Cycle Iran Iran

Cycle Iran

Iran

Biking
16 days
2019

Sat, Oct 12

Sun, Oct 27

€3,665

Still available

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Overview

Embark on a cycling adventure across the hidden world of Iran. Brimming with mystery and intrigue, this is a country of refined Islamic cities, colourful bazaars, ancient Persian ruins, fascinating nomads and shimmering deserts. Visit the lively bazaars of Tehran, the immaculate gardens in Kashan, the deep red mudbrick town of Abyaneh, the incredible bridges and mosques of Esfahan, the great ruins of Izad Khast and Pasargad, the cliff-cut necropolis Naqsh-e Rustam, the jaw-dropping ancient city of Persepolis and the must-see old towns of Shiraz and Yazd.

Map

Itinerary

Day 1Tehran
Salaam! Welcome to Iran. Frequently misunderstood, Iran is a country of amazing diversity in both scenery and people, something you will discover cycling through this fascinating country over the next 16 days. Your adventure begins in the bustling capital city Tehran. You will be met on arrival at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport and transferred to your hotel. Take some time to relax before the Welcome Meeting at 6pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception staff where it will take place. We'll be checking your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have this with you. After the meeting, venture out into the chaotic streets of Tehran with your leader. Expect to see women wearing full-length chador competing for space with young and hip girls in figure-hugging manteau and headscarves. Also expect to be stopped by friendly locals who love nothing more than to chat with you about anything and everything. Get to know your fellow cyclists over an included dinner at a traditional teahouse, where you will have the chance to feast on a delicious local meal of Dizi (a traditional broth based stew). Cycling distance: None
Day 2Qom
Fill up on a traditional Iranian breakfast of boiled eggs, bread and vegetables before taking the subway to the Tajrish area of Tehran. After a short orientation walk guided by your leader there will be some free time to explore the bazaar, visit the Imamzadeh Saleh Mosque, or relax with a glass of doogh (a minty yogurt drink). Depart for the traditional city of Qom after lunch. The only way from Tehran to Qom is by freeway, so we’ll travel this section by vehicle (approx. 2 hrs) and arrive late in the afternoon. After checking into our hotel, you’ll be fitted to your bike to make sure you're ready for tomorrow's ride. Later, head out for an included dinner and orientation walk of this fascinating city. Qom is the second most religious and conservative city in the country. Hazrat-e Masumeh Shrine (the holy shrine of Fatima Masouma) is a must-see and, if you wish to enter, your leader can arrange a local guide to escort you. Your leader will also discuss appropriate dress while in Qom. Women will need to wear a chador, however it is possible to collect one at the gates. Cycling distance: None
Day 3Kashan
Get ready for your first day on the bike! Straight after breakfast, jump in the support vehicle and transfer out of Qom. Today’s ride will take you away from the highway and into the barren mountainous countryside of the Markazi Province. Along the way you will pass through a number of tiny villages, giving you a glimpse into local life. While the overall ride is only 32km, it will be a challenging day in the saddle thanks to the rocky terrain. From Kermjgan, pedal uphill on a gravel road for 12kms as we cycle up to 2850 metres above sea level. Be rewarded with incredible views of this remote region on the 20km downhill stretch to the small town of Bijegan. From here we re-join the highway and drive on to Kashan, where the aim is to arrive before 5pm. Kashan is a beautiful oasis city with a very long history – human settlement in the area dates back to the 4th millennium BC. It’s also a merchant town known for its high quality ceramics, silks, carpets, and some of the finest traditional houses in Iran. Enjoy a free evening in this city. Cycling distance: Approx. 32km/20miles, with around 70% done on gravel roads. First 12km uphill (approx. 785m/2575ft elevation gain) followed by 20kms downhill (-885m/-2900ft).
Day 4Kashan
This morning, take the support vehicle to the oasis that is Fin Gardens. It's perfectly symmetrical design, elaborate water features and intricate details make it one of the most beautiful gardens in the Middle East, and it has recently been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. On a guided tour you will uncover the fascinating history of this 16th century paradise. In the afternoon, enjoy some free time to explore Kashan at your leisure. There are many optional activities on offer. Maybe wander through the historic houses area (Ehsan, Abbasian, Tabatabaei, Borujerdi), visit the Aqa Bozorg Mosque, check out Kashan Bazaar or stop in at the Hammam-e Sultan Mir Ahmad (ancient bath house). Meet your leader this evening for an included dinner. Cycling distance: None
Day 5Abyaneh
Drive out of Kashan and off the main highway to a small town where we will begin today’s ride. The 20km ride will be another climb, starting at approximately 1400m and finishing at around 2200m. Along the way we will pass through tiny villages where there may be the opportunity to interact with some of the local villagers. Transfer the remaining distance in the support vehicle and arrive into Abyaneh. The historic town is well known for its rich red, mud brick walls giving the town an incredible warmth. Retire to your hotel this evening after an included dinner. Cycling distance: Approx. 20km/12 miles, mostly uphill with 770m/2530ft of elevation gain.
Day 6Esfahan
Leaving evocative Abyaneh behind you cycle downhill from Abyaneh all the way to Natanz (approx. 28km/17 miles). Depending on time, there may be the option to ride further. Continue the journey to Esfahan by vehicle. The plan today is to arrive by 5 pm, after which you can explore this beautiful city at your leisure. Cycling distance: Approx. 28km/17 miles, mostly downhill, with 647m/2120ft of elevation gain.
Day 7Esfahan
