Iran: Women's Expedition | Intrepid Travel (2022)

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Iran: Women's Expedition | Intrepid Travel (1)

Connect with Iranian women in city salons and sleepy villages

Discover culture and camaraderie in Iran through the lives of the women who live there on a female-only expedition. Spend 12 days exploring with a local female leader and a group of female travellers and partake in a range of experiences otherwise off limits to mixed gender groups. Step inside the hidden world of an Iranian beauty salon, wander through a women-only park, and travel by public transport in the women-only carriage of the metro, local buses and an overnight train. Experience rural nomadic life with Qashqai people, meet female entrepreneurs and hear secret recipes from those in the know. Learn from inspiring Iranian women – young and old, religious and secular, conservative and liberal.

Start
Tehran, Iran
Finish
Tehran, Iran
Destination
Iran
Style
Original
Theme
Women's Expedition
Code
HPSF
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • See a different side of Iran as you travel with an all-women group and a local female leader, allowing you to forge connections with the women who call this country home.

  • Enjoy a picnic in one of Iran’s women’s-only parks, one of the few places women can enjoy the sunshine without a hijab.

  • Immerse yourself in rural nomadic life on a beautifully remote homestay with the Qashqai people. Enjoy a meal, sing songs, try on the local dress, and give bread-baking a go.

  • Step inside the fascinating hidden world of an Iranian beauty salon. You’ll see that these are oases for many local women, providing a safe space for them to relax and (literally) let their hair down.

  • Experience the wondrous remains of the ancient capital of Persepolis – the scale and grandeur will leave you in no doubt that this was once the centre of the known world.

  • Take part in a hands-on cooking class where your local hosts will share age-old secret recipes and techniques before you feast on the fruits of your labour.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Part of travelling with Intrepid means respecting local cultures and sensibilities. That way you get the most out of your interactions with local people and environments. It is very important that you adhere to a strict dress code regardless of the weather. Upon arrival in Iran, all women must wear a headscarf and must also have their arms and legs covered.

  • Getting a visa for Iran can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. It may take a couple of weeks to get your authorisation code, and then it can take up to 30 days to receive your visa back from the embassy or consulate. Please read the ‘Passports, visas and entry requirements’ section of the Essential Trip Information

  • The village homestay is a wonderful opportunity to witness everyday life outside the city. Facilities are simple and multi-share but comfortable. Please see Day 8 of the Itinerary for more details.

  • In 2023, Ramadan will take place from 22 March to 02 April. Travelling during this holy month can be a rewarding cultural experience. However, some regular services may not be available during the daytime, such as restaurants or coffee bars, and occasionally travel can be disrupted by events. Your leader will adjust the itinerary accordingly, but please consider your travel arrangements carefully before booking travel for this period.

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Iran: Women's Expedition | Intrepid Travel (5)

(Video) Travelling through Iran. Be Open. Be Intrepid.

Iran: Women's Expedition | Intrepid Travel (6)

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Iran: Women's Expedition | Intrepid Travel (8)

Iran: Women's Expedition | Intrepid Travel (9)

Iran: Women's Expedition | Intrepid Travel (10)

Itinerary

Day 1: Tehran

Salam! Welcome to Iran. You will be met on arrival at Tehran International Airport and transferred to your hotel for an important welcome meeting at 6pm, where you will meet your female leader and fellow travellers joining you on this adventure. Many people have a preconceived idea on the appearance of Iranian women; however, once you start exploring the country, you’ll notice a diverse range of clothing, facial coverings and styles on display. Enjoy your first taste of Iranian cuisine as you get to know your new travel companions over an included welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tehran - Welcome Dinner
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information

It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

Day 2: Tehran

Head out on a leader-led orientation walk this morning, checking out the Imam Khomeini Mosque and the labyrinthine maze of the Grand Bazaar. A real highlight of this morning is gazing at the 182-carat pink diamond of Darya-ye-Noor and the sparkling 26,733 jewels of the Naderi Throne at the Treasury of National Jewels. Afterwards, pass by a small fashion boutique where you can check out the various styles, colours and patterns on offer and learn the different techniques of tying a headscarf. For dinner this evening you’ll take a look behind closed doors as you’re invited into a local home for dinner with the family’s women. Enjoy the famously warm Iranian hospitality as you tuck into a tasty meal and chat to the ladies about their daily lives.

