Iran: Northern Silk Route

Code: IR/SR/NOR/19
12 Days
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A bespoke Iran Tour

Follow the hallowed trails of the Silk Road on this enchanting Iran tour.

A land of incredible diversity and phenomenal beauty, Iran was once the thriving heart of the mighty Persian empire. On this northern Iran tour, you can deep-dive into some of the most beautiful cities on earth.

On this enthralling, culture-rich journey we’ll take you away from the usual paths and into the historic, rarely visited Caspian Sea region. You’ll get up close and personal with Mount Damavand, stroll through the tea gardens of the Caspian coast (possibly even helping with the harvest if timings allow), watch fishermen as they haul in their catches and sample delicious seafood.

Heading south, this Iran tour will take you to the bazaars of Tehran. In this region of the country, you will cook classic Iranian dishes, visit remote mountain villages, bargain with carpet sellers in Kashan and star-gaze at a pioneering new eco-camp in the desert.

We’ll end our trip with time to explore the historic and magnificent city of Isfahan, arguably the most beautiful city on earth. This will be a immersive Iran tour which allows you to see a part of the world that few westerners have done..

Inspired by Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road Adventure


Our Director, Ants was a producer on Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road Adventure, spending a year researching and designing Joanna’s journey. She was also on location with the crew for the filming of several episodes.

This is a completely unique opportunity to follow directly in Joanna’s footsteps: to travel to the places featured in the series, meet the people she met, stay in the same hotels and much more. No other Iran tour can give you this experience.

DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATIONArrive: Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport

Depart: Isfahan International Airport

DEPARTURE TIMEPlease arrive on the date that this trip is scheduled to depart.
See Itinerary for details
  • Accommodation
  • All meals
  • All transfers and transport
  • Professional guide
  • Entrance fees
  • Coffee, tea, filtered water and fresh fruit throughout
  • Visa for Iran
  • Guide gratuity
  • Souvenirs

Visit Tehran


This bespoke Iran tour will set-off from Iran’s capital, Tehran. You’ll spend two days here exploring its Persian wonders. With palaces, bazaars and mosques to explore, Tehran will take you back in time to the golden days of the Silk Road.

We’ll pick you up at the airport and be with you throughout this amazing trip.

This is an incredible opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with some areas of Iran that are little-visited, to meet the people and break bread with them. Wonderful.

Flexible Departure : April – November

Iran: Northern Silk Road
Minimum group size 2 persons. Maximum 10 persons.
April-November only


Day 1

Arrive in Tehran. You’ll be met at the airport and transfer to our hotel in Tehran after a late evening arrival.


Day 2

Our day in Tehran begins with a morning visit to Golestan Palace and a meander through the Tehran bazaar. We’ll take lunch in a historic Tehran mansion in the old downtown area before visting either the Niavaran Palace Complex or the Sa’ad Abad Palace in the afternoon.
Time for an evening stroll to the Tabiat Nature bridge before a delicious supper. We’ll be in our rather lovely hotel again this evening.


Day 3

An encounter with Mt Damavand
This morning we will drive out to Iran’s mythical Mt. Damavand (about 2 hours) for a lovely walk and a picnic of traditional homemade foods. We’ll return to Tehran in the early evening and head to our supper in a local restaurant in the mountainside village of Darband, on the northern outskirts of Tehran.


Day 4

Tehran to Ramsar
A superb road trip today through the Alborz Mountains to the Caspian Sea – among the most scenic drives in Iran. On the way we’ll stop for to enjoy a short hike and picnic in the Keldardasht area. We’ll arrive in the early evening in the Caspian “resort” of Ramsar. Very popular with Iranian holidaymakers, this isn’t a place you will expect to see a lot of other tourists.


Day 5

Ramsar -Larijan – Rasht
After a leisurely breakfast we will make our way west along the lush Caspian coast, dotted with tea plantations and rice paddies. This is not the Iran you might normally think of! In May and June you can take part in the tea harvest and also see the local traditional attire still being work by women working the rice fields. We’ll have time for a cable car ride and short hike in Larijan and great local seafood. In the evening we make the short transfer to Rasht, where we’ll spend tonight.


Day 6

Rasht to Masouleh
Today we’ll start with a visit to the food bazaar in Rasht before visiting local Gilaki homes and handicraft-makers on the way to Masouleh, one of Iran’s most iconic traditional villages. In Masouleh we’ll have a cooking class and stay overnight in a local home. This is the real Iran and you will be welcomed incredibly warmly.


