""Meal and accommodation inclusions noted as B, L, D, A (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Accommodation)
TEHRAN Friday, 19th April 2013
Iran's capital is a bustling city in the foothills of the Alborz Mountains, with its majestic peak, the Mount Damavand, seen to the northeast of the city on a clear day. Historical sites in Tehran includes the Golestan Palace and Museums, with the Ethnographical Museum, the Sa'ad-Abad Palace and Museums, the Imam Khomeini Mosque, the extensive covered Bazaar and shrines of several Imamzadehs. There are several other major museums including Iran's National Museum, which includes prehistoric, historic and Islamic sections, Glass and Ceramics Museum, Carpet Museum and Iran's State Jewels Museum which houses the most fabulous collections of jewels and gems, and other treasures, in the world. Tehran is combination of contrasts; from each tribe or ethnic group, there are people who live shoulder to shoulder. While old streets of downtown are still remind you of Qajarid era with traditional buildings, northern parts of city are very much soaked in modern life. Welcome dinner tonight at our 3 star hotel in Mashad (Tehran).
TEHRAN to ESHTAHARD (CAMP), 95km Saturday, 20th April 2013
B L D A
Tehran is a mega city that hides remains of old kingdoms in its crowded downtown streets. Today we leave this mega city towards the west. Touchal (3960 m) is getting faint slowly and more flat grounds with scattered orchards appear which will lead you toward Eshtehard town. Eshtehard is mainly well-known for its industrial center. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all provided in Iran. Tonight is our first night of camping.
ESHTAHARD to QAZVIN, 95km Sunday, 21st April 2013
B L D A
The old Safavid Capital has many monuments to visit, including the Friday Mosque, the Shrine of Shahzadeh Hossein and the Heydarieh Theological School. The magnificent 14th century Gonbad-e-Sultanieh which has been registered in UNESCO World Heritage list, Kharaghan twin towers, Ali-ghapou mansion, Alamout castle, Ovan Lake or the Tomb/Tower of Uljaito, the Il-Khanid Ruler of Iran, are main attractions in Qazvin. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all provided in Iran. Tonight 3 star accommodation.
QAZVIN to RUDBAR (CAMP), 110km Monday, 22nd April 2013
B L D A
Today we make our way to Rudbar. Rudbar and its surroundings, once the cradle of a prosperous civilization of Rudbar dating back to 2000 years BCE., today is famous for its beautiful olive gardens and groves of olive trees which surround the city. It is located on the fringes of a valley through which the Sefid River (Rud-e Safid) flows. Rudbar can be considered as a gateway to the Gilan Province from central Iran. Rudbar is also known for its cream-hued, handcrafted carpets of fine quality and the winds in the Sefid River valley. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all provided in Iran. Tonight the whole group will camp.
RUDBAR to RASHT, 95km Tuesday, 23rd April 2013
B L D A
The first thing you may notice on this day is dramatic change to the climate as we enter the green zone of Iran. With up to 70 percent of average humidity, the green zone stretches all the way from the Caspian Sea shores to the northern slopes of Alburz mountain range. Traditionally agriculture, especially the rice and tea along with silk production, was the main activity of local people of Gilan province. Rasht, historically known as the 'Gate of Europe' since 13th Century has been always the center of commerce and attention in this region. In modern days Rasht has become a popular city for foreign tourism and especially for its dominant cuisine that is the various types of fish. Rashti people are said to spend much on books, clothes and food. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all provided in Iran. Tonight we stay in 3 star accommodation.
RASHT to ASALEM (CAMP), 95km Wednesday, 24th April 2013
B L D A
From Rasht to reach Asalem, the green rice fields stretch everywhere. Asalem is a small capital city of a district with the same name well located on a green plain with a scenic view. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all provided in Iran. Tonight the whole group will camp.
ASALEM to KHALKHAL, 75km Thursday, 25th April 2013
B L D A
A beautiful path with an enchanting forest to pass through all the way to Khalkhal. From here, a magnificent road zig-zags its way upward to reach Taleshi nomads settlements in the slopes of northern face of Albourz. Taleshan are, as archaeological studies show and archeologists say, one of the oldest inhabitants of Caspian Sea and have lived in Talesh land in old Persia and present Iran, even before Aryans migration. According to some researchers, Taleshan have been in this area 3000 years before the Aryan. Because of their light skin and blue eyes, good indications are that they may be the Aryans aran Iran. These people are mainly cattle and goat herders that migrate through low-lands and highlands of Alburz Mountains. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all provided in Iran. Tonight we stay in 3 star accommodation.
KHALKHAL to MEYANEH, 110km Friday, 26th April 2013
B L D A
The third largest city after Tabriz and Maragheh located in East Azerbaijan's province, Meyaneh is a middle-point of a strategic route throughout the Persian History from the ancient time and today still keeps up with its economical importance. Meyaneh is one of the region's oldest cities and its foundations date back to the pre-Islamic era of Iran and the emergence of the kingdom of Media. The city has been an economic and cultural crossroads for many years. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all provided in Iran. Tonight we stay in 3 star accommodation.
MEYANEH to TIKMEDASH (CAMP), 110km Saturday, 27th April 2013
B L D A
Tikmedash is small town half way to Tabriz city. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all provided in Iran. Tonight the whole group will camp.
