World Heritage Tours - World Heritage Tours - Tours in the Middle East, Tours in South America, Tours in Indochina, Tours in Africa,  African Safaris

World Heritage Tours - World Heritage Tours - Tours in the Middle East, Tours in South America, Tours in Indochina, Tours in Africa,  African Safaris



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THE CASPIAN: FROM BAKU TO TEHRAN
A World Heritage Sites Tour of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Iran)
This extraordinary tour takes us to an extremely complex and interesting part of the world. This is the world of the Persians, Khazars, Arabs, Huns, Turko-Mongols, Russians, Azerbaijanians, Georgians and Armenians. All of these cultures have combined in this region resulting in rich ethnic and linguistic complexity as well as astounding architecture. The Caucasus and Iran tour studies this four-country region in one spectacular journey.


Tour Summary
Map
Day

Place
01, 02, & 03
Baku (AZERBAIJAN)
04
Baku/Sheki
05
Sheki/Lagodekhi/Telavi (GEORGIA)
06
Telavi/Tbilisi
07
Tbilisi
08
Tbilisi/Bakuriani
09
Bakuriani
10
Bakuriani/Tbilisi
11
Tbilisi/Yerevan (ARMENIA)
12, 13 & 14
Yerevan
15 Yerevan / Tabriz (IRAN)
16 Tabriz / Anzali
17 Anzali / Rasht
18 Rasht / Tehran
19 Tehran
20 Tehran / Shiraz
21 Shiraz
22 Shiraz / Esfahan
23, 24 Esfahan
25 Esfahan / Tehran
26 Tehran

UNESCO World Heritage Sites Visited
This tour has been tailored to include the following World Heritage Sites

World Heritage Sites in Azerbaijan covered on this tour
Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower (2000) Built on a site inhabited since the Palaeolithic period, the Walled City of Baku reveals evidence of Zoroastrian, Sassanian, Arabic, Persian, Shirvani, Ottoman, and Russian presence in cultural continuity.
World Heritage Sites in Armenia covered on this tour
Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin (1996, 2000) These two Byzantine monasteries in the Tumanian region dating from the period of prosperity during the Kiurikian dynasty (10th to 13th century) were important centres of learning. Sanahin was renown for its school of illuminators and calligraphers.
Cathedral and Churches of Echmiatsin and the Archaeological Site of Zvartnots (2000) The cathedral and churches of Echmiatsin and the archaeological remains at Zvartnots graphically illustrate the evolution and development of the Armenian central-domed cross-hall type of church, which exerted a profound influence on architectural and artistic development in the region.
World Heritage Sites in Georgia covered on this tour
City-Museum Reserve of Mtskheta (1994) The historic churches of Mtskheta, former capital of Georgia, are outstanding examples of medieval religious architecture in the Caucasus. They show the high artistic and cultural level attained by this ancient kingdom.
World Heritage Sites in Iran covered on this tour
Persepolis (1979) Founded by Darius I in 518 B.C., Persepolis was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It was built on an immense half- artificial, half-natural terrace, where the king of kings created an impressive palace complex inspired by Mesopotamian models. The importance and quality of the monumental ruins make it a unique archaeological site.
Meidan Emam, Esfahan (1979) Built by Shah Abbas I the Great at the beginning of the 17th century, and bordered on all sides by monumental buildings linked by a series of two-storeyed arcades, the site is known for the Royal Mosque, the Mosque of Sheykh Lotfollah, the magnificent Portico of Qaysariyyeh and the 15th-century Timurid palace. They are an impressive testimony to the level of social and cultural life in Persia during the Safavid era.
Detailed Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive Baku (AZERBAIJAN)
Xosh gälmìsän! Welcome to Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan. Baku is located on the west shore of the Caspian Sea. We are driven through the city to our hotel.
Overnight: Atropat Hotel, Baku (3 nights)

Day 2: Baku
Morning tour of the Gobustan and the mud volcanoes. Afternoon sightseeing tour of Baku highlights some striking architectural monuments of the Islamic Medieval period including the medieval walls of the Old Town, Shirvan Shakh’s Palace, the Maiden Tower, the Carpet and Applied Arts Museum. (B, D)

