Perspectives of Iran
Explore Tehran’s palaces and the vault of the Bank Milli Iran to view the spectacular Crown Jewels. Visit a contemporary art gallery to learn about artistic expression. Experience Shiraz, city of poetry and gardens. Marvel at the magnificent ruins of Persepolis. Discover Yazd, the country's center of Zoroastrianism, and the most traditional Persian architecture. Visit Isfahan, where brilliant blue-tiled buildings and majestic bridges are often recognized as the perfection of Islamic architecture.
Depart the U.S.
Upon arrival, transfer to our hotel. Espinas Hotel (D)
Enjoy a full day of sightseeing in Tehran concentrating on its excellent museums. Visit the Archaeological Museum with its fine collection including a stone capital of a winged lion from Susa. Explore the Golestan Palace (Palace of Flowers) and enjoy a private visit to a contemporary art gallery. Espinas Hotel (B,L,D)
Head to northern Tehran to visit the Niavaran Palace and Museum, the last home of Mohammad-Reza Shah and his family. The complex boasts two palaces, a pavilion, Persian gardens, a museum and a smaller gallery. Continue on to Khomeini’s home where one is allowed a glimpse of the dwelling. After lunch, visit the Iranian crown jewels stored in the basement vault of the Bank Milli Iran. Admire the world’s largest uncut diamond as well as the Peacock Throne. Espinas Hotel (B,L,D)
Visit Museum of Contemporary Art which was designed by Kamran Diba using elements from traditional Persian architecture and is considered to be one of the most valuable collections of modern art outside of Europe and the United States. This afternoon, fly to Yazd, a major stop on the international caravan routes to Central Asia and India. Moshir Garden Hotel (B,L,D)
Visit the former home of the Governor of the city to see and learn more about traditional Persian architecture and the badgers, wind towers ingeniously designed to catch a passing breeze. Explore the bazaar and enjoy a stroll through it before visiting the Water Museum. Stop at the Haj Khalifeh Ali Rahbar pastry shop, opened in 1916, and the Amir Chakhmaq Complex with its perfectly proportioned sunken alcoves and tiles laid out in intricate patterns. Visit the Friday Mosque, the best preserved 14th century mosque in Iran, and enjoy a walking tour through the covered streets of Yazd’s old quarter. Spend the balance of the afternoon concentrating on the Zoroastrian religion. Moshir Garden Hotel (B,L,D)
Head to a small village called Taft where a large number of Zoroastrians still live. En route to Shiraz visit the site of Pasargad where Cyrrus the Great defeated Astyages the Mede in 550 BC and, according to tradition, decided to build the first Achaemenian capital on the site of his victory. Zandiyeh Hotel (B,L,D)
Visit the 19th century Eram Gardens built in a quadripartite Persian Paradise Garden structure. Head to the Fars Museum and then explore the citadel or Arg-e Karim Khan built in 1766 using the best architects and artists and materials of the time. Stop at the Pink Mosque or Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque which is the oldest and one of the most elegant mosques in southern Iran. Continue on to the tomb of Saadi, one of the major Persian poets of the time and known all over the world for the quality and depth of his social and moral thoughts in his writings. End the day at the tomb of the celebrated poet Hafez which is located in a small garden. Zandiyeh Hotel (B,L,D)
Today we enjoy a full day excursion to Persepolis, the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenian Empire and one of the world’s most beautiful and spectacular archaeological sites. This palace city was built by craftsmen from around Darius’ vast empire. Superb bas reliefs depict the flow of ritual processions. After lunch sitting in the shade of grape vines, visit Naghsh-E Rostam which contains the carved tombs of four Achaemenian kings. Zandiyeh Hotel (B,L,D)
Drive to Isfahan stopping en route for lunch. Upon arrival in Isfahan in the late afternoon, visit Hasht Behesht which is located in the center of the Garden of Nightingales (the Bagh-e Bulbul), and is one of Isfahan's two surviving Safavid pavilions. Abbasi Hotel (B,L,D)
