15 Day Ring of Alborz

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Expedition Summary Mount Alborz is the sacred center of creation in Persian mythological stories like Shahnameh and is a symbol of strength and invincibility. The only hero that could conquer the mighty Alborz is the Sefid-Rūd (White River) which has cut a water gap through the mountain and opened its sacred pass through to the Caspian Sea.
Itinerary Details:

Day 1. Arrival in Tehran

Upon arrival in Tehran, you will be welcomed at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Depending on the time of your arrival, you can spend the day touring the beautiful and diverse city of Tehran, or spend the evening in a traditional restaurant for a delicious Persian cuisine. If you arrive late, don’t worry! You’ll have a full day of sightseeing in Tehran at the end of your trip (L/D).
You’ll stay overnight at your hotel in Tehran.

Day 2. Qazvin, the Calligraphy capital of Iran

Today is the start of your wonderful expedition in the northern Iran. We hope you are as excited as we are; an incredible journey is ahead of us. We will begin by driving to Qazvin (2/5 hours), the ancient capital of the Persian Empire during Safavid dynasty. Qazvin has been an important cultural centre throughout history. Thus, it offers excellent examples of Iranian architecture from various ages, which we will spend today exploring.
After arriving at Qazvin, We start our sightseeing tour today by visiting a āb anbār, a traditional reservoir or cistern of drinking water in Persian antiquity. Qazvin is renowned for its cisterns from which, the Sardar-e Bozorg āb anbār is the most famous, being the largest single domed cistern of Iran. We will then go to Hosseinieh Aminiha, a beautiful example of traditional Persian residential architecture indigenous to Qazvin.
Having lunch and head to your hotel for a short break. In the afternoon, we will visit Chehel Sotun, the majestic Safavid royal palace with a beautiful pool and garden. Nowadays, Qazvin is known as the Calligraphy capital of Iran as many of the masters of Persian calligraphy are coming from Qazvin. And Chehel Sotun houses the Iran’s Calligraphy Museum, which displays some of the masterpieces of this authentic and brilliant art in Iran.
We will then head to fascinating Bazaar to visit the Sara-ye Vazir caravanserai, and its old carpets. In Bazaar, we will also visit the Mogul style Nabi Masque with its expansive and impressive courtyard.
After down, we will head back to Chehel Sotun to see it glowing beautifully under the floodlights and its back-lit colored glass windows. We will then head to a traditional restaurant for a delicious dinner before we go back to the hotel. (B/L/D)
Total drive for the day: 155 km

Day 3. Alamut Valley, a True Trekker's Paradise!

After few days of wandering through the cities, it is now time to head to nature, at its best! Today, we will go to Alamut Valley, where spectacular mountains, canyons, rivers, waterfalls and glaciers, together with the remnants of the world-renowned Alamut Castle (also known as Castle of the Assassins) present a beautiful and unique combination of nature, history and cultural. A true trekker’s paradise! We will also learn about the amazing history of the Alamut Castel and its significant political role in Iran's medieval period as a major stronghold of the Ismaili dynasty. The story has inspired the famous "Alamut" novel by Vladimir Bartol, the famous Slovenian author, and the popular "Assassin's Creed" series of video games.
Trust you have enjoyed exploring the beautiful Alamut Valley, which owes its beauty to the staggering Alborz Mountain Chain on north. Alborz is major mountain range in northern Iran, 900 km long. It is a bold climatic barrier between the Caspian Sea and the central Iranian plateau. The north side, facing the sea, receives heavy snow and rainfall, and lush forests sweep down to the coastal plain. The south part, in contrast, has few trees, just barren brown wind-swept slopes merging with desert below. The mighty chain includes Iran’s two highest peaks, Mount Damāvand and Mount Alām, both of which we will see during our expedition.
Accommodation in Ghazvin (B/L/D)
Total drive for the day: 220 km

