Persian & Caucasus Explorers

Overview


Tour operates: May till October
No. of days: 24 nights 25 days
Destinations:  Shiraz – Persepolis- Yazd – Maybod- Nain -Isfahan – Abyaneh- Kashan – Tehran-Tabriz-Meghri-Goris-Tatev-Noravanq-Khor Virap-Yerevan-Matenadaran-Garni-Gueghard-Lake Sevan-Haghpat-Sanahin-Sadakhlon – Tbilisi- Mtskheta-Stepantsminda-Gori-Uplistsikhe-Kutaisi-Gelati-Chiatura-Sachkhere-Sighnakhi – Lagodekhi – Sheki – Kish – Lahij – Baku- Absheron Peninsula 
Transport: Private air conditioned transport
Accommodations: All comfortable class accommodation with private facilities
Guides: Fully escorted by our experienced local English speaking guide
Tour starting point: Shiraz Ending point: Baku

Guaranteed departure: Daily- Minimum 2 people required

Itinerary

Day by day itinerary

Day 1: Shiraz
On arrival at Shiraz airport you will be greeted by our local guide and transferred to your hotel. Later, we take a city tour of Shiraz; the city of nightingales, poetry and roses. We visit Narenjestan Garden built in 1879-1886 as a reception hall for visitors and which was also used as the governor’s residence during the late Qajar period. Also included is Khan theological school and Bazaar, then enjoy tea and ice cream while listening to recitals in traditional teahouse of the mausoleum of the famous Iranian poet Hafez. Overnight at hotel in Shiraz. (D)
Day 2: Day trip to Persepolis – Necropolis
Fars province is greatly indebted to the settlement of the Achaemenid and Sassanian dynasties for its glorious cultural heritage. Scattered all over the territory of Fars are monuments representing its rapid progress in both pre-Islamic and Islamic era.
Morning excursion to Persepolis (Takht-e Jamshid), Necropolis. A visit to the ruins of the ancient city of Persepolis is one of the highlights of any trip to Iran.  Persepolis is the best preserved of Persia’s ruined cities and the finest legacy of the great Achaemenid Empire which ruled Persia between 559 and 330 BC.  The most impressive features of the ruins are the splendid bas-reliefs, which adorn many of the staircases and palaces on the site and provide a rich treasure house of ancient history. At Necropolis you will find the tomb of the four powerful Achaemenian kings carved into huge rocks. Later return to Shiraz. Overnight at hotel in Shiraz. (BLD)
Day 03: Pasargadae – Yazd
On the way to Yazd we visit Pasargadae, the site of the tomb and remains of palaces of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire, all located in the magnificent Dasht-e-Morghab. Driving through the typical desert town of Abarkuh we stop and and have tea under the shade of a 4,000-year old Cypress tree before arriving into Yazd and checking into our hotel. Overnight at hotel in Yazd. (BLD)
Day 4: Yazd
Yazd is still home to Iran’s largest community of Zoroastrians, and the best place to visit an Ateshkadeh (House of Eternal Fire) and the Towers of Silence, the Zoroastrian burial grounds. Although the temple is modern (built in the 1940s), the sacred fire has been burning since 470 AD.  Yazd is also an ancient city with its unique desert architecture and its “Badgirs”, the wind towers designed to catch and circulate the merest breath of wind.  The mosques of Yazd are like no others and the magnificent Jame Mosque dominates the old city.  Its remarkably high, tiled entrance, flanked with two magnificent minarets and adorned with an inscription from the 15th century, is simply superb.  This city has always been a great weaving center, known for its silks and other fabrics even before Marco Polo passed through along one of the Silk Routes in the late 13th century. Dolat Abad Garden, Water Museum and a traditional house are among the other visits. The stunning three-storey façade of the Tekiyeh in the Amir Chakhmaq Complex at sunset is one of the most spectacular features of Yazd. Overnight at hotel in Yazd. (BLD).
Day 5: Yazd – Maybod – Na’in – Isfahan
Drive to Isfahan, en-route we will visit the old town of Maybod, established in the Medes Era. Later, drive to Na’in. Na’in is located in the geographic centre of Iran and is a famous carpet making centre. Na’in is also noted for its very old Masjid-e-Jame, which dates from the early Islamic period and contains some features from the 10th century. Overnight at hotel in Isfahan. (BLD)
Day 6: Isfahan Visit