Enjoy a free day to explore the beautiful city of Esfahan today. Perhaps join your leader for a short orientation walk to the main square and then take a wander at your own pace. Be sure to visit the Shah Mosque, regarded as one of the great masterpieces of Iranian architecture, and walk around Naqsh-e Jahan (Image of the World) Square, a great spot to people-watch. Between palaces, mosques, museums and the bazaar you’re spoilt for ways to fill your day in Esfahan, so just ask your leader if you need any recommendations. Meet the group back at the hotel in the evening before heading out for dinner. Along the way there will be the chance to check out the Khaju Bridge which, with over 23 arches and length of 130 metres, is one of the finest such structures in Iran, dating back to Persian times. Further up the river is the stunning Si-o-seh pol (Farsi for the number 33) bridge, a 300m long bridge with 33 arches that has stood since 1599. Evening is the best time to view these architectural works of art as they are beautifully illuminated. Cycling distance: None
Day 8Izad Khast
Transit out of Esfahan to Shahreza (approx. 1hr) and fuel up for your ride with a morning coffee. From here, jump on your bike and cycle approximately 58km/36 miles to the small town of Izad Khast. The ride is along the highway, however there is a nice big shoulder to cycle on and the traffic is light. Izad Khast is a beautiful town and, thanks to its remote location, visitors are rare. Explore the ancient ruins of Izad Khast castle before dinner, where you’ll enjoy a fresh kebab at a traditional local house. Cycling distance: Approx. 58km/36 miles, with 420m/1400ft of elevation gain.
Day 9Pasargad
Bid farewell to Izad Khast and take the support vehicle for the highway portion of today’s journey to Pasargad. Stretch your legs by cycling the final 44km along quiet back roads before reaching Pasargadae, a UNESCO World Heritage site and once the capital of the sprawling Achaemenid Empire. Take some time to walk around these fascinating ruins and check out the well-preserved tomb of Cyrus the Great. This evening we will stay in a modest local home in Pasargad. Cycling distance: approx. 44km/27 miles, with 330m/1085ft of elevation gain.
Day 10Persepolis
From Pasargad, we’ll cycle the entire way from our local home to the hotel in Persepolis, via Naqsh-e Rajab, an ancient archaeological site. It’s a reasonable cycle day today by the foot of the mountains so we’ll take the evening to enjoy a well earned rest, saving the big Iranian attractions for the following day. Cycling distance: Approx. 80km/50 miles, with 350m/1150ft of elevation gain.
Day 11Shiraz
Cycle the short distance from the hotel to the ancient ruins of Persepolis, the former centre of the Persian Empire and Iran’s premier attraction. Persepolis was constructed in the reign of Darius I and took an astonishing 150 years to complete. Meet your local guide and take a tour of this fascinating UNESCO World Heritage site, learning about the rich history of the city. After a few hours here, continue your journey by cycling to Shiraz. It’s not an easy ride, but there is a nice 18-kilometre downhill section at the end to look forward to. It is also the last day of cycling on this trip, so don’t hold back! Along the way stop off at Naqsh-e Rustam, an ancient necropolis cut into a cliff face which dates back to 500 BC. In the evening, take a guided tour of Shahcheragh – a beautiful mausoleum for one of Imam Reza's brothers. Enjoy dinner with the group then stop by Karim Khan Citadel on the way back to the hotel. The complex is closed in the evening, however the glow of the lights make for a spectacular photograph. Cycling distance: 29km/18 miles, mostly flat with approx. 90m/290ft of elevation gain.
Day 12Shiraz
Shiraz is considered the Pearl of Persia and its very name evokes images of ancient times: tranquil gardens, lavish mansions, colourful woollen rugs, art, philosophy, poetry and of course, the famous Shiraz red wine (although it's no longer found here). Shiraz is also a renowned centre of learning and boasts many of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country. Today is a free day, but you might like to join your leader on a walk to the Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque (also known as the 'Pink Mosque' thanks to its beautifully stained glass windows and light) to get your bearings. Spend the rest of the day at leisure. You might like to visit Hafez Tomb, Shiraz Bazaar or head back to the Shahcheragh Holy Shrine to take a peak inside. Cycling distance: None
Day 13Yazd
After breakfast, settle in for the long 440km/273 mile drive to Yazd. Along the way, stop for lunch and visit the Cypress of Abarkuh, an ancient cedar tree believed to be approximately 4500–5000 years old (and even featured in the writings of Marco Polo). You'll arrive at our traditional hotel in Yazd in the late afternoon and have the rest of the evening to relax and explore the local area. This ancient desert city was once a major stop on the caravan route to Central Asia during the Silk Road period. Yazd is also the heart of the Zoroastrian religion. Cycling distance: None
Day 14Yazd
Take a guided walking tour through Yazd's Old Town with your Leader this morning. Wander the narrow, cobblestone streets and mud-brick walls and learn about Yazd’s rich history. The afternoon is free for you to explore - a good option is to visit the Jameh Mosque of Yazd, or perhaps the Amir Chakhmaq Complex and take a walk around the buzzing bazaar. Meet up with your group later this evening and head out for an included local meal. Cycling distance: None
Day 15Tehran
Today we make the 7 hour journey back to Tehran in the support vehicle. It is a long day in the van, but a great opportunity to take a rest and reflect after a busy 2 weeks. Join your leader and fellow riders tonight for an included farewell dinner and celebrate your cycling successes. Cycling distance: None
Day 16Tehran
Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast today. Please note that, due to visa restrictions, you are only permitted to extend your stay by 1 night in Iran (all nationalities) and additional accommodation must be booked with Intrepid. Additionally, as travellers from the UK, USA and Canada must be accompanied at all times by a guide it is essential that you pre-arrange any extra sightseeing and a departure transfer. See below for a list of optional activities we recommend and contact your booking agent if you would like to reserve a place.

