Iran Unveiled & Unexplored
March 28 – April 13, 2017
From the south of Shiraz to the north of Tabriz, experience the warmth and hospitality of the people of Iran and
become a “Citizen Diplomat”.
Jerry Sorkin has been designing and leading programs to Iran since 2009!

“America…You are our friends!”

Iran Unveiled and Unexplored

A VERY SPECIAL TOUR

March 28 thru April 13, 2017

Be a Participant in Cultural Engagement!

“I invite you to experience the warmth of the Iranian people. From the south in Shiraz, the desert town of Yazd, Isfahan, Tehran and more, you will have the opportunity to see this country of endless historical sites, cultural interest and warm people. Hopefully, exchanges through travel and cultural programs can help bridge a wall of suspicion on both sides…while enjoying Persian cuisine and first class hotels. Our programs in Iran benefit private Iranian individuals and it not an endorsement of Iran government policies.
Join TunisUSA for this special tour to Iran. “

Jerry Sorkin
has been organizing programs to Iran since 2009
and traveling to Iran since 1977.

Make reservation here!

Tuesday, March 28 – Depart JFK with Turkish Air for your overnight flight to Shiraz, Iran. After a change of plane in Istanbul, you arrive in Shiraz at 1:40AM on Thursday, March 30th

Thursday, March 30 – arrival in Shiraz
Upon early morning arrival in Shiraz, you clear passport control and luggage claim, where thereafter, you will see someone holding a sign for your arrival. Transfer to your hotel in Shiraz. You will have hours to sleep as we will start the touring late morning. Today’s touring is dedicated to the city of Shiraz, a city of parks and gardens. It is the rare Persian home that does not have a book of poems of Hafez or Sadi. Iran’s two most famous poets, Hafez and Sadi, come from Shiraz. Their tombs are pilgrimage sites where any visiting Iranian will not fail to visit. An afternoon visit to the Shiraz bazaar will show again, the important role of the bazaar to the city’s commerce, a bazaar that is quite different than that of Tehran. Dinner and overnight in Shiraz. (B, L, D)

Iranian’s paying homage to the grave of poet, Hafez

Friday, March 31 - Persepolis
After breakfast, depart for approximately a one hour drive to Persepolis, what many feel is the greatest embodiment of Persian culture. Established by Darius the Great (522 to 486 B.C.) Persepolis was the showplace under the Achaemenian dynasty (550-330 B.C.). The sheer expanse of Persepolis was awe inspiring to all its visitors, most of whom were subjects from the various part of the Empire who would come to Persepolis bearing gifts and to pay homage to the rulers. While much of Persepolis has been renovated, restored or destroyed, one cannot help being struck by the sheer scale and beauty of what remains.

Persepolis (above and below)

From Persepolis, you continue to nearby Naqshi-i-Rustam, where one can see the tombs of prior kings built into the rock walls. Return to Shiraz for the night.
Dinner and overnight in Shiraz. (B, L, D)

Naqshi-i-Rustam

Saturday, April 1 - Pasargad/Yazd
This morning you check out of your hotel and drive towards Yazd. You make a stop at Pasaragad, which was was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great who had issued its construction (559–530 BC); it was also the location of his tomb. Continue on to Yazd, arriving early evening. Your hotel has the feeling of an old Caravanserai.  Dinner and overnight in Yazd. (B, L, D)

Visiting Pasargad in Iran

Iran is a fascinating country. There is so much to see in the way of culture and the arts. Jerry made the process a very simple and not threatening one… so helpful!
It’s been a really exciting adventure for us. It’s really wonderful!”

Robert and Mary Kay Rohde Philadelphia, PA 

 

“After 9/11, the pervasive attitude was fear. No one would venture forth, no one would travel. That notion confirmed to us that we literally, had to move beyond the fear. We contacted Jerry and took a family trip to Tunisia, including our two teenagers. It was a memorable experience. Upon receiving the descriptive material from Jerry about a December 2009 Iran trip, “Iran Unveiled”, we knew the only way to visit Iran would be with Jerry Sorkin. Besides providing enlightened, enjoyable touring, he shares the desire to build bridges, to create friendship and understanding amongst people in unusual places. Meeting the people of Iran on this trip has again emphasized how individuals, separate from governments, share so much commonality, plus joyous, heartfelt connections in meeting and embracing others.
Yes…visit Iran!”