Isfahan is Iran’s masterpiece, the jewels of Historical Persia and one of the finest cities in the Islamic world.  The exquisite blue mosaic tiles of Isfahan’s Islamic buildings, it’s expansive bazaar and gorgeous bridges demand as much of your time as you can spare. The history of the city dates back to 2700 years ago. It was the capital of Iran in a number of the post-Islamic periods, but its golden age was during the Safavid dynasty in 17th century.
Full day tour of Isfahan’s magnificent buildings; some of the greatest examples of Islamic architecture including the Royal (Naqsh-e-Jahan) square, the Shah Abbas Jameh and Sheikh Lotfullah mosques, Ali-Qapu Palace plus free time for the Bazaar (spans 5 km).  In the evening an optional visit to a Zoorkhaneh (House of Strength) to watch this traditional Iranian sport – a combination of physical and spiritual aerobics, with participants chanting to the powerful drums of their master .
Overnight at hotel in Isfahan. (BLD)
Day 7: Isfahan Visit
City tour of Isfahan – A visit to the Armenian quarter to tour the Vank Cathedral, built between 1606 and 1655 and the Zayandehrud River. Chehel Sotun Palace with its beautiful frescos located in a pretty garden is our next stop.  Shah Abbas II originally built it as a pleasure pavilion and reception hall.  On to Jame Mosque, a veritable museum of Islamic architecture, displaying styles from the 11th to the 18th centuries. Evening tour of Isfahan including Si-o-Se & Khaju bridges. Overnight at hotel in Isfahan hotel (BLD)
Day 8: Isfahan – Abyaneh – Kashan
Drive to Tehran en-route stop in Abyaneh and Kashan. Abyaneh is a small picturesque village dating back 1600 years.
Later continue driving to Kashan. Kashan is attractive oasis city which was once a favourite of Shah Abbas I. Kashan is also home to some of the best traditional houses including the Brujerdi House (a Samovar merchant), as well as beautiful gardens such as Fin Garden. Overnight at hotel in Kashan. (BLD)
Day 9: Tehran
Free morning, afternoon drive to Tehran.
Tehran is a diverse and beautiful city combining the ancient civilisation of Iran with modern developments and living. It is positioned at the base of the Alborz mountain range in Northern Iran.  Tehran with its numerous museums houses the most important collection of recent and remote Persian art and culture. Overnight at hotel in Tehran. (BLD)
Day 10: Tehran Visit
Full day city tour of Tehran. A visit to the prehistoric National Museum of Iran. This museum houses a marvellous collection including ceramics, potteries, stone figures and carvings dating from around the 7th millennium BC. A visit to Ceramic & Glassware Museum (Abgineh Museum) followed by the Carpet Museum.  Here you will have access to many of the masterpieces woven in the important carpet-weaving centres of Iran.  The beautiful architecture and façade of the museum resembles a carpet-weaving loom.
***Please note: our schedule to visit museums may vary depending on museum hours/days and when they are open to the public.
Overnight at hotel in Tehran. (BLD)
Day 11: Tehran flight to Tabriz 
Depending on flight schedule transfer to the airport for flight to Tabriz.

City tour of Tabriz includes a visit to the city’s Historic Bazaar Complex (WHS), which consists of a series of interconnected, covered, brick structures, buildings, and enclosed spaces for different functions. Tabriz and its bazaars were already prosperous and famous in the 13th century, when the town, in the province of Eastern Azerbaijan, became the capital city of the Safavid kingdom. The city lost its status as capital in the 16th century, but remained important as a commercial hub until the end of the 18th century, with the expansion of Ottoman power. It is one of the most complete examples of the traditional commercial and cultural system of Iran. The rest of the day is to visit other sites in the city like St. Mary Church, Qajar Museum & etc.   Evening is free before we are treated with a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at hotel in Tabriz. (BD)
Day 12: Iran-Armenia border-Meghri-Goris (Armenia)
Meeting at the Iran – Armenia border. Visa formalities,  change in guide and transportation. Start exploring the Armenia from the South. Then Continue to the town of Goris which is one of the main cities of Syunik region. Nestled in a bowl of green hills and mountains, with interesting formations and many previously inhabited caves, Goris has some of the best architecture in Armenia. This park-city, despite the natural cuts, has a well-organized ground plan. Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Goris. (B/-/D)