Trip title

Cycle Iran

Trip code

HPXI

Validity

Validity: 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019
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Introduction

Embark on a cycling adventure across the hidden world of Iran. Brimming with mystery and intrigue, this is a country of refined Islamic cities, colourful bazaars, ancient Persian ruins, fascinating nomads and shimmering deserts. Visit the lively bazaars of Tehran, the immaculate gardens in Kashan, the deep red mudbrick town of Abyaneh, the incredible bridges and mosques of Esfahan, the great ruins of Izad Khast and Pasargad, the cliff-cut necropolis Naqsh-e Rustam, the jaw-dropping ancient city of Persepolis and the must-see old towns of Shiraz and Yazd.

Style

Original

Themes

Active Adventures,Cycling

Transport

Bicycle,Support vehicle (Minivan van and/or car)

Physical Rating

4

Physical preparation

This is an active trip, requiring a reasonable level of physical fitness. While there is flexibility in the distance you can elect to cycle each day, the cycling on this trip can be challenging at times, with the heat and terrain adding to the physical effort. It is also important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle. As a general rule, the more preparation you can do for this type of trip, the more you will enjoy it. Prepare for the trip by doing aerobic type exercises before travelling - jogging or swimming are some options, though cycling is best. If possible take some extended day rides before travelling, or spend time on exercise bikes in the gym. The more your muscles (and bottom) are prepared for the riding on this trip the more you will be able to enjoy the wonderful countryside and people you meet while riding. Note that an enthusiasm for bike riding and adventure is essential! CYCLING DISTANCES: The information listed in the itinerary is a guide to the approximate distances and terrain cycled each day. However, this may vary depending on the physical capabilities of the group, and changes to local conditions. For safety reasons we only cycle during daylight hours, so there may be some early morning starts. We take regular rest breaks throughout cycling days.

Joining point

Golestan Hotel

Joining point description

Golestan Hotel is located in the centre of Tehran, nearby the old market, Golestan Palace, Iranian National Museum and Hassan Abad Metro station. This simple but comfortable 2 star, 21 room hotel is equipped with wifi, a terrace, bar, restaurant and 24 hour front desk. Luggage storage and laundry service can also be arranged. Rooms include en suite facilities and breakfast at the hotel is simple, usually just tea, bread, eggs and dates. Check-in time is after 12 noon.

Joining point instructions

Iman Khomeni International Airport is located 40km south of central Tehran. On arrival you may be asked to fill out a standard customs declaration form, which you show to the customs officer, who stamps it. It’s best that you keep this form until you leave Iran. A complimentary arrival transfer is included in this tour. Please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to the start of your tour. Please look out for our transfer operator after clearing customs, who will be holding a sign with your name.

Finish point

Golestan Hotel

Finish point instructions

We highly recommend that you pre-book your departure transfer through Intrepid for safety reasons. Please ask your booking agent if you would like to add this service and provide your flight details at least 14 days prior to the start of your tour. Alternatively, the hotel reception will be able to assist you with arranging a taxi. UK, USA & CANADIAN PASSPORT HOLDERS Please note that if you are travelling on a UK, Canadian or USA passport you must be must be accompanied at all times by a guide. It is therefore essential that you pre-book a departure transfer via Intrepid.

Important information

1. This trip involves long periods of time in a vehicle transiting between destinations. 2. Approved bike helmets are hard to source in Iran so it is essential to bring your own from home. 3. On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back marker where needed). Where the vehicle cannot travel directly with the cyclists (e.g. a cyclists-only path) your leader will assign a person from the group to act as a back marker. 4. Please provide your height at the time of booking so that the correct sized bike can be arranged 5. A single supplement is available on this trip with the exception of Day 8 (Izad Khast) & Day 9 (Parsagad) when we stay in local homes. IMPORTANT - Please note that UK, USA and Canadian passport holders will need to book this trip at least 2 months before departure as this is the length of time it takes to process a visa for these nationalities. There may also be further travel restrictions that apply to these nationalities. Please see the Passport & Visa section for detailed information or contact your consulate. 

Group leader

This trip has 2 leaders – a group leader and a cycling leader. GROUP LEADER Your group leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. CYCLING LEADER Your group leader is responsible for all aspects of the trip when we are actually cycling, including safety, trip routing, mechanical issues and of course encouraging you along the way.

Safety

We take safety seriously on all our trips, but cycling tours deserve a few special considerations. HELMETS: Helmets are compulsory and we do not allow anyone to ride without one (including our own staff!). You can bring your own, or purchase one that meets international safety standards on the ground. Your leader can assist with this. FOOTWEAR For safety reasons we strongly recommend that you wear shoes that cover the toes while riding. SUPPORT VEHICLES We usually have a support vehicle following us if first-aid is ever necessary or people are feeling too tired to ride. BIKES: Our bikes are serviced regularly, and we get them checked by experts before each and every trip. Should you choose to bring your own please note that while we are happy to assist where we can with repairs you are responsible for the safety and suitability of your own equipment. TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware! There are times when traffic conditions make sections of our planned riding route unsafe – in this instance we will use the support vehicle. WEATHER Due to inclement weather posing a serious health or safety issue there may be times when we use the support vehicle instead of doing the planned ride. We will endeavour to reroute if possible but at times may have to cancel the planned ride.

