New! Hiking Iran's Alborz Mountains | Mountain Travel Sobek

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New! Hiking Iran's Alborz Mountains

Trip Length 14 days

From $6,595

  • Join us for this new, exploratory hiking adventure!
  • Trek through the breathtaking, contrasting landscapes and cultures of the southern (desert) and northern (verdant) Alborz Mountains
  • Visit numerous UNESCO-listed sites, from terraced Masuleh village to the magnificent St. Stepanos Monastery to the soaring Dome of Soltaniyeh
  • Explore ancient fortresses, medieval castles, mosaicked mosques, fascinating museums—and overnight in a rock dwelling!

There are few countries whose deep history and culture are as rich and as palpable as Iran’s. In the northern reaches of this enchanted land, amidst breathtaking landscapes, the Alborz Mountains harbor pristine examples of the nation’s textured past and colorful present. On this exclusive MTS adventure, spend 12 glorious days trekking through the Alborz’s varied highlands—dry, desert south and green, forested north. Along the way, get your Persian culture fix with visits to world-class museums, ancient ruins, sacred mosques, local villages, nomadic tribes—even soak in restorative hot springs and sleep in an ancient rock dwelling! Led by a knowledgeable, expert MTS guide, this incredible trip offers an unparalleled way to experience this unique, magical destination.

This trip is an exploratory venture, so the itinerary may change slightly before the trips run. We welcome folks with a true sense of adventure, those who can roll with the unexpected and find the special moments on any trip!

Why Travel to Iran with MTS?

We have been operating our Iran trip for five years and have taken dozens of guests into the country to experience its ancient sites and warm, welcoming culture. Even though the U.S. and Iran do not have diplomatic relations at this time, it is legal for Americans to travel to Iran. Our role at MTS is to navigate the continuing complexities involved in traveling to Iran by skillfully:

  • Handling the group’s tourist visa through a complex, four-step process
  • Coordinating other required paperwork, from journalist waivers to resumes
  • Keeping groups up-to-date on U.S. State Department travel warnings and alerts
  • Staying informed of any changing regulations in Iran for tourist groups
  • Handling all in-country operations and logistics
  • Registering the group with the State Department Enrollment Program (STEP)
  • Registering the group with the Swiss Embassy, who handle all Western country diplomatic matters in Iran

At MTS we strive to make our Iran adventures seamless, while also ensuring that guests are aware of the realities of travel within the country. For example, the best accommodations in Iran might not be equal to the standard experienced on other group trips and the itinerary not as flexible. What guests can be assured of on every trip is expert leadership.

 

Day 1: Welcome to Iran!

The capital city and modern heart of Iran welcomes you! After an early-morning arrival into Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport, your Mountain Travel Sobek guide will meet you and transfer you to the Laleh Hotel. Settle into your comfortable room, then meet up with the group for a short welcome talk and trip briefing. Your cultural extravaganza begins with a trip to the Carpet Museum of Iran, home to a variety of stunning Persian carpets dated from as far back as the 16th century.

After lunch it’s on to the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, which showcases an impressive collection of more than 3,000 works by Picasso, Matisse, van Gogh, and other world-class artists. Nearby is a small flea market where you can do a bit of fun treasure (and bargain) hunting among crowded stalls packed with locals hawking their wares—a unique sensorial experience.

Come evening, head back to the hotel for a welcome dinner and restful night’s sleep.

  • Dinner
  • Accommodation:Laleh Hotel OR Parsian Azadi Hotel

Day 2: Behold the jewels of Tehran

Start the day off with a buffet breakfast before driving into the city center to visit one of the gates of old Tehran. Then spend the rest of the morning visiting the National Museum of Iran, which features some of the world’s most valuable Persian antiquities right up to the modern Islamic era. After a hearty lunch, feast your eyes upon the largest and most dazzling collection of jewels in the world at the Crown Jewels Museum, located in the National Treasury. This evening, enjoy dinner with the group.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Laleh Hotel OR Parsian Azadi Hotel

Day 3: Enter the Alborz Mountains

Lace up your hiking boots, as you begin your trek today with a short warm-up hike in the southern Alborz Mountains’ dry desert climate. From here, pass by flowing rivers and gentle springs on the way to the northern Alborz, which has a wildly different landscape and climate than other parts of Iran—with dense forests, green hillsides, and often rainy skies. It’s about a 3-hour drive to tiny Parachan, one of 40 villages in the verdant Taleqan valley and an old trade-route stop. The valley is one of 25 passes that were used to reach the Caspian Sea, where renowned Persian rice was traded for wheat.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:MTS Camp - Alborz