Day 4. Cutting through the Mighty Alborz Mountain Chain and Masouleh

Mount Alborz is the sacred center of creation in Persian mythological stories like Shahnameh and is a symbol of strength and invincibility. The only hero that could conquer the mighty Alborz is the Sefid-Rūd (White River) which has cut a water gap through the mountain and opened its sacred pass through to the Caspian Sea. It is the second longest river in Iran, spanning over approximately 670 km. The gap provides an important historic route between southern Iranian Plateau and northern Caspian coastal lowlands. We will drive this pass today towards the city of Rasht, the capital of Gīlān province.
On our way, we will first visit the town of Manjil, presenting its scenic views of the biggest Windfarm in Iran with all-the-year-spinning wind turbines. We will then head to the city of Rudbar, Iran's most famous olives cultivation center olives are abundant and delicious! Here we will taste the brilliant Zeytoon Parvardeh, the delicious appetizer prepared from olives marinated with nuts, pomegranate paste, and aromatic herbs.
Then we’ll drive to Masouleh for overnight stay. Its architecture is unique. The buildings have been built into the mountain and are interconnected. Courtyards and roofs both serve as pedestrian areas similar to streets. Masouleh does not allow any motor vehicles to enter, due to its unique layout. It is the only village in Iran with such a prohibition. However, the small streets and many stairs simply also wouldn't make it possible for vehicles to enter. The spectacular architecture of Masouleh is well-known as "The yard of the above building is the roof of the below building".
Yellow clay coats the exterior of most buildings in Masouleh. This allows for better visibility in the fog.
Buildings are mostly 2 floors made of adobe, rods and bole. Small living room, big Guest room, winter room, Hall, WC and Balcony are usually found in 1st floor. Cold closet, barn and stable are located at below floor that attaches to the upper floor by several narrow steps inside the building. (B/L/D)
Total drive for the day: 230 km

Day 5. Qaleh Rudkhan

In the morning we’ll head to nearby Qaleh Rudkhan located 25 km southwest of Foman city north of Iran in Gilan province, it is a military complex which had been constructed during the Seljuk Dynasty by followers of the Ismā'īlī sect. The castle is built on two tips of a mount, with an area of 2.6 hectares (6.4 acres). Its architects have benefited from natural mountainous features in the construction of the fort.
The Rudkhan Castle River originates in the surrounding heights and flows from south to north.
After crossing a mountainous winding route with dense forests, the first thing that one notices about the castle is its big entrance gate. Rudkhan Castle sits at the two peaks of a mountain at elevations of 715 and 670 metres and contains strong fortifications and battlements at a length of 1,550 metres. The castle's 42 towers still stand intact.
In the afternoon, we’ll head to nice city of Asalem and stay in the hotel to get ready to hit the majestic mountain road tomorrow. (B/L/D)
Total drive for the day: 180 km

Day 6. Khalkhal to Asalem, the most beautiful road in Iran

Now it is time to ascend to the heights of khalkhal. Ascending from an altitude of 35 m in Asalem to 1800 m in Khalkhal in less than 70 km, this road is the route which pass from the paradise! The road offers stunning scenery, taking you right from the tablelands near Khalkhal through lush cool forests, rocky mountains, astonishing countryside, beautiful corn poppy flower fields, misty valleys, waterfalls and lakes to the unspoilt hinterlands of Asalem. If you are interested in trekking and bushwalking, you can walk a part of this road through the forest and bright meadows through Sobatan village and Neor Lake.
Due to the mountainous conditions, this road may be closed due to heavy rain and snowfall during the fall and winter seasons. Depending on your travel dates, we may need to take another route from Ardabil to Asalem, passing through Astara and beside the Caspian Sea hinterlands, which are indeed beautiful and scenic as well. After lunch, We will head to Ardabil at night for dinner and overnight stay.
Total drive for the day: 140 km

