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On this cycling tour, you'll pedal past Iran's snow clad mountains and oasis towns whilst being connected with grass-root NGO's doing life-changing work in local communities. 11 days.

I'M UP FOR
Something Different
DURATION
11 Nights
DIFFICULTY
Active
COMFORT
Comfortable
LOCATION
Iran
SEASON
April, May, September, October
NEAREST AIRPORT

On this 11-day biking adventure, you’ll journey through ancient cities and remote mountain villages on roads that few travellers will ever see. Along the way, you’ll discover the beating heart of Iran, its people. This is journey is the true essence of adventure.

Your hassle-free adventure includes:

  • 7 nights hotel accommodation
  • 4 nights traditional home accommodation
  • Cycle guide, driver and cultural tour manager
  • 2 support vehicles
  • 11 Breakfasts, 6 lunches and 8 dinners
  • Bike hire
  • Entry and guided tour or Persepolis UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Airport arrival transfer
  • Transfer from Shiraz to Tehran

Perfect for: Adventurous souls looking to experience the true heart of Iran and make a difference along the way.

Adventures for Good: Your host’s mission is to offer cycling adventures with a positive impact. Along the way, you will visit NGO’s striving to make a difference, learn about the social issues, challenges and strategies in country, and dine at social enterprise restaurants, all while having a cycling adventure. See all of our ‘Adventures for Good’ here.

Need To Know

Not included in your adventure: - Flights - Visa costs - Some meals - NGO donation of £110 per rider

You need to be healthy more than fit and you need to be able to ride a bike. There is come challenging riding but there are two support vehicles on hand should you ever be struggling. You can even get a lift on the ups and ride the downs or get a lift the whole way should you so please.

Yes absolutely. Adventure tours are a great way to meet like-minded individuals.

Your local host recommends the following: For the cycle: - Full sleeve sports top (high breathability) - Lightweight full-length top and pants - Women should wear a tunic over leggings - Visor/Caps for under your helmet - Closed shoes (bikes do not have clip in pedals) - Gloves - Helmet - Sports water bottle - Lightweight backpack (optional) - Removable padded seat for your bike (optional) - Scarfs (for women)

General items: - Cash (there is no ATM access) - Passport & passport photo (women with head scarf) - Insurance copy - Camera, SD cards & chargers - Smartphone & chargers - Tropical strength insect repellent - Hand sanitizer - Gels & hydrolytes to stay hydrated - Sunscreen - Adequate prescription medication - Women’s sanitary needs - Hat for sun protection - Usual toiletries

Mountain bike hire is included

All bikes have comfortable saddles, disc brakes and 24-speed gears to help you up those hills! Mechanical equipment will be supplied to ensure the bikes stay in great working order throughout the duration of the tour. You will however, be required to bring your own helmet and water bottle(s). Each bike has two water cages.

Persian food is a delicious mix of barbequed meats, buttery stews, vegetables and rice. Their food contains a wide range of spices and flavours. Food is usually served ‘family style’ with all dishes placed in the middle and shared. This is a great way to discover new foods.

Your local host will cater for your dietary requirements as best as they can. Vegetarian options are always available. For other requirements there can occasionally be challenges as this is an adventurous tour with meals in home stays.

Please let us know of your dietary requirements when you have booked.

The trip runs during the Autumn and Spring, during this time Iran has ideal conditions for cycling. During the day temperatures are warm but not hot, up to around 25 degrees Celsius. Night time temperatures drop to around 10-12 degrees Celcius and can feel cool in the mountains.

In Tehran, you’ll meet the wonderful people behind the scenes at Omid Foundation. The holistic program comprises two and a half years of care and education, for young women with issues of abuse, neglect and poverty. Speak first hand to the management and learn about the Iranian way of caring for disadvantaged young women. This is truly and inspiring and unforgettable, moving experience. In Esfahan, you’ll visit Congress 60. This opens a door into the world of hard drugs and addiction in Iran. Very much a taboo topic and incredibly illegal, Congress 60 have pioneered an approach to recovery with so much success, they have recently received support from the government in it’s practices.