Day 4: Hike Mt. Lashkarak and Alam-Kuh

Today is a full day of hiking, beginning with an ascent nearly all the way to the peak of  Mt. Lashkarak (13,959'). Then you descend into the Alborz’s densely forested Caspian side on a 7-hour mountain trek. The day is both challenging and rewarding, with every step affording breathtaking views—including of snow-capped Alam-Kuh (15,906'), Iran’s second-highest peak, which you can summit today if you choose.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:MTS Camp - Alborz

Day 5: Journey into the Paradise of Iran

Conitnue trekking through the northern Alborz’s lush landscape and descend through thbe mountainous Galu valley into Kelardasht. Nicknamed the “Paradise of Iran,” this verdant region is a popular getaway for nature-loving Tehranis. Adventure lovers are sated here as well, and today you can optionally go rock climbing, ice climbing, or skiing, depending on weather and the group’s interest. Tonight you’re in for a special treat: experiencing the local warmth and hospitality firsthand when you overnight in an Abbasabad home!

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Homestay

Day 6: Step back in time in Gilan

Rest your feet this morning as you drive along the sea to Rasht, the capital of Gilan province and the largest city on Iran’s Caspian coast. From here you head west to statue-laden Fuman, where an easy hike leads you to Rudkhan Seljuq, a brick and stone castle hidden among dense mountainous forest. Originally constructed in the Sasanian era (225–651), the medieval military complex is quite weathered today but, incredibly, its 42 towers are still intact.  

Another short drive carries you to Masuleh, a UNESCO-registered village established in the 10th century. Masuleh’s architecture is spectacular and unique: Its courtyards and rooftops serve as pedestrian streets. Motor vehicles are not permitted here, so you explore on foot, walking by—and on!—its interconnected buildings built right into the mountainside.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Kadus Grand Hotel OR Sefid Kenar Hotel

Day 7: Learn about Sufi mysticism and experience nomadic life

Start the day with another scenic drive, this time to Sarein along the gorgeous Asalem-Khalkhal Road. En route, visit the magnificent Ardabil Shrine, tomb of the 13th-century Sheikh Safieddin Ardabili, who founded the Safavid Dynasty. The shrine complex is an architectural marvel, with well-preserved and richly ornamented tiled facades representative of medieval Islamic design and Sufi mysticism. Built between the 16th and 18th centuries, the site was the Islamic empire’s largest and most complete monastery, and the most prominent Sufi shrine. Today, thanks to its collection of sacred artworks, remarkable architecture, and spiritual significance, the shrine is a center of Sufi religious pilgrimage.

This evening you’re in for another unforgettable overnight experience: living the life of a nomad and camping with the Shahsavan tribe!

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:MTS Camp - Alborz

Day 8: Hike Mt. Sabalan and relax at Sarein’s hot springs

Get back into your boots this morning! Embark on a 4-hour hike on the slopes of sacred Mt. Sabalan (15,784'), Iran’s third-highest mountain. This area is also a home base for the local Shahsavan nomadic pastoral tribe, with whom you’ll enjoy a cup of tea during the hike.

This afternoon, your feet will thank you for soaking them in Sarein’s soothing hot springs. The area’s mineral-rich waters are known throughout Iran for their healing and spiritual powers. Each spring is slightly different in mineral composition, size, and temperature, and is recognized for curing particular ailments.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

Day 9: Take in the treasures of Tabriz

After breakfast, drive to western Iran’s cultural mecca of Tabriz. Here stand the ruins of the 14th-century Arg-e Alishah (also known as the Arg-e Tabriz), believed to be the largest brick structure ever built. Spend the day exploring the archeological and historical treasures of the Azerbaijan Museum. Featuring superb metal and stone relics up to 3000 years old, the museum also houses Ahad Hossein’s powerful sculptures of life and war, plus a re-weave of the legendary Ardebil carpet. You’ll also visit the splendid Masjed-e Kaboud, or the Blue Mosque. Constructed in 1465, the mosque is renowned for its remarkable domed ceilings, dazzling turquoise tile mosaics, and intricate calligraphy.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Tabriz International Hotel OR El-Goli Pars Hotel

