Iran: Art and Culture of the Persians

23 October - 12 November 2013

Physical Endurance Level 4 Star 4star

The number of stars (indicated next to each tour code) is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One star is given to the least taxing tours, six to the most. Stars are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 21-day tour involves:

  • Walking across uneven terrain, climbing up slopes or steps
  • Extensive coach travel (ranging from 2 -10 hrs per day)
  • Regular early-morning starts and long days
  • Female participants wearing a head-scarf, long-sleeve shirt, trousers, and a trench-coat (to the knee) in public at all times

Other considerations:

  • 3 to 5-star hotels with nine hotel changes
  • You must be able to carry your own hand-luggage. Hotel porterage only includes 1 piece of luggage per person
  • Rudimentary facilities during some road journeys
  • Alcohol is strictly prohibited

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the Booking Conditions on the last page of this tour itinerary.

Practical Information

You will receive prior to departure practical notes which include information on visa requirements, healthcare, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances, food, local customs and religion.

  • Area: 1,648,000 sq km (642,720 sq mi)
  • Population: 74 million
  • Capital city: Tehran (pop 8=.5 million)
  • People: Persian (Farsis) (65%), Azari (25%), Arab (4%), Lors (2%), Turkmen (2%), Kurdish, Armenian, Jewish
  • Language: Persian
  • Religion: Shi’ite Muslim
  • Government: Islamic Republic
  • Spiritual leader: Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei
  • President: Mahmoud Ahmadinejhad

The major religion in Iran is Shi’ite Islam which pervades all aspects of life. The essence of Islam is the belief that there is only one God, and that it is the people's duty to believe in and serve Him in the manner that is laid out in the Qu’ran. In Arabic, Islam means submission and a muslim is one who submits to God's will.

Clothing for Women: The most visible daily expressions of Iran's Shi'ite Islam are the modest dress code, and rules for behaviour at mosques. Women will be required to wear a head-scarf, long-sleeve shirt, trousers, and a trench-coat (to the knee) at all times. During visits to some mosques women will also be required to wear a special robe provided at the entrance.

ASA strongly recommends that female participants wear a scarf and Iranian mantos for the duration of the tour, as this clothing, made primarily of cotton, is very light and more comfortable to wear than the coats you are likely to bring from Australia. Participants will therefore have the option to go ‘manto shopping’  on the first day after visiting the Carpet Museum or on the second day after visiting the Glass Museum. Note: you will still need to bring one scarf, and a suitable coat from Australia to enter the country.

Clothing for Men: Men are also required to dress conservatively. We request that you wear trousers and  shirts (with either long-sleeves or half-sleeves - no singlets!). Shorts are not permitted. As indicated in the itinerary, daily excursions usually involve walking outdoors, light walking shoes are thus essential.

Language: The national language of Iran is Persian, also known as Farsi, an Indo-European language. The other main regional languages are Azari, Kurdish, Arabic and Lori (spoken by the Lors); and there are dozens of other tongues throughout the 26 provinces, such as Gilaki, Baluchi and Turkmen. The Arabic script was adapted to Persian after the introduction of Islam, but there is no standard method of transliterating Persian into English.

Food: Iranian cuisine is heavily based on rice, bread, fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit. Meat, usually lamb or mutton minced or cut into small chunks, is used either to add flavour, or is the dominant ingredient (eg. kebabs). The national drink of Iran is chai (tea), always served scalding hot, black and strong. All sorts of delicious fresh fruit juices, milkshakes and yoghurt drinks are available throughout Iran. Alcohol is strictly forbidden. Do not bring any into IRAN!

Travellers Cheques/Credit Cards: Tour members should bring US dollars in cash. Don't bother taking travellers cheques of any denomination or currency. Credit cards are generally not accepted, with the exception of a few carpet shops in Isfahan.

Visa Requirements

Australian, New Zealand and British passport holders will require a visa for Iran. ASA will assist tour members in obtaining their visa. Application forms will be forwarded to tour members in due course.

Further information

Tour members will receive prior to departure practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers see www.smartraveller.gov.au

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