Visas

PASSPORT As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required. Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends. VISAS Depending your nationality/passport you are travelling on, the Iran visa process can be detailed and time consuming. Please carefully read this section and note the instructions and application deadlines applicable to your nationality/passport. Please also note that visas are your responsibility and entry requirements can change at any time. Therefore, we recommend you visit the consular website for the latest information applicable to your nationality/passport. If you require assistance, please contact your booking agent. VISA EXEMPT If you are travelling on a passport from one of the following countries you do not require a visa for Iran for stays of a specified length: Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Georgia, Armenia, Venezuela, Egypt and Malaysia. VISA ON ARRIVAL (AUS, NZ, EU & SA PASSPORT HOLDERS) Some nationalities/passport holders are able to make use of a ‘Visa on Arrival’ system. This includes passport holders from Australia, New Zealand, the European Union and South Africa among others (please check with your nearest Iranian embassy/consulate to see if this applies to you). IMPORTANT: While you may read that you are able to arrive in Tehran without any pre-authorisation, it is worth noting that some airlines will not allow you to board without proof of visa. Therefore, Intrepid travellers must apply for an ‘Authorisation Code’ with us (already included in the tour cost) prior to travel. Once approved by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs you will receive a document titled ‘Visa Grant Notice’ which is sufficient proof of visa for airlines. The following instructions detail how to apply for your Authorisation Code, and what to do on arrival in Tehran. STEP 1 - Apply for an ‘Authorisation Code’ (sometimes referred to as Visa Approval Number, Iran Invite Number, Visa Grant Notice) via Intrepid AT LEAST 2 MONTHS PRIOR TO THE START OF YOUR TOUR. An Authorisation Code application form will be sent to you immediately upon booking. Please promptly complete the form and return the following documentation to Intrepid ASAP: - Completed Authorisation Code Request Form (Microsoft Word format) nominating the location from which you will collect your visa (Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport) - Scanned colour copy of the personal details page in your passport (JPEG format - must be clear) - Passport photo in colour (women must provide a photo wearing a head scarf) (JPEG format) - Copy of confirmed flight itinerary. The actual Authorisation Code can only be applied for 2 months from departure, but it is important that we collect the documents prior to that to avoid processing delays. Your documents will be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Iran who can take 2-3 weeks to process the application. We will do our best to secure your Authorisation Code, however as the final decision rests with the government of Iran we cannot guarantee when and if it will be granted. Once approved, you will be emailed your Authorisation Code (Visa Grant Notice). Please take a printed copy on your flight. STEP 2 – Arrival at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport It is important that you take paper copies of your important information in your carry-on luggage. Upon arrival, make your way to immigration and head for the desk marked ‘Insurance’. You will need to present your Certificate of Travel Insurance and your passport. After this, you will be directed to the cashier to pay for your visa (amounts vary based on nationality, but expect to pay the equivalent of approximately USD $180 - $200 in whichever currency you are paying with. You do not need to pay in USD). Give the immigration officials your payment receipt, passport and Visa Grant Notice and wait for them to process your visa (depending how busy they are this could anywhere from a few minutes to an hour). Once your items are returned to you, proceed through immigration control. The stamps for the visa are electronic and won’t be in your passport. PLEASE NOTE: If you would prefer to get your visa in advance through your nearest Iranian embassy/consulate this is possible, but does involve more paperwork and sending your passport away. Please ensure that you correctly nominate the embassy/consulate from where you will collect your visa on your Authorisation Code request form. Then, carefully read the below section ‘Visa in Advance’ and follow step 2. Please check with the embassy/consulate through which you are applying for the exact list of supporting documents required. VISA IN ADVANCE (UK, USA & CANADIAN PASSPORT HOLDERS) If you are travelling on a passport from one of the following countries you must apply for a visa in advance through your nearest Iranian embassy: UK, USA, Canada, Colombia, India, Somalia, Bangladesh, Jordan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. This requires 2 steps (see further instructions below). Iranian visas can only be applied for WITHIN 2 MONTHS OF TRAVEL and can take 6-8 weeks to be processed. We are unable to speed up the processing time so PLEASE ENSURE YOU BOOK THIS TRIP AT LEAST 2 MONTHS PRIOR TO TRAVEL. If you are planning a multi-destination trip we also recommend that you make Iran the first stop on your travels so that your passport is back in time. We further advise that you contact your nearest Iranian embassy/consulate well in advance to obtain the application form and clarify exact instructions (including if an appointment is necessary), opening hours and processing times as it is common for embassies/consulates to only open 3-4 days per week. If you are organised with this information in advance you will be ready to submit your application as soon as you receive your Authorisation Code from us. PLEASE NOTE WHEN BOOKING FLIGHTS: Due to government regulations, passengers travelling on one of these passports must be accompanied by a licensed guide at all times. You are not permitted to arrive earlier than the day the tour is scheduled to start and you may only extend your stay by 1 night after the tour concludes. Any extra accommodation and sightseeing must be booked in advance with Intrepid. A complimentary arrival transfer is included, however we highly recommend also pre-purchasing a departure transfer. There are several steps to your Iranian visa application: STEP 1 - Apply for an ‘Authorisation Code’ (sometimes referred to as Visa Approval Number, Iran Invite Number, Visa Grant Notice) via Intrepid at least 2 months prior to the start of your tour. Please note that you will need to receive your approved Authorisation Code BEFORE you submit your visa application. An Authorisation Code application form will be sent to you immediately upon booking. Please promptly complete the form and return the following documentation to Intrepid ASAP: - Completed Authorisation Code Request Form (Microsoft Word format) nominating the embassy from which you will collect your visa. - Scanned colour copy of every page in passport, including blank pages (JPEG format – must be clear) - Passport photo in colour (women must provide a photo wearing a head scarf) (JPEG format) - Screen shot of any/all social media profile pages you have showing your username (eg. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.) (JPEG format) - Copy of confirmed flight itinerary (we recommend booking a changeable/refundable fare) - A detailed resume (Microsoft Word format) which lists your education and employment history - similar to what you would prepare for a job application. It should be at least one page and detail job descriptions (not just titles) for all employment for a minimum of ten years. Due to heightened security measures, the name of your father and his employment history is also required. THE AUTHORISATION CODE CAN ONLY BE APPLIED FOR 2 MONTHS FROM DEPARTURE, but it is important that we collect the documents prior to that to avoid processing delays. Your documents will be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Iran who can take 2-3 weeks to process the application. We will do our best to secure your Authorisation Code, however as the final decision rests with the government of Iran we cannot guarantee when and if it will be granted. Once approved, you will be emailed your Authorisation Code (Visa Grant Notice). STEP 2 – Apply for a tourist visa from your nearest Iranian embassy/consulate ASAP Once you have received your Authorisation Code (Visa Grant Notice) from us, enter it into your application form and immediately submit your visa application with your nominated Iranian embassy/consulate. You will need to provide the visa application form (usually available on the embassy’s website), your passport, the visa fee (approximately US$110 depending nationality), a colour passport photo and insurance policy. Some consulates may have different requirements and you may need to set up an appointment, so please check this before submitting your application. In our experience the turnaround time for your visa to be stamped in your passport and returned to your home address is normally within 3-4 weeks, but it can take longer. If possible, visiting the embassy personally can speed up the process (even to one day). In order to collect your visa from the consulate, you must carry a copy of your Certificate of Travel Insurance and policy that covers you whilst in Iran. Women are also encouraged to wear a headscarf. Visas are valid for three months from the time of issue. Please double check that you have been issued with a TOURIST visa and not a business visa (the stamp in your passport must state that it is a tourist visa). STEP 3 – Arrival at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport Upon arrival at Tehran Airport, proceed through the immigration line marked ‘foreign’. It is recommended to have paper copies of your itinerary and important documents such as travel vouchers, passport/visa, Certificate of Insurance and travel insurance policy on hand. IRANIAN NEW YEAR – PROCESSING DELAYS During the Iranian New Year period (typically late March through early April) the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and many Iranian embassies/consulates around the world are closed. Any applications made for an Authorisation Code or Visa will not be received or processed over this time. If you are travelling in March, April or May, please make sure you take this into consideration when preparing your documents and applications. VISA REFUSALS While not common, there are occasions where the MFA rejects an Authorisation Code request or visa application for reasons they do not share. Unfortunately, we have no control over the success of your application and have no recourse if it is rejected. However, a VISA WILL BE FLATLY REFUSED IF YOUR PASSPORT CONTAINS EVIDENCE OF TRAVEL TO ISRAEL. This is not confined to an Israeli stamp in your passport. You will be refused an Iranian visa if there’s an Egyptian entry or exit stamp from the Egyptian/Israeli border (at Taba or Rafah) or a Jordanian entry or exit stamp from the Jordanian/Israeli border (at Wadi Araba near Aqaba, Sheikh Hussein bridge or King Hussein bridge, otherwise known as the Allenby bridge) in your passport. Even without having an Israeli stamp in your passport, these exit or entry stamps prove that you have visited Israel and entry into Iran will not be allowed. If we have received all of your documents by 2 months prior to travel we will submit your Authorisation Code request immediately. Despite this, it is not uncommon for the MFA to process these very close to the actual time of travel. We recognise that this can be an anxious period but unfortunately have no authority to speed up the process. DRESS CODE ON ARRIVAL Upon arrival in Iran, women not wearing an Islamic headscarf, long sleeves, covered shoes and a loose fitting skirt or loose long top and pants may be refused entry. Men may also be refused entry if they are not conservatively dressed in long trousers and sleeves upon arrival. AUTHORISATION CODE CANCELLATIONS/RESUBMISSIONS Please note that any late cancellations after the authorisation code paperwork has been lodged, will incur a $100USD cancellation fee in addition to the cancellation fee outlined in our booking conditions. This is to cover the application lodgement fees. Additionally, if for whatever reason, passengers need to apply for a second authorisation code, the above fee may also be applicable.

