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Iran tour with Wild Frontiers: review

Iran tour with Wild Frontiers: review
By: Nick Boulos

This 15-day tour of southern Iran takes the most iconic destinations in the country, a handful of the World Cultural Heritage sites and some unknown places. It begins and ends in the capital Tehran – travel by bus. The group size was 11 (maximum 12), which mostly consisted of single travelers aged 50 and over.



Iran is home to some of the world’s most magnificent examples of Islamic architecture

Telegraph expert’s overall rating: 7/10
A wonderful introduction to this fascinating and misunderstood country, this tour ticks all the boxes: history through the bucketload, places of cultural importance and epic panoramas.

There is also a nice flexibility to accommodate spontaneous detours with plenty of opportunities to interact with locals. Nothing more is done to dispel the prejudices that plague this warm and welcoming country.



Persepolis’s famed ancient ruins

Itinerary: 8/10
A good blend of classic and dark, this tour shows the diversity of Iran. Among the highlights are the legendary cities of Isfahan and Shiraz and the ancient ruins of Persepolis, which once stood in the heart of the Persian Empire. There is countryside and nature, with a day hike in the remote Dena mountains and an unforgettable afternoon with the nomads of the Bavanat Valley.



Built at the time of Sultan Husayn of Safavid around 300 years ago, Abbasi Hotel has been restored to its former

glory

Accommodation: 5/10
Do not expect much in the way of luxury. Most of the mid-range hotels on this trip are clean and comfortable, but rather tired and in urgent need of TLC. All offer free Wi-Fi – although quality is very different. Be sure to pack your own toiletries.

The landmark Abbasi hotel in Isfahan is the upscale property on the tour and is considered one of the best in the country, presumably because of its lovely courtyard and teahouse. Located in Yazd, the Dad Hotel is a 19th-century former caravanserai and has a rooftop restaurant. The quirky three star Hotel Abyaneh in the rural village of the same name is overloaded with eccentric trinkets. The lobby is the home of two talkative parrots. The four other four sights are recommended, but well located.



Iran is the land of kebabs but Iranian cuisine is much more diverse,

Dining: 6/10
All meals are included on this tour, which is both a blessing and a curse. Since it is impossible to get an a la carte menu proved disappointing, as the menu selection in most restaurants, especially since Persian food is often considered one of the best kitchens in the world. On most occasions the dinner was repeated: chicken and lamb kebabs, sometimes trout, served with salad and rice. Several portions were ordered and shared between the group, but not always of sufficient quantity to satisfy all.

Sometimes there were also ways to try more elaborate dishes like fesenjan, a thick chicken pot with walnuts and pomegranates. On the travel days, picnic lunches were served with tuna fish, cheese and freshly baked “dimple” -sangak bread.



Iran guides: Intelligent , Knowledgeable and affable

Tour manager and guides: 9/10
This tour had both a tour guide and tour guide. Jake Cooke – an experienced, organized and approaching tour guide originally from Great Britain, now living in Cambodia – was responsible for logistics. In Iran, however, his knowledge of the country was limited.

The true star of the show was our  guide, a Tehran born leader who speaks fluent English (as well as French and, of course, Farsi). Engaged and very knowledgeable – both about the complex history of Persia and modern Iran – He provided insights with warmth and humor.



Iran buses comfortable and spacious with welcoming drivers

Transport: 8/10
Flights are not included, but can be arranged by the organizer. Those who have chosen to fly from London Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester to Teheran via Doha with Qatar Airways and were supported by the tour guide on arrival and departure. With only 13 on board the 30-seater coach meant everyone had plenty of space. Drives between each city ranged from four to seven hours, with regular tea and toilet breaks.

Value for Money: 7/10
With a price of £ 2.995 (only land), including all accommodation, meals and entry fees, this tour offers good value for money. The cost of an Iranian visa (about 200 €) is not included, but once there are only cinnamon tea, shovel saffron ice cream and the obligatory purchase of a souvenir Persteppich.