Iran Adventure Tour: 12 Days Itinerary
*Note from the EPIC Editors*: Epic Backpacker Tours co-founder Will Hatton has traveled around Iran extensively for the last four years and on these adventures he met and married his Persian wife, Nina. Will and Nina's love of Iran as well as their unique insider knowledge and contacts within the country came together to devise this EPIC Iranian adventure itinerary that connects foreign backpackers with authentic adventure experiences in this truly special part of the world. The below itinerary is the product of years of on the ground research and is led by our expert guide, Pedro Padinha. Pedro has been leading adventures in Iran for years and knows this magical country extremely well...
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Day 1: Arrive and meet the gang!
Arrive into Tehran airport where you will be met by the EBT team (if you are arriving within 24 hours of the start of the tour); we’ll ferry you to HQ where you can chill out and freshen up. We recommend arriving into Tehran one day early so that you can settle in and be ready to go on the morning of day one. Note: accommodation pre-tour is not included.
Once back at our beautiful boutique hostel, you can up until we head out into the fabled city of Tehran, an ancient city of proud traditions, bustling markets and friendly people. In the afternoon we hop on the metro and go north to Tajrish to explore a photogenic local bazaar. We’ll also visit Imamzadeh Saleh, one of Tehran's most attractive shrines and a beautiful spot to people watch at sunset. In the evening, we celebrate our first days adventuring in Iran with our first group meal together at one of our favourite restaurants in all of Tehran...
Day 2: Explore Tehran
Today, we take to the streets to properly explore this massive city of +10 millions inhabitants. Tehran is very different across neighbourhoods and there is a strong contrast between the North and the South. Today, we'll spend time in both areas which will give us a well rounded look at the cities dynamic. First up is the Grand Bazaar – a maze of bustling alleys that stretches for more than 10 km. Later on, we move to Golestan Palace, where we can explore the opulence and excesses of the Qajar Dinasty...
As we head North, you’ll notice the difference in the vibe between the conservative south and the more modern north of Tehran. We'll stop to visit the old US Embassy – focal point of the 79 revolution, where 52 diplomatic staff were held hostage for 444 days. In the afternoon, we'll visit Tabiat Park - a happening hipster hub for the young and beautiful folks of Tehran! We'll round off the day with another tasty feast of traditional Iranian cuisine!
Day 3: Travel to Varzaneh
Today, we hit the road and drive for six hours to reach Varzaneh. We travel by comfortable private minibus. In Varzaneh, we stay in a traditional guesthouse run by a local family. Varzaneh is a fascinating village surrounded by epic desert dunes, a colourful salt lake, thriving wetlands and ancient Caravanserais - the telltale sign of an important hub along the Silk Road.
Day 4: Explore Varzaneh!
In the morning we head along an old branch of the ancient Silk Road to watch sunrise whilst enjoying an epic picnic breakfast on top of the roof of a particularly stunning abandoned Caravanserai. Caravanserai's are inns for camel trains and merchants traveling along the silk road and offer an insightful glimpse into the hustle and bustle of goods moving from East to West along these ancient trading routes. After breakfast, we hike up an epic black mountain volcano where we are greeted with striking views over the Gavkhooni wetlands...
Epic camel rides can be arranged (at additional cost).
In the afternoon, we visit some Zoroastrian temples and learn more about this ancient Persian religion that may have originated as early as 4000 years ago and is arguably the very first monotheistic faith. We will then head to the salt lake and finish off the day by climbing the dunes to watch the sunset. We may be able to arrange sand boarding, for an extra cost, if you're keen to ride some sand waves! If the weather is playing ball, we will have a tasty dinner on the dunes, star gaze, and watch as the milky way fills the desert sky overhead.
Day 5 and 6: Discover Esfahan
Esfahan, the legendary city of incredible Islamic architecture, bustling bazzars and opulant bridges crisscrossing the many rivers along which the city has grown... Esfahan is truly unmatched by any other city in Iran (and perhaps the world) so ready your cameras and prepare to be wowed, Esfahan is an absolute delight. This magical city is a living monument to traditional Persia and you can still see many artisans and traditional craftsmen practising arts handed down over generations.
The main bazaar has an incredible atmosphere - you feel it as soon as you wander it's twisting, pulsating, lively lanes - if you want a Persian carpet, a camel skin lamp or a shiny dagger, this is the place to bring out your haggle game! The UNESCO protected square is one of the most beautiful squares found anywhere in the world and one could spend hours people watching here. The buildings in Esfahan are a delight to architectural buffs (and photographers) and we'll learn more about traditional Persian architecture throughout the day. We will visit the most famous monuments in the city including Masjed e-Shah, Masjed Lotfollah, and the lively bridges famous for the performers, musicians and artists who entertain the many locals walking across the bridges on their daily commutes...
