Travellers will be arriving at various times today from all over the world, therefore no activities are planned until the group meeting - please check with Hotel reception staff or look for a message from your G Adventures CEO. The CEO will outline the trip formalities and itinerary and answer questions. After the meeting, you are welcome to join the CEO for a meal at a local restaurant with the group (optional).
We spend the morning of day two on a guided tour of the Iranian capital. Admire Carpets and gardens of Sa'd Abad Summer Palace, shop at the bazaar, or have a cup of chai in one of the city's many tea-houses. Afternoon drive (about 4 hours) will take us to Hamadan - one of the most important cities in West Iran.
The morning tour of Hamadan will start with a visit to the tombs of Alisina and Baba Taher. Alisina - in the Western World known as Avicenna - is a famous Persian physician, philosopher and scientist who died in Hamadan in 1037. Baba Taher is one of the most respected poets in early Persian literature - visiting his Mausoleum don't miss the ornate calligraphy inscribed on stone wall-slabs. After the tour we will drive to Kerman, with a stop at Apadana Fire temple on the way.
Five hours drive through the lands of Western Iran will take us to Ahvaz - a small provincial town nowadays, but in Medieval times, one of the most important scientific and trading centres in Iran. On day 5 we will take a day tour of Shush (Susa) to visit the famous archaeological site of the Palace of Darius.
On Day 6 we drive from Ahvaz to Shiraz. The very name Shiraz evokes images of ancient Persia: exotic, tranquil gardens, lavish mansions, colorful woolen rugs, art, philosophy, poetry and of course, the famous Shiraz grape. Shiraz is also a renowned center of learning, and boasts many of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country. Known as Iran's cultural capital, this city was home to two of Persia's most famous poets in the 13th and 14th centuries, Hafez and Saadi, whose mausoleums are found here. We will visit Pasargade, the capital and burial site of Cyrus the Great. From here we will also visit the country's premier attraction, Persepolis. In Greek, Persepolis literally means the 'capital of Persia'. Construction begun by Darius the Great in 518 BC for this capital of the mighty Achaemenid Empire. Alexander the Great burnt the city to the ground in 330 BC but many reminders of the city still remain and Persopolis lives on as one of the greatest wonders of the ancient world. Our guided tour will also take in the rock cut tombs at Nasqt-e Rostam, the burial place of Darius the Great and his successors. Shiraz has many sights to explore. The center of town is dominated by the Karim Khani fortress and the wonderful Bazar-e Vakil. This bazaar is home to one of the country's most impressive traditional teahouses, the converted bath house of Hamman-e Vakil. There is free time here to explore the city's beautiful Regents mosque, Nasiralmolk mosque and Khan madrasa, the Bagh-e Eram gardens and perhaps even listen to some poetry being recited at the Hafez tombs.
Drive to Yazd with a lunch stop in a traditional Caravanserai. The ancient desert city of Yazd is unique for its intriguing architecture, perfectly adapted to the harsh weather conditions of the surrounding desert. Wind towers, or badgirs, are a feature of the buildings in the old city - they trap even the gentlest of draughts and direct them into the houses below for cooling. Yazd is a fascinating place to wander around, exhibiting some of the best examples of preserved mud brick old towns in the near East. Walking the maze like streets there is the option of visiting the impressive Amir Chakhmaq Complex, the Jameh Mosque, the Khan-e Lari traditional house incorporating the fascinating Water Musuem, the Zoroastrian fire temple and the 'Towers of Silence'. Yazd is also the heart of the Zoroastrian religion. This religion, which dates back over 4000 years, is one the world's oldest and was Iran's state religion before the arrival of Islam. While in Yazd, why not hire a bicycle to explore the old town? Otherwise you can simply relax, puff on a qalyan or try the local favorite, camel fesenjun, in a shady courtyard. Yazd was a major stop on the caravan routes to Central Asia and India during the Silk Road period - Marco Polo visited Yazd on his way to China - and it retains a rustic feel. Make a visit to one or all of the 12 bazaars dotting the city and it might seem that nothing has changed since those good old days.
Be led through the fascinating history, tree-lined boulevards and atmospheric bazaars of Esfahan, the jewel of ancient Persia. Don't miss the sunset over the fabulous dome of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque - the tiles shimmer from cream to all shades of pink. A 16th century rhyme called it 'half the world' and after spending a few days here, you may agree. There is an abundance of fine Islamic buildings, many covered with the blue mosaic tiles Iran is famous for. There is also an enormous bazaar, perfect for discovering an exquisite Persian carpet, tranquil gardens, picturesque bridges and superb palaces. We start our tour in the world's second biggest square - Iman Square. Our guide will give us an insight into life under Persia's greatest ruler, Shah Abbas, and guide us through the Iman Mosque, Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque, and the Ali Qapu Palace. Iman Square itself, actually built as a royal polo ground, was once home to entertainers, storytellers, preachers and Silk Road caravans. We also explore the atmospheric bazaar with its wonderful scents and spices, musical merchants' cries and, of course, thousands of locals bargaining for their most desired items.
This beautiful mountain village has preserved its traditions, language and dress. Wander the quiet lanes, sample dried fruits and relax in our hotel overlooking the green fields below.
On the way to Tehran, Iran's capital, we stop in Kashan to visit a traditional merchant's house and one of the country's best gardens. Tehran is exciting city, noisy and chaotic. Home to 15 million people, this is where the country's true national identity is found. Expect to see religious women wearing a full-length chador competing for space with the young and hip girls in figure-hugging manteau and headscarves. It is not uncommon to be stopped by friendly locals who love nothing more than to chat about anything and everything. Visit the superb Golestan Palace to view some of the excesses of the Qajar rulers, ramble through the enormous bazaar and visit the Imam Khomeini Mosque. View the many political murals that surround the former US Embassy and round off by relaxing as locals do - drinking chai and chewing on dates in a traditional chaikhuneh (teahouse). Why not try some fine Iranian cuisine like dizi (soup stew mashed into paste) while enjoying traditional music at a local restaurant?
You may depart Tehran at any time on the departure day