Why we love it

Discover an Iran beyond the media portrayals of a repressive and dour regime – this is a country full of warm, lively and friendly people

Is this trip right for you

To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle. On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back marker where needed). Where the vehicle cannot travel directly with the cyclists (e.g. a cyclists-only path) your leader will assign a person from the group to act as a back marker. Iran is one of the safest and friendliest places you can travel but it is very conservative. It is very important that before you sign up for this tour you are committed to following a strict dress code (particularly for women) in what may be quite warm weather. Things don't get much more different to home than this! On arrival in Iran, all women must wear a headscarf and must also have their arms and legs covered. Men must also be conservatively dressed. Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Iran and severe penalties will be incurred by anyone attempting to bring it into the country. Drug laws are also extremely strict and travellers face lengthy jail terms if caught. If found, pork, obscene material (even glossy magazines showing people in immodest poses), and controversial literature will all be confiscated by custom officials. Upon arrival, you as a foreigner will likely be whisked through customs but note that random bag checks do occur. The pathways around some of the sites may be uneven, rocky or dusty. Some of the guided trips may involve quite a lot of walking in the elements. Please bring comfortable walking shoes and be prepared with hats, sunscreen, water or layers for cooler weather. Iran is a big country and this trip covers a lot in two weeks, so be prepared for some long travel days in the vehicle as well as cycling. When we stay in local homes we sleep on the floor rather than in a bed. While bedding is provided, you might like to bring a thin, light inflatable camping-style mattress to increase your comfort. Most group meals are on a 'shared' basis where the group orders a number of dishes and everyone shares (as opposed to ordering your own dish).

