Iran & Iraq
The Gems of Persia &Mesopotamia
September 16 to October 04, 2020
“Tehran • Qazvin • Hamadan• Kangavar • Kermanshah • Susa • Dezful • Shustar • Ahwaz • Shiraz • Persepolis • Shiraz • Yazd • Isfahan • Tehran • Bagdad • Ctesiphon • Samarra • Babylon “
Iran is home to a quite breathless mix of spectacular madrassas, exquisite mosques and some of the most wonderful examples of Islamic architecture in the world. Everywhere you look, the magnificence of 2,500 years of history lies all around you. Ancient Persia has been the seat of many civilizations and unique contributions in poetry, art, architecture, science and history. Many of Iran’s achievers have contributed to our modern world. Most of the country’s archaeological gems are well preserved and portray a rich historical heritage. Your tour will not only explore ancient ruins and colorful cities but also exotic bazaars and old baths. Marvel at ancient monuments and beautifully tiled mosques. Your journey will take you to Yazd the center of Zoroastrian culture, to Shiraz city of poets which has had major Jewish and Christian communities and the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Isfahan, and Persepolis.
Mesopotamia—the land between the great rivers Tigris and Euphrates—was the home to the world’s earliest civilization. Some have claimed that the Garden of Eden was located in Iraq, and biblical history touches this land too. When it became an independent country in 1932, Iraq had been home to ancient Sumer, Babylonia, and Assyria, and had been conquered by Persians, the Macedonian army of Alexander the Great, the armies of the Islamic conquest, the Mongol hordes, and the Ottoman empire of Turkey. At many points in its history, Iraq could be said to have been at the center of the civilized world, and you will see elements of this ancient history along with remnants of more recent times, including the regime of Saddam Hussein and the Coalition occupation.
This trip can be combined with Kurdistan (October 04 to 11, 2020)
Tour cost per person based on double room occupancy (Land only):
6-8 people: $5,995.00 per person in double room
9-10 people: $5,500.00 per person in double room
Single Supplement: $900.00
Escorted by Spiekermann Travel’s Tour Manager
Price based on group size minimum of 6 participants and maximum of 10 participants.
Note: if the number of participants will not reach minimum required and will end up with 4-5 people only the tour will still operate and led by local expert guides without escort of the tour manager.
Your tour does not include
International round Airfare into Tehran and out of Baghdad
Iraq Visa (Currently obtainable from embassy in DC for $40 fee plus handling & shipping (approx. $100).
Iran visa (Cost is currently $160.00 - subject to change) Passport should not include any Israeli stamps.
Items of a personal nature (camera fees at sites, laundry, phone calls, emails, excess luggage, etc.)
Travel protection insurance.
Transfers if not arriving/departing on scheduled flights/tour dates.
Dayroom or overnights necessitated by changes in airline schedules.
Your tour includes
Tehran- Baghdad segment flight and domestic flights.
4*-5* hotels in most cities & one or two hotels superior tourist class in smaller towns for few nights.
All meals as specified in the itinerary: (B-breakfast, L-lunch and D-dinner).
Escorting Tour Manager throughout the trip
Entrance fees to the sites mentioned in the itinerary.
Local expert English speaking guide throughout the trip.
Transfers/transportation by large comfortable modern A/C vehicle during the whole tour.
A bottle of mineral water per passenger per day on touring days plus juice, coffee and tea on board the bus.
Tipping to guide, drivers, porters, hotel and restaurant staff.
Visa support letter to obtain Iran and Iraq visas.
II Active - Some hikes on uneven/unpaved terrain; slightly demanding walks at/to sites, few elevations, comfortable but busy schedule and some days entail long bus rides (with rest stops).
**** Luxury – Mostly large hotels, typical western standard with ample venues & full amenities. (4- 5 stars) in all cities while one hotel only is a smaller 3* property but comfortable and suitable for one night.