From across the country, ten’s of thousands of addicts have found a new life over the past 20 years of Congress 60’s existence. You’ll engage with one of the centres in Esfahan and speak to former addicts and advocates of the Congress 60 program. Have the chance to ask questions and learn about why this program works so well for Iran, and why don’t countries in the West follow their success.

For every tour, all riders are requested to contribute a nominal sum for the purpose of a donation - usually approx £110 per rider. During the course of the tour, you are given the chance to engage with, and learn from, local NGOs. You’ll visit no less than three NGOs during this tour and spend some time learning about their projects, strategies and challenges. At the end of the tour, the riders are then empowered with new found knowledge and have the opportunity to combine the allotted donation money and make an impact towards a project of their choosing.

In addition to building a profile for our NGO partners, your host also reimburses them NGO for their time and resources. You’ll spend 1-2 hours with each NGO who are then remunerated, regardless of whether or not there is a follow up donation from the group.

If at the end of the tour, you do not feel that there is a connection or the money would not be used wisely, then of course you do not have to donate. It’s important you feel a connection to where you money is going.

Needless to say, this is an adventure reserved for the open minded. Iran is an incredibly friendly country but it is imperative that local laws and customs are adhered to. Just a few things you will need to be aware of:

  • Alcohol is illegal. There will be absolutely no alcohol on the tour.
  • You must dress conservatively. WOMEN must wear a hijab (head scarf) at all times when in public. Long sleeve shirts and trousers should also be worn. For MEN, full length shirts and trousers should also be worn in public. Cycling clothing is permitted but should be covered with loose fitted clothing over the top.

You are responsible for applying for your own visa. A visa is required from most countries. Please check your specific requirements with your closest Iranian embassy.

You will need a pre-authorisation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before arriving in Iran. Without, you may be refused entry at the airport so it is definitely better to be safe than sorry.

Your local host can assist with obtaining visas prior to travel. Please be aware that it can take a long time to apply. For UK/US/Canadian nationals please ensure that you start the visa application process at least 3 months in advance.

For Australian/NZ/EU nationals it is possible to apply for a visa on arrival. You will need to pay for your visa in foreign currency so make sure you have the correct money with you.

It is not possible to withdraw money from foreign bank accounts in Iran. You will need to arrive with all the cash you require for your trip and change it into local currency when you arrive.

This is an adventure, not a race. Nor is it essential to complete every cycling day from home to hotel. The style of riding is relaxed and friendly. The shortest day (#5) is only 25km, but it’s all uphill and not without it’s challenges, while the longest day (#8) is about anything up to 70km, but it’s all downhill (mostly). We can’t stress enough, it’s not about the distance, but the terrain and experience. We’ll stop for coffee and tea, local treats, lunch and of course, to take plenty of pictures. It is about the adventure that the slow road brings that makes travelling by bike so enjoyable.

Location

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Throughout your trip, there is a mixture of accommodation with 7 nights in hotels and 5 nights in homestays. Accommodation is in shared twin rooms with a single supplement available for hotel nights. The single room supplement may not be available in all homestays.

Homestays are a great way to experience the true Iran. Their immense hospitality is a defining feature of Iranian culture and nowhere is this more evident than homestays. Sharing a delicious home cooked meal with your local hosts is a great way to learn more about Iran and its people. You will be sleeping like a true - on the floor in sleeping mats.

You will be staying at the Amir Kabir Hotel in Tehran, the Eshan Traditional Hotel in Kashan, the Saba Hotel in Esfahan and the Nasir Al Mulk Hotel in Shiraz. All the hotels offer clean and comfortable accommodation and the ideal place to relax and unwind after a hard day on the road.

Start Point? Your local host will meet you at Tehran airport. The first days is yours to explore until the welcome dinner at 19:00 so you can arrive anytime before then.

Finish Point? The journey ends in Shiraz at 09:00 on day 12. From here you have the option to stay in Shiraz or journey back to Tehran with your local hosts. If you choose to return to Tehran it is a 10+ hour journey and you should arrive sometime in the early evening. Whatever your onward plans, your local host will assist you.

Getting there and away?

By Air: The closest airport is Ima Khomeini International Airport (IKA) 30km outside of Tehran. It is a major international airport with over 30 operators offering services. Flights are available from most destinations around the world.