Ken Peres and Fran Swan Washington, DC

 

Sunday, April 2 – Yazd
Yazd is a city of some half a million people in the midst of the desert. One immediately recognizes the architecture as being distinctive from what you have seen thus far in Iran. Much of Yazd’s historical importance stems from its place as a home to what remains, Iran’s largest Zoroastrian community. Zoroastrianism was the primary religion of the region prior to the Arab conquests in the 7th century, bringing conquests which within two centuries, had resulted in the considerable decline of Zoroastrianism. Visits in Yazd will include the Zoroastrian Fire Temple, as well as their Towers of Silence, located on the outskirts of Yazd. Within Yazd, you will visit the Jameh Mosque and the Amir Chakhmaq mosque, both of which are impressive in their architecture, as well as Alexander’s prison and the 11th century Tomb of the 12 Imams, where inscriptions are found in memory of the imams, though they are not buried at the site. Dinner and overnight in Yazd. (B, L, D)

My friends told me it would be very dangerous, but I have found the people to be very welcoming. Jerry made the trip to Iran very easy, by assisting and getting the travel visa. I was impressed by the art and architecture, the poetry is stunning and I can’t say enough about the people…how welcoming they have been! If you’re planning travel to this part of the world, come on over. You’ll have a great time.

Larry Barnes Washington, DC 

Monday, April 3 – Yazd/Nain/Isfahan
This morning you depart Yazd for a drive of several hours. En route, you will stop in Nain, where you will visit the city’s 10th century mosque, which still has areas where the stucco relief is in its original state.

Visiting the home of a carpet weaver in Nain.

Continue on to Isfahan with evening arrival. Dinner and overnight in Isfahan. (B, L, D)

Iran's Jewish minority freely practices their religion (above photo) as do Armenians in Iran, freely practicing their religion and maintaining their churches. (photo below),

 

Tuesday, April 4- Isfahan
By nearly unanimous opinion, Isfahan is the city that visitors and Iranians alike, will see as Iran’s truly beautiful city. Greenery abounds with tree line streets and beautiful architecture. One does not get the sense of a city with nearly 2 million inhabitants. With the Zayandeh River flowing through Isfahan, crossed by a series of impressive bridges, Isfahan is a visual delight. In a city of highlights, it is hard to say what is the highlight ! The Jameh Mosque, is truly a highlight of Islamic design, encompassing the influence of Seljuk dynasty during the 11th century.

 

Women can feel very comfortable traveling in Iran.

Mosque dome in Isfahan

Looking up at the ceiling in the main dome, one can easily see how the carpet designers in the centuries since were influenced and how these designs are reflected in Persian carpets of subsequent centuries. There will be plenty of time to devote to visiting this area, including the Bazar-e Bozorg, Isfahan’s main bazaar, as well as other buildings surrounding the beautifully designed Naghch-E-Jahan square, including the Imam mosque, Sheikh Lotfollah mosque and the Ali Ghapu Palace. In addition, your touring will include a visit to the Tchehel Sotoun Palace built as a pleasure pavilion and reception hall in the 17th century. Dinner and overnight Isfahan. (B, L, D)

Wednesday, April 5 – Isfahan
Today touring of Isfahan continues, visiting the bridges of Isfahan; Khadju, Siose and Chahrestan. Following lunch, you will visit the Armenian quarter to see the Armenian church and the community’s museum. Dinner and overnight in Isfahan. (B, L, D)

The Shotor Galou-e-Fath-alishahi palace in the Fin Garden in Kashan

Thursday, April 6 – Kashan/Qom/Tehran
This morning you depart Isfahan and drive back to Tehran, with stops en route. Your first stop will be in Kashan. Known for the city’s famed carpets, Kashan rose to prominence during the Seljuk period from the 11th to 13th century, where it became legendary for rugs, ceramics and tile work. These crafts were elevated to an even higher art from under Shah Abbas I, during the 16th and 17th centuries. Following an earthquake in 1779, destroying much of the city, the subsequent Qajar dynastry spent abundantly to rebuild the city. You depart Kashan and continue your drive towards Tehran, making another stop, in Qom. Known as the holiest city in Iran, second only to Mashad, Qom is the seat of the Islamic council that governs Iran today, the city is filled with Mullahs who come to Qom for their religious training. You will have an opportunity to see the mausoleum of Hazrat Masume, the burial place of Imam Reaz’s sister Fatmah, who died in the 9th century. Forbidden for non-Muslims to enter, you will see this structure from the outside. Continue on to Tehran, with a late afternoon arrival. Tonight, your farewell dinner will be in a special setting. Dinner and overnight in Tehran. (B, L, D)

The Holy Shrine of Fatemeh Masoumeh in Qom Iran

Friday, April 7 – Tehran environs
Tehran is not where one finds the roots of Persian history. However, in the Iran of the 20th century, as the world has come to know Iran, it is the heart and soul of the image Iran projects to the world. It was not until the end of the 18th century and early 19th century, under the Qajar dynastry, that Tehran began an ascent which ultimately has led to it being Iran’s capital. In 1900, the city had some quarter-of-a-million inhabitants.