Day 13: Goris-Tatev-Noravanq-Khor Virap-Yerevan

After breakfast start the tour to the monastic complex of Tatev (Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO) which is an architectural masterpiece dating from the 10th century and is often called a monastery built on the edge of nothing. Continue tour to Noravank monastery – a great religious and cultural centre of the 12th century. On the way visit Areni wine factory to taste local wine made from special sorts of vines. Noravank (“New Monastery”) is 122 km away from Yerevan and is located in a stunning location. Sightseeing tour to Khor-Virap monastery 4- 17th cc. 45 km. from Yerevan the monastery of Khor-Virap has a very rich history, both religious and secular. Khor Virap was built in Artashat during the reign of the Arshakids dynasty. At that time, it was used as a pit dungeon for convicts. In the 60s of the 4th century Artashat was ruined by Persian invaders. It is situated in the Ararat valley against the biblical Ararat Mountain, were Noah`s arch cast anchor. The importance of it is connected with Gregory the Illuminator, who introduced Christianity to Armenia and is considered to be the first Armenian catholicos.

Drive to the capital of Armenia – Yerevan. Welcome dinner in a traditional Armenian restaurant. Overnight at hotel in Yerevan. (B/-/D)

Day 14: Yerevan-History Museum-Etchmiatsin-Zvartnots-Yerevan

After breakfast start city tour around Yerevan. The history of Yerevan dates back to the 8th century BC. A little part of the capital city`s 3,000-year history has survived: Central Yerevan was once dominated by huge Soviet-style buildings, but now, due to the nowadays active constructions, many modern-style buildings are starting to appear. On tour you will see the Republic Square which is designed in the traditional Armenian architectural style and includes the Government House Republic square, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Central Post Office andNational Art Gallery. You will also see Opera house, Victory Park with Mother Armenia statue. We visit the Armenian History Museum, housing an important archaeological collection from Stone Age through Medieval periods is dark and almost unlabeled, but should not be missed (Closed on Monday).
Proceed to Echmiadzin which is mere 20 km from Yerevan. Etchmiadzin Cathedral is known as the center of the Armenian Church and appears to be one of the world`s first Christian State churches. Legend has it that it was here that Jesus Christ descended from heaven to show where he wanted a church built. So Echmiadzin means “The only-begotten descended”. The Church was built between the years 301 – 303 AD under the Armenian king Tiridates III and the first Armenian Catholic, St. Gregory the Illuminator. Return to Yerevan with stop at the ruins of Zvartnots temple – the pearl of the 7th c. architecture which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage. Dinner and overnight at hotel in Yerevan. (B/-/D)
Day 15: Yerevan-Matenadaran-Garni-Gueghard-Yerevan

Visit to the depositary of ancient manuscripts the Matenadaran which contains historical documents from all over Europe and Asia from many centuries. There is also the first copy of the Bible in Armenian and the Gospels that fascinate with their beautiful miniatures. Departure to Garni Temple. The pagan temple of Garni is a picturesque monument of the Hellenistic period and an impressive piece of ancient Armenian architecture. It was built in the first century A.D. by the Armenian King Tiridates and it is dedicated to a heathen god, probably to Mithra, the god of the sun whose figure stood in the depth of the sanctuary. After proclaiming Christianity as a state religion in Armenia in 301, the temple was probably used as a summer residence of the kings. Northeast of Garni, higher up the gorge of the Azat river, there is a magnificent monument of medieval Armenian architecture – Geghard monastery inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage list. Geghard is another incredible ancient Armenian monastery, partly carved out of a mountain. The meaning “the Monastery of the Spear”, originates from the spear which had wounded Jesus during his crucifixion, allegedly brought to Armenia by Apostle Thaddeus, and stored amongst many other relics. Though the monastery of Geghard was around before the 4th century, the main cathedral was built in 1215. The entrance of the compound is surrounded by high walls on three sides and mountain on the other. Outside the monastery complex there are caves which lead into interesting little ‘cave rooms’.