For those ending their journey at Shiraz there is the Shiraz Shahid Dastgheib International Airport (SYZ). It is a small airport serving predominantly Middle Eastern destinations. One option is to fly back to Tehran from here for your onward journey.

Start point

Tehran Airport - anytime

Your adventure begins at Tehran Airport (IKA) where you will meet your guide for your private airport transfer to your accommodation. Your guide and driver will be waiting for you in the arrivals area. The day is yours to explore the city at your own pace. You’ll meet your guide again and fellow adventures in the evening for a welcome dinner.

Finish point

Shiraz or Tehran city centre

Your adventure ends in Shiraz at 09:00 on day 12. From here you have the option to stay in Shiraz or journey back to Tehran with your local hosts. If you choose to return to Tehran it is a 10+ hour journey and you should arrive sometime in the early evening.

For those ending their journey at Shiraz, the nearest airport is Shiraz Shahid Dastgheib International Airport (SYZ). It is a small airport serving predominantly Middle Eastern destinations. One option is to fly back to Tehran from here for your onward journey.

Whatever your onward plans, your local host will assist you.

What to Expect

Day 1: Arrive in Tehran

Your Iranian adventure begins at Tehran Airport where your host will be ready to meet you. You’ll be whisked through the hustle and bustle of the city to your hotel to settle in.

The first day is free time. It is a great opportunity to get your bearings in this ancient city and explore one of the many mosques, markets or museums.

In the evening the welcome dinner at a favourite local restaurant will give you your first taste of Persian cuisine. Here, you will meet your travelling companions and the local hosting team.

Day 2: Omid-e-Mehr Foundation and Travel to Qom

The trip kicks off with a visit the Omid-e-Mehr Foundation. This is just the first of three great projects along the way that will give you an insight into the heart and soul of Iran.

The Omid-e-Mehr Foundation empowers young women who have suffered violent or sexual abuse. Since 2004 it has helped over 200 young women through self-empowerment, education and training.

In the afternoon hop back in the van for the journey to the second holiest city in Iran, Qom. Your trip takes place during the religious festival of Muharram and Qom is the perfect place to experience the festivities.

Day 3: Time to Saddle up

After breakfast, the team van will drop you off outside the city to start your first day’s cycle. The day’s challenge is 31kms of undulating tar and gravel roads set to the backdrop of Iranian mountains.

Along the way, there is a gradual but challenging climb of 800m. As with every day, the team van will be following behind ready to whisk you to the top if needed.

After 31km then you’ll hop back in the van for a transfer to your hotel in Kashan. The evening is yours either to rest weary legs or explore the delights of the ancient city.

Day 4: Explore Kashan and the Fin Gardens

In the morning you’ll visit the Fin Garden, just a short van ride away. This historic Persian garden offers a compelling mix or architecture and horticulture and was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sight in 2012.

The rest of the day is free to explore fantastic architecture Kashan. Check out the majestic domes and minarets of the Agha Bozorg Mosque, or how about the ornate mosaic ceilings that adorn the Sultan Amir Bathhouse.

As in all Iranian cities, the people are exceedingly friendly. Sitting down to share a cup of tea with a local is the perfect way to learn more about Iranian culture and it’s and people.

Day 5: Cycle to Abyaneh

Day 5 may be the shortest day on the bike with only 20km of cycling, but don’t underestimate it. The whole 20km is up!

Thankfully, the climb is broken up along the way to stop off to explore some of the many villages along the way. Don’t be surprised if the locals invite you in to sip tea and feast on fruit and homemade sweets.

The long climb ends at Abyaneh, a picturesque village of mud-brick houses set against a backdrop of craggy red rock. If you still have the energy take a stroll around this historic village.

Day 6: Cycling into the Mountains

This is what adventure cycling is all about. Today you will venture off along remote mountain roads to experience rural Iran at it’s finest. This is a chance to go where few travellers have gone before.

A slow climb will take you all the way up to 2800m above sea level. To add to the adventurous feel the ride takes paths where the support van cannot follow. If it all sounds too much, an alternative route is available with van support.

After an exhilarating day in the saddle, the support van will be waiting to transfer you on to your next accommodation in Esfahan.

