Explore Iran aboard the Golden Eagle

Overview

Traveling in the ancient land of Persia, this unique adventure explores destinations that have been off the tourist map for many years and rarely experienced by Western visitors. Tehran, Mashad, Yadz, Isfahan, ancient Persepolis, the cultural capital of Shiraz—these are just a few of the enchanting sites on this journey. This tour is perfect for those who have a true pioneering spirit—a distinctive adventure that may not always follow the itinerary step-by-step, but will delight and enthrall with the potential for a surprise or two along the way.

Note: This rail journey is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the operator.

Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1
Tehran, Iran

Arrive in Tehran, where you will be met and transferred to the five-star Espinas Hotel (or similar). Enjoy a welcome reception dinner and meet your fellow travelers on this highly anticipated journey.

Day 2
Tehran

The highlight of your stay in Tehran is undoubtedly the visit to the breathtaking Crown Jewels Museum in the Central Bank of Iran Building, with its vast array of crown jewels used by the Qajar and Pahlavid royalty. You'll also visit the Golestan Palace (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) with its renovated Versailles-inspired, mirror-encrusted Marble Throne Hall used for the coronation of the last Shah.  Most of the remaining brick and tile buildings date back to the 19th century Qajar dynasty. Later, transfer to Tehran railway station, with its huge portraits of Ayatollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Kamenei at the entrance, and board the Golden Eagle. Settle in to your cabin and later enjoy dinner as the train begins its exciting voyage through Iran.

Day 3
Mashhad

An early morning arrival provides you with the whole day to explore the city of Mashhad, which is home to the Imam Reza Holy Shrine, the largest mosque in the world in terms of its dimension, followed by a tour of the Nader Shah Museum. After lunch in the city, you will visit the Tomb of Ferdowsi, the father of Persian Literature who lived over 1,000 years ago.  Dinner this evening on the train as you head south.

Day 4
Kerman and Shahdad Desert

Today you travel to the desert trading city of Kerman, where you will drive to the Shahdad Desert to see the cherished Kalouts, which are beautiful, ever-changing sand formations carved by the wind, making an excellent opportunity for photographs. Tonight, continue on the Golden Eagle to Rayen.

Day 5
Rayen, Mahan, and Kerman

The 20,000-square-meter Rayen Castle is situated beneath snow-capped Mount Hezar in the Province of Kerman.  A huge medieval mud-brick citadel, it was considered second only to Bam before the 2003 earthquake.  Rayen displays all the architectural elements of a deserted citadel (it was inhabited until 150 years ago) and is extremely well preserved. It is considered one of the most interesting sites in Iran. Continue by road to Mahan where you visit the sanctuary and tomb of the famous Sufi, Shah Nematollah Vali, dating back to the Mongol Era. You also visit the Shahzadeh Garden. Dating to the late 19th century, this is a Qajar-period house and garden where your will have lunch. After lunch, continue back to Kerman. The city has a mud-brick core centered around the historic and very lively bazaar. You’ll visit the Hamam Ganj Ali Khan complex, from the 17th century, where wonderful frescoes adorn the walls and wax dummies illustrate the workings of a traditional bathhouse. Re-join the train at dusk in time for dinner as you travel onwards to Yazd.

Day 6
Yazd

Yazd is thought to be one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back over 3,000 years, and you'll spend the day here. Your tour takes in the Zoroastrian Fire Temple and Silent Towers, Amir Chakhmagh Square and the Friday Mosque, home to one of Persia’s finest mosaics (both 14th century) and finally the water museum. Lunch will be served in the Moshir Garden Hotel, which features a lovely Pomegranate Garden (Yazd is famous for pomegranates). Return to the train late afternoon.