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tehran -Treasury of National Jewels
  • Tehran - Orientation walk
  • Tehran - Scarf-tying at a fashion boutique
  • Tehran - Home-cooked family dinner
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner

Day 3: Yazd

Say goodbye to Tehran as you board a late morning train bound for Yazd (approximately 5–6 hours). Do not fear – the train is very comfortable and there will be time to rest on your way, if you can keep your eyes off the magic desert landscapes! Arrive in the early evening and get exploring with your leader, perhaps stopping off for a sweet snack as you walk – Yazd is well-known for its range of confectionery featuring plenty of nuts, rosewater and flaky pastry. Continue to the Jameh Mosque, notable for its fine mosaics and beautiful exterior. Visit the Amir Chakmaq complex, then walk through the narrow kuches (lanes) past simple courtyards and the ornate doors of local mud brick buildings. Explore the local bazaar with your leader, then the rest of the evening is free.

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yazd - Jameh Mosque of Yazd
  • Yazd - Amir Chakmaq
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Day 4: Yazd

Start your day with an exploration of Zoroastrian culture, visiting the Fire Temple and the Tower of Silence. Zoroastrianism, dating back over 4000 years, was the state religion of Iran before the arrival of Islam. The fire in the Atashkadeh Fire Temple is said to have been continuously burning since AD470, while the Tower of Silence provides fascinating insight into Zoroastrian burial techniques. Then, pay a visit to Yazd’s celebrated sweet shop, where confectionary is made with traditional techniques passed down through generations. Once you’ve had your sugar fix, make the short journey to the village of Taft where you’ll be welcomed into the home of a Zoroastrian family for a homecooked lunch. After learning about the history of Zoroastrianism this morning, you’ll now have the special opportunity to speak to your hosts about their religion, culture and customs while learning how they prepare a traditional meal.

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yazd - Zoroastrian Lunch and Village Visit
  • Yazd - Zoroastrian Fire Altar and Towers of Silence
  • Yazd - Traditional sweet shop visit and tasting
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
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Day 5: Shiraz

After breakfast, get on the road and head towards Shiraz (approximately 5.5 hours). An hour into the journey, stop by the town of Abarkooh in the Zagros Mountains to explore its historic sights, including an ancient ice house, the 11th-century Gonbad Ali Dome, the Qajar-era mansion Khan-e Aghazadeh and a 4000-year-old cypress tree. Continue to the historic village of Aqda where you’ll have the chance to stretch your legs as you explore its buildings, many of which have stood for almost a thousand years. Get back on the road, stopping one more time to grab some lunch, then arrive in Shiraz mid-afternoon. After checking in to your hotel, head out with your leader to get your bearings, then make a very special visit to the Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh, one of the holiest sites in Shiraz. This glittering mosque and funerary monument is a popular pilgrimage site and impresses with its beauty and grandeur. Ladies will need to wear a Chador for visiting the shrine (provided). Tonight, perhaps ask your leader for tips on where to pick up the best street food.

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Abarkooh - Ice Houses
  • Shiraz - Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh
  • Aqda - Historical village visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Day 6: Shiraz

This morning, take to the streets on a walking tour and discover the alleys and lanes of the popular Vakil Bazaar, a great spot to sit and chat and enjoy a glass of orange blossom tea. Then, pop into a local bakery where you can pick up some lunch, which you’ll enjoy during a visit to one of the female-only parks that are popping up to allow women to exercise, picnic or just enjoy the sun without a hijab. After lunch, head out to the vast complex of Bagh-e Eram, known as the Garden of Paradise, where you’ll have the chance to wander through its beautifully manicured gardens. Then, pay a visit to the ornately decorated tomb dedicated to the poet Saadi, and the tomb built to commemorate the poet Hafez. Later in the day, spend time with some very talented local women at a carpet weaving workshop to learn about their craft.

