Border Information: if joining in Ashgabat, you will most likely enter Turkmenistan at Ashgabat International Airport (IATA code: ASB). There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting. After the meeting we will have an included tour of the city of Ashgabat using local minibuses. In the afternoon we will visit the famous Ashgabat Sunday Market. Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Ashgabat before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Ashgabat. If arriving at Ashgabat airport you will also need to have a confirmed arrival transfer and representative from our local supplier to meet you at the airport. Please contact your sales agent for prices and to book.*Important note - any tobacco products are practically illegal in Turkmenistan, so please do not bring them or use them in Turkmenistan. Also please do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*
Today we will arrange to obtain our Iran visas at the Iranian Consulate in Ashgabat for all members of the group - please note that citizens of the UK, USA and Canada will need to attend the Consulate in person along with your trip leader so that they can take fingerprints as part of the application.The rest of the day is free to further explore Ashgabat.
Border Information: Exit Turkmenistan at Gaudan, enter Iran at Bajgiran.Today we will pick up our passports from the Iranian Consulate and head straight across the border to the small town of Shirvan.In Shirvan we will stay in a basic local hotel.
Today we will drive to the historical town of Bastam and visit the Sufi complex in the centre. After this we will continue to the town of Damghan.In Damghan we will stay in a local hotel.
This morning we will take a walking tour of the ancient town of Damghan, including the Tarikhuneh Mosque which features columns dating from the year 760CE.Following our visit we will continue our journey to the desert city of Khoor, where we have the option to take an evening jeep trip into the nearby salt flats to have dinner.In Khoor we will stay in a beautiful hotel in the style of a desert caravanserai.*Please note that with small groups and at certain times of the year we may be able to stay in a local homestay in the nearby village of Mesr*.
Today we will explore the town of Khoor before driving to the ancient desert town of Yazd, one of the oldest extant towns in Iran.On the following day we will have an included walking tour of some of the main highlights of Yazd, including the incredible Jameh Mosque, the Old Town and the Amir Chakhmaq complex.In Yazd we will stay in a local hotel.
After breakfast we will have an included walking tour of some of the main highlights of Yazd, including the incredible Jameh Mosque, the Old Town and the Amir Chakhmaq complex.
Today we have an included visit to two important Zoroastrian sites in Iran - the Fire Temple and the Towers of Silence. After this we will take a short drive to the famous Caravanserai of Zein-o-Din, an atmospheric 16th-century guesthouse originally built to accommodate merchants travelling on the Silk Road.In Zein-o-Din we will stay overnight at the old caravanserai.
Today we will drive south to the city of Shiraz. En route we will visit the phenomenal ancient ruins of Persepolis, once the capital of the mighty Achaemenid Persian Empire until it was conquered by Alexander the Great in 330BCE.
Today we will have an included walking tour of some of the highlights of the old city of Shiraz, including the beautifully-coloured Nasir ol Molk Mosque, the incredible mirrored interior of the Shah Cheragh Mosque, and the historical house of Narenjestan.
Today we wil have a full day's drive to the stunning old Safavid-era capital of Esfahan.On the following day we will have an included walking tour of the central highlights of Esfahan, including the showpiece central square of Naqsh-e Jahan and its surrounding mosques and royal palaces, the old bazaar, and the beautiful Jameh Mosque, one of the oldest in Iran.On our second full day here, we will have free time to explore more of Esfahan's incredible sites, such as its ancient bridges, the curious 'Shaking Minarets', the Armenian Vank Cathedral, or the evocative Martyrs' Cemetery.
This morning we will have an included walking tour of the central highlights of Esfahan, including the showpiece central square of Naqsh-e Jahan and its surrounding mosques and royal palaces, the old bazaar, and the beautiful Jameh Mosque, one of the oldest in Iran.
Today is our last day in Esfahan. We will have free time to explore more of Esfahan's incredible sites, such as its ancient bridges, the curious 'Shaking Minarets', the Armenian Vank Cathedral, or the evocative Martyrs' Cemetery.
Today we will have a full day drive to the chaotic Iranian capital of Tehran.
Border Information: if joining in Tehran, you will most likely enter Iran at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport (IATA code: IKA).There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting.After the meeting we will have an included tour of the stunning Golestan Palace and the fascinating National Museum of Iran.Please note that due to restrictions on citizens of the UK, USA and Canada being permitted to remain unaccompanied in Iran, we would only be able to book one extra night of accommodation in Tehran for these nationalities before the trip starts. You will also be required to book an airport transfer in advance via your sales agent. Please ensure the correct dates for your plans are clearly stated on all your visa applications.
Today we will set off from Iran's chaotic capital and head west to the impressive Dome of Soltaniyeh, where we have an included visit. The 14th-century mausoleum is the 3rd largest dome in the world.After our visit, we will continue our drive to the small town of Zanjan, where we have free time to explore and possibly visit the fascinating historical laundry hall of Rakhatshor-Khaneh.
Today we will drive to the western Iranian city of Tabriz, where we will have free time to explore some of the sights of the old town.
Border Information: Exit Iran at Bazargan, enter Turkey at Gurbulak.Today we will drive across the border to Turkey and the Kurdish town of Dogubayazit. En route we will have an included visit to the Ishak Pasha Palace and enjoy the spectacular views of the surrounding landscapes and the nearby Mount Ararat.
Today is a drive day as we travel through the stunning landscapes in eastern Turkey towards the central Cappadocia region. We will aim to overnight close to Lake Nemrut this evening.
Another full drive day today however we will be rewarded with a beautiful campsite near Mt Nemrut at the end of the day with a bit of time to relax and enjoy the evening.
Today we will complete our drive to Goereme, a small enchanting town in the heart of the Cappadocia mountains.In Goereme we will stay 2 nights here in a well-equipped hostel - please note that dorm beds are sometimes used here.
One the second day we will explore Goreme, including a guided tour of the enchanted valley of Cappadocia. There will also be an opportunity for a magical optional balloon ride over the valley during your time here (weather permitting).
After breakfast we will continue south towards the town of Egirdir, today will mostly be a travel day.
This morning we will continue onto the ancient beach town of Olympos on the Southern Turkish coast. On the way we will make a small detour to visit the ancient city of Termessos in Gulluk Dagi National Park.
Today there will be plenty of time to explore and participate in optional activities, in the evening we will walk up to the Chimera Fire Mountain and toast some marshmallows.
Today we will head back inland to the small village of Pamukkale. Either this afternoon or tomorrow morning we will have time to visit the thermal hot springs and traverse the travertine pools and terraces.
We only have a short drive this morning to make it to our next destination Selcuk where we will have two nights. On arrival we will have free time to explore the local area or simply relax in one of the many cafes or tea bars which are great for people watching.
Today we will spend the day exploring the Ephesus Ruins and Terraced Houses.
After breakfast we will leave Selcuk and drive to Helsik following the coast. Here we will have an included tour of the Troy Ruins. In the afternoon we will cross the Dardenelles by ferry to arrive into Ecebat where we will stay the night in a local hostel.
Rising early we will have an included tour of Gallipoli with our local guide. After lunch we will then jump on the truck one last time to make our way to the bustling city of Istanbul.
Border information: if leaving the trip in Istanbul, you will most likely exit Turkey from Istanbul Ataturk International Airport (IATA code: IST).Today will be free to explore the many sights of the incredible exotic city of Istanbul, including the Grand Bazaar, the Bosphorus River and the phenomenal Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia!Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Istanbul. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact your sales agent if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed.