load up on some snacks and continue to Shiraz, arriving mid-afternoon. After checking in to your hotel, head out with your leader to get your bearings around the local neighbourhood and make a very special visit to the Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh, one of the holiest sites in Shiraz. This glittering mosque and funerary monument is a popular pilgrimage site, sure to impress even non-believers with its beauty and grandeur. Ladies will have to wear a Chador for visiting the shrine (provided). Afterwards, perhaps discover some popular local street food with your leader – they’ll know of all the good spots to eat.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

Shiraz - Shahcheragh guided tour

Meals Included

Breakfast

Day 6: Shiraz

Wake up early for some fresh bread tasting at a local bakery then visit the colourfully decorated Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque, where sunlight streaming through stain glass windows fills the interior with kaleidoscopic colours. Take to streets on a walking tour and discover the alleys and lanes of one of Iran's most loved Bazaars Vakil, a great spot to sit and chat and enjoy a glass of orange blossom tea. If weather permits grab some snacks and enjoy a stroll in one of the female-only parks that are popping up to allow women to exercise, picnic or just enjoy the sun without a hijab. This afternoon we spend some time with some very talented local women and discover the art of carpet weaving. Late this afternoon we take some time to relax and head to a popular gym to join in on a yoga class with local women. This is one of the ‘private’ spaces that Iranian women can safely and legally remove their Islamic dress to exercise and be themselves without any issues.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

Shiraz - Women's only park

Shiraz - Women's only Yoga Class

Shiraz - Bakery visit

Shiraz - Nasir al Molk Mosque

Shiraz - Vakil Bazaar

Shiraz -Carpet Work Shop

Meals Included

Breakfast

Special Information

Please note that it is forbidden to bring cameras or phones into women-only parks.

Day 7: Shiraz

Today make the short journey to to Persepolis (approximately 1 hour). Once the centre of the Achaemenid Empire and one of the great cities of the ancient world, Persepolis took more than 150 years to build. It was designed primarily to be a centre for the events of the kings and their empire, and its grandiosity and architectural marvel is still on show today. Afterwards, head back to Shiraz and step inside the hidden world of an Iranian hair salon. The hijab comes off, the conversation is lively, and the music is blaring. Treat yourself to a manicure, or perhaps a wash and blow wave. In post-revolution Iran, opening a beauty salon was one of the most conventional ways for Iranian women to have financial independence. Often the basement of a building, or an extra room in the house was used, and off limits to men, these salons have become oases for many. In the evening, head to a local home to help cook dinner and enjoy a meal of local favourites with Shiraz locals.
 

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

Persepolis - Entrance and Guided tour

Shiraz - Home cooked meal

Shiraz - Women's only Beauty Salon

Optional Activities

Shiraz - Bagh-e Eram Gardens - IRR500000

Shiraz - Hafez Tomb - IRR500000

Meals Included

Breakfast

Dinner

Special Information

Please note that backpacks are not permitted in the ancient site of Persepolis

Day 8: Bishapur

Depart this morning for Bishapur – located 130 kilometres from Shiraz, Bishapur was once the centre of one of the five ancient provinces of Fars. We have a guided tour of the fortified structures and palaces, that date back to the earliest and latest times of the Sassanian Empire, which stretched across the region from 224 to 658 CE. This archaeological landscape was added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list in 2018. Bishapur has also acted as the summer home of migrating nomadic tribes over the centuries, and although most nomads are more settled in villages nowadays, many of the customs and traditions live on. Spend the eveining in Tang-e-Chogan, a simple village of settled Qashqai nomads where you can discover traditional costumes and share a meal, some stories, a song or two and perhaps even learn how to make local bread with your host.

Accommodation

Eco Lodge - Home Stay (1 night)

Meals Included

Breakfast

Dinner

Special Information

Tonight’s accommodation is very simple. We use simple twin-share accommodation with mattresses provided. Each room has a private bathroom. Expect the unexpected – anything can happen, from a simple night in with local families to an invitation to a nomad wedding!  No single supplement available this evening.

Day 9: Esfahan

Today is a long travel day (approximately 6 hours) but will be broken up with some stops along the way – you’ll get to enjoy the natural surroundings and perhaps stop off for a picnic lunch, before cruising into Esfahan in the late afternoon. Simply put, Esfahan is one of the finest places in the Islamic world. There's an abundance of fine Islamic buildings, most of which are covered with the blue mosaic tiles Iran is renowned for. There's also an enormous bazaar – an ideal place to shop for exquisite Persian carpets, or you can relax by the tranquil gardens, picturesque bridges and superb palaces around town. This evening, take a stroll down to the Zayandeh River and have a look at its historic bridges, which appear to have been lifted straight out of a fairy tale. At several of the bridges, local people gather to talk, drink tea and sing beautiful folk songs. It's a magical place to while away some time, and one of the most atmospheric places in all of Iran.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