Day 10: Visit St. Stepanos Monastery and marvel at the bazaar

Start the day exploring ancient tomb and caravanserai ruins en route to the architecturally masterful St. Stepanos Monastery. An Armenian monastery built in the 9th century entirely of stone, it has been restored and rebuilt several times over the centuries. On the drive to the monastery, we'll pass by an 11th-century Seljuq tomb tower, the ruins of a sizeable 16th-century Safavid caravanserai, and the Nakheirchi church, an early Christian chapel that a cattle herder built for other herders and shepherds.

After lunch, return to Tabriz ready to hunt for treasures at its vibrant, UNESCO-listed bazaar explored by Marco Polo in the 13th century. Stroll through its 22 magnificent brick-domed halls and 24 caravanserais filled with carpets, jewelry, spices, hats, leather, housewares, produce, and oh so much more. Set your newly acquired purchases at your feet as you sit down to dine in the 17th-century park restaurant El-Goli.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Tabriz International Hotel OR El-Goli Pars Hotel

Day 11: Trek the sacred vally of Kandovan

Another day of trekking today, though this time it’s through the scenic valley of Kandovan in the historic Mt. Sahand foothills, a 30-mile drive from Tabriz. Sahand, a dormant volcano, is the highest mountain in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. Cut into its slopes is the remarkable village of Kandovan, where just over 600 people reside year-round, comprises manmade cliff dwellings excavated inside volcanic rocks and tuffs. Tonight you settle into bed in one of these 700-year-old cave-like residences—indeed a night to remember!

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Laleh Kandovan International Rocky Hotel

Day 12: Mountain drive south to Zanjan

Another mountain drive this morning through the Zagros mountains’ passes and villages leads to the spectacular Sassanid Takht-e Soleyman citadel. This UNESCO World Heritage Site includes the principal Zoroastrian sanctuary, partly rebuilt in the 13th-century Mongol period, and a Sasanian-period (6th and 7th centuries) temple dedicated to Anahita, divinity of the waters. The designs of the fire temple, the palace, and the general layout have strongly influenced the development of religious Islamic architecture, as well as other cultures.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Zanjan Grand Hotel

Day 13: Visit breathtaking Soltaniyeh and Qazvin

Architecture and history buffs will thrill to today’s activities! The first is breathtaking Soltaniyeh: a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to the oldest (erected from 1302 to 1312) and tallest double-shell dome in Iran, and one of the largest brick domes in the world. The Dome of Soltaniyeh greatly influenced more daring Iranian-style cupola constructions throughout the Muslim world. Sadly much of its exterior decor has been lost over the centuries, but the interior’s remarkable mosaics, murals, calligraphy, and faience have been preserved.

Next up is Qazvin, an ancient capital in the Persian Empire and known today as the calligraphy capital of Iran. Visit the city’s lovely, wonderfully restored caravanserai-turned-arts precinct, admire its astounding architectural marvels, browse its sensorial bazaars, and stroll its atmospheric alleyways.

After lunch, head back to Tehran—a two hours’ drive—for a farewell dinner and your last night in Iran.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Laleh Hotel OR Parsian Azadi Hotel

Day 14: Depart from Tehran

After a farewell breakfast, transfer to Tehran’s international airport for your homeward-bound flight.

  • Breakfast

Jul 01 - 14, 2018

Sep 22, 2018 - Oct 05, 2018

pricing

2018 Prices
$6,595 (6-15 members)
$1,400 single supplement

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El-Goli Pars Hotel — Tabriz

Though not in the center of town, the El-Goli Pars enjoys a verdant address atop a hill overlooking El-Goli Park and its charming lake. Needless to say, the views of the park, city, and surrounding mountains are lovely. Amenities include an indoor pool, sauna, and Jacuzzi—and on the top floor is a revolving restaurant!

Homestay


Kadus Grand Hotel — Rasht

The first hotel in Rasht, Kadus Grand enjoys a central location in this provincial capital city on the Caspian coast. The lobby’s impressive architecture is grander than the rooms themselves, which are basic but fine. Stays are enhanced by the lovely garden, traditional tea house, and outdoor swimming pool.