One afternoon in Esfahan, we will join the locals on the main square for a picnic and learn more about life in this ancient city from the locals point of view. For another perspective and vibe of the city, we’ll head to the Armenian Quarter. Time permitting, we will check out the Music Museum – one of the best private museums in Iran where daily live music shows are a beautiful experience!
Day 7: Travel to Persepolis and Shiraz
Today, we travel South on our way to Shiraz to check out two major historical sites: Nasqh-e Rostam, where the tombs of the great Persian Kings from the Achaemenid Dynasty have stood carved deep into a high cliff for more than 2500 years. The other site is the legendary Persepolis, one of the great wonders of the Ancient World. Conceived by Darius the Great, sacked by Alexander the Great, Persepolis is a wonderful place to stroll for a couple of hours and lose yourself amongst this truly ancient city... Afterwards we head to our accommodation in Shiraz for sunset where we'll enjoy dinner in one of the cities most iconic restaurants.
Day 8 - 10: Zagros Mountains and Trekking to Nomad villages
Today, we step off the beaten track and begin an epic adventure... We'll be joined by Mohamed, our local guide and a good friend, and he will lead us deep into the mountains. Mohamed will be our leader in the Zagros for the next three days. Born to a Qasqhai nomad family, he had been a shepherd until his mid 20’s whilst developing his skills as a guide, he knows the region like the back of his hand and is one of our closest friends in Iran. He will be able to provide a unique insight into life within nomadic communities, as well as the history and traditions of these groups, in Iran.
We’ll drive west from Shiraz through the Zagros mountains for about three hours until we reach Bosharjan village nestled in the foothills. We'll trek for four hours (12km) towards the mighty Dera mountain in the distance where we will spend a night with a nomadic family, perched atop the mountain, at an elevation of 1600 meters. We'll feast on local nomadic cuisine and hear tales of life amongst the mountains from our hosts...
In the morning after breakfast we will trek down to the other side of the mountains (about 4hr/ 10 km trekking) and spend the night with another nomad's family. Fresh mountain produce, super cool locals, and mind-blowing natural landscapes await us as we continue to soak in the vibes of the Zagros Mountains.
Our trek continues down to the Safarbag nomadic village ( about 2hr / 6 km trekking), our final destination. From here we drive to Chogan Valley and visit some beautiful ancient reliefs from the Sassanid-era.
We will have lunch at Bishapur traditional house, before driving back to Shiraz in the afternoon.
Day 11: Shiraz exploration
We spend the night in a traditional guesthouse in the heart of the historical center of Shiraz. From here, we'll head to one the most impressive sights in all of Iran – The multicoloured Nasir Al Molk Mosque, which is just around the corner from our comfy accomodation. This is one of the most colorful mosques in the world and a true delight for any photographers in the group. Afterwards, we move to Bagh Narajestan to have a glimpse of the spectacular Persian garden area before exploring its traditional bazaar.
In the afternoon, we have several options depending on time depending amd the interests of the crew. Bazaar shopping, cafe chilling, and strolling the streets for photo opportunities will wrap up our activities. We will have our final meal together (and plenty of laughs and hugs) and EBT staff will be making preparations for tomorrows departure. Special beverages may be on the menu...
*Note: it may be possible to visit the famous Pink Lake, depending on group interest and time (3 hours from Shiraz).
Day 12: Tour Ends
Sadly our adventure comes to an end...
EBT staff will arrange for transfers to the airport for those who are flying out over the next 24 hours. Check out of the hotel is around 11 am on Day 12. You can choose to stay on at the same hotel if you are not flying home right away, though any additional nights at the hotel are not covered by EBT.
Ready to book your spot? Just follow the instructions below!
(Space is limited - maximum of 12 people)
Iran Adventure Tour
Tour Cost: $1,800 per person (approx. £1495).
The balance will be due three - four months before departure.
Secure your spot:
Save 5 % by booking in full using the discount code: EpicTravel2020
Once payment is received, we will send you a confirmation email confirming your spot on the tour.
If you have any questions at all about this trip, please let us know and we would be more than happy to answer them. We look forward to hearing from you and hopefully having you join us on what promises to be one hell of an adventure across this amazing country!
Will + Chris
Epic Backpacker Tours Founders