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Shiraz - Women's only park
  • Shiraz - Bakery visit
  • Shiraz - Carpet Workshop
  • Shiraz - Eram Garden
  • Shiraz - Saadi and Hafez Tombs
  • Shiraz - Vakil Bazaar
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information

It is forbidden to bring cameras or phones into women-only parks.

Day 7: Shiraz

Today make the short journey to Persepolis (approximately 1 hour). Once the centre of the Achaemenid Empire and one of the great cities of the ancient world, Persepolis took more than 150 years to build. Designed as a centre for events of the kings and their empire, its grandiosity and architectural marvel is still on show today. Afterwards, head back to Shiraz and step inside the hidden world of an Iranian hair salon. The hijab comes off, the conversation is lively, and the music is blaring. Treat yourself to a manicure, or perhaps a wash and blow wave. In post-revolution Iran, opening a beauty salon was one of the most conventional ways for Iranian women to have financial independence. Often the basement of a building, or an extra room in the house was used, and off limits to men, these salons have become oases for many. In the evening, take part in a hands-on cooking class where a local female cook will teach you how to create some of the most delectable Persian dishes. This class may include tahchin (Iranian savoury rice cake), morasa polo (jewelled rice), mirza qasemi (grilled eggplant), and the Iranian dessert of Sholeh Zard (saffron rice pudding). Take in the flavours and aromas of these delicious meals as the wafts fill the kitchen, then set the table and gather for a huge Persian feast as you chat and exchange stories.

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Persepolis - Entrance and guided tour
  • Shiraz - Women's only Beauty Salon
  • Shiraz - Cooking class
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information

Backpacks are not permitted to be brought into Persepolis.

Day 8: Bishapur

Wake early and visit the colourfully decorated Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, where sunlight streaming through stained glass windows fills the interior with kaleidoscopic colours. Then depart for Bishapur – located 130 kilometres from Shiraz, Bishapur was once the centre of one of the five ancient provinces of Fars. Take a guided tour of the fortified structures and palaces, dating back to the earliest and latest times of the Sassanian Empire, which stretched across the region from 224 to 658 CE. This archaeological landscape was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 2018. Bishapur has also acted as the summer home of migrating nomadic tribes over the centuries, and although most nomads are more settled in villages nowadays, many of the customs and traditions live on. Spend the evening in Tang-e-Chogan, a simple village of settled Qashqai nomads where you can discover traditional costumes and share a meal, some stories, a song or two and perhaps even learn how to make local bread with your host.

Accommodation
  • Eco Lodge - Home Stay (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Shiraz - Nasir al-Mulk Mosque
  • Bishapur - Tang-e Chogan Valley
  • Bishapur - Qashqai village visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information

Tonight’s accommodation is very simple. We use simple twin-share rooms with bedding provided and private bathrooms. Expect the unexpected – anything can happen, from a simple night in with local families to an invitation to a nomad wedding!

Day 9: Esfahan

Today is a long travel day (approximately 6 hours) but will be broken up with some stops along the way. You’ll get to enjoy the natural surroundings and perhaps stop off for a picnic lunch, before cruising into Esfahan in the late afternoon. Simply put, Esfahan is one of the finest places in the Islamic world. There's an abundance of fine Islamic buildings, most of which are covered with the blue mosaic tiles Iran is renowned for. There's also an enormous bazaar – an ideal place to shop for exquisite Persian carpets, or you can relax by the tranquil gardens, picturesque bridges and superb palaces around town. This evening, take a stroll down to the Zayandeh River and have a look at its historic bridges, which appear to have been lifted straight out of a fairy tale. At several of the bridges, local people gather to talk, drink tea and sing beautiful folk songs. It's a magical place to while away some time, and one of the most atmospheric places in all of Iran.