Laleh Hotel — Tehran

With its prime location near the Carpet Museum and charming cafés, the 380-room Laleh International Hotel provides standard accommodations in Tehran. The property features lovely courtyards, a 24-hour coffee shop, helpful staff, and generous breakfasts, and there is a lovely large park behind the hotel. The Laleh was formerly an Intercontinental, and has a nostalgic feel that will transport you to a different time and place.

Laleh Kandovan International Rocky Hotel — Kandovan

It’s not every day that you get to stay in a cave. The Laleh hotel chain makes this already unique experience even more memorable, with spacious and warm rooms carved out of volcanic rock. Many even have beautiful village and mountain views. Be prepared to climb some steep stairs, but don’t worry about toting your bags—they get to ride up the conveyor belt.

MTS Camp - Alborz — Iran

Parsian Azadi Hotel — Tehran

One of Iran’s largest hotels, Parsian Azadi caters to tourists and business travelers alike. The spacious rooms’ ambient furnishings and rich colors evoke a truly Persian feel, and most offer lovely mountain or city views. Speaking of views, be sure to tote your camera to breakfast, which is served with 360-degree views from its lofty top-floor perch. Guests can also relax in the sweeping lobby, indoor pool, and spa.

Sefid Kenar Hotel — Bandar-e Anzali

Beautiful sea views and polite hospitality stand out at this simple, family-friendly hotel in coastal Bandar-e Anzali. Its seafront location affords guests nice walks along the private beach; the surrounding gardens are lovely as well. Rooms are cozy and quiet, especially those facing the soothing sea.

Tabriz International Hotel — Tabriz

Tabriz International is stately on the outside, with neat and clean rooms, and fairly modern design and furnishings, on the inside. Friendly, professional staff add to the pleasantness of your stay. Outdoor spaces include a dining terrace and a swimming pool replete with a fun dolphin statue.

Zanjan Grand Hotel — Zanjan

The Zanjan Grand Hotel, located on the edge of town, is a great base for exploring the UNESCO-listed Takht-e Soleyman citadel. Service-minded staff help make guests comfortable, and the on-site restaurant serves a Persian buffet at breakfast and dinner.

  • Join us for this new, exploratory hiking adventure!
  • Trek through the breathtaking, contrasting landscapes and cultures of the southern (desert) and northern (verdant) Alborz Mountains
  • Visit numerous UNESCO-listed sites, from terraced Masuleh village to the magnificent St. Stepanos Monastery to the soaring Dome of Soltaniyeh
  • Explore ancient fortresses, medieval castles, mosaicked mosques, fascinating museums—and overnight in a rock dwelling!

There are few countries whose deep history and culture are as rich and as palpable as Iran’s. In the northern reaches of this enchanted land, amidst breathtaking landscapes, the Alborz Mountains harbor pristine examples of the nation’s textured past and colorful present. On this exclusive MTS adventure, spend 12 glorious days trekking through the Alborz’s varied highlands—dry, desert south and green, forested north. Along the way, get your Persian culture fix with visits to world-class museums, ancient ruins, sacred mosques, local villages, nomadic tribes—even soak in restorative hot springs and sleep in an ancient rock dwelling! Led by a knowledgeable, expert MTS guide, this incredible trip offers an unparalleled way to experience this unique, magical destination.

This trip is an exploratory venture, so the itinerary may change slightly before the trips run. We welcome folks with a true sense of adventure, those who can roll with the unexpected and find the special moments on any trip!

Why Travel to Iran with MTS?

We have been operating our Iran trip for five years and have taken dozens of guests into the country to experience its ancient sites and warm, welcoming culture. Even though the U.S. and Iran do not have diplomatic relations at this time, it is legal for Americans to travel to Iran. Our role at MTS is to navigate the continuing complexities involved in traveling to Iran by skillfully:

  • Handling the group’s tourist visa through a complex, four-step process
  • Coordinating other required paperwork, from journalist waivers to resumes
  • Keeping groups up-to-date on U.S. State Department travel warnings and alerts
  • Staying informed of any changing regulations in Iran for tourist groups
  • Handling all in-country operations and logistics
  • Registering the group with the State Department Enrollment Program (STEP)
  • Registering the group with the Swiss Embassy, who handle all Western country diplomatic matters in Iran

At MTS we strive to make our Iran adventures seamless, while also ensuring that guests are aware of the realities of travel within the country. For example, the best accommodations in Iran might not be equal to the standard experienced on other group trips and the itinerary not as flexible. What guests can be assured of on every trip is expert leadership.