Today, estimates are that Tehran has some 15 million people, spreading the city to much more expansive geographic boundaries, with tightly crowded residential areas, traffic jams in streets designed for less than half of its population. No one will visit Tehran and call it a beautiful city, but visiting Iran and not visiting Tehran would be overlooking the modern heartbeat of this country. Despite the revolution in 1979 and the political isolation and radical image that Iran projects to the West, when you strip away the political leadership, daily life in Tehran seems as normal and friendly as many large cities in the world.

Spontaneous gatherings with Iranians happens all the time, wanting to speak with Americans.

Following breakfast, touring in Iran will include visting the the Glass and Ceramics Museum. A well designed museum housed in what was once a private home for a prominent Persian family during the Qajar dynasty (1795-1925), it subsequently became the Egyptian embassy and in 1976, converted into a museum. Today it houses an extensive collection of earthenware, glassware, ceramics, chinaware and crystal objects. Today’s touring will also include the Iran Carpet Museum. Beautifully displayed, the carpet museum displays that illustrates their status of an art form Persian history. The carpets, primarily 19th and 20th century, are well selected reprsenting both urban and village weaving. Additional touring will include the National Museum of Iran, housing artifacts from many archaeological sites around the country, providing a wonderful historical backdrop to your subsequent days of exploring Iran. Dinner and overnight in Tehran. (B, L, D)

“This was an extraordinary, eye-opening trip to a county that most Americans know little about. What we in America do “know” about Iran is often wrong. For one thing, the people of Iran love Americans. Yes, their government doesn’t, but the people do. They are wonderfully warm and welcoming and since many, many, speak English, we were often pleasantly besieged by Iranians wanting to speak with us and having their pictures taken with us. Iran’s impressive, historical and cultural heritage is enormous. The ruins of ancient civilizations, as well as the mosques, are awesome. Despite what many Americans expect, Iran is safer than most American cities – women feel completely safe wandering by themselves and chatting with the friendliest merchants in the world. This trip provided an exceptional guide who was remarkably knowledgeable, spoke perfect English and went out of his way to make this tour an unforgettable experience. He succeeded beyond everyone’s hopes. Jerry Sorkin’s all-inclusive tour brought us to the best restaurants and hotels in the country. In every respect, this was a remarkable journey that we will never forget.
And we hope to share with Americans the true Iran.”

Susan Davidson and John Bull, Philadelphia, PA

Saturday, April 8 – Tehran
Today your touring of Tehran continues with a visit to the National Jewels Museum, where the highlight of many highlights is the Peacock Throne, as well as many jewels of Iran’s rulers going back to the 18th century through the extensive collection amassed under the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his wife, Queen Farah.

A young Iranian couple at Nivavaran Palace Museum telling us they are so happy to see Americans!

Your day continues with the Niyavaran Palace Museum, a complex amidst beautiful landscaped grounds where the late Shah and his family spent much of their last decade in Iran. A visit will also be made to the Tehran Bazar, a maze of alleyways that serves not only as the economic heart of the city, but with this economic importance, the merchants of the bazaar have become a major political force in modern Iran, so much so that the “bazaris” are an important constituency for anyone who intends to govern Iran. Transfer to the airport for your evening flight to Shiraz, where upon arrival, you transfer to your hotel. Dinner and overnight in Tehran. (B, L, D)

Enjoying dining with Iranians.

Sunday, April 9 – Tehran/Qazvin/Zanjan
This morning, you check out of your Tehran hotel and drive northwest via Qazvin, the old capital of Iran. In Qazin you visit the Aligapou Palace, the city’s important Friday Mosque and shrine, followed by a continuation to Sultaniyeh, a UNESCO site approximately ten kilometers from Zanjan. Upon arriving in Zanjan, you visit the town’s bazaar and its main mosque. Dinner and overnight in Zanjan. (B, L, D)
NOTE: For anyone wishing to do simply “Iran Unveiled”, your departure from Iran would be early morning, Sunday, April 9th, with others continuing on as noted on the remainder of this itinerary. * 