Isfahan is perhaps the most beautiful of all Iranian cities. Visit the Palace of Forty Columns, a charming pavilion where the walls and ceilings are covered with frescoes and paintings. Walk to the Maydan-e Shah or Imam Square, the central focus of this fascinating city which never failed to inspire and awe European merchants and ambassadors to the Safavid court. Explore the Lotfallah Mosque, the Ali Qapu Palace and the towering portal of the Shah Mosque. After lunch, spend the afternoon exploring the bazaar and learning more about traditional crafts in Iran. Abbasi Hotel (B,L,D)
Visit the Friday Mosque with its tiled ivans, vaulted ceilings and lofty domes that displays more than 800 years of Persian religious architecture. Admire some of the five bridges crossing the Zayendehrud River and wander through the city’s fascinating Armenian quarter. We also visit Isfahan’s new Music Museum. Abbasi Hotel (B,L,D)
Depart for Kashan, the epitome of everything that is typically Persian from its mosques, caravanserais and stately gardens, to its carpets, ceramics and delicate embroideries. Along the way, stop at the historic village of Abyaneh, one of Iran’s oldest villages. Arrive for lunch, and then visit the Tabatabei House, a traditional house built in the early 1880s, which is renowned for its mirror and stained glass work. Visit the historic Kashan Bazaar, the center of trade in the city for almost 800 years. Manouchehri Hotel (B,L,D)
After breakfast drive to Tehran. We stop at the Tomb of Ayatollah Khomeni, which is the centerpiece of a complex which is planned to include a cultural and tourist center, a university for Islamic studies, a seminary and a shopping mall. Check in to our hotel, located very close to the airport. Enjoy a festive farewell dinner. Novotel Hotel (B,L,D)
Depart Tehran for international flights home. (B)
Cost and Details
$7,490 per person, double occupancy
$1,460 single supplement
Accommodation as per itinerary; meals as listed in the program including water and soft drinks; airport transfers if on the recommended flights; bottled water on the bus; all sightseeing in an air-conditioned coach; internal flight from Tehran to Yazd; all entrance fees and special events listed; full educational program and study leader; pre-departure materials and reading list; local Iranian guide; professional tour manager who will accompany the group; gratuities for drivers, porters, restaurant and hotel staff for all group activities.
International airfare into and out of Iran (approximately $1,500); passport fees; visa fees for Iran (currently $90/person plus visa service fee of $75/person); excess luggage charges; medical expenses; trip insurance; items of a purely personal nature; gratuity to local Iranian guide.
Participants must be in very good health and able to keep up with an active group. In order to participate, one should be able to walk 1-2 miles per day comfortably, climb steep stairs without handrails or assistance and walk and stand for periods of two hours at a time. Fall is a lovely time to travel in Iran when temperatures range from 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit. The infrastructure in Iran is quite good, with modern roads and buses. Hotels are comfortable, with private bathrooms and air-conditioning. Food is freshly prepared and healthy. During the program, participants should be dressed modestly and women will be required to have their head covered while in public areas. Alcohol is not permitted in Iran. More details will be provided upon registering for the trip.
Emily’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Salon, Christian Science Monitor, Al Jazeera, NPR, and Huffington Post. Her recent academic publications touch upon Iranian cinema, Sufism, disability in Iran, Islamic law, and archaeology. In 2009, she was invited to speak (in Persian) at the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran on Iranian and Tajik cultural and historical connections.
For her field research and expertise on Islam, Sufism, cultural heritage, and politics, Emily has been a State Department Critical Languages Fellow for Persian and Tajiki, Fulbright-Hays Fellow, Harvard Traveling Fellow (Iran), Edward A. Hewett Policy Fellow, American Councils Research Fellow, IREX Fellow, and Columbia Pepsico Fellow.
Terms and Conditions
Reservations and Payments:
Reservations for a tour require a deposit of $500 per person and an application form signed by the participant. Full balance of the trip cost is due by check upon receipt of final invoice no later than July 20, 2018. You will receive an invoice. Payments should be made to Distant Horizons. Per the program brochure, final payments must be made by check.