Day 3: Baku
Today’s day excursion to Absheron Peninsula includes the Zoroastrian Temple of Fire Ateshgyah – fire worshippers temple, which for centuries has been a center of worship, the 14th century temple in Mardakan and Yanardag Flaming Mountain, burning with an eternal flame fed by the underground naphtha and gas. Afternoon we enjoy some leisure time walking throughout the central part of the city and exploring local shopping centers. It will also be our opportunity to meet and mingle with the locals. (B, D)

Day 4: Baku / Sheki
A scenic and relaxed drive for Sheki. We will take advantage of the early arrival with a tour of Sheki, which will include the Museum of Applied Arts, "Shebeke" manufacturing workshops, and the magnificent Sheki Khan's palace (view from the outside only). Evening is free to enjoy and stroll around Sheki town.
Overnight: Sheki Saray, Sheki (1 night) (B, D)

Day 5: Sheki / Lagodekhi / Telavi (GEORGIA)
Morning we prepare for our departure from Azerbaijan as we are driven to the border where we will meet with our Georgian guide and transport for our transfer to Telavi. As we drive to Telavi, we visit the Tsinandali Winery and Park, Alavedri Cathedral and Shuamta Monastery in the Kakheti province.
Overnight: Private homes, Telavi (1 night) (B, D)

Day 6: Telavi / Tbilisi
Another interesting day ahead as we drive from Telavi to the David Gareji Monastery in the Gareji semi-desert. We also visit Lavra and walk up to Udabno cave Monastery. Afternoon is a leisurely drive to the capital city of Tbilisi.
Overnight: Sheraton Metechi Palace or Courtyard Marriott, Tbilisi (2 nights) (B, L, D)

Day 7: Tbilisi
Our full day sightseeing tour starts with the State Museum of Georgia with its magnificent exhibition of gold work dating back to the 3rd century BC, the Old Caravansary Merchants oriental style building, the Metechi cross cupola church (12th-13th century), areas of the Royal residential complex, the Sulfur Bathhouses, the Carpet Collection, Siony, the Main Cathedral of Tbilisi (7th-19th century), and finally Rustaveli Avenue, the most beautiful street of Tbilisi. Rustaveli is a popular street where both local and foreigners gather to meet and spend time together. This is also a popular shopping place and one can often find roadside musicians displaying their talent. (B, D)

Day 8: Tbilisi / Bakuriani
A scenic drive with some interesting sites being covered today. We start off with a visit to Mtskhetia where we visit Jvari Monastery and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. We then continue for Gori where we visit Uplistsikhe cave town. We may possibly also visit the Joseph Stalin Museum. Later we embark on our journey to Bakuriani ski resort via Borjomi.
Overnight: Didveli Hotel, Bakuriani (2 nights) (B, D)

Day 9: Bakuriani

An exciting day ahead as we drive to Samtskhe-Javakheti Province where we will visit some exceptional sites. The Khertvisi Fortress (11th century) that, according to legend, was seen along with other Georgian fortresses by Alexander of Macedonian in the 4th Century BC during his campaign in the east. The Cave-town of Vardzia (12th -13th Century frescos), is a striking complex hewn in rock, regarded as the cultural and educational center of the time. (B, L, D)

Day 10: Bakuriani / Tbilisi
On our return journey from Bakuriani to Tbilisi we take a diversion and turn north along Georgian Military Highway up to Zhinvali Lake. Here we visit the Ananauri architectural complex. We arrive in time at Tbilisi to allow us with some independent time to wander through the town and local bazaars.
Overnight: Sheraton Metechi Palace or Courtyard Marriott, Tbilisi (1 night)
(B, D)


Day 11: Tbilisi / Yerevan (ARMENIA)
After breakfast we head for Sadakhlo on the Georgian-Armenian border. Bidding farewell to our Georgian friends we are met by our Aremenian friends and warmly welcomed and transferred to Yerevan. En-route our journey to the Armenian capital, we visit the Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin, touted as the best architectural examples of Armenian religious art between the 10th and 13th Centuries.
Overnight: Golden Tulip Hotel, Yerevan (4 nights) (B, D)