Day 7. Ardabil, the holy city of Sufism

Today we will visit the UNESCO World Heritage site, the magnificent Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble. Sheikh Safi, an eminent leader of the Islamic Sufi order established by the Safavids, was born in Ardabil where this complex is located. The ensemble comprises several monuments like the mausoleums of Sheikh Safi and Shah Ismail I, Chini Khaneh (house of chinaware), a mosque, Jannat Sara (house of paradise), Khānegāh (the house of Dervishes), Cheragh Khaneh (the house of lamps), Shahid Khaneh (the house of martyrs) and Chelleh Khaneh (the place where devotees shut themselves up during the forty days of Lent). The ensemble includes well-preserved and richly ornamented facades and interiors, with a remarkable collection of antique artifacts. It constitutes a rare ensemble of elements of medieval Islamic architecture.
The shrine was the home to the two “Ardabil Carpets”, the world's oldest dated carpets and two of the most beautiful and historically significant in the world. Unfortunately, both of the carpets are now far from their home, the larger one in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the other one in Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
At noon, we will have lunch in the wonderful 640-year-old former Hammam beautifully renovated to become the Ebrahimabad Sofrekhane (traditional restaurant) for local traditional cuisine and tea.
In the afternoon, you’ll relax in Shourabil Lake and then have rest in your hotel (B/L/D)

Day 8. Gardane Heyran, Border of Iran-Azerbaijan

Today we’ll have a rather long drive through fabulous jungle roads, you will see the changes from Fandoqlou forests to ancient Hirkani forests. We’ll hit Gardane Heyran wonderful road which you can see Iran-Azerbaijan border amazing sceneries.
After having lunch, we’ll continue toward Bandar-e-Anzali via Gisum forest and other Beautiful places while you have Caspian Sea nearby. In the afternoon you’ll stay in your hotel in Bandar-e-Anzali.
Total drive for the day: 230 km (B/L/D)

Day 9. Anzali Wetland and Lahijan, home to the World’s Best Tea Brew

and Lahijan, home to the World’s Best Tea Brew
Today you’ll visit Anzali wetland and .After visiting the wetland, it is time to visit the sparkling green fields of tea plantations in Lahijan, the first town in Iran to have tea plantation. With its mild weather, soil quality and fresh spring water, Lahijan stands to have the largest area of tea cultivation in Iran. You should have noticed already through your expedition that the color of Iranian tea is red and taste is relatively light, and it is delicious without adding any milk or sugar. And the way that Iranians make their tea, in “a ceramic teapot with a drawing of a red rose warmed, soaked and sunk a spoonful of fragrant tea leaves to the bottom, turning the water a perfect shade of brown” as The Guardian magazine describes, makes Iran as the place to find the best tea brews in the world. And we are quite sure you’ll agree with The Guardian!
Tonight, we will stay in a hotel in Lahijan (B/L/D)
Total drive for the day: 70 km

Day 10. Ramsar, the Summer Residence of the Kings

After a refreshing breakfast, we will drive to the coastal city of Ramsar to visit the Ramsar Palace Museum (before noon). The palace was used as a summer residence by Reza Shah and then by his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah (king) of Iran. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his spouse spent their honeymoon in the palace. The marvel palace is situated in a beautiful garden and presents incredible pieces of artwork, furniture and decorations.
After lunch and a relaxing walk along the Caspian coast, we will head to mountains again for a magical drive through the dense jungles to Javaherdeh village. The village is situated 2,000 m above the sea level, and sometimes sits above the clouds, giving its excited visitors the magical views otherwise they could see in their dreams! There is a small river with several beautiful waterfalls headings towards the village that provides amazing treks and walks through the jungle.
We will stay overnight in a local village house to grasp more of the beauty and magic of the village's lavish nature. (B/L/D)
Total drive for the day: 100 km

