I’ve long been hoping to take a first immersethrough group to Iran. There wasn’t time to get a group together for October 2017, so I’m aiming for April 2018. I’m thrilled that now at last it’s looking likely. The provisional dates are April 13 to 24 (which would mean getting to Istanbul April 12th, to fly in to Shiraz after midnight on April 13th; and flying out to Istanbul and onward on April 25th, starting from Tabriz after midnight on the 25th).
Iran has a long fascinating history that goes back to Cyrus the Great, who founded the Persian empire, and to Darius the Great, who built his capital at Persepolis. And it has of course a wonderful and rich food culture. I want to visit markets and bazaars, tasting the foods on offer, and discovering the beauties and complexities of ancient Persia and modern Iran.
It’s taken a long time to figure out how we can make the tour work. My apologies for the delay. Hamid, the Iranian travel agent who is helping with all this, tells me that visas for holders of Canadian, British, and European passports should be obtainable without much trouble, and that visas for American citizens generally take three months. Anyone with an American passport who wants to come needs to decide before December 1, 2017, so we have the necessary three months for the application. Anyone with a Canadian or British passport needs to decide by January 15, because those visas take a generous month.
Here’s how the itinerary – on a roughly south to north route – is shaping up. It will be twelve days long and all travel in Iran will be by road:
Our plan is to fly into the relaxed historic city of Shiraz, heartland of Persian culture, on April 13th. We’ll travel by land for the whole journey, visiting a nomad encampment and staying at a nearby eco-lodge, and spending time at the amazing ruins of Persepolis and nearby Naqsh-e Rustam before heading to the desert city of Yazd. We’ll have two nights there and in the graceful city of Isfahan, before heading to Tehran, where we’ll spend time shopping in a food bazaar, visit some sites, and have a cooking class. After two nights in Tehran we have one night in Qazvin, and one night in travel to the hillside village of Masouleh just south of the Caspian Sea. On our way to Tabriz we’ll visit the market in Rasht and, we hope, a caviar plant in Azali. Tabriz is a predominantly Azeri city in northern Iran with an extraordinary bazaar (a great place for good food and also for buying carpets). From there we’ll fly out to Istanbul.
There are easy direct flights to shiraz, our start-point, from Istanbul, and direct flights out to Istanbul from Tabriz.
If this sounds like your type of trip, if you’re adventurous and anxious to explore the for-so-long- inaccessible landscapes, people, foodscapes, and historic treasures of Iran, please consider joining us next spring.
Because this is our first tour in Iran, I’ll be bringing only a small group, for greater flexibility. Next time perhaps we can increase the numbers a little. And because we aren’t sure of conditions or of how flexible things can be, we’ll be unable to accommodate special diets or even those with mobility issues or need for accessibility in our local transport or hotels (there may not be lifts or elevators and there will be a fair amount of walking, sometimes on rough ground). The other thing to note is that consumption of wine or other alcoholic drinks is illegal in Iran. Though many people who live in Iran do drink behind closed doors, we will not be taking that kind of risk on this tour.
We have already started keeping a list of people interested in going to Iran with me. If you are interested in the idea, please contact my partner in immersethrough, Deb Olson. Her phone number is 307 745-7191 and her email is email@example.com.