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Esfahan - Khaju & Si-o-seh Pol Bridges
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Day 10: Esfahan

Embark on a half-day tour of the city, visiting the World Heritage-listed Imam (or Naqsh-e Jahan) Square. Here, your guide will you give you an insight into life under Persia's greatest ruler, Shah Abbas. Surrounding the square are several grand buildings, such as the Ali Qapu Palace, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Qeysarieh Portal and the majestic Imam Mosque. Located in the west of Imam Square, the Ali Qapu Palace covers six floors and was originally built as the main palace of Shah Abbas. In the Armenian quarter of the city, visit the intricately decorated Vank Cathedral and learn its story. This afternoon, explore the bazaar with its wonderful scents and spices, musical merchants' cries and, of course, thousands of locals bargaining for their goods. Walk the covered lanes and browse for fabrics, spices, jewellery and other treasures. Stop by the Music Museum – a privately-run space showcasing over 300 traditional Iranian musical instruments.

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Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Esfahan - Vank Cathedral
  • Esfahan - Imam Square
  • Esfahan - Qeysarie Bazaar
  • Esfahan - City Tour
Optional Activities
  • Esfahan - Safavid Chehelsetoon Palace Entry - IRR500000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Day 11: Tehran

This morning, drive around 2 hours to Kashan, a merchant town known for its high-quality ceramics, silks, carpets and fine houses. On arrival, pay a visit to the Tabatabaei Historical House, built in 1880 for a wealthy local family. Continue to Fin Garden, the oldest surviving garden in Iran – be sure to ask your leader about the assassination plot that unfolded here. After some time exploring these beautiful and tranquil sites, hit the road and make the drive back to Tehran (approximately 2 hours). Arrive in the evening and join your fellow travellers and leader for a final dinner, the perfect chance to reminisce on all you’ve seen and done on your journey.

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kashan - Fin Gardens (entrance fee and guide)
  • Kashan -Tabatabaei Historical House
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner

Day 12: Tehran

With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave the accommodation at any time, provided you comply with the hotel’s internal check-out policies (usually 12 pm). An airport transfer back to Tehran airport is included so please get in touch at least 14 days before your trip with your flight details.

Included Activities
  • Complimentary Airport Departure Transfer
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Inclusions

Meals

11 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 5 dinners

Transport

Metro, Train, Private vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (10 nights), Homestay (1 night)

Included activities

  • Tehran - Welcome Dinner
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Tehran -Treasury of National Jewels
  • Tehran - Orientation walk
  • Tehran - Scarf-tying at a fashion boutique
  • Tehran - Home-cooked family dinner
  • Yazd - Jameh Mosque of Yazd
  • Yazd - Amir Chakmaq
  • Yazd - Zoroastrian Lunch and Village Visit
  • Yazd - Zoroastrian Fire Altar and Towers of Silence
  • Yazd - Traditional sweet shop visit and tasting
  • Abarkooh - Ice Houses
  • Shiraz - Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh
  • Aqda - Historical village visit
  • Shiraz - Women's only park
  • Shiraz - Bakery visit
  • Shiraz - Carpet Workshop
  • Shiraz - Eram Garden
  • Shiraz - Saadi and Hafez Tombs
  • Shiraz - Vakil Bazaar
  • Persepolis - Entrance and guided tour
  • Shiraz - Women's only Beauty Salon
  • Shiraz - Cooking class
  • Shiraz - Nasir al-Mulk Mosque
  • Bishapur - Tang-e Chogan Valley
  • Bishapur - Qashqai village visit
  • Esfahan - Khaju & Si-o-seh Pol Bridges
  • Esfahan - Vank Cathedral
  • Esfahan - Imam Square
  • Esfahan - Qeysarie Bazaar
  • Esfahan - City Tour
  • Kashan - Fin Gardens (entrance fee and guide)
  • Kashan -Tabatabaei Historical House
  • Complimentary Airport Departure Transfer

