Iran: Ancient cities and Damavand

16 days
from
£3,649
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Trip code: 
TXD
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Walking & Trekking
Min age:
18
Group size:
6–12

Summit one of the tallest volcanoes in the Northern Hemisphere and visit fascinating Isfahan, Yazd and Shiraz

Mount Damavand, (5671m) towers over the barren and rugged slopes of the Elburz mountain chain in Iran and presents a compelling challenge for fit trekkers. Just 45 miles northeast of Tehran, and dominating the skyline, Mt Damavand's great height and classic volcanic shape grant it dominating presence. Snow-capped year round, it endures harsh winters but moderate summers. Though not technical, it is a tough climb to the summit but with a panoramic view of fertile mountains and valleys and sea to the north and barren deserts to the south, it is also a very rewarding one.

After trekking in the Albroz Mountains and summiting Mt. Damavand, we spend a week exploring the wonders of Iran’s rich cultural heritage and history spanning thousands of years. We see the mark left from the great Persian emperors, invaders like Alexander the Great and the golden age of Islamic architecture whilst discovering why Iran is possibly the most hospitable country on Earth.

Highlights

  • Summit a classic snow-capped volcano
  • Trek in the Alborz Mountains
  • Climb the highest peak in western Asia
  • Uncover Iran's rich history and fascinating culture
  • Discover for yourself the legendary Iranian hospitality

Key information

  • 6 days trekking with full porterage
  • Good fitness required
  • Altitude maximum 5671m, average 3400m
  • 9 nights en suite hotels, 4 nights tent or shelter and 1 night local house
  • All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 7 dinners included
  • Group normally 4 to 12, plus leader. Min age 18yrs

What's included

  • All accommodation
  • All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 76 dinners included
  • London flights (if booking incl. flights)
  • Airport transfers

What's not included

  • Travel Insurance
  • Single supplement available (other than in shelters)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

6

Pace:

3-9 hours walking a day

Terrain:

High altitude; including steep, rocky terrain

Day by day breakdown
Day 24.0km/2.0miles
Day 318.0km/11.0miles
Day 45.0km/3.0miles
Day 56.0km/4.0miles
Day 614.0km/9.0miles
Day 76.0km/4.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Depart London.

    Depart London.

  • Day 2

    Visit Golestan Palace and the National Museum before hiking in the Darekeh area above Tehran

    This morning we visit some of Tehran’s most interesting sites. We wander around the grand Golestan Palace with its exquisite gardens and royal buildings. Next, we visit the National Museum to get an overview of the rich history and culture of Iran.

    As Tehran sits within Alborz mountains at just over 1,000m, some neighbourhoods on the outskirts of town are already great places to go hiking. We make our way to Darekeh which is popular with Tehranites wanting to get to experience nature during the weekend. After lunch by a river, we set off on our first hike, following the river to Haft-hoze–Ezghalchal (2,566m).

    Palangchal Shelter

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 3

    Trek to Tochal Peak and on to Shir Pala

    Our trek today takes us up to Tochal Peak situated above the ski resort of the same name at 3,961m. The trail offers great views over the Albroz mountains. From the top of Tochal Peak there are stunning views both of Tehran below and of Mt. Damavand. This portion of the trek should take about 4hrs.

    We later descend (about 3hrs) along another route to Shir Pala Shelter (2,750m) where we spend the night.

    Shir Pala Shelter

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Descend to Darband and transfer to Raineh

    We continue our descent from yesterday and make our way to the waterfall at Abshar Dogholo and on to Pasqaleh Village and Darband (1,700m). The hike should take about 3hrs. From here transfer to Raineh at the southern base of Mt. Damavand (about 3hrs drive). 

    Homestay

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Trek from Gosfandsara to Bargah e Sevom

    Our day starts with a 1hr drive to Gosfandsara (3,200m) where its photogenic mosque stands with Mt. Damavand in the background. This is also the start of our two-day trek up to the summit of the highest mountain in western Asia. From here we start our gradual climb through poppy fields and meadows as mules carry our gear. Our goal for today is the shelter at Bargah e Sevom (4,200m) which is normally abuzz with both Iranian and foreign trekkers either on their way up Mt. Damavand or back from it. The trek should only take about 4hrs and we have time to rest up and socialise before tomorrow’s summit push. As the shelter can get very busy, we may end up spending the night in tents.