Day 7
Persepolis and Shiraz

Following breakfast onboard you'll arrive in Sadat Shaha for the nearby ruins of Persepolis, another World Heritage Site. Perhaps Iran’s most important archaeological site, this ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire dates back to the 6th century. Even now, the ruins are extremely impressive. Your final visit today is to the Necropolis at nearby Naghsh-e Rustam. After lunch, continue by road to Shiraz. Shiraz is Persia’s cultural capital. Dating back over 4,000 years, it is also known as the city of poets, literature, wine, and flowers. A visit to the Quran Gate, Hafez Tomb, and the Vakil Citadel are the highlights of your afternoon tour.

Day 8
Isfahan

This enchanting city, which served as Persia’s capital from 1598 to 1722, is 2,500 years old and one of the oldest in Iran. As a crossroad of international trade and diplomacy, Isfahan has a rich mix of languages, religions, and customs. The city is famous for its silver filigree and metal work, array of great historical monuments, and the life-giving Zayandeh-Rood river, which has given the city its beauty. Isfahan is packed with some of Iran’s best sights and today you'll spend a whole day in the city, visiting the Vank Church in the Armenian Quarter and the Chehel Sotun Palace. Following a traditional Iranian lunch, you'll  move on to Naghshe Jahan Square, a World Heritage Site and the second largest man-made square in the world, where the Ali Qapou Palace and Shah and Sheikh Lutfullah Mosques can be found. Here, the time is yours to enjoy the huge square and pick up a bargain at the handicraft Bazaar of Qaisarieh.

Day 9
Kashan

Morning finds you in the ancient city of Kashan where you explore the Fin Garden, Iran’s oldest garden dating from 1590 (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). You also visit Tabatabei House, a traditional old house of Kashan which displays beautiful architecture and elaborate colored glass. After dinner you'll arrive in Arak, where you will transfer to your comfortable Iranian train for one night (private cabins with shared facilities) and travel towards the Zagros Mountains.

Day 10
Shushtar and Choghanzanbil

Admire the magnificent scenery as you meander through the mountainous landscape before arriving in the city in the late morning. You first visit the hydraulic system that dates back to 590 BC and still provides water to the town of Shushtar. You'll move on to the Choghazanbil site dating back to 1250 BC and, time permitting, a short tour of the ancient city of Susa before re-joining the train for the spectacular return journey through the Zagros Mountains. Dinner will be served as you head back to join the Golden Eagle for our onward journey.

Day 11
Pol-E Sefid

Today you enjoy a spectacular rail journey through the Alborz Mountains as you head towards Pol-E Sefid on board your privately chartered day train. Marvel at the ever-changing, mountainous landscapes as you climb the Trans-Iranian Railway, crossing the infamous Veresk bridge, hailed as the ‘Bridge of Victory’ in World War II, and the outstanding ‘Three Golden Lines’ spiral. This evening you'll return to the Golden Eagle for your final dinner aboard the train.

Day 12
Tehran

On return to Tehran, you'll take the opportunity to visit the prestigious Archaeological Museum of Iran (National Museum), opened in 1937, detailing many periods of the rich history of the country with some artefacts dating back approximately 30,000 - 35,000 years.

Day 13
Tehran

Today you visit the impressive Sa’d Abad Museum Complex, the summer home to the royal family since the Qajar dynasty, located north of the city, at the foot of the Alborz mountain range. You'll  also visit Tehran’s Museum of Contemporary Art, before returning to your hotel, the Espinas, for the Farewell Gala Dinner. Join fellow passengers to reminisce on all the experiences you have shared together during this remarkable adventure.

Day 14
Depart Tehran

Following breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your departing flights.

Highlights

Highlights

Visit the huge medieval mud brick citadel of Rayen
The bazaars of Kerman and Isfahan, the cultural capital of Shiraz
Explore the ruins of Persepolis, a World Heritage Site and one of Iran’s most important archaeological sites

Details

Length: 14 days
Cost From: $16,495  
Arrive: Tehran, Iran
Depart: Tehran, Iran
Lodging: 10 nights aboard the Golden Eagle, 3 nights hotels
Meals: All meals included (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Journeying by Rail
Trip Level:

10-day rail journey, cultural explorations and walking tours
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