17th July 2017
Tour leader Neil Thwaites recently went on a recce trip around eastern Iran, ahead of the launch of our new group tour to the region in 2018. Having led our other group tours in Iran, Neil has in-depth experience of the country. Below he answers a few questions about what visitors to this lesser visited area of Iran should expect, from newly renovated Bam Citadel to spending the night in a cave...
What was the highlight of your recce to eastern Iran?
This isn't really a highlight type of trip, but I really enjoyed visiting the ruined towns at Bayazeh and Kharanaq (above). Experiencing the end of the day in Bam Citadel was great and barbecuing in the mouth of my cave in Meymand was particularly memorable. Seeing the Qanāts (underground channels) in Gonabad was also impressive.
How does it compare to other regions of Iran?
Eastern Iran is far less visited by western tourists, so accommodation is much simpler and the roads are quieter – almost empty at times.
How did Bam Citadel look? Are the renovations on track to finish this year?
I really enjoyed visiting the citadel (above). The main fortress is in good order and they've stabilised all the surviving walls of the town section. I'm not sure whether they are fully on track with the renovations, but it's certainly worth visiting and has come a long way since the earthquake in 2003.
Who is this tour suitable for?
Anyone really. It's not energetic, but we do spend one night in a cave! This tour will definitely appeal to return visitors to Iran as there are quite a few highlights away from Iran's main tourist sites, but equally it would work for first time visitors as we visit Yazd and finish in Isfahan.
What makes Eastern Iran worth a visit?
The whole of Iran is interesting. The east is much more about the desert and less touristy than some other parts of Iran, making this much more of an off the beaten track tour of the country.
What is the accommodation like?
Accommodation on this trip is pretty good throughout. We do stay in a few simpler places, including a couple of basic family-run guesthouses with shared bathroom facilities, which often comprise of a mattress on the floor. We also spend a night in the ancient troglodyte-style cave dwellings of Meymand (above), which is likely to be a pretty special and memorable experience.
What sort of transport will be used on the tour?
Throughout the tour we will travel around eastern Iran on a minibus, which is our preferred method of transport as all of the roads are pretty good.