Day 7

Masouleh – Zanjan
We’ve got about four hours in the road today, and we’ll break our route with visits to both the Gilan Rural Heritage Museum and the olive oil steppes in Saravan. In Zanjan we will visit the famous bazaar – the city is known for both jewellery design and specialty knives and has some stunning architecture from the 11th – 14th centuries.


Day 8

Zanjan – Qazvin
We’ll have a filling breakfast before travelling to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Soltaniyeh. This city was built in the 14th century as the capital of the Mongol Ilkhanid rulers and was a Christian Diocese – subordinate to Samarkand – and part of the Chagatai Khanata (Chagatai was Ghengis Khan’s second son). We’ll then continue to Qazvin. Qazvin was the Safavid capital of Iran before Isfahan and has an intact historic center. Both Qazvin and Soltaniyeh were vital Silk Road hubs.


Day 9

Qazvin – Kashan – Matinabad
It’s a four hour drive to Kashan this morning. This city has a record of inhabitation stretching back over 9000 years. The name itself gave rise to the Persian name for a tile – kashi – so this gives an idea of why this was such an important place on the Silk Road in terms of architectural impact. We’ll visit the Fin Gardens (UNESCO) and the Kashan bazaar, with its speciality carpets and famous local products including rose water and essences.
In the late afternoon we’ll arrive at Matinabad desert eco-lodge. We’ll have supper in a local home and, for those who want to, we’ll learn to make traditional bread here too. We will also have time for guided desert walks and an explanation of the wildlife that lives here. You’ll be spending the night at the eco lodge – one of Iran’s first such enterprises.


Day 10

Matinabad – Isfahan
We wil leave the desert today for a short transfer to Isfahan – a jewel in the crown of Silk Road architecture. You’ll have time to either explore on your own, or go with our guide to see the Naqsh-e Jahan Square (UNESCO world heritage site), the Imam / Shah Mosque, the Sheikh Mosque, Ali Qapu Palace, the Grand Bazaar of Isfahan, Vank Armenian Cathedral and more. Remember, we have tomorrow here too so don’t rush!
We will try to include a visit to a traditional polo match – this is dependent on season and scheduling. Either way, we will spend our evening
in the Jofla Armenian district – including an evening stroll on one of iconic bridges of Isfahan and Chahar Bagh Boulevard. You’ll eat yet more gorgeous food in the Armenian district before retiring to our lovely hotel.


Day 11

You have all day to further explore this famous city. Our guides will be available but you can decide to find your own way if you choose.
A farewell dinner is on the cards this evening and we’ll wish you all safe travels. The suggested Turkish Airlines flight departs at around 03.00 tomorrow morning so we’ll transfer you to the airport around midnight.


Day 12

Isfahan – Home
We will get you to the airport in good time for your flight home early this morning. You’ll fly away with wonderful memories of northern Iran and it’s people.
TourStart DateEnd DatePrice
Iran's Northern Silk Road. Tea, caviar and beaches30/04/202030/09/2020£2,750.00Taking Bookings

Where will we be staying?

We’ll be staying in a variety of accommodation – from larger hotels in Tehran and Isfahan, to local hotels in Rasht and Zanjan and even an eco-camp at Matinabad. The accommodation has been chosen to help give you a real glimpse of life in Iran.

What size of group will it be?

Our group sizes are always small, allowing for an intimate experience of the cultures we meet along our path. On this trip we won’t have more than ten guests, plus our local guides and drivers. We usually find groups are made of like-minded people, both male and female, from a wide age range.

How is this different to other ‘Silk Road’ expeditions I’ve seen?

We have been living, breathing, reading, researching and travelling the Silk Road for the past five years and  – with this trip – are in the unique position that one of our directors, Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent, was the producer on Joanna Lumley’s ITV Silk Road series. Very few others venture up to this part of Iran but they are missing-out. There are some undiscovered gems to be enjoyed here and we think you are going to love this route.

What will the weather be like?

In spring you can expect pleasantly warm days around 16-20 degrees and cool nights – down to around 5 degrees  – especially in the desert.  In summer the heat is ramping-up and can reach 40 degrees, so bring a good sun hat and cool clothes! In autumn the fierce heat gives way to balmy evenings and a lovely – though busier – time of year. But have no fear, we will supply you with a detailed packing list after you’ve signed up.

I’m a solo traveller – is this for me?

Yes. More than 85% of our expedition clients travel alone as part of our group. We try not to charge single supplements to solo travellers – see below.

Do you charge single supplements – I can’t see them in your information?

