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Discover Off-the-

Beaten-Path Iran

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A completely different world to the attractions of classic Iran, this itinerary is recommended for the repeat visitor to this enchanting country or as an off-the-beaten-path overture to the well-trodden highlights. Explore the incredibly diverse and otherworldly geological landforms of Qeshm and Hormuz Islands and the inhospitable Lut Desert. Discover the vastly different and enigmatic Bandari culture, unique to the gulf coast. Check out the little-known Bronze Age archaeological site of Konar Sandal to the world’s largest adobe building of Bam Citadel painstakingly restored after being nearly decimated by the 2003 earthquake, and the prehistoric troglodytic settlement of Maymand.

11 Days Off-the-Beaten-Path Southern Iran

ITINERARY DAY-TO-DAY

1

DAY

QESHM

Head to the far west and explore the impressive Qeshm Island Geopark. Visit the World’s longest-known Salt Cave – Namakdan Salt Cave and the Chahkooh Canyon, an exceptional geological wonder. Go on a boat ride of the Hara Sea Forest, the Persian Gulf’s largest mangrove forest.  Visit the photogenic fishing village of Laft and check out a lenge-building yard, where traditional cargo boats are still being built and used.

2

DAY

QESHM / HORMUZ / QESHM

Take a fast ferry to the colourful island of Hormuz. Visit the quirky Museum and Art Gallery of Ahmad Nadalian and explore the ruins of the famous Portuguese Sea Fort. Travel to the Silence Valley and the “Salt Goddess” a salt mountain with colourful textures. Visit the stunning Valley of the Statues followed by the otherworldly Red Beach. Venture into the kaleidoscopic interiors of the Rainbow Cave and continue to the fascinating Rainbow Valley. 

3

DAY

QESHM / HENGAM / QESHM

Head southwest to the village of Shibderaz and take a short ferry ride to Hengam Island. Visit the Valley of Stars, one of the most spectacular sites on the island featuring a series of gorges and canyons resembling a Dali painting. Drop by a women’s cooperative in Berkeh Khalaf village specializing in golabtoun douzi, or the sewing of colorful designs onto fabric.

4

DAY

QESHM / BANDAR ABBAS / GHALEHGANJ 

Take a ferry to the mainland. Visit Minab’s Thursday Market, a traditional bazaar where women instead of men run the show. Continue to Ghalehganj, and check in to an unusual kapar hotel, a temporary dwelling resembling a mud hut with thatched-roofs typical of southeastern Iran. 

5

DAY

GHALEHGANJ / JIROFT / BAM

Drive to the little-known Bronze Age archaeological site of Konar Sandal, considered to be the cradle of civilization of Iran. Visit the intimate Jiroft Archaeological Museum and the sprawling UNESCO-listed Site of Bam Citadel.

6

DAY

BAM / KESHIT / LUT DESERT 

Drive towards the Lut Desert, and en route visit Keshit Oasis. Explore the surreal UNESCO World Heritage landscapes of the Lut Desert. Arrive in Shahdad and explore the impressive Haj Mohammad Taghi Cistern and its wind towers. Continue to Shafiabad for the village’s underground qanat water channels and the ancient Shafiabad Citadel.

7

DAY

LUT DESERT

Spend the whole day in this mesmerizing desert, including a visit to the hottest place on the earth’s surface – Gandom Beryan. Next, visit the Kal Shur or “Salty River”. Spend the rest of the day admiring the towering yardangs or sandcastles, and the sand dunes rivalling those of the Sahara in height. 

8

DAY

LUT DESERT / RAYEN / MAHAN

Drive towards Mahan. En route, stop in the surprisingly green village of Sirch with its old cypress trees. Cross the Palvar Mountains into and arrive into Mahan. Explore one of the country’s most beautiful UNESCO-listed Persian-style gardens – Bagh-e Shazadeh. Visit the Mausoleum of Shah Nematollah Vali and the Rayen Citadel.

9

DAY

MAHAN / MAYMAND

Drive east to the ancient rocky village of Maymand, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Meet the villagers and have a feel of the way of life in this troglodytic settlement. Your will visit include the kiche, the apothecary, school, bathhouse, mosque as well as the Anthropology Museum.

10

DAY

MAYMAND / RAFSANJAN / KERMAN

On the way back to Kerman, visit Haj Agha Ali’s House, the world’s largest adobe house, and the Pistachio Gardens in Rafsanjan. Trek along the unique landscape of Rageh Canyon where you will pass through narrow gorges.

11

DAY

KERMAN

Dedicate the day to the highlights of Kerman, including the Ganj Ali Khan Complex which houses a hammam (bathhouse) museum, within the magnificent Bazar-e Sartasari, as well as the Gonbad-e Jabaliye, an octagonal structure housing a museum of old gravestones.

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