Travel beyond the headlines and discover a world of culture, fascinating Persian ruins and famously welcoming local people.. Uzbekistan is covered mostly by the arid Kyzyl Kumdesert in the central regions and by striking mountain ranges in the north. The music in Uzbekistan is similar to Persian classical music, and makes use of lutes, drums and jingles to create poetic love songs. This. soundtrack adds to the endless reasons as to why Uzbekistan is an awe-inspiring country to visit.. Tehran boasts art galleries and restaurants galore – perfect for trying Iranian specialities such as the national dish, Ghormeh Sabzi, made with curried vegetables and served with Tadik (crunchy rice).
Exploratory Trip Warning – this is a new trip for us!
Please note that all or part of this trip is a brand new itinerary, and could be going through completely new areas for Dragoman. This is what we call a New or Exploratory trip, and it means that all the passengers on these trips for the first season are the route’s pioneers! However, while we have thoroughly researched all aspects of this new route and put the itinerary together with the best of intentions, please note that your crew will be finding a lot of information out for us on the ground, will be playing a lot of things by ear, and may alter the itinerary slightly in places where it becomes necessary. Most trips will have slight or significant changes made to them after this first season, and frankly we would be very surprised if an Exploratory trip was to run perfectly to the published itinerary. Usually we find that this is rarely a problem but rather an exciting feature, that there are much more pleasant surprises in store than unpleasant ones, and these Exploratory trips are a fantastic opportunity to shape the trip as a group. However, the warning is sincere and these trips must be viewed as Exploratory – if this concerns you or you would rather stick to a tried-and-tested itinerary, then we recommend that you wait a year or two until we have this itinerary perfected following operating it many times, or of course to consider one of the more established trips in our extensive portfolio.
Border Information: If joining in Tehran, you will most likely enter Iran at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport (IATA code: IKA).
There will be a pre-departure meeting at 6:00pm - please do not be alarmed if
there is no welcome note at the hotel on your arrival, as today is usually a
travel day for the Dragoman leaders and they are due to arrive in Tehran by
Please note that due to restrictions on citizens of the UK, USA and Canada being permitted to remain unaccompanied in Iran, you will need to fly
into Tehran on the same day as the trip starts. These
transfers from the airport to your joining hotel are automatically included in your trip. If arriving outside of these times please contact your sales agent.
Please ensure the correct dates
for your plans are clearly stated on all your visa applications.
Hotel for the night: Parastoo Hotel
Mohammad Beik St
Tel - +98 917 714 2602
Iran’s massive capital of Tehran is a sprawling city at the foot of the Alborz
mountain range. With a population of approximately 15 million people, it is
the largest city in the Middle East and a cultural melting pot full of interesting
museums, historical palaces, art galleries, cultural centres and lively cafes and restaurants, not to mention some of the most friendly and welcoming people you are ever likely to meet.
You shouldn't miss the Golestan Palace - this extravagant building was
historically the royal Qajar complex, the seat of the Shahs of Persia. The many museums here are also well worth a visit if you're interested in learning more about the history and culture of Iran, in particular the National Museum, Carpet Museum of Iran and Niavaran Palace Complex. Tehran is also home to theIranian Imperial Crown Jewels, claimed to be the largest, most dazzling and
valuable jewel collection in the world, which includes crowns and thrones, 30
tiaras, jewel-studded swords and shields and a vast number of loose precious
Todaywe will have an included tour of the stunning Golestan Palace and the
fascinating National Museum of Iran.
Activity Approximate Cost
Explore the former royal complex of Golestan
Palace, a huge site built in the 16th century and
Tehran's oldest monument Included in Kitty
Learn all about Iran's rich and fascinating history
at Tehran's National Museum of Iran Included in Kitty
Visit the Iranian Artists' Forum in Tehran, a large
gallery for the country's best young artists to
feature their work Free
Explore the S'ad Abad Museum in the
spectacular mountainside near Tehran, once a
royal summer home during the Pahlavi period USD 4.5
Visit the shocking Ebrat Museum, once the
prison used by the Shah's brutal secret police
before the revolution of 1979 USD 5
See Tehran's iconic Azadi Tower, the inverted Y-
shaped memorial built in 1971 to USD 2.5
the 2500th anniversary of the
first Persian Empire
See Tehran's Museum of the Islamic Period and
its interesting collection of artifacts from
various stages of Iran's history (when open) USD 3
Visit the viewing tower at the top of the iconic
Milad Tower, one of the world's tallest towers at
a height of 435 metres USD 8
Visit the Laleh Park in central Tehran, an oasis
of calm and a well-designed green space to
observe local life pass by Free
See some of Iran's most precious treasures at
the Treasury of National Jewels, including the
182 carat Darya-ye-Nur (Sea of Light) which is
thought to be the world's largest uncut diamond,
and the phenomenal 34kg Globe of Jewels,
made with over 51,000 precious stones USD 4.5
Today we wil have a full day's drive to the stunning old Safavid-era capital of
Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours(please note that all drive times given here
are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and
does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings,
photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops,
etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the
best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road
conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is
essential on any overland trip!). On the following day we will have an included walking tour of the central highlights of Esfahan, including the showpiece central square of Naqsh-e Jahan and its surrounding mosques and royal palaces, the old bazaar, and the beautiful Jameh Mosque, one of the oldest in Iran. On our second full day here, we will have free time to explore more
ofEsfahan's incredible sites, such as its ancient bridges, the curious 'Shaking
Minarets', the Armenian Vank Cathedral, or the evocative Martyrs' Cemetery.