TIKMEDASH to TABRIZ, 95km Sunday, 28th April 2013
B L D A
We are heading toward the homeland of pre-historic civilization and the fifth largest city in Iran. An architectural museum of historical buildings and monuments. In northwest Iran near the Turkish border this ancient capital of Armenia (founded in the 3rd century BC) is now a sprawling industrial city surrounded by mountains. Famed for its calligraphy and bookmaking in the 13th century Tabriz was well placed on trade routes and played an important role in Iran's history. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all provided in Iran. Tonight we stay in 4 star accommodation.
TABRIZ to REST DAY (Rest Day) Monday, 29th April 2013
B L D A
Tabriz was the centre of East Azarbaijan and Mongol capital in the 13th century. Some of the highlights of Tabriz that could be included in the visit are The Ancient Blue Mosque, Azerbaijan Museum with interesting artifacts from Prehistoric to Historical Periods, El-Goli Park and the famous Old Bazaar of Tabriz. The city has a population of just over 1 million and is home to the Azeri Turks, Iran's largest minority group. While here, visit the ruined 14th-century Ali Shah Mosque (its walls are 26 m high) the 13th-century Blue Mosque (beautiful mosaic works) and the Jame Mosque. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all provided in Iran.
TABRIZ to MARAND, 100km Tuesday, 30th April 2013
B L D A
Going westward from Tabriz, we will reach Marand, an ancient little city with a rich poetic heritage. The history of the town goes back to the pre-Islamic era. Marand had various names in history, such as Maryana and Mandagarana. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all provided in Iran. Tonight we stay in 3 star accommodation.
MARAND to KHEZRLOU (CAMP), 120km Wednesday, 1st May 2013
B L D A
From Marand we are still going westward to reach Khezerloo, a place with a very small population in the region of West Azarbayjan, in which we will stay over. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all provided in Iran. Tonight the whole group will camp.
KHEZRLOU to MAKU, 100km Thursday, 2nd May 2013
B L D A
Maku is situated 25 kilometres from the Turkish border in a mountain gorge and is the world's second largest Free Trade Zone. Baqcheh Jooq Palace dates back to the end of the Qajar period is among the attractions of city. It used to be the house of the local governor until 1974. Located 7 km northwest of central Maku, it presently functions as a museum displaying some carpets and local handicrafts. The history of this town goes all the way back to Medean Period from 1st millennium BC. In ancient times the region of Maku was a part of Lesser Media and its name itself may be derived from the old Kurdish word Madkuh meaning 'the Mountain of the Medes'. Medes were the ancient Kurdish tribes. Maku has a semi-arid climate owing to its location in the rain shadow of the Zagros Mountains. The city is hot and dry in the summer, and cold with little snow in the winter. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all provided in Iran. Tonight we stay in 3 star accommodation.
MAKU, IRAN to DOGUBEYAZIT, TURKEY, 60km Friday, 3rd May 2013
B D A
Today we have a short ride to the border of approx 25 km where we will say goodbye to our Iranian guides. After passing over into Turkey we meet our Turkish guides who will be with us through to Istanbul, then on to the Greek border. Today we set off just for the nearest town of Dogubayazit (35km). This dusty frontier town has few charms of its own but is blessed with a fabulous backdrop. Mt Ararat (5137m), a Kilimanjaro-esque snow-capped summit and Turkey's highest mountain, hovers majestically over the horizon. We will try to visit Ishak Pasa Palace at sunset if time permits after crossing the border and our schedule allows. Ishak Pasa Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on the Silk Route near the Iranian frontier, and is situated on a high and vast platform of strategic importance. Group dinner in our hotel tonight to get to know our Turkish guides.
DOGUBEYAZIT to COLPAN, 105km Saturday, 4th May 2013
B D A
Today we ride via Mt. Tendurek (3522m) over Tendurek Pass (2644m) to Lake Van. Muradiye Waterfalls is a great, refreshing stop for travelers along the way, before we reach our lakeside accommodation just a short distance from the village of Colpan, a chalet complex on the shores of a secluded peninsular on one of the largest and most beautiful highland lakes in Turkey. There are wonderful views of the mountains and lake for you to enjoy as you near the end of Leg 17. Group dinner in our hotel tonight.
COLPAN to VAN, 75km Sunday, 5th May 2013
B D A
Your accommodation tonight is included in your tour price as is the dinner to celebrate the end of Leg 17. Van is the capital of Urartu Kingdom (9th - 6th Century B.C.) and was center of a significant civilisation during the rise of Iron Age. Also an important center for the 10th Century ACE for the Armenian Bagdarit Kingdom. It usually comes as a surprise to many travellers to discover that Van is by far the most engaging and liberal urban centre in eastern Anatolia. It feels different from other metropolises in the east, not least because of its sizeable student population. There's a fluid, lively energy to the city. As happens in Italy, the whole town promenades up and down Cumhuriyet Caddesi to window-shop, catch up with friends, see what's new, and generally take things easy. Young couples walking hand in hand on the main drag or flirting in the pastry shops - the place offers a refreshing change, particularly when you have travelled from rigorous arid lands to the east.
VAN to REST DAY, Monday, 6th May 2013
If you are leaving the tour in Van, there are daily flights to Ankara and Istanbul from Van airport. If you want to look around Van for another day you can book another night of accom in our tour hotel with us (optional extra). If you are continuing on with us on the next leg to Istanbul, then enjoy your rest day here in this unexpectedly sophisticated city.
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