We try not to. We don’t believe that solo travellers should be penalised with extra charges.  It goes against our ethos, so unless totally unavoidable or astronomically expensive,  all costs are included in the expedition price. in the case of this Iran trip, we will get single rooms in some places but in others the accommodation is based on two sharing a twin room. If you’d like to book single accommodation throughout then there is a supplemental payment of £330 that we must charge, sorry!

What kit do I need to bring?

We will provide you with an information pack after signing up to this trip, and this will detail any particular equipment we think either necessary or useful.

What vehicles will we be travelling in?

We’ll be travelling by small ‘midi’ bus in comfort to most locations on this trip. 4×4’s are not necessary.

How much are flights?

This is a moving feast! It depends on where you are travelling from and how you want to get there. From London, it’s around £500 return (outbound to Tehran and return from Isfahan) with Turkish Airlines via Istanbul. We can offer flight inclusive packages also though. Again, we’ll send you an information pack containing all the information you need when you book your place.

What will the food be like?

Very, very good. The food in Iran is justly famed and you’ll enjoy a dazzling array of dishes. Vegetarians are well catered-for and you’ll also have meat and fish. This isn’t the country to come  to if you’re on a diet! The North of Iran has some food specialities that are particular to the region, and even some towns are famous for one dish or another. Fish is a staple along the Caspian Sea coast and here is a selection of other dishes, noted with enthusiasm by a Guardian newspaper article.

  • Berenj o kareh: Light, airy butter rice.
  • Torshi sir: garlic cloves pickled in vinegar, and pomegranate syrup
  • Zeytoon parvardeh – crushed walnuts, pomegranate seeds and green olives marinated in pomegranate molasses
  • Mirza ghassemi – charcoal roasted eggplants with tomato, garlic and eggs. Although mirza ghassemi might sound like a simple eggplant omelette, to achieve the precise silky combination of smokiness, garlic and juicy tomato takes a master.

Will I have to share a room?

Yes, at times. There will be hotels and guest houses where we will have separate rooms and wherever possible we will arrange this, but there will also be times where we are staying there is scant option but to share rooms. This is all part of the adventure, and a reason we love to travel here. It makes sense for light sleepers to bring earplugs, in case of snorers.

Do you perform proper risk management on your expeditions?

Yes. We are members of TRIP – the Travel Risk and Incident Prevention Group – and perform detailed country risk assessments prior to departure, in line with the ISO 31000 international standard for risk assessment. We also maintain close contact with the relevant Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice for countries we plan to visit, in addition to making use of the Australian Smart Traveller assessment tool, and the US State Department’s OSAC service. Beyond this, we have a full set of risk management and disaster contingency plans for each expedition and are expedition first aid trained by Crux Medical. For final back up we also use the services of Remote Medical Support that allows us to have a UK expedition doctor on the end of a telephone line wherever we may be. And we always carry a satellite phone. We really don’t mess around when it comes to safety.

I can’t do your dates but love the sound of your expedition – can you be flexible?

Yes. We offer set group dates for many of our expeditions, but we can organise and deliver bespoke expeditions to groups and individuals to suit your itinerary and budget. More information is available on our Tailor Made tours page.

Is it a guaranteed departure?

As with any new, pioneering itinerary we need to reach a minimum number of guests to make this viable. For this trip, we need a minimum of 2 guests. When you express interest in this expedition, we will send you a deposit invoice to hold your place. This is refundable according to our terms and conditions if we do not reach the minimum numbers. We recommend that you do not book your flights or other arrangements until we have communicated that the expedition is definitely departing as planned and will aim to do this in order to give you at least 5 months prior to the scheduled departure in which to make your travel arrangements.

Is it good value for money?

We are very proud of the routes we design and the way in which we travel them. We don’t cut corners and we plan meticulously. We are a small company that treats every guest as our friend and you won’t find that kind of service in many places. 85% of our customers have re-booked to travel again with us and some of them come on a trip every year. Our partners and guides are carefully selected to work in the way we prescribe and our relationships are developed in the long-term. We also do annual expedition and remote medicine training and pay for 24/7 remote medical assistance cover. We employ professional military-grade risk assessments and plan for every possible negative scenario whilst hoping that none ever come to pass. We take our obligations to you and your safety very seriously and this all does cost money. We think the price represents great value for an experience you won’t find elsewhere.

Is this really for me?

If you love adventure, new places, friendly people, wild landscapes, history and culture then yes! However, if you’re the sort of person who is going to be worried about the lack of flush loos in a desert camp, might complain that the road to Persepolis is too bumpy (it isn’t!) or frets about Wi-Fi availability, then this probably isn’t your bag.



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