 

DAILY itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Iran!

The capital city and modern heart of Iran welcomes you! After an early-morning arrival into Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport, your Mountain Travel Sobek guide will meet you and transfer you to the Laleh Hotel. Settle into your comfortable room, then meet up with the group for a short welcome talk and trip briefing. Your cultural extravaganza begins with a trip to the Carpet Museum of Iran, home to a variety of stunning Persian carpets dated from as far back as the 16th century.

After lunch it’s on to the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, which showcases an impressive collection of more than 3,000 works by Picasso, Matisse, van Gogh, and other world-class artists. Nearby is a small flea market where you can do a bit of fun treasure (and bargain) hunting among crowded stalls packed with locals hawking their wares—a unique sensorial experience.

Come evening, head back to the hotel for a welcome dinner and restful night’s sleep.

  • Dinner
  • Accommodation:Laleh Hotel OR Parsian Azadi Hotel

Day 2: Behold the jewels of Tehran

Start the day off with a buffet breakfast before driving into the city center to visit one of the gates of old Tehran. Then spend the rest of the morning visiting the National Museum of Iran, which features some of the world’s most valuable Persian antiquities right up to the modern Islamic era. After a hearty lunch, feast your eyes upon the largest and most dazzling collection of jewels in the world at the Crown Jewels Museum, located in the National Treasury. This evening, enjoy dinner with the group.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Laleh Hotel OR Parsian Azadi Hotel

Day 3: Enter the Alborz Mountains

Lace up your hiking boots, as you begin your trek today with a short warm-up hike in the southern Alborz Mountains’ dry desert climate. From here, pass by flowing rivers and gentle springs on the way to the northern Alborz, which has a wildly different landscape and climate than other parts of Iran—with dense forests, green hillsides, and often rainy skies. It’s about a 3-hour drive to tiny Parachan, one of 40 villages in the verdant Taleqan valley and an old trade-route stop. The valley is one of 25 passes that were used to reach the Caspian Sea, where renowned Persian rice was traded for wheat.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:MTS Camp - Alborz

Day 4: Hike Mt. Lashkarak and Alam-Kuh

Today is a full day of hiking, beginning with an ascent nearly all the way to the peak of  Mt. Lashkarak (13,959'). Then you descend into the Alborz’s densely forested Caspian side on a 7-hour mountain trek. The day is both challenging and rewarding, with every step affording breathtaking views—including of snow-capped Alam-Kuh (15,906'), Iran’s second-highest peak, which you can summit today if you choose.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:MTS Camp - Alborz

Day 5: Journey into the Paradise of Iran

Conitnue trekking through the northern Alborz’s lush landscape and descend through thbe mountainous Galu valley into Kelardasht. Nicknamed the “Paradise of Iran,” this verdant region is a popular getaway for nature-loving Tehranis. Adventure lovers are sated here as well, and today you can optionally go rock climbing, ice climbing, or skiing, depending on weather and the group’s interest. Tonight you’re in for a special treat: experiencing the local warmth and hospitality firsthand when you overnight in an Abbasabad home!

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Homestay

Day 6: Step back in time in Gilan

Rest your feet this morning as you drive along the sea to Rasht, the capital of Gilan province and the largest city on Iran’s Caspian coast. From here you head west to statue-laden Fuman, where an easy hike leads you to Rudkhan Seljuq, a brick and stone castle hidden among dense mountainous forest. Originally constructed in the Sasanian era (225–651), the medieval military complex is quite weathered today but, incredibly, its 42 towers are still intact.  

Another short drive carries you to Masuleh, a UNESCO-registered village established in the 10th century. Masuleh’s architecture is spectacular and unique: Its courtyards and rooftops serve as pedestrian streets. Motor vehicles are not permitted here, so you explore on foot, walking by—and on!—its interconnected buildings built right into the mountainside.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Kadus Grand Hotel OR Sefid Kenar Hotel

Day 7: Learn about Sufi mysticism and experience nomadic life

Start the day with another scenic drive, this time to Sarein along the gorgeous Asalem-Khalkhal Road. En route, visit the magnificent Ardabil Shrine, tomb of the 13th-century Sheikh Safieddin Ardabili, who founded the Safavid Dynasty. The shrine complex is an architectural marvel, with well-preserved and richly ornamented tiled facades representative of medieval Islamic design and Sufi mysticism. Built between the 16th and 18th centuries, the site was the Islamic empire’s largest and most complete monastery, and the most prominent Sufi shrine. Today, thanks to its collection of sacred artworks, remarkable architecture, and spiritual significance, the shrine is a center of Sufi religious pilgrimage.