In Esfahan we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.
Activity Approximate Cost
Visit the magnificent and colossal city square of
Naqsh-e Jahan, the centrepiece of the Safavid-
era city of Esfahan Included in Kitty
Explore the Shah Mosque, the public mosque of
Esfahan built by Shah Abbas I and a
of Persian architecture Included in Kitty
See the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, once a private
mosque for the emperor and his harem and
home to some of the world's most beautiful and
masterful internal tilework Included in Kitty
Explore the grand palace of Ali Qapu and
discover the stunning wall paintings of the
former residence of the Safavid emperors Included in Kitty
Wander the streets of Esfahan's old bazaar,
dating from the 17th century Free
Walk around Esfahan's historical centre and visit
the five iconic Safavid-era bridges across the
Zayandeh river Free
Visit the Vank Cathedral, a beautiful
church set up by the Armenian diaspora in the
17th century Free
Visit the stunning Jameh Mosque in Esfahan, one
of the oldest mosques in Iran and an
amalgamation of several different styles of
Persian architecture Included in Kitty
See the curious 14th-century
in Esfahan, famous for the effect that if one
minaret is shaken, the other will shake as well IRR 5000
Visit the very
moving Martyrs' Cemetery of
Esfahan, a patriotic tribute to soldiers who died
in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s Free
Explore the site of the ancient Zoroastrian Fire
Temples near Esfahan, where you get incredible
views over the city and the surrounding valley IRR 40000
The friendly and beautiful city of Esfahan is often described as "the Jewel of
Persia". The city rose into prominence when it was made the capital in 1598CE during the Safavid era and thereign of Shah Abbas I. During the 17th-
Century, some of the most beautiful and inspiring architecture in the Islamic
world was constructed in Esfahan. The cool, blue tiles of the buildings contrast
perfectly with the hot dry Iranian countryside around it - and as you wander the
city's streets, get lost in the bazaar and relax in the beautiful municipal
gardens, it won't be long before you find yourself falling in love with this
A good place to start your explorations is Imam Square, with the Imam Mosque, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Ali Qapu Palace and Chehel Sotun Palace all located nearby. From the Ali Qapu Palace you can get excellent views of the bustling Imam Square and Esfahan's enormous covered bazaar, which
houses over 5kms of narrow winding alleyways. The bazaar is famous for its brass work, miniature paintings, block-printed cloth and, of course, carpets. The nearby Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque has some of the finest interior tilework to be seen in the whole world. Other sights worth seeking out are the Friday Mosque and the many magnificent river bridges. Today we will have a full day drive to the southern city of Shiraz. In Shiraz we will stay in a local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.
The ancient Iranian city of Shiraz is located in an attractive valley, once well
known for the wine that was produced here. The area has been inhabited since at least 2000BCE, but rose to prominence during medieval times and became
the capital of the Islamic world during the Zand Dynasty between 1750-1800CE. Shiraz is widely considered to be the intellectual capital of the country and the heart of Persian culture and tradition.
The city has been the home of manyimportant Persian poets and there is still a vibrant arts scene here today.Wandering the streets here can be an enjoyable way to discover the city,getting lost in the Bazaar and admiring the impressive architecture, particularlysome of the incredible mosques and shady gardens.The Nasir Ol Molk Mosquehas one of the most colourful interiors in the whole of Iran.