Farewell dinner and overnight at hotel in Yerevan. (B/-/D)
Day 16: Yerevan-Lake Sevan-Haghpat-Sanahin-Sadakhlon (border)-Tbilisi (Georgia)
After breakfast early departure to Lake Sevan. About 70 miles north of Yerevan sits lake Sevan. This huge mountain lake which takes up to 5% of Armenia`s surface area and is about 2,000 meters above sea level is one of the highest among the freshwater lakes in the world. Sightseeing on the peninsula visiting the monasteries. Continue tour and visit to the monastic complexes of Haghpat (976 AD) and Sanahin (966 AD), listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO. The architectural complexes are among the outstanding works of medieval Armenian architecture. Drive to Sadakhlo border. Meeting at the border between 15:30-16:00. Border formalities. Change the transportation and guide. Transfer to Tbilisi. Dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at hotel in Tbilisi. (B/-/D)

Day 17: Tbilisi visit
Today you`ll have Tbilisi sightseeing tour. During the tour we take you to the places that will show you old city. All the places of interest in the Old Town are very close to each other, within a few minutes` walk. We start our visit to Old Tbilisi from Metekhi Church (13th century), and then walk to the Synagogue, Sioni Cathedral (6th-7th centuries) and Anchiskhati Church (6th century). Then we drive up to Mother Georgia statue and walk down to Narikala Fortress (4th century) and Sulphur Baths, en route enjoying views of the Old Town. Afterwards we visit the stunning treasury of the Georgian National Museum of History (if not Monday), before taking a stroll along Rustaveli Avenue – the main street in Tbilisi. Dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at hotel in Tbilisi. (B/-/D)

Day 18: Tbilisi-Mtskheta-Stepantsminda
In the morning we drive to visit the ancient capital and religious centre of Georgia – Mtskheta (3000 years old) and see its historical places: Jvari church (6th century) and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (11th century) where the Robe of Christ is buried. Both Jvari and Svetitskhoveli are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Return to Tbilisi. Afterwards we drive up the famous Georgian Military Highway (leading to the Georgian-Russian border). On the way visit Ananuri architectural complex (17th century), the two churches and the fortress overlook the Zhinvali water reservoir. The carvings on the churches are one of the best samples of the Georgian art. The drive is very scenic through high Caucasus Mountains. Arrive in Kazbegi – the main town in the region. From Kazbegi a leisurely 2 hours walk up through beautiful valleys and woodland leads us to Gergeti Trinity Church located at 2170m. Weather permitting you may catch a glimpse of one of the highest glaciers in the Caucasus – Mt Kazbegi (5047m). Dinner and overnight at guesthouse in Kazbegi with private facilities. (B/-/D) *NOTE: If you prefer not to walk up to Gergeti church, you can hire local 4X4 and pay on spot.