    Bargah-e-Sevom Shelter or camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Mt. Damavand summit attempt

    Today is the day we head for the summit of Mt. Damavand, the tallest volcano in the northern hemisphere and the highest mountain west of the Hindu Kush. Setting off before sunrise we make our way up the path slowly. The trail is not particularly demanding but the altitude does make everything more sluggish. At times we may pass the odd snowfield and scree before eventually reaching the summit at 5,761m. From here the views are expansive (weather permitting) and a just reward for our efforts. The trek to the summit should take about 6hrs.

    We later return to Bargah-e-Sevom Shelter the way we came (about 4hrs) where we will have a well-deserved rest.

    Bargah-e-Sevom Shelter or camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Return to Gosfandsara and on to Raineh

    We retrace our steps down the mountain to Gosfandsara. From here it’s a short 1hr drive back to Raineh where we can relax for the rest of the day. If the weather made summiting yesterday impossible we may be able to have a 2nd attempt today.

    Homestay

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Return to Tehran; free afternoon

    This morning we drive back to Tehran (about 3hrs). The rest of the day is free to relax, explore more of the Iranian capital or just enjoy a nice, cool, alcohol-free beer. If we ended spending an extra night in Bargah-e-Sevom due to delays in summiting Mt. Damavand we will arrive later in Tehran.

    Hotel Mashad or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Visit Kashan on the way to Isfahan

    After having spent the past week exploring the Albroz mountains, the time has come for us to explore Iran’s cultural delights. As we leave the hustle and bustle of the Iranian capital behind we make our way, through the desert, to Kashan. This oasis town was a favourite of Shah Abbas who was buried here. We visit the historical garden of Fin which was first planted during the Safavid period and kept alive with water from the nearby Sulaimanieh Spring. This beautiful garden was expanded by the Zand and Qajar monarchs, with many open pavilions added. In Kashan, there are also fine examples of grand 19th Century merchant residences and we will have the chance to visit one of these, most likely Boroujerdiha House.

    From here it’s on to Isfahan, the jewel in the Persian crown with its arched bridges, tiled mosques, bazaar and impressive main square.

    Part Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Explore Isfahan's many wonderful sites

    It was once said of Isfahan that it is half the world (“Isfahan nesf-e jahan”). The capital city of Shah Abbas I is full of gems including some of the most spectacular examples of Islamic architecture found anywhere. We spend the next 1.5 days exploring some of the city’s top sites including the immense Imam Square which is surrounded by Imam Mosque, Ali Ghapu’s Palace, the mosque of Sheikh Lotfollah and the Bazaar. Nearby are the 10th century Jame Mosque (Friday Mosque) and Shah Abbas II’s Chehel Sotoun with its beautiful and diverse frescos. We also visit some of the city’s emblematic bridges including Si o Se Pol Bridge and the Khaju Bridge.

    Part Hotel or similar

  • Day 11

    Drive to Yazd making stops in Na'in and Maybod en route

    After the Vank Cathedral in the Armenian quarter, we drive to Yazd. En route we stop in the town of Na’in to visit the early Islamic period Friday Mosque and the Pirnia House /Ethnographic Museum, a beautiful example of a late Safavid period private house with delicate monochrome painted plaster decoration. We continue to the nearby village of Mohammadiye to see the traditional pit workshops weaving the camel cloaks worn by the Muslim clergy in Iran. Our next stop is the pre-Islamic town of Maybod where we visit the mud-brick castle of Narin and which dates back almost 2,000 years. We finally arrive in Yazd in the late afternoon. (total drive time about 7hrs plus visits)

    Hotel Mehr or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Yazd - Towers of Silence, Zoroastrian Fire Temple, Jame Mosque and Old Town

    We spend all day exploring Yazd. We learn about Zoroastrianism as we visit the 18th century Towers of Silence which were still in use as burial towers until about 70 years ago. Here bodies would be brought to decompose and be devoured by birds. We also visit the Fire Temple, another sacred Zoroastrian site, with its flame which is said to have been burning for 1,500 years. We also explore Yazd’s picturesque old town and visit the sumptuous Jame Mosque as well as the Amir Chakhmagh complex.