Health

All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. DRINKING WATER: As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it may contain much higher levels of different minerals than the water you are used to at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Many hotels and lodges provide safe drinking water, while bottled water is another alternative. Water consumption should be about two litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies. CYCLING AT ALTITUDE Please note that much of the cycling on this trip is done at an altitude around or above 2000m/6500ft. While this is traditionally not a concern in regards to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) it should be noted that the lower oxygen levels in the air can increase the feeling of exertion while cycling, and you should try and take it easier until you become accustomed to cycling at altitude. CYCLING HEALTH Riding across unfamiliar terrain in weather conditions that you are not used to can potentially lead to cycling-related health issues. By far the most common issue is that of dehydration. While this is most common on warm/hot days, it is also a factor during cold weather as you continue to sweat. Research shows most riders will typically lose 500-1000 ml of water per hour. While we schedule in frequent rest stops and encourage you to refill water bottles at every opportunity, it is the responsibility of each cyclist to monitor their own levels of hydration while cycling. The key point to remember is not to wait until you’re thirsty but to drink small amounts regularly from the start of your ride. Adding an electrolyte solution can aid in replenishing the salts/electrolytes lost through physical activity. This is especially important on days when you are drinking a lot of the bike.

Food and dietary requirements

Your group leader or representative will endeavour to cater for specific dietary requirements where possible, and vegetarianism and gluten intolerance will be catered for in most instances. There are, however some meals and activities that are fixed in advance and therefore cannot be modified to suit dietary requirements. Please notify your booking consultant of any dietary requirements at the time of booking. For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader or representative will endeavour to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic. Our support vehicle carries a supply of clean drinking water for all clients (on riding days). We also carry a selection of fresh fruits to help keep your energy up. Breakfasts in Iran are relatively simple, usually consisting of bread, eggs, goats cheese and fruit. Lunches on riding days are usually a packed lunch. Most group meals are on a 'shared' basis where the group orders a number of dishes and everyone shares (as opposed to ordering your own dish). While meat is common (especially lamb, chicken and fish) vegetarians are well catered for in Iran, in terms of both seasonal vegetables and fresh/dried fruits. Maintaining a gluten-free diet in Iran can be challenging as rice and bread are the most prevalent staple item in most meals. Please discuss any dietary needs with your group leader at the initial group meeting so we can plan accordingly.

Money matters

When it comes to money matters on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping and laundry. It’s always better to bring a little more than you think you’ll need. Also make sure you’ve read your trip details thoroughly so you know what’s included in the trip price and what isn’t. This should make budgeting a little easier. You’ll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that’s this document). Please note: all recommendations for additional costs, tipping etc. are in USD. You will need to convert these into the relevant local currency. MEALS NOT INCLUDED Depending on the style of trip you have chosen (Basix, Original or Comfort), included meals will vary. Breakfast. If breakfast is not included, you can expect to pay between USD5 to USD10 at a local café. Lunch. Lunch at a touristy restaurant should cost around USD10 to USD20. However, local street food can be substantially cheaper. Dinner. At dinner time, your leader will normally recommend restaurants where you can safely try the local specialties of the region. Expect meals to cost between USD15 to USD25 for a main. These are indicative prices only. If you are in a tight budget and are happy to eat just local food you can eat cheaper than this. If you want to try the finest food at the finest restaurants, then you can expect meals to cost as much as in western countries. TIPPING Known as 'baksheesh' in the Middle East, tipping is a part of everyday life and is more than just a reward for services rendered. In countries where wages are extremely low it is an essential means of supplementing income. This practice is not merely reserved for foreigners and locals have to constantly hand out 'Baksheesh' as well - to park their cars, ensure fresh produce and pick up their mail. If you are satisfied with the services provided, a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate and always appreciated. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. Usually the equivalent of around USD5 to USD10 per person, per day to cover tips is fine. Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, your leader might raise the idea of a group tipping kitty. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running this kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips as you go. The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This kitty does not include tips for your leader and crew. TIPPING GUIDE To give you a bit of guidance, we’ve put together the following tipping notes. These are just suggestions, based on feedback from past travellers and our staff on the ground. - Basic restaurants – Round up to the nearest figure or leaving the loose change is generally fine. - Up-market restaurants – When checking the bill, if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 10% of the total bill amount is appropriate. - Local guides – Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest USD2 to USD3 per person, per day for local guides. - Your tour leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline USD2 to USD4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. EMERGENCY FUNDS We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved. CREDIT CARD, ATMS AND MONEY EXCHANGE With the exception of Iran, ATMs are widely available in major towns and cities throughout the Middle East and Turkey. Credit and debit cards are the best way to access money throughout most trips (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Credit cards are generally available in tourist shops and restaurants. Visa and Mastercard are generally preferred over American Express, Diners, etc. Smaller venues take cash only. Check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions. Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to USD100 per day. TRAVELLERS TO IRAN PLEASE NOTE: Iran is very much a cash economy. This means travellers can rarely use debit or credit cards while in Iran. There are virtually no opportunities to withdraw cash in Iran. ATM’s are non-existent. Credit cards are also only accepted sporadically; there may be rare occasions in tourist-orientated shops that credit cards are accepted, otherwise cash is the main method of trade in Iran. If you are arriving into Tehran on Thursday afternoon or Friday we highly recommend passengers exchange money at the Airport as all other currency exchange houses in the city will be closed until Saturday.