Day 7: Exploring Esfahan and Visit an NGO

The city of Esfahan is Iran’s number one tourist destination. It is also one of Iran’s oldest cities at 2500 years old. Today is an opportunity to explore the city, wander down tree line boulevards and admire the many striking buildings.

It doesn’t take long in Esfahan to understand why so many artisans and craftsmen have chosen to make this their home. Stop at one of the many markets or historic bazaars and admire the fine Persian wares.

During the day there will also be a chance to visit another NGO. This is a chance to peel back the surface and see what happens behind the scenes in this friendly city.

Day 8: Cycling in the Mountains

As per usual the support van will whisk you away from the city bustle and to a more relaxing point to start your cycle. Starting at an elevation of 2300m you’ll head off into remote Iran.

The ride will take you through the Dena Protected Area in the heart of the Dena Mountain range. The surrounding mountains soar past 4000m and provide a stunning backdrop for the day’s ride.

You will be cycling along challenging roads for 44km through tiny remote villages. There will be barely any traffic on the road except, thankfully, your trusty support van.

Day 9: Cycling in the Mountains

Today is filled with more scenic mountain cycling. Depending on how the legs are feeling the route can be adapted to suit.

Out here is the true Iranian backcountry experience. Visitors here are rare and locals hospitality knows no bounds.

Stopping through small mountain villages is a great opportunity to interact with the friendly locals, maybe share a cup of tea or three!

Day 10: Cycling in the Zagros Mountains

Today is the last day in the saddle, and it’s a big one. If you’re up for it there are 70km to cover starting from 1700m and climbing to 2500m before dropping back down to 2300m.

As always the support vehicle is there if you feel your legs waning. You can even get a lift up the hills and just ride the downs if you like.

Your last cycling day ends in the ancient city of Shiraz in time to view the mosque and Hafez tomb at their best, against the sunset. You will also visit Persepolis, the ancient ruined capital of the Achaemenid Empire, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 11: Exploring Shiraz and visit an NGO

After ten glorious days of adventure, this is a great chance to slow the pace down and take it all in. Shiraz is yet another stunning and historic city filled with intricate architecture, friendly tea houses and relaxing gardens.

Highlights in Shiraz include the Nasi al-Mulk Mosque, Vakil Bazaar and the Karim Khan citadel. Alternatively, head to a tea house, relax and immerse yourself in the rich Iranian culture.

During the day you will visit your last NGO to find out more about the fine work they are doing in Shiraz. The rest of the day is yours to explore Shiraz at your leisure.

Day 12: Head to Tehran

Today the support van will be making the long drive back to Tehran. It’s a long drive, around 10 hours.

You are more than welcome to hop aboard for the drive back, head to Shiraz airport or continue on with your Iranian travels.

Whatever you decide to do your local host will help you on your way.

Note: This itinerary and the duration of the activities are subject to change due to group abilities and preferences, and weather conditions and forecasts.

Accommodation

Throughout your trip there is a mixture of accommodation with 7 nights in hotels and 4 nights in homestays. Accommodation is in shared twin rooms with a single supplement available for hotel nights. The single room supplement may not be available in all homestays.

Some of the towns you stay in are so far off the beaten track, that hotels do not exist. In these smaller villages, you’ll spend the evening in a local home in true Iranian style. Often these homes are simply furnished with rugs and a cosy night sleeping on the floor, the Iranian way, is a great way to experience local culture.

You will be staying at the Amir Kabir Hotel in Tehran, the Eshan Traditional Hotel in Kashan, the Saba Hotel in Esfahen and the Nasir Al Mulk Hotel in Shiraz. All the hotels offer clean and comfortable accommodation and the ideal place to relax and unwind after a hard day on the road. Hotels are subject to change. Please refer to the host for up to date information.

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Accommodation · Equipment · Guide · Local Transport · Meals As Described · Happiness Guaranteed · 100% Financial Protection · No Single Supplements

Please note: Flights are NOT included and must be purchased separately.

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Optional Extras

Make your life easy. Once you have reserved your space, your host can help you arrange the extras you’ll need. Here are some guide prices which can be confirmed with you during booking.

Additional night in Tehran Payable Before Departure
Additional night in Tehran · · · Per Person, Per Night
Single room supplement (Iran) Payable Before Departure
Single Room Supplement (Iran) · · · Per Person

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