This evening you’re in for another unforgettable overnight experience: living the life of a nomad and camping with the Shahsavan tribe!

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:MTS Camp - Alborz

Day 8: Hike Mt. Sabalan and relax at Sarein’s hot springs

Get back into your boots this morning! Embark on a 4-hour hike on the slopes of sacred Mt. Sabalan (15,784'), Iran’s third-highest mountain. This area is also a home base for the local Shahsavan nomadic pastoral tribe, with whom you’ll enjoy a cup of tea during the hike.

This afternoon, your feet will thank you for soaking them in Sarein’s soothing hot springs. The area’s mineral-rich waters are known throughout Iran for their healing and spiritual powers. Each spring is slightly different in mineral composition, size, and temperature, and is recognized for curing particular ailments.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

Day 9: Take in the treasures of Tabriz

After breakfast, drive to western Iran’s cultural mecca of Tabriz. Here stand the ruins of the 14th-century Arg-e Alishah (also known as the Arg-e Tabriz), believed to be the largest brick structure ever built. Spend the day exploring the archeological and historical treasures of the Azerbaijan Museum. Featuring superb metal and stone relics up to 3000 years old, the museum also houses Ahad Hossein’s powerful sculptures of life and war, plus a re-weave of the legendary Ardebil carpet. You’ll also visit the splendid Masjed-e Kaboud, or the Blue Mosque. Constructed in 1465, the mosque is renowned for its remarkable domed ceilings, dazzling turquoise tile mosaics, and intricate calligraphy.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Tabriz International Hotel OR El-Goli Pars Hotel

Day 10: Visit St. Stepanos Monastery and marvel at the bazaar

Start the day exploring ancient tomb and caravanserai ruins en route to the architecturally masterful St. Stepanos Monastery. An Armenian monastery built in the 9th century entirely of stone, it has been restored and rebuilt several times over the centuries. On the drive to the monastery, we'll pass by an 11th-century Seljuq tomb tower, the ruins of a sizeable 16th-century Safavid caravanserai, and the Nakheirchi church, an early Christian chapel that a cattle herder built for other herders and shepherds.

After lunch, return to Tabriz ready to hunt for treasures at its vibrant, UNESCO-listed bazaar explored by Marco Polo in the 13th century. Stroll through its 22 magnificent brick-domed halls and 24 caravanserais filled with carpets, jewelry, spices, hats, leather, housewares, produce, and oh so much more. Set your newly acquired purchases at your feet as you sit down to dine in the 17th-century park restaurant El-Goli.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Tabriz International Hotel OR El-Goli Pars Hotel

Day 11: Trek the sacred vally of Kandovan

Another day of trekking today, though this time it’s through the scenic valley of Kandovan in the historic Mt. Sahand foothills, a 30-mile drive from Tabriz. Sahand, a dormant volcano, is the highest mountain in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. Cut into its slopes is the remarkable village of Kandovan, where just over 600 people reside year-round, comprises manmade cliff dwellings excavated inside volcanic rocks and tuffs. Tonight you settle into bed in one of these 700-year-old cave-like residences—indeed a night to remember!

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Laleh Kandovan International Rocky Hotel

Day 12: Mountain drive south to Zanjan

Another mountain drive this morning through the Zagros mountains’ passes and villages leads to the spectacular Sassanid Takht-e Soleyman citadel. This UNESCO World Heritage Site includes the principal Zoroastrian sanctuary, partly rebuilt in the 13th-century Mongol period, and a Sasanian-period (6th and 7th centuries) temple dedicated to Anahita, divinity of the waters. The designs of the fire temple, the palace, and the general layout have strongly influenced the development of religious Islamic architecture, as well as other cultures.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Zanjan Grand Hotel

Day 13: Visit breathtaking Soltaniyeh and Qazvin

Architecture and history buffs will thrill to today’s activities! The first is breathtaking Soltaniyeh: a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to the oldest (erected from 1302 to 1312) and tallest double-shell dome in Iran, and one of the largest brick domes in the world. The Dome of Soltaniyeh greatly influenced more daring Iranian-style cupola constructions throughout the Muslim world. Sadly much of its exterior decor has been lost over the centuries, but the interior’s remarkable mosaics, murals, calligraphy, and faience have been preserved.