Today we will have an included walking tour of some of the highlights of the old
city of Shiraz, including the beautifully-coloured Nasir ol Molk Mosque, the
incredible mirrored interior of the Shah Cheragh Mosque,
and the historical house of Narenjestan
.Activity Approximate Cost
Visit the stunning Shah Cheragh Mosque, a major
pilgrimage site for Shia Muslims Included in Kitty
Explore the 19th century Nasir ol Molk Mosque,
famous for its extensive coloured
glass art Included in Kitty
Visit the Narenjestan Palace in Shiraz, the
former home of the wealthy Qavam family of
merchants Included in Kitty
Explore the stunning citadel of the Arg of Karim
Khan inShiraz, built by the emperor Karim
during theZand Dynasty in thelate 18th century IRR 20000
Visit the tranquil site of the tomb of Hafez, a
famous 14th-century Persian poet whose
collected works are regarded as the pinnacle of
Persian literature IRR 60000
Today we will drive tothe phenomenal ancient ruins of Persepolis, once the
capital of the mighty Achaemenid Persian Empire until it was conquered by
Alexander the Great in 330BCE.
After this we will continue north to the famous Caravanserai of Zein-o-Din, an
atmospheric 16th-century guesthouse originally built to accommodate
merchants travelling on the Silk Road.
In Zein-o-Din we will stay overnight at the old caravanserai.
Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours.
Activity Approximate Cost
Stay overnight in the incredible restored
caravanserai in the remote
deserts south of Yazd Included in Kitty
Head out on a guided tour of the incredible
historic ruins of the ancient Persian capital of
Persepolis, founded by Cyrus the Great in
550BCE and invaded by Alexander the Great in
330BCE Included in Kitty
Visit the phenomenal site of Naqsht-e Rustam
near Persepolis, the cross-shaped tombs of four
of the great Emperors of Persia chiselled into
the cliff face USD 10
Darius I built the city of Persepolis in around 500 BCE as the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire, and its wealth and opulence soon became
legendary. In ancient Persia, Persepolis was called Parsa, meaning
"The City of the Persians" (the name Persepolis was given to the city by the ancient Greeks). It was destroyed by Alexander the Great in 330 BCE, but even today its past splendour is easily appreciated from the ruins that remain, and the incredibly well-preserved marble carvings within.
Zein-o-Din, about 60km south of Yazd, is one of the world's most well preservedancient caravanserais - inns set up to accommodate merchants and travellers journeying along the Silk Road. Zein-o-Din is one of 999 caravanserais constructed in the 16th Century CE during the reign of Shah Abbas I. Today it is still open to travellers, and is a fabulous, atmospheric and historical stop on our journey through Iran.
Today we will take a short drive to the ancient desert town of Yazd, one of the
oldest extant towns in Iran. On arrival we willhave an included visit to two
important Zoroastrian sites in Iran - the Fire Temple and the Towers of Silence.
Estimated Drive Time - 1-2 hours.
On the following day we will have an included walking tour of some of the main
highlights of Yazd, including the incredible Jameh Mosque, the Old Town and
the Amir Chakhmaq complex.In Yazd we will stay in a local hotel.
Activity Approximate Cost
See the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence outside
Yazd, used until the 1960s to place bodies of the
deceased so that they did not touch and pollute
the sacred elements of fire or earth Included in Kitty
Visit the Zoroastrian Fire Temple of Yazd, where
they keep a sacred fire that has supposedly
been continuously burning since 470CE, the only
Zoroastrian eternal flame of its type outside of
India Included in Kitty
See the stunning ancient Jameh Mosque of Yazd,
built in the 12th century and a fantastic
example of Azari architecture Included in Kitty
Learn all about the intriguing and ingenious
historical methods of getting water to the
desert town of Yazd at the Yazd Water Museum Included in Kitty
Freely explore the huge city square and mosque
at the Amir Chakmaq complex, built in the 15th
century Included in Kitty
Discover the atmospheric
winding streets and
beautiful adobe architecure of Yazd's Old Town,
one of the oldest towns in the world Included in Kitty
See the fascinating centuries-old
practice ofVarzesh-e Bastani at the Yazd House of
Strength, a curious blend of strength training,
martial arts andwrestling, accompanied by
traditional music IRR 10000
Yazd is a tranquil and rustic old city, complete with streets paved in sun-baked
tiles, a unique little bazaar and lots of small shops selling interesting trinkets
and souvenirs. The town is the centre of Iran's oldest religion, Zoroastrianism. With the Islamic conquest of Iran in the 7th century CE, Zoroastrianism lost its position as the dominant religion and many remote shrines were
abandoned and forgotten. The mountainous region around the city of Yazd became the last remaining stronghold of Zoroastrianism, and today it's one of the few places where these ancient traditions are still practiced.
Today we will continue our journey to the desert city of Khoor, where we have
the option to take an evening jeep trip into the nearby salt flats to have
In Khoor we will stay in a beautiful hotel in the style of a desert caravanserai.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.
*Please note that with small groups and at certain times of the year we may be able to stay in a local homestay in the nearby village of Mesr*.