Day 19: Stepantsminda-Gori-Uplistsikhe-Kutaisi
In the morning we will visit the town of Gori and its historical places: Uplistsikhe Cave Town (1st millennium BC) and Stalin’s museum. Uplistsikhe is the place where the Great Silk Road used to pass. This is an old and interesting complex with dwelling quarters, wine-cellars, bakeries, a three-nave basilica church hewn out in rock and even an antic theatre. Afterwards drive to West Georgia. Arrive in Kutaisi. Dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at hotel in Kutaisi. (B/-/D)
Day 20: Kutaisi-Gelati-Chiatura-Sachkhere-Tbilisi
In the morning we will visit local farmers` market and historical places of the city: Gelati Cathedral (12th century) – one of the earliest academies in Europe, UNESCO site and the splendid Bagrati Cathedral (11th century). Afterwards drive to Tbilisi. On the way to Tbilisi we will visit Chiatura and Sachkhere, small town from Soviet Union where we will see the west Georgian wine-cellar and taste West Georgian wine. Different from east Georgia. Dinner at a local restaurant with folk show. Overnight at hotel in Tbilisi. (B/-/D)
Day 21: Tbilisi- Sighnakhi – Lagodekhi – Sheki (Georgia and Azerbaijan border)
Today we travel in Kakheti region famous for being wine making area, as well as associated with welcoming hospitality. Here we can see both snowy Caucasus Mountains and fertile valleys. Firstly we visit 18th century beautiful, small town of Sighnaghi which will impress us with its old fence and small houses with tile roofs and decorated balconies. From here we can see the picturesque views of Alazani valley and Great Caucasus Mountains. Afterwards drive to Georgian-Azerbaijan border lagodekhi change transport and guide. Drive to Ilisu village which is a municipality in the Qakh district of Azerbaijan and has a wonderful panoramic view. It has a population of 1,370. The village was settled in XIII century. A distance of 3 km for the first Ilisu village existed in the past has been people living in the area now known as Kendtala. The area of the ancient tombs on examples of epigraphic written in Kufic line proves it once again. Then continue to Sheki. Sheki is one of the most famous and ancient places of Azerbaijan. Situated 700 m (2297 ft.) above sea level like an amphitheatre surrounded by the mountains and forests of oak trees, this ancient city was long famed as a silk centre and an important stop on the Great Silk Route. There is an assumption that the name of the town goes back to the ethnonym of the Saks, who reached the territory of Azerbaijan in the 7th century BC. We’ll start our Sheki tour from visiting the 18th century Khan’s summer palace with magnificent frescos and exquisite stained glass work. Sheki History museum is famous with artifacts from several periods. Overnight at hotel in Sheki (BD)
Day 22: Sheki – Kish – Lahij – Baku
After breakfast visit the Albanian church located in Kish village. Legend says that the church was built in 78 AD, but the researchers place it a few centuries later. Then drive to famous Lahij village in Ismayilly district. Many of the 2,000 people living in Lahij are involved in ancient crafts such as engraved copper work and carpet weaving. In the mid-19th century, there were more than 200 workshops in Lahij. Traders discovered Lahij crafts many centuries ago, and sold them for high prices at bazaars in Baghdad [now Iraq], Shiraz [now Iran] and other Middle Eastern cities. Stop by a copper workshop for a impromptu lesson in ancient craftsmanship you’ll get to see coppersmiths use small mallets to decorate plates, trays, jugs, goblets and pitchers, just as their ancestors have done for centuries. Drive to Baku. Overnight at hotel in Baku. (BD)
Day 23: Baku city tour
Start exploring Baku. The city is shaped like an amphitheatre, descending down to the Caspian Sea. Tour covers the central part of the city showing the most interesting historical and architectural sites. Visiting of “Old Town” or “Inner City”. The territory of”Inner City” – 22 hectares, which represents a small fraction of the total area of Baku (44,000 hectares). However, the concentration of architectural and historical monuments, dictates the need for this excursion into a separate and make this part of Baku, perhaps the most interesting to explore. Maiden Tower (XII century), Palace of Shirvanshahs (XV century), Castle Synyk Gala, Caravan Saray, Juma Mosque – this is not a complete list of attractions of the old Baku. Overnight at hotel in Baku. (BD)

Day 24: Baku Absheron Peninsula tour
Excursion to art- historical reserve Gobustan, where the petroglyphic drawings, barrows and housing objects are dated from X – VIII centuries B.C. The certificates of the Stone Age citizens and other periods, petroglyphic drawings, the human parking and the gravestone monuments are concentrated in Gobustan. Not far from there is *gavan chalan dash* is original tambourine-stone, like a huge flat wise plate. Rhythmical accurate motives could be taken from it by the percussion. It is considered that ritual dancing’s and ceremonies were accompanied by these sounds. The visiting of Gobustan will transfer you to another world, the world of the past mankind and will let you to feel the atmosphere of the thousand-year history of this place. Visiting the temple of the fire worshippers Atasgah and burning mountain *Yanar dag*. Atashgah means the House of Fire, place of fire. The territory of this temple is known for unique nature phenomenon as the burning exits of the natural gas. The temple of fire is of the main places where the ancient supporters of Zoroaster religion worshipped there to the fire. In The museum complex Atashgah you will be told about the life way Zaraustra worshippers and also about the traditions and the customs which they adhered. Excursion to Yanar Dag. You can see here nature phenomenon, incessant burning nature gas on the rock which named to the Yanar Dag reserve the burning rock. As the historians say, maybe this place gave the name *the fire country* to Azerbaijan. Overnight at hotel in Baku (BD)

Day 25: Onward flight 
Our service will end with airport transfer. (B)

Notes

coming soon

Map

Coming soon

Dates/Prices

Tour costs and Dates

We guarantee all tour departures for a minimum of 2 passengers. In order to confirm your booking we will need a non-refundable deposit of 400 USD per person. The final invoice will be sent to you 4 weeks before the tour departure, the final cost dependent on the final group size. If the following dates or the described itinerary does not meet your travel needs, please write to us, we can arrange a customized tour for you.