Trip Grade: Moderately-Rigorous Touring
We will be covering great distances by road during this journey. The roads are very good and the air-conditioned bus very comfortable. You will often be served cold water, tea and fruits along the way. We will make several rest stops (some will not be five star bathrooms and others will be in the beautiful wilderness). It is important to recognize the exhausting nature of some of the long driving days as well as some of the site visits where you might have to walk on uneven terrain. Also, it is our responsibility to inform you that despite the immense progress in standard of accommodations over the last years, you might still encounter minor annoyances, such as leaky plumbing fixtures, or hot water interruptions in hotels. This will necessitate a flexible, tolerant attitude and a sense of humor. Women will be required to wear loose, ankle-length dresses with long sleeves or pants and tunic and have their hair covered with a scarf or shawl at all times when outside their hotel rooms.
View Tour Itinerary
Wed- Thu, Sep 16-17
Leave USA on Wednesday. Arriving very early the third day (first hours of Sep 18 with TK flight) into Tehran and transfer to your hotel to rest after trans-Atlantic flight.
Friday, Sep 18
After breakfast, start your full-day visiting in Tehran the splendid Golestan Palace/Museum Complex, the former residence of the 19th early 20th century Qajar Kings of Iran. It is famous for housing several museums including the Marble Throne Room, and the Emarat-e-Badgir Continue to Iran’s National Museum. It displays a huge collection of pre-historic and ancient artifacts with pottery dating back to 6-7 century B.C If the time will permit we may visit the Abguineh Museum a valuable collection of pre-Islamic and Islamic glass and ceramics. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Saturday, Sep 19
In the morning drive to Hamadan via Qazvin and visit the holy shrine of Shahzadeh Hussain. Continue to Hamadan, the capital of the Median Empire in the 7th century B.C., and the summer capital of the Achaemenid kings in the 5th century B.C. while there you will see Ganjnameh, the inscriptions by Darius I, and his son Xerxes, carved on the rocks of the mountain. Then continue to visit the tomb of Avicenna, Iran’s celebrated scientist/ philosopher and physician. Finish the day at the Stone Lion, an intriguing statue dating from the Hellenistic Period when Alexander invaded Iran. Arrive in Hamadan for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Sunday, Sep 20
Hamadan- Kangavar- Kermanshah
Start your morning by visiting the Tomb of Esther & Mordecai, a major Jewish pilgrimage center. Then continue to the 12th-century Alavyan Tomb Tower. Afterward drive to Kermanshah, via Kangavar, a small town dating back to 200 BC., to visit the Temple of Anahita, goddess of water and fertility. Continue to Bisutun, and see texts that helped in the deciphering the cuneiform script. The 400-foot high inscription carved into the cliff-side has been under restoration for several years and may still have scaffoldings in front of it. On arrival in Kermanshah visit the Sassanian reliefs at Tagh-e-Bostan, depicting royal hunting scenes and the investiture of the Sassanian kings. Transfer to your hotel for check-in, dinner, and overnight. (B,L,D)
Monday, Sep 21
Kermanshah- Susa- Dezful
After breakfast, drive via Pol-e-Dokhtar to see the remains of the Sassanian Bridge then continue leaving the Iranian Plateau and rolling down into Mesopotamia, onto Susa (Soush or Shush) which is one of the oldest cities in the world. It was also the favorite residence of the Persian king Darius, and we can visit the nearby Tomb of Biblical Prophet Daniel; drive to Dezful for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Tuesday, Sep 22
Dezful- Shuhstar - Ahwaz
Drive to Shushtar, a large Sassanian town perched on limestone cliffs above a tributary of the Karun River. Continue to Chogha-Zanbil, to visit the ziggurat built by Untash Gal, King of Elam. Then head to Haft-Tappeh or Seven Mounds (Elamite Necropolis) whose discovery in the 1960’s has filled one of the less well-documented periods in Elamite history; then drive to Ahwaz for overnight. (B,L,D)
Wednesday, Sep 23
Ahwaz - Shiraz
Drive to Shiraz en route visiting Bishapur, famous for its extensive remains of the Sassanian city built by Shapur 1st. The building complex includes a central chamber, a large courtyard which had been covered with impressive mosaics. Continue to Shiraz for dinner and overnight stay. (B,L,D)
Thursday, Sep 24