Activity Approximate Cost
Explore the ancient desert town of Khoor and
see its beautiful palm trees and ruined castle Included in Kitty
Khoor is an small village located in the central desert of Iran, (known as Dasht-
e-Kavir in Persian). Close by are the central mountain ranges of Iran,
which create a stunning and isolated landscape. The town’s only water supply
comes from a spring that flows out of the foothills of the mountains quite close to the heart of the village. This is the only source of life for the beautiful gardens and date palm orchards that make this oasis such a special place.
Today we will have a morning drive to the ancient town of Damghan. On arrival
we will take a walking tour, including the Tarikhuneh Mosque which features
columns dating from the year 760CE.
In Damghan we will stay in a local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.
Activity Approximate Cost
Explore the ancient town of Bastam, containing
monuments dating from the Ilkhanate Period
when Iran was controlled by the Mongol Empire Included in Kitty
Visit the splendid ancient brick building of
Imamzadeh Jafar in Damghan, which has
anappearance similar to
a North African castle Free
See Damghan's Jameh Mosque and it's fine brick
minaret dating from the mid-11th century Free
Visit the partially-ruined Tarikhuneh
Mosquewhich features 18 rear columns dating
from around 760CE, making this one of the
oldest mosques in Iran Included in Kitty
Damghan was an important city in the Middle Ages, capital of the province of
Qumis. Today it is a sleepy, historic town. It's main attraction is the claim to
have what may be Iran's oldest surviving mosque - the Tarikhaneh Mosque that
was constructed in the 8th Century CE, only 100 years after the arrival of Islam
Today we will drive to the historical town of Bastam and visit the Sufi complex
in the centre. After this we will continue to the town of Shirvan.
In Shirvan we will stay in a basic local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.
Shirvan is famed for its natural beautym tranquil gardens, small waterfalls and
natural springs.Shirvan has a long history -Zoroastrian graves show that it was
inhabited long before the Islamic conquest of the 7th Century CE.
Due to its proximity to Iran's northern borders, the town has Turic influences in
its local dialect and customs.
Exit Iran at Bajgiran, enter Turkmenistan at Gaudan. Today we will head over the border toT urkmenistan and to the bizarre capital of Ashgabat In Ashgabat we will stay in a decent quality local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.
*Important note - any tobacco products are practically illegal in Turkmenistan,
so please do not bring them or use them in Turkmenistan. Also please do not
bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or
opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of
Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine,
please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*
Ashgabat is a unique modern city that has been extensively rebuilt
since the country gained independence in 1991. Little is left of the original Russian Imperial city as most of it was destroyed in a massive earthquake in 1948, and today the city centre is a bizarre mix of futuristic and outrageous public buildings that are an extraordinary sight - these include many ornate marble buildings and extravagant golden statues of the president.
Ashgabat's Sunday Market is famous along the whole Silk Road - this wonder fulmarket stretches for hundreds of acres into the desert. Carpets, camels,
clothes, pigs, jewellery, goats, cars, chickens, hats and ex-Soviet military
paraphernalia are readily available.
Border Information: if joining in Ashgabat, you will most likely enter Turkmenistan at Ashgabat International Airport (IATA code: ASB). There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a note
from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting. After the meeting we will visit the famous Ashgabat Sunday Market. In the afternoon we will then have an included tour of the city of Ashgabat using local minibuses.
Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Ashgabat before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Ashgabat. If arriving at Ashgabat airport you will also need to have a confirmed arrival transfer and representative from our local supplier to meet you at the airport. Please contact your sales agent for prices and to book. In Ashgabat we will stay in a decent quality local hotel.
*Important note - any tobacco products are practically illegal in Turkmenistan, so please do not bring them or use them in Turkmenistan. Also please do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*
Hotel for the night: Ak-Altyn Hotel
Ak Altyn Hotel
141/1 Magtymguly Avenue
Tel - +9931236 3700
Activity Approximate Cost
Explore, shop and haggle at the vast Tolkuchka Sunday Market Included in Kitty
Explore the unique and bizarre Turkmen capital of Ashgabat on a guided tour of the city Included in Kitty
Ashgabat is a unique modern city that has been extensively rebuilt since the country gained independence in 1991. Little is left of the original Russian Imperial city as most of it was destroyed in a massive earthquake in 1948, and today the city centre is a bizarre mix of futuristic and outrageous public buildings that are an extraordinary sight - these include many ornate marble buildings and extravagant golden statues of the president. Ashgabat's Sunday Market is famous along the whole Silk Road - this wonderful
market stretches for hundreds of acres into the desert. Carpets, camels, clothes, pigs, jewellery, goats, cars, chickens, hats and ex-Soviet military paraphernalia are readily available.