We require membership to the Commonwealth Club to travel with us. People who live outside of the Bay Area may purchase a worldwide membership. To learn about membership types and to purchase a membership, visit our membership page or call (415)597-6720.
Visas are required for U.S. citizens visiting Iran. Travelers will be provided with instructions for obtaining their visas and Distant Horizons will assist travelers in the process. Neither Distant Horizons nor the Commonwealth Club can be held responsible, in any way, for any cost incurred if travelers are denied visas for any reason or if visas are not issued in a timely manner.
Please note that we plan on the trip being accompanied by Dr. Emily Jane O’Dell. If, for any reason, she is not able to participate in the program, then the Commonwealth Club and Distant Horizons will provide a replacement leader. Participants will be informed prior to departure in the very unlikely event that we have to make a change.
Participation in this program requires women to have their head covered at all times, and that all participants will not consume alcohol while in Iran.
Commonwealth Club Travel and Distant Horizons reserves the right to cancel any tour prior to departure for any reason, including insufficient number of participants, and to decline to accept or retain any person as a participant at any time. Should this happen, refunds will be made without obligation, although we cannot be held responsible for any additional costs already incurred by participants. The tour price is based on a number of people traveling together. If bookings fall below the minimum required, passengers will be advised of additional costs for that departure date with the option to cancel.
If a participant cancels, the following refunds will be available upon written notice of cancellation to Distant Horizons.
Notice more than 60 days prior to departure: a refund less a $250 cancellation charge.
Notice between 60 days and 30 days prior to departure: a refund less 75% of trip price.
No refund shall be issued if cancellation is received less than 30 days prior to departure date.
No refunds shall be issued after the tour has commenced. No refunds shall be issued for unused meals, sightseeing tours or unused services.
Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance:
We strongly advise that all travelers purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance as coverage against a covered unforeseen emergency that may force you to cancel or leave trip while it is in progress. Baggage insurance is also recommended. In the event you must cancel your participation in the travel program, trip cancellation insurance may be the only source of reimbursement. Information will be sent upon registration and can be viewed Travel Insurance Services website
Air Carriers Contract:
The airlines concerned are not to be held responsible for any act, omission or event during the time tour members are on board their planes or conveyances. The passage contract in use by the airline concerned when the ticket is issued shall constitute the sole contract between the airline and the purchaser of these tickets and/or the passenger.
State Department Warning:
At the time of printing (November 2017) there is a State Department Warning for Iran which has been in place since the early 1980’s. We recommend reading the warning which is mainly addressed to those Iranian Americans who hold US citizenship. The warning can be accessed at https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings/iran-travel-warning.html
Commonwealth Club Travel and Distant Horizons act only in the capacity of agents for the hotels, airlines, bus companies, railroads, ship lines or owners or contractors providing accommodations, transportation or other services. As a result, all coupons, receipts or tickets are issued subject to the terms and conditions specified by the supplier. By acceptance of tour membership, the participant agrees that neither Commonwealth Club Travel, Distant Horizons nor any of its subsidiaries shall become liable or responsible for personal injury, damage to persons or property, loss, delay or irregularity caused by persons not controlled by it, such as (without limitation) airlines, bus and shipping companies, suppliers of accommodations or other services, or resulting from any acts of God, defects in vehicles, strikes, wars, whether declared or otherwise, civil disturbances, medical or customs regulations, acts of terrorism, epidemics or government restrictions. Commonwealth Club Travel and Distant Horizons cannot be held responsible for unfavorable weather or closure of access routes due to bad weather conditions. Commonwealth Club Travel and Distant Horizons are not responsible for any additional expenses or liability sustained or incurred by the participant as a result of the above mentioned causes.
Tour participant acknowledges receipt of a copy of these terms and conditions and signifies acceptance of, and consents to, all of the terms and conditions set forth herein, on behalf of any participants they may act for and for themselves when registering for, or making payments on, this tour.
Commonwealth Club of California-CST# 2096889-40