Day 12: Yerevan
We start the day with a sightseeing tour of the city of Yerevan with visits to the National Museum of Armenian History and the Matenadaran, followed by an excursion to the Echmiadzin Church and Museum, and the Hripsime and Zvartnots Cathedrals. Evening is free to stroll on your own. Yerevan offers an interesting place to walk on your own and meet local folks as well as do some shopping. (B, D)

Day 13: Yerevan
Today is our excursion to Garni and Geghard, followed by an afternoon visit to the empty beaches and white sands of Lake Sevan. This mountainous lake covers approximately 5% of Armenia’s surface area and is 2000 meters/2187 yards above sea level. Maxim Gorky said about the waters, that they were like a piece of the sky that had descended to earth among the mountains. It will be an interesting countryside day. (B, D)

Day 14: Yerevan
Full day excursion south to Khor Virap, one of the romantically sited monasteries in Armenia with views across vast planes of Turkey and the twin peaks of Mount Ararat. Here, in the atmosphere of historical environment and vivid imagination one notices Noah’s Ark in the snows of Ararat. Humankind was reborn here, and Noah is considered to be the first tourist in the world. The theatrical ceremonies and festivals performing on a Noah’s-Ark-shaped stage in the immediate vicinity of the monastery and against the majestic Mount Ararat will take you back to the Noah’s ages. Free time for people to enjoy Yerevan including visiting the hole where Gregory the Illuminator was jailed for disseminating Christianity in Armenia. The tour culminates with a visit to the 12th century monastery of Noravank set in a canyon rich with rare flora. (B, D)

Day 15: Yerevan / Tabriz (IRAN- Drive)
Today we depart the Caucasus for Tabriz in Iran. Tabriz is famous for its exquisite carpets and its long history. It has been the capital city of Iran on numerous times throughout the old history of this country. Tabriz is the birthplace of Shams Tabriz, the mentor of Jalaluddin Rumi the founder of Suffism and the city, even today, is reputed to exude an aura of serenity. This evening, one can experience this calm while walking and meeting people in the old part of the city.
Overnight: Gostaresh Hotel, Tabriz (1 night) (B, D)

Day 16: Tabriz / Anzali (Drive)
This morning we tour the city of Tabriz enjoying the ancient architecture and splendid bazaars of this major agricultural center. Armenians, Turkomans, Kurds work side by side in stalls pilled ceiling-high with leather boots, woolen headgear, and many-coloured fabrics. Here again you find the friendly bustle of the Oriental market with its mysterious discussions and its aroma of leather and spices. We then continue on to Anzali.
Overnight: Kadousan Hotel, Anzali (1 night) (B, D)

Day 17: Anzali / Rasht (Drive)
This morning we take in a boat ride on the marshland then a visit to the caviar-processing factory. Next stop is a visit to the stunningly beautiful village of Masuleh then onto Rasht.
Overnight: Kadous Hotel, Rasht (1 night) (B, D)

Day 18: Rasht / Tehran (Drive)

A beautiful drive takes us to Tehran.
Overnight: Laleh Hotel, Tehran (2 nights) (B, D)

Day 19: Tehran
Full day tour starts off with a visit to the Carpet Museum which has an excellent collection of Iranian hand woven carpets, followed by the Museum of Reza Abbasi. This museum named after the most famous miniaturist in the Safavid era, was opened in 1977. It exhibits artifacts dating back to prehistoric, ancient and Islamic periods and is particularly rich in Islamic calligraphy. Lastly, we visit the Archaeological Museums with its fine collection including a stone capital of a winged lion from Susa and a 6th century B.C. audience hall relief of Darius the Great from the Treasury at Persepolis. The museum has items dating back from the Sumerian Period (4500 B.C.) to contemporary times. (B, D)

Day 20: Tehran/Shiraz (Flight)
Morning visit the Glass and Ceramic Museum and Sa'dabad Palace. Late afternoon transfer to the airport for our flight to Shiraz, traditionally known as the city of Roses and Nightingales.
Overnight: Pars Hotel, Shiraz (2 nights) (B, D)