Esfahan - Khaju & Si-o-seh Pol Bridges

Meals Included

Breakfast

Day 10: Esfahan

Embark a half-day tour of the city, visiting the World Heritage-listed Imam (or Naqsh-e Jahan) Square. Here, your guide will you give you an insight into life under Persia's greatest ruler, Shah Abbas. Surrounding the square are several grand buildings, such as the Ali Qapu Palace, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Qeysarieh Portal and the majestic Imam Mosque. 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. In the afternoon, explore the bazaar with its wonderful scents and spices, musical merchants' cries and, of course, thousands of locals bargaining for their goods. Walk the covered lanes, where shafts of light filter through ceiling and lattice, and browse for fabrics, spices, jewellery and other treasures. Stop by the Music Museum – a privately-run space showcasing over 300 traditional Iranian musical instruments. Later in the afternoon, perhaps head out with your local Leader to visit the magnificent Armenian Vank Cathedral, wander the bazaar or just relax with your travel buddies.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

Esfahan - Esfahan Music Museum

Esfahan - Imam Square

Esfahan - Shah Mosque

Esfahan - Sheik Lotfallah Mosque

Esfahan - Ali Qapu Palace

Optional Activities

Esfahan - Safavid Chehelsetoon Palace Entry - IRR500000

Esfahan - Vank Cathedral - IRR500000

Meals Included

Breakfast

Day 11: Tehran

This morning, drive around 2 hours to Kashan – a merchant town known for its high-quality ceramics, silks, carpets and fine houses. On arrival, take a walk in the local market for some lunch, and perhaps visit the grand Borujerdi House (Khan-e Borujerdi) with your leader. Built in the 1857 by the famed Persian architect Ustad Ali Maryam, this private residence was a gift to the new bride of a wealthy merchant. Continue to Tehran, arriving in the evening. Spend tonight with your group celebrating your unifying and enlightening Iranian journey.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

Meals Included

Breakfast

Dinner

Day 12: Tehran

With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave the accommodation at any time, provided you comply with the hotel’s internal check-out policies (usually 12 pm).

Meals Included

Breakfast

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT

A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 8 (the village home stay) where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.

TRANSFERS

A complimentary airport arrival and departure transfer is included, valid only if you are arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-tour accommodation through us. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.

VISA INFORMATION

Please note that US, British and Canadian passport holders will need to book this trip at least THREE months before departure as this is the length of time it takes to process a visa for these nationalities. To avoid disappointment the application for visa should be made at the time of booking or at least THREE months prior to departure date. There may also be further travel restrictions that apply to these nationalities including restrictions for when you can arrive and depart.

Irish passport holders will need to contact the Iranian Embassy in Dublin for details on obtaining your visa. You should also check with them how long your passport must be valid for. Please ensure you investiage this and discuss options with your booking agent before confirming non-refundable airfares.

MONEY

Please note that travellers cannot use debit or credit cards while in Iran. You will need to bring all the money you will need for your entire trip with you. Please read through the money matters section of your essential trip information for further details.

ITINERARY

This itinerary has many included activities and free time for you to rest, relax or discover. Please keep in mind that under the regulations of the Iranian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, US, UK and Canadian travellers must be accompanied by a local host (Intrepid's local Operator) on all activities. For this reason, your tour leader may suggest optional activities during this free time that are organised by our operator at your own expense. Alternately this free time is the perfect opportunity to relax in your hotel.

BOOKING CONDITIONS

Please note deposits on this trip are non-refundable and non-transferable as per our Terms and Conditions. You are required to pay a non-refundable deposit per person for your booking to be confirmed.

SAFETY

We recommend that before your departure you check your government's latest travel advice for information on travelling in Iran and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas of your itinerary. 

Price is per adult, based on 2 sharing and includes:

  • Flights and charges from Dublin
  • 12 day Iran: Women's Expedition tour
  • Meals: 11 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 5 dinners
  • Transport: Metro, Train Private Vehicle
  • Accommodation: Hotel (10 nights), Home Stay (1 night)
  • Included activities:
    • Tehran - Welcome Dinner
    • Tehran -Treasury of National Jewels
    • Tehran - Market shopping & Persian cooking class
    • Tehran - Orientation walk
    • Yazd - Jameh Mosque of Yazd
    • Yazd - Amir Chakmaq
    • Yazd - Water Museum
    • Yazd -Zoroastrian Lunch and Village Visit
    • Yazd - Fire Temple and Towers of Silence visit
    • Shiraz - Shahcheragh guided tour
    • Shiraz - Women's only park
    • Shiraz - Women's only Yoga Class
    • Shiraz - Bakery visit
    • Shiraz - Nasir al Molk Mosque
    • Shiraz - Vakil Bazaar
    • Shiraz -Carpet Work Shop
    • Persepolis - Entrance and Guided tour
    • Shiraz - Home cooked meal
    • Shiraz - Women's only Beauty Salon
    • Esfahan - Khaju & Si-o-seh Pol Bridges
    • Esfahan - Esfahan Music Museum
    • Esfahan - Imam Square
    • Esfahan - Shah Mosque
    • Esfahan - Sheik Lotfallah Mosque
    • Esfahan - Ali Qapu Palace

Please ask us about adding great value:

  • Travel insurance
Subject to availability. Terms & conditions apply. Due to cultural restrictions, only women may travel on this tour. For other tours to Iran, please ask our agents. 

For more information please call us on 021 427 7094 or 01 696 5135, email info@shandontravel.ie, request a call back using the red button or submit an enquiry through the form below.

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