What to take

Packing for a cycling tour isn’t that different from any other adventure. But if you want to be comfortable and warm, here are a few bike-specific tips. • Helmet – these are compulsory, but if you don’t have your own you can sometimes purchase an approved and well-fitted one at the start of the trip (our leaders can assist you with this). There are some destinations where you are unable to purchase or hire appropriate helmets locally so you will need to bring your own - please check the 'Important Notes' section to see if this is the case. • Padded bike shorts • Quick-dry jerseys – you can definitely get away with a few cotton t-shirts but having a few light and breathable jerseys will make your cycling a lot more comfortable, especially in warmer/humid climates. • Quick-dry socks • Cycling gloves – not essential but recommended as padded cycle gloves will make your riding more comfortable and can help protect you in case of a fall. • Rain gear – pack a light poncho in case the weather turns when you’re out on the road • Light breathable waterproof/windproof – especially useful for those early mornings or downhill sections when the wind-chill becomes a factor. • Water bottle – we don't provide bottles but all our bikes have one bottle holder fitted (and a second one can be fitted if required). Please bring a cycling-specific water bottle as other types will fall out of the holders. A Camelbak will make drinking on-the-go easier. • Sunglasses – well fitted sports sunglasses help protect against dust, insects and (of course) the sun • Day pack – our support vehicle will carry your main bag, but a day pack for snacks and clothes is a good idea. • Suncream – please bring a high protection factor (e.g. SPF 50) sunscreen as long days in the saddle can really expose you to the sun • Shoes – normal sports shoes can be worn on all of our trips however you may want to consider a flat shoe with a relatively stiff sole as it makes pedalling a lot more efficient. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring their own cycling-specific shoes however we recommended 'mountain bike' style shoes that have grip on the sole rather than road bike' shoes as you will still be walking around while on the rides (cafe/photo/toilet stops, etc.). For safety reasons we require that you wear shoes that completely cover the toes while riding. • Saddles – are saddles are standard, unisex models –less experienced cyclists may choose to bring your own gel seat cover for added comfort. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring your own saddle – our leader will assist in fitting it to your bike • Pedals – all bikes come with flat pedals. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring their own pedals – our leader will assist in fitting them to your bike As space in our support vehicle/transport can be limited we request that you bring only a small luggage bag with you rather than larger bags or suitcases.

Climate and seasonal

Due to the sheer size of Iran temperatures can vary greatly depending on where in Iran you are. Days can be very hot between May and October, particularly in the desert and Gulf Coast regions, while the mountains in the north become freezing over winter (Nov to Feb). In April to September (when we ride) temperatures range from the mid teens (high 50's/low 60's F) at night to the mid/high 20's C (high 70's/mid 80's F) during the day. WEEKEND & PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN IRAN: Thursday (afternoon) and Friday are the weekend in Iran. Please note that there may be changes to operating hours of sites, museums and stores. Iran also has a lot of public holidays. The dates of many of these holidays change annually as they are scheduled according to the lunar calendar. If you are arriving over a weekend or public holiday we recommend you change some money beforehand as Currency Exchanges will be closed over these days RAMADAN 2019 In 2019, the important month of Ramadan will be in progress from 6th  May through until 4th  June, and the Eid ul-Fitr festival will be held directly at its conclusion for 3-4 days. Ramadan is a festival of sacrifice where the devout refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. During Ramadan, business hours are shortened, including opening hours at some tourist attractions. Alcohol is not permitted during daylight hours and many restaurants will be closed. While you should expect some delays and inconveniences during this period, the month is a fantastic opportunity to travel in a Muslim country and witness this unique period, particularly the nightly celebrations when the sun sets and the fast is broken. Please note that although the Eid ul-Fitr festival can also be a fascinating time to travel it's a period of national holiday. Most government offices and businesses will be closed and some tourist site opening hours may be affected IRANIAN NEW YEAR: Please note that the Iranian New Year will take place from 20 March to 2 April 2019. Many Iranian banks and government offices will be closed for the week of this period. Iran Authorisation code request forms will not be accepted or processed during this time by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran

A couple of rules

Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips. By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund. If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information. ALCOHOL, DRUGS AND CONTRABAND: Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Iran and severe penalties will be incurred by anyone attempting to bring it into the country. Drug laws are also extremely strict and travellers face lengthy jail terms if caught. If found, pork products, obscene material (even glossy magazines showing people in immodest poses), and controversial literature will all be confiscated by custom officials. Upon arrival, you as a foreigner will likely be whisked through customs but note that random bag checks do commonly occur. While we do accept children under 18 on this trip we do have a couple of rules. From a safety and enjoyment perspective they should be confident and competent cyclists capable of completing the riding part of the itinerary without additional assistance. Minors under 18 years old must always be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian. This includes when the minor rides in the support vehicle.

Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

Emergency contact

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager. You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete. For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below. Hamed Havalehdar: +98 919 336 2276

Responsible travel

We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller Iran is a traditional Islamic nation and a strict dress code is enforced throughout the country. The code of dress must be adhered to at all times. Men must wear long trousers at all times and generally keep themselves neat and tidy. Loose fitting cotton pants are preferable for the Iranian heat. Short sleeve shirts that cover your shoulders and open-toed sandals are now acceptable for men. Women must wear the hijab at all times, apart from in their hotel bedrooms of course. A hijab consists of the manteau, a loose-fitting trench coat that comes down to just above your knees, plus a headscarf. It is not necessary for foreigners to wear a manteau. A headscarf can be of any colour. It's now perfectly acceptable for women to wear a headscarf that shows some of their fringe and you'll see many ladies doing so and Its acceptable for women to wear loose long linen or cotton shirts, or even long light cardigans. These need to be long enough to cover your bottom. Your group leader will advise you of what attire is appropriate during the welcome meeting. Upon arrival in Iran, women not wearing a headscarf, long sleeves, closed shoes and a loose fitting skirt or pants may be refused entry into the country (to avoid this problem bring a thin full-length raincoat, long sleeved shirt or tunic from home). Men must be wearing long trousers upon arrival and shirts that cover their shoulder, or they too may be refused entry.