Day 21: Shiraz
Shiraz is the capital of the Province of Fars. Our visit today will include the Eram Garden, the tombs of Saadi and Hafiz - two of the most well known Persian poets, Nasirol-Molk Mosque, Afif-Abad Garden, the Church of Saint Simmon the Zealot.
(B, D)

Day 22: Shiraz/Esfahan (Drive)
Morning excursion to Persepolis, which in Greek literally means the capital of Persia, lies 60 kms/37 miles north of Shiraz. Persepolis is the last and final ultimate expression of the ancient Middle East. Construction began by Darius the Great (521 - 468 B.C.) as the focus of the mighty Achemenian Empire nearly 2500 years ago. Our next stop is Naqsh-e-Rustam - tomb of the famous Rustam. Continue by road to Esfahan, another highlight city. Legend has it that Esfahan was founded at the time of Tahmourass or Keykavous. During the Safavid Era (16th and 17th Century A.D.), Esfahan was a city of Gardens and Palaces, a trade centre recognised by the saying, "Esfahan is half of the world".
Overnight: Abbasi Hotel, Esfahan (3 nights) (B, D)

Day 23: Esfahan
Full day tour of this magnificent includes Hasht Behesht Palace (built in 1680 A.D. during the rule of Suleiman II, the Armenian Vank Church, Friday Mosque and the famous bridges. (B, D)

Day 24: Esfahan
Today visit includes Imam Square (Naqsh-e- Jahan) with its Sheikh Lotfollah and Imam Mosques, Aliqapu Palace, Chehel Sutoon Palace (40 pillars) built by Shah Abbas as a hall of audience and visit what definitely a most famous bazaar in Iran. (B, D)

Day 25: Esfahan/Tehran (Drive)
On our scenic drive to Tehran we stop at Kashan, an attractive oasis town, and take in its attractive sights. We visit Tabatabaie Houses and Khan-e Borujerdi, built as a private residence, now a charming museum with a lovely courtyard. We then take in the famous Fin Garden and witness its breathtaking pools, orchards and natural springs. Next we visit Agha Bozorg Mosque famous for its lovely portals and minarets. Next is a visit to the exquisite Shrine of Fatima in Qum and later we view the Tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini.
Overnight: Laleh Hotel, Tehran (1 night) (B, D)

Day 26: Depart Tehran
Morning transfer to the airport for the departure flight.
B = Breakfast
L = Lunch
D = Dinner

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Departure Dates

2015
Please call for details - 1-800-663-0844 / 1-604-264-7378


Prices
Season Tour Price US$ Single Sup US$
2015

Please call for details - 1-800-663-0844 / 1-604-264-7378

Tour Price Includes Tour Price Does Not Include:
• Accommodation as mentioned or similar category
• Meals as indicated (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
• All transfers and sightseeing with services of local English speaking driver/guide.
• Entrance Fees to Museums and Sites
• Local English speaking guides
• International Airfare / Departure Taxes
• Travel Insurances
• Visa Fees
• Drinks / Beverages with meals
• Tips / Gratuities to Drivers & Guides
Domestic / Regional Airfare INCLUDED in Tour Price
Tehran/Shiraz & Shiraz/Esfahan

Estimated International Airfare (not included in tour price)
East Coast US $ 1400
West Coast US $ 1600
Please note: This tour operates with a minimum of 02 and a maximum of 10 participants.

Other Dates / Customized Itinerary / Languages
In addition to our set programs we are also pleased to offer customized tours.
Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your individual needs.

Customized tours can be conducted in English, French, German, Spanish or Italian. Each departure is conducted in the designated language only.

Contact Information
Bestway Tours & Safaris
Fax: +1-604-264-7774
206–8678 Greenall Ave Phone: +1-604-264-7378
Burnaby B.C., Canada Toll Free (US & Canada): 1-800-663-0844
V5J 3M6 Email: bestway@bestway.com
33 years in small group journeys

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photographs © Peter Langer
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