    Hotel Mehr or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    To Faragheh, optional hike

    We continue our journey through central Iran by driving to Faragheh. This village is home to nomadic Bakhtiari and Quashquai people and we spend the rest of the day here gaining a glimpse or Iranian rural life. There is also the option of taking a walk in the surrounding countryside.

    Faragheh Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    Pasargad, Persepolis and Nagsh Rostam; on to Shiraz

    Today we combine transferring with sightseeing. As we make our way towards the eternal Spring city of Shiraz our first stop is Pasargad, best known as the location of the tomb of the founder of the Persian Empire: Cyrus the Great. From here we continue to Persepolis. In its day, during the Achaemenid Dynasty (550 – 330BC), Persepolis was one of the world’s great cities. A ceremonial capital, Persepolis housed the palaces of Darius the Great, Xerxes and Artaxerxes and is famous for its resplendent bas-reliefs depicting kings, courtiers and representatives from tributary nations, ranging from Ethiopia to India. After visiting the ancient city we continue to nearby Naghsh-e-Rostam with royal tombs dug into the rock itself high up a cliff face. The site also has seven Sassanian rock-reliefs, including one of King Shapur and his first famous victory over the Roman Emperor Valerian.

    We eventually arrive in Shiraz where we should have time to visit the tomb of the much loved Persian poet, Hafez.

    Arg Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    Shiraz City Tour

    We spend the day exploring the sites of Shiraz, the city of ‘roses and nightingales’. The university city is known for its gardens such as Eram and Narenjestan and its poets including the great Persian poets Hafez and Saadi, both of whom have tombs here. Another famous phenomenon is that of the morning sunlight coming through the painted windows of the Nasir ol Molk mosque which we visit before heading to the buzzing Vakil Bazaar. Wander through alleyways crammed full of goods from every-day objects to intricate enamel crockery, embossed boxes and other crafts.

    Arg Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 16

    Fly to London

    Those on the group flights depart in the very early hours of this morning. Those not on the group flights, the trip ends after breakfast.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Iran

Nearly all nationalities need a visa for Iran and the whole process can take up to 12 weeks. Before applying for a visa an authorisation number is required (which we will obtain for you through our partners in Iran – we will need a copy of your passport 12 weeks in advance). We will send your tourist number as soon as we have received it from the relevant authorities (usually 4-6 weeks prior to travel). The visa application process includes having fingerprints taken so everyone applying for a visa needs to go in person to apply. The cost of the visa is GB£150 for UK nationals and generally takes 10 working days, it is possible to get an express same-day visa for a cost of GB£225. British, American and Canadian nationals need to obtain a visa before travelling to Iran. Most other nationalities including EU, Australian and New Zealanders can obtain a 30 day visa on arrival at Tehran Airport. We still recommend getting the Authorisation Number in advance as this will save time at the airport. The Iranian authorities now require people planning on getting their visa on arrival to pay for the visa in advance at the same time as getting the authoristaion number. The costs is payable through Exodus and can vary so please contact our customer operations team for details. You may also wish to obtain the visa in advance. Some nationalities, including Americans, may be asked to be processed separately at immigration and give finger-prints. This is not a long or complicated process and should not be of concern. It appears that with the Iranian consulate in London now issuing visas it is no longer possible to apply for the visa abroad if you live in the UK. Please note that the visa situation for Iran may be changeable. More information is available on our Iranian Information Sheet (https://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/travelink/Iran.pdf)
Please note that visiting Iran may result in you needing to obtain a visa to visit the Unites States in the future.