After breakfast we will be exploring Shiraz, known as the city of “Roses and Nightingales” for its famous gardens. Visit the residential citadel of Karim Khan of the Zand Dynasty. Visit the 9th century Friday mosque- the most interesting and oldest of the buildings in Shiraz. After lunch, we have a chance to visit a nomadic carpet workshop/gallery where you can shop or just learn about tribal rugs. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Friday, Sep 25
Shiraz - Persepolis -Shiraz
Full Day exploring the city of Persepolis, the magnificent springtime capital of the ancient Persian Empire with its spectacular reliefs and towering columns. Continue to visit the rock-cut tombs of Persian kings at Naghsh-e Rostam and the Sassanian reliefs at Naghsh-e Rajab. Return to your hotel in Shiraz for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Saturday, Sep 26
Shiraz – Yazd
Head to Yazd, visiting en route Pasargadae, the site of the impressive tomb of Cyrus the Great (founder of the Persian Empire), and the remains of his palaces and royal gardens and Abarkouh one of the ancient Iranian cities and was built on the foot of a nearby mountain. Arrive in Yazd and transfer to your hotel for dinner, and overnight. (B,L,D)
Sunday, Sep 27
Yazd - Isfahan
Half day city tour of Yazd will take you through the maze of alleys and small streets in the old town, viewing many wind towers and other monuments. After lunch drive to Isfahan via Naein with a stop at the city of Maybod, seeing the ancient Sasanian Castle of Narin Ghale. Continue to Isfahan and transfer to Abbasi hotel or similar for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Monday, Sep 28
Enjoy a full day sightseeing in Isfahan and visit the palace of Chehel-Sotun (the Forty Columns) set in a beautiful park, and the Armenian Vank church. In the afternoon, head to visit Hasht Behesht and some art workshops to see paintings and the old bridges built during the rule of Shah Abbas the Great. Dinner and overnight at your hotel. (B,L,D)
Tuesday, Sep 29
After breakfast, head to visit Imam Square and Mosque, Sheikh Lotfollah mosque with its magnificent architecture and tile work, Aliqapu Palace, and Friday mosque & Bazaar. Take evening flight to Tehran. Transfer to hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Wednesday, Sep 30
Tehran (Iran) – Bagdad (Iraq)
Late in the morning check out from hotel and transfer to the airport to take afternoon flight to Bagdad. Upon arrival meet your guide and driver. We will start short city tour of Baghdad by visiting the tomb of the 12th century Sufi saint Abdel Kader Jilani. The shrine remains the de facto center of Baghdad and the symbolic heart of the Sufi world. The splendid medieval building has a beautiful blue and white dome and is encircled by a large complex to house and feed pilgrims. Check to the hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Thursday, Oct 01
Baghdad - Ctesiphon
In the morning, visit the Archaeological Museum of Iraq. Afternoon visit Ctesiphon, an ancient city located on the left bank of the Tigris River about 20 miles southeast of Baghdad. It served as the winter capital of the Parthian empire and later of the Sasanian Empire. The site is famous for the remains of a gigantic hall, the Taq Kisra, which is traditionally regarded as the palace of the Sasanian king Khosra I (AD 241-272). Afternoon head to Al-Mutanabi Street named after the 10th century classical Iraqi poet and explore Souk al-Safareen, the famous copper market. Then visit El-Mustansariyya school (Madrassah), one of the oldest Islamic institutions of higher learning in the world, established in 1227. Back to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Friday, Oct 02
Have breakfast at the hotel then start your day by driving to Samarra. In the medieval times, Samarra was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate and the only remaining Islamic capital that retains its original plan, architecture and artistic relics. Visit The Great Mosque of Samarra with its minaret which dates back 9 century AD. After sightseeing return back to Baghdad. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Saturday, Oct 03
Meet your guide and depart for the city of Babylon. Upon arrival we will start touring ancient city. The entire central palace of Babylon shines in 20th century fired bricks and yes, it is amazing to think that Alexander the Great died in this same throne room, surrounded by his generals. Here you can see the original layer of the processional way with the magnificent carvings. Right behind Babylon with gorgeous views over the Euphrates and the ruins towers one of the most impressive Palaces of Saddam. It has been looted to the last light bulb and filled with graffiti. Drive back to Baghdad and overnight at hotel. (B,L)
Sunday, Oct 04
Transfer to the airport for flights back to USA via Dubai, Doha or Istanbul.
We (STS) reserve the right to change hotels, restaurants or the order of activities if/as needed