 Tour cost comfort class accomodation

No of Pax. 2 3-5 6-9 10-14 Single Supplement
Price in US Dollar per person $7225 $6360  $5525 $5185 $1650

 

Tour cost tourists class accommodations

No of Pax. 2 3-5 6-9 10-14 Single Supplement
Price in US Dollar per person $5890  $5245  $4585 $4250 $920

Hotels

Places Comfort class hotels Tourist Class hotels
Shiraz Zandiye, Homa or Chamran Hotel Elysee, Karim khan or Park Sa’adi , Elizeh , Royal , Ario barzan hotel
Yazd Arg, Dad or Moshir Hotel Firoozeh , Fazeli , Morshed or Malek Tojir
Isfahan Abbasi or Kosar Hotel Setareh, Safir, Firuzi Hotel
Kashan Ameri, Raheb Hotel Manuchehri or Ehsan Hotel
Tehran Espinas, Parsian, or Homa Hotel Malik, Evin or Mashhad Hotel, Engelab
Tabriz Shahryar Hotel  Gostaresh Hotel
Goris Mirhav Hotel  Mirhav Hotel 
Yerevan Historic or Opera Suit Hotel  Ani Plaza Hotel 
Tbilisi Ambasadori or Biltmore Hotel  KMM or Metekhi Line Hotel 
Kazbegi Rooms Kazbegi  Guest House 
Kutaisi Tskaltubo Plaza Bagrati 1003 (New Part)
Sheki Sheki Palace Hotel  Issam Hotel 
Baku Shah Palace or Fairmont Hotel  Anatolia Hotel 

*** Please note that all above hotels are subject to availability or we will arrange
alternative hotels of a similar standard.

Tour departures 2018

Starting Date Ending Date Availability  
1-March 25-March AVAILABLE Enquire Now
15-March 8 April AVAILABLE Enquire Now
1-April 25-April AVAILABLE Enquire Now
10-April 4- May AVAILABLE Enquire Now
1- May 25-May AVAILABLE Enquire Now
15-May 8-May AVAILABLE Enquire Now
1-June 25-June AVAILABLE Enquire Now
15-June 9-July AVAILABLE Enquire Now
25-June 19-July AVAILABLE Enquire Now
1-July 25-July AVAILABLE Enquire Now
15-July 8-August AVAILABLE Enquire Now
20-July 13-August AVAILABLE Enquire Now
1-August 25-August AVAILABLE Enquire Now
18-August 11- September AVAILABLE Enquire Now
1-September 25 -September AVAILABLE Enquire Now
10-September 4-October AVAILABLE Enquire Now
20-Sep 14-October AVAILABLE Enquire Now
01-October 25-October AVAILABLE Enquire Now
10-October 3-November AVAILABLE Enquire Now
20-October 13-November AVAILABLE Enquire Now
 

TOUR COST INCLUDES

• All domestic transportation with private transfers,mentioned in the itinerary.
• Twin sharing accommodation at hotels mentioned above with private facilities 
• Meals Full Board Please follow the key above (B) Breakfasts (L) Lunches (D) Dinners
• All the sightseeing tours as described in the itinerary and entrance fees
• Experienced local English speaking Guide
• Visa letter support

TOUR COST EXCLUDES

• Visa Fees.
• Expenses in hotels such as laundry, telephone and room service, etc.
• Optional activities
• Meals Lunches
• Personal expanses
• Single supplements
• Tips for Guides and drivers

If you would like to customize your trip please write to us we are more than happy to arrange your trip according to your request  

About Tour operators Silk Road and Himalayas

We are a small, highly experienced “boutique” travel company operating unique tours thoughout Central Asia, Far East, and Indian Subcontinent.