Vaccinations

Iran

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Malaria prophylaxis is essential and we suggest that you seek advice from your GP or travel health clinic about which malaria tablets to take. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

All food included on trek, breakfast only in the cities.

The quality of food is generally very good. Local fresh flat bread, dried fruits, nuts and sweets and dairy products such as cheese and yogurt are all delicious local specialities. There should be no problems with being a vegetarian on this trip, however please inform us ahead of time if you are a vegetarian or have any other special dietary requirements. The food while camping will be adequate but the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables will be limited. Typical meals whilst camping: Breakfast: White cheese, honey/jam, butter, flat bread, tea and coffee Lunch: Packaged meat (cold cuts), cheese, flat bread, jam or honey, nuts and fruits, tuna fish, chocolate. Evening meal: Hot soup or stew of available products, rice, pasta, tinned fruit, tea and coffee. Safe drinking water is provided. You will be able to fill up in the morning and evening whilst trekking. You may wish to supplement this with water purification tablets too.

Weather

The best months for walking in Iran are June, July and August. In Tehran you can expect the temperature to rise to over 40ºC, but once we reach higher altitudes temperatures are more pleasant. Our first day's climb may be quite hot but from there on the temperatures are usually moderate during the day (usually in the low 20s) but will drop substantially at night when it can get as low as freezing. Generally the weather is dry but it can get very windy, particularly at night. On the ascent of Damavand we should avoid any severe winds as we approach from the NE and the wind blows from the west. As with all mountain conditions, occasional cloud and rain cannot be ruled out and you should bring appropriate wet weather gear.

Tehran

Tehran

Is this trip for you?

This is a grade 7 (strenuous) trek to one of the highest volcanoes in the Northern Hemisphere. Though not a technical climb, under normal circumstances at the time of year when departures are scheduled, icy or windy conditions could make the summit day more difficult than expected. Night time can, at times, be extremely windy at the campsite but this usually dies down during the day. A good level of fitness is required and ideally you should have some experience of walking at altitude.

Organised trekking trips in Iran are still in their infancy so you should be prepared to take things as you find them. You should not expect the same level of service as found on camping trips in Nepal or Peru with Exodus. Mules are used to transport everything rather than porters and there are fewer staff to assist with general camp chores. You will need to assist with erecting and dismantling your tent. You will be walking along sheep paths, some of which are ill defined, and the gradient is steep at times. The trails are mainly rocky and uneven underfoot. This, combined with the rapid gain in altitude, makes the trek very demanding. The day's climb to the peak itself is the hardest day and you can expect to be walking on snow and ice for some of the ascent. There are a couple of short scrambles and the sulphurous volcanic scree can be a bit slippery. The descent back to base camp is taxing on the thigh muscles and knees, adding to the difficulty of the day.

During the second week, visiting the cities of Isfahan, Yazd and Shiraz, there are some long drives (up to 6hrs) though the views of the desert and mountains we cross are worth the drive.

Please note that Iran is an Islamic state. There is a strict moral and dress code for both men, who should wear long trousers and have their shoulders covered, and, in particular, women who need to cover their hair as well as wear a loose-fitting tunic or long shirt which covers you to the knees and hides your shape. Loose skirt or trousers should be worn covering the legs. This dress code should be adhered to from the moment you land or you may be refused entry. Iran is a ‘dry’ country and alcohol is strictly prohibited. You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference: http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/Exodus_WT_Fitness_Training_Guide.pdf

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels and Camping

9 nights en suite hotels, 4 nights tent or shelter and 1 night local house

Whilst trekking, the accommodation is very basic being either in the local shelter or in tents as well as one night in a local homestay. Accommodation in the shelters are dormitory style and the bathrooms are basic without a shower. How busy the shelters will determine whether we stay at the shelter or camp. If camping you will be expected to erect and take down your own tent.

During the cultural portion of the trip we stay in comfortable 3-star hotels, all en suite.

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Be the first to post your review! If you have recently returned from an Exodus adventure and want to help other travellers with your feedback then simply use the link below to post your holiday review.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: sales@exodus.co.uk

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