Monday, April 10 – en route to Tabriz
This morning your exploring of northwest Iran continues taking you through rural scenery in the province of Azerbaijan, with an afternoon arrival in Tabriz. After checking into your hotel, we will have time to visit Tabriz’s carpet bazaar, where the display of rugs is very different from the kind typically seen in Shiraz and Isfahan. The designs of Tabriz reflect the city’s rich architectural diversity, which was often the inspiration for the city’s artists. Dinner and overnight in Tabriz. (B, L, D)

The Friday Mosque in Tabriz

 

Tuesday, April 11 – Tabriz
After breakfast, you drive to Makou to visit the important UNESCO Heritage site, Gara Kelisa, also known as the Black Church. You will also visit the Governor’s House that was the old museum of the town. Return to Tabriz where you will visit the Friday Mosque of Tabriz. Dinner and overnight in Tabriz. (B, L, D)

Saint Stepanous Armenian Church

Wednesday, April 12 – Tabriz/Jolfa
This morning’s touring takes you to Jolfa, the Armenian town where you visit the Church of Saint Estefanus. The city is where Armenians were invited to settle and the church, according to Armenian historians, was established in the first century by St. Bartholomew. You will also visit the Candovan village, known for its homes constructed within the rock on the side of a mountain. Dinner and overnight in Tabriz. (B, L,  D)

Stone houses in Kandovan

 

Thursday, April 13 – departure
This morning you take a departure flight to Istanbul and then continue on to the U.S. or your final destination. (B)

                                 

HOTELS

Tehran : Espinas ★★★★★


From the days prior to the 1979 Revolution, this was known as the Intercontinental Hotel. Centrally located with the amenities of a big city urban hotel, like all large hotels in the city of Tehran, other than some updates, no renovations have taken place for many years. Despite this, the staff is friendly, rooms are modern and spacious, with Internet access available. Still the hotel of choice for business and other visitors looking for the best of Tehran accommodations. http://www.espinashotels.com/

Shiraz : Zandiyeh ★★★★★

Recently completed, this first class hotel is in the heart of Shiraz’s historic distract and build to preserve the building’s historical character. The first such deluxe hotel in central Shiraz.

  http://www.zandiyehhotel.com/en/.

Yazd : Dad Hotel  ★★★★★

Located in the heart of Yazd, where one can walk out the door and feel the pulse of the city and shops in the neighborhoo, character, warmth and beautiful interiors would best describe this boutique hotel in the heart of Yazd. Very friendly and hospitable staff and management. Internet access.  http://dadhotel.com/en/

Isfahan : Kowsar Hotel ★★★★★

A deluxe hotel well situated in an affluent mixed commercial and residential section of Isfahan, overlooking the Zayandeh River. Very convenient location, friendly staff and a coffee shot that seems to be among the popular places for “Isfahanis”.  www.hotelkowsar.com 

Zanjan: Zanjan Grand Hotel ★★★★
One does not come to Zanjan for its hotels…  That having been said, this Iranian four-star hotel serves primarily business people and is perfectly fine for a one night stay. 
http://www.zanjangrandhotel.com/index.php/en

Tabriz: Pars Hotel ★★★★★
Certainly the best hotel in Tabriz and one that offers the modern amenities and spacious rooms typical of upscale business hotels…Iranian scale.
http://parshotels.apochi.nl/


 

  • NOTE: Hotel star ratings are based on ratings decided by the Ministry of Tourism in Iran. In our objective opinion, deduct at least one star in comparing international standards. The narrative descriptions for the hotels are those of the Gil Travel Group’s Iran specialist and client feedback.

COST of $6,895 per person, based on double occupancy, includes: (* NOTE: For those doing just “Iran Unveiled” and thus, departing early morning of    Sunday, April 9th, the cost is $5,895. (Single Supplement $775)

  • All touring, entrance fees, baggage handling, group airport transfers, domestic flight, meals as indicated by B, L and D, with bottled water and/or soft drinks at all inclusive lunches and dinners.
  • Price is based on double occupancy in deluxe/first class hotels. $870. single supplement applies.

NOT INCLUDED:

* VISAS: TunisUSA will assist in obtaining visas for all participants who are American citizens or citizens of any country requiring visas. The cost of of the visa and its processing is approximately $220, but subject to change.
* Round-trip airfare from JFK to Iran (or other gateways) can be arranged through the Gil Travel Group.

Register online at :    https://www.cvent.com/events/iran-unveiled-march-28-april-9-2017/registration-b71eb858d7814cfb8f89aea804087c1f.aspx  For questions, contact:  info@tunisusa.com