Meals

11 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 5 dinners

Transport

Metro, Train, Private vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (10 nights), Homestay (1 night)

Included activities

  • Tehran - Welcome Dinner
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Tehran -Treasury of National Jewels
  • Tehran - Orientation walk
  • Tehran - Scarf-tying at a fashion boutique
  • Tehran - Home-cooked family dinner
  • Yazd - Jameh Mosque of Yazd
  • Yazd - Amir Chakmaq
  • Yazd - Zoroastrian Lunch and Village Visit
  • Yazd - Zoroastrian Fire Altar and Towers of Silence
  • Yazd - Traditional sweet shop visit and tasting
  • Abarkooh - Ice Houses
  • Shiraz - Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh
  • Aqda - Historical village visit
  • Shiraz - Women's only park
  • Shiraz - Bakery visit
  • Shiraz - Carpet Workshop
  • Shiraz - Eram Garden
  • Shiraz - Saadi and Hafez Tombs
  • Shiraz - Vakil Bazaar
  • Persepolis - Entrance and guided tour
  • Shiraz - Women's only Beauty Salon
  • Shiraz - Cooking class
  • Shiraz - Nasir al-Mulk Mosque
  • Bishapur - Tang-e Chogan Valley
  • Bishapur - Qashqai village visit
  • Esfahan - Khaju & Si-o-seh Pol Bridges
  • Esfahan - Vank Cathedral
  • Esfahan - Imam Square
  • Esfahan - Qeysarie Bazaar
  • Esfahan - City Tour
  • Kashan - Fin Gardens (entrance fee and guide)
  • Kashan -Tabatabaei Historical House
  • Complimentary Airport Departure Transfer

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Iran: Women's Expedition trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

  • Iran

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(Video) Uncover another world in Iran with Intrepid Travel

Important notes

Travellers on Intrepid trips are required to produce proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. Read details here.

1. Complimentary airport arrival and departure transfers are included; valid if you are arriving on Day 1 and departing on Day 12 or if you have booked additional accommodation through us. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.
2. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 8 (Village Home Stay) where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
3. US, British and Canadian passport holders will need to book this trip at least three months before departure as this is the length of time it takes to process a visa for these nationalities. There may also be further travel restrictions that apply to these nationalities including restrictions for when you can arrive and depart. Please see the ‘Passport and Visa’ section of the Essential Trip Information for more details. Ensure you discuss options with a booking agent before confirming and booking any non-refundable airfares. We also encourage you to refer to our online visa application for more details. Simply select the relevant nationality in the drop-down menu to access detailed visa information at http://www.intrepidtravel.com/iran-visa-application-form
4. This itinerary has many included activities and free time for you to rest, relax or discover. Please keep in mind that under the regulations of the Iranian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, US, British and Canadian passport holders must be accompanied by a local host (Intrepid's local operator) on all activities. For this reason, your leader may suggest optional activities during this free time that are organised by our operator at your own expense. Alternatively, this free time is the perfect opportunity to relax in your hotel.
5. We recommend that before your departure you check your government's latest travel advice for information on travelling in Iran and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas of your itinerary. We have links to prominent government travel advisories and regular updates on issues affecting this trip on our ‘Travel Alerts’ page athttps://www.intrepidtravel.com/en/travel-alerts
6. Travellers cannot use debit or credit cards while in Iran. You will need to bring all the money you will need for your entire trip with you. Please read through the ‘Money Matters’ section of the Essential Trip Information for further details.
7. Deposits on this trip are non-refundable and non-transferable as per our Terms and Conditions. You are required to pay a non-refundable deposit per person for your booking to be confirmed.

Iran: Women's Expedition | Intrepid Travel (11)

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View Essential Trip Information

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