Next up is Qazvin, an ancient capital in the Persian Empire and known today as the calligraphy capital of Iran. Visit the city’s lovely, wonderfully restored caravanserai-turned-arts precinct, admire its astounding architectural marvels, browse its sensorial bazaars, and stroll its atmospheric alleyways.

After lunch, head back to Tehran—a two hours’ drive—for a farewell dinner and your last night in Iran.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Laleh Hotel OR Parsian Azadi Hotel

Day 14: Depart from Tehran

After a farewell breakfast, transfer to Tehran’s international airport for your homeward-bound flight.

  • Breakfast
lodgings

El-Goli Pars Hotel — Tabriz

Though not in the center of town, the El-Goli Pars enjoys a verdant address atop a hill overlooking El-Goli Park and its charming lake. Needless to say, the views of the park, city, and surrounding mountains are lovely. Amenities include an indoor pool, sauna, and Jacuzzi—and on the top floor is a revolving restaurant!

Homestay


Kadus Grand Hotel — Rasht

The first hotel in Rasht, Kadus Grand enjoys a central location in this provincial capital city on the Caspian coast. The lobby’s impressive architecture is grander than the rooms themselves, which are basic but fine. Stays are enhanced by the lovely garden, traditional tea house, and outdoor swimming pool.

Laleh Hotel — Tehran

With its prime location near the Carpet Museum and charming cafés, the 380-room Laleh International Hotel provides standard accommodations in Tehran. The property features lovely courtyards, a 24-hour coffee shop, helpful staff, and generous breakfasts, and there is a lovely large park behind the hotel. The Laleh was formerly an Intercontinental, and has a nostalgic feel that will transport you to a different time and place.

Laleh Kandovan International Rocky Hotel — Kandovan

It’s not every day that you get to stay in a cave. The Laleh hotel chain makes this already unique experience even more memorable, with spacious and warm rooms carved out of volcanic rock. Many even have beautiful village and mountain views. Be prepared to climb some steep stairs, but don’t worry about toting your bags—they get to ride up the conveyor belt.

MTS Camp - Alborz — Iran

Parsian Azadi Hotel — Tehran

One of Iran’s largest hotels, Parsian Azadi caters to tourists and business travelers alike. The spacious rooms’ ambient furnishings and rich colors evoke a truly Persian feel, and most offer lovely mountain or city views. Speaking of views, be sure to tote your camera to breakfast, which is served with 360-degree views from its lofty top-floor perch. Guests can also relax in the sweeping lobby, indoor pool, and spa.

Sefid Kenar Hotel — Bandar-e Anzali

Beautiful sea views and polite hospitality stand out at this simple, family-friendly hotel in coastal Bandar-e Anzali. Its seafront location affords guests nice walks along the private beach; the surrounding gardens are lovely as well. Rooms are cozy and quiet, especially those facing the soothing sea.

Tabriz International Hotel — Tabriz

Tabriz International is stately on the outside, with neat and clean rooms, and fairly modern design and furnishings, on the inside. Friendly, professional staff add to the pleasantness of your stay. Outdoor spaces include a dining terrace and a swimming pool replete with a fun dolphin statue.

Zanjan Grand Hotel — Zanjan

The Zanjan Grand Hotel, located on the edge of town, is a great base for exploring the UNESCO-listed Takht-e Soleyman citadel. Service-minded staff help make guests comfortable, and the on-site restaurant serves a Persian buffet at breakfast and dinner.

Dates and Pricing

Jul 01 - 14, 2018

Sep 22, 2018 - Oct 05, 2018

pricing

2018 Prices
$6,595 (6-15 members)
$1,400 single supplement

Activity Level Moderate to Strenuous
Trip Length 14 days

From $6,595

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Award-winning journeys recognized by Travel +Leisure

Award-winning journeys recognized by Travel +Leisure