Day 11. Mountain village of Kandelous and beautiful mountain road

After having breakfast, you’ll head to a traditional village on top of the mountains of central Alborz, named Kandelous. According to archaeological findings, historical background to the third millennium before Christ comes Kandelus village. The village has witnessed various civilizations in different historical periods and BC Signs of civilization, the civilization of Iranian pre-Islamic and post-Islamic Iranian civilization in its place. Graves and cemeteries are a Zoroastrian and Manichean, as well as utensils and old objects gathered from around the region, from the point of Mazandaran brilliant civilization in ancient times tells.
Kandelus Museum of medicinal plants of agricultural farms for cultivation, breeding, production and packaging of medicinal herbs and aromatic oils and vegetable oil production was established in 1986 which is Iran's first botanical garden.
Today we will visit this nice village, having lunch and will overnight in a local hotel.
Total drive for the day: 170 km

Day 12 & 13 Kelardasht 'Paradise of Iran'

Today you’ll drive to Kelardasht.
for an exciting ecotourism expedition in the north part of Iran, a green and gorgeous wonderland in Iran. It is one of the beauties of Iran that in such a semi-arid country, you can experience a lush and entirely different environment by just a two-hour drive from the capital.
In the morning we check out from hotel and head to 'Paradise of Iran' as Iranians say, the city of Kelardasht. The drive is via the southern Alborz Mountain. It gives us an excellent opportunity to compare the climate, types and density of vegetation of the northern and southern slopes of the Alborz Mountain, and learn about the impact of the mountain acting as a humidity barrier in North of Iran.
We will visit Valasht Lake a suitable environment for birds and fish, after lunch and a short stroll in the city and its Bazaar before we stay overnight at hotel. Next day after having breakfast, hiking and trekking in Mazichal forests will started. To have eye-catching and rich vegetation and wildlife in the northwest of Kelardasht. Mazi in local dialect means oak tree and Chal means ditch and valley; so Mazichal refers to a valley full of oak trees. In fair weather, you will see the picturesque scenery of Caspian Sea which leaves everyone spellbound.
we will spend hours on taking pictures and enjoying the virgin nature of the valley. If lucky, we may even spot wild animals like bear, wolf and leopard in this jungle
Then we'll head to your hotel to unwind, relax, and get ready for a day full of sightseeing tomorrow. (B/L/D)
Total drive for the day: 110 km

Day 14 . Glories and excesses of the Qajar Rulers

Today, we will visit the central Tehran, where many monuments to the glories and excesses of the Qajar rulers are established. We’ll first visit the Golestan Palace complex, the former royal Qajar compound in Tehran. The Golestan Palace, the oldest of the historic monuments of Tehran and a UNESCO World Heritage site, belongs to a group of royal buildings that were once enclosed within the mud-thatched walls of Tehran’s Historic Arg (citadel). Golestan Palace complex consists of 17 structures including palaces, museums, and halls. Almost this entire complex was built during the 200 years ruling of Qajar kings. These palaces were used for many different occasions such as coronations and other important celebrations.
Later, we will head to Grand Bazaar, a huge maze of corridors each specializing in various types of goods, including copper, carpets, paper, spices, and precious metals. Although Tehran's Grand Bazaar economic influence has diminished somewhat in recent years, it remains the largest market of its kind in the world. In Grand Bazaar, we will have lunch first in Sharaf-ol-Eslami restaurant, one of the best and most popular attractions for food lovers. Then we’ll walk in Grand Bazaar towards the Imam Khomeini Mosque for a quiet finish to our hustling and bustling bazaar tour.
After an afternoon break at your hotel, we will go to Tajrish in the evening to experience the nightlife in Tehran and stroll in its narrow alleys and busy shopping centers. We’ll head back to your hotel after dinner in a new-age contemporary restaurant in Tajrish. (B/L/D)

Day 15. “Bedrood”, va “Be Omid-e Didar”

It is time to say “Bedrood” (goodbye) and “Be Omid-e Didar” (hope to see you again). Today is the last day of your tour, and we will arrange it as you wish. Depending on your departure time, we can have short walks in the city, spend some time shopping “Soghati” (souvenir), visit a museum or whatever else you wish. We’ll take you to the airport for your departure, and start missing you already! (B)

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