The Intrepid Foundation

Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation are matched by Intrepid Group dollar for dollar (up to AU$10,000 per donor and AU$500,000 in total each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And because Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/ Intrepid and Bicycles For Humanity At Intrepid, we know a bike can changes lives. Provide a person in the developing world with a bike and it means they can travel twice as far, twice as fast and carry four times the load. The extra mobility and distance gained from using a bike can make all the difference when seeking medicine or trying to find work. This is why we’ve partnered with Bicycles for Humanity to help provide bikes to communities in Namibia, Africa. Bicycles for Humanity takes bikes we no longer use, repairs them, packs them up and ships them off to the African continent in 40-foot containers. These containers then become bike workshops on arrival – a place of employment, education and business for the communities who receive them. Each of these Bicycle Empowerment Centres are self-sustaining, micro-financed small businesses and a massive step towards financial independence for the community. We also help by donating a portion of each booking of our cycling trips directly to Bicycles for Humanity, as well as using our network of contacts to bring greater exposure to the amazing work the volunteer team do every day at Bicycles for Humanity. We are also proud to have Bicycles for Humanity as a partner of The Intrepid Foundation, where our financial support will go directly towards purchasing containers and shipping bikes to Namibia. Every donation to The Intrepid Foundation from our travellers is matched by us dollar for dollar. To find out more or to make a donation, visit The Intrepid Foundation website.

Accommodation notes

ACCOMMODATION Accommodation on this trip is on a twin-share basis unless stated otherwise. If you require a double bed please request this with your booking agent. Double beds are subject to availability and can not always be guaranteed. HEATING AND AIR-CONDITIONING: As a desert region, this part of the world has extremes of weather. Winter months (approx December to March) can be very cold. All of our accommodation contains suitable bedding, however some properties don't supply heating. In many cases this would be a major financial and environmental strain on our hotels and the local towns. Summer (approx June to August) can be very hot everywhere we travel, which means that it can be quite uncomfortable for those not used to the heat. Not all of our accommodation has air-conditioning, and in those that do, it's not always functioning. LOCAL HOMES We stay in local homes on two nights of this tour - Day 8 (Izad Khast) and Day 9 (Parsagad). Please note that these are not 'homestays' in the traditional sense and often the family/owners will not stay with us during our visit. In most of these home visits we sleep on the floor rather than in a bed. While bedding is provided, you might like to bring a thin, light inflatable camping-style mattress (e.g. Thermarest) to increase your comfort.

Transport notes

There are some long travel days and some rough travelling in areas away from main tourist routes. Windy roads, rough surfaces and cramped conditions make for some challenging travel experiences. On some long travel days we depart early in the morning to ensure we optimise our time at our next destination. If you experience travel sickness we recommend you consider medication to help ease the discomfort. SECURITY WHILE TRAVELLING: Occasionally you may experience armed security and convoys between select towns or regions. Convoys are used to ensure all travellers are transported safely and, in many cases, tourists are only allowed to travel in scheduled convoys of buses and jeeps. On rare occasions you may have an armed guard in your vehicle. We want to warn you so you are not alarmed. This is a practice designed to keep tourists safe, although at time it can appear a little overkill. BICYCLES USED ON THIS TRIP Due to import restrictions and a lack of supply we do not have a consistent fleet of bicycles in Iran, and use a variety of different makes and models (including Merida, Specialized, and Corratec). While the bikes are not new they come in a variety of sizes, are in sound mechanical order and suitable for the type of riding we do in Iran. All bikes are mountain-bike style bicycles, with flat bars, front suspension, disc brakes, and 24-27sp gears. If you would prefer to bring your own bike please note that road bikes are not appropriate for this itinerary. AVAILABILITY OF SPARE BIKE PARTS IN IRAN If you choose to bring your own bike please note that quality bike shops are few and far between in Iran. While generic parts are available, sanctions restrict the import of certain brands. If you are particular about the brands you use we recommend that you come prepared with your own spares. BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE While we’re confident in the quality and suitability of the bikes we include, we do recognise that sometimes you just need the comfort of your own bike to enjoy the ride. If you are thinking of bringing your own bike on this tour please advise us at time of booking and take note of the below information. If you do choose to bring your own bike please note that we will not being carrying a spare bike for you. SUITABLE TYPE OF BIKE Although the surfaces of the roads we travel on is generally good there are occasionally gravel or potholed sections of road/track. As such, we recommend a 'mountain' or 'hybrid' style bike with plenty of gear selections for easy cruising. Please note that we usually cannot accept tandem bikes on our tours as often they are too large for our transport. In some destinations we are able to make an exception. Please ask your booking agent. For more details on the type of roads we’ll be riding on see the ‘Physical Rating’ information. Please contact your booking agent if you have any questions about the suitability of your bike. BEFORE THE TRIP We recommend that you have a full service of your bike performed by a trained mechanic, to help minimise any issues you may have during the trip itself. Please also ensure that you have specific and adequate cover for loss, damage or theft for your bike under your travel, home contents or a specialist insurance policy. DURING THE TRIP Your bike will be transported in the same way as our included bikes, usually in the bike support vehicle or on the bike trailer. While we endeavour to take the best care we can, you should recognise that transported bikes do get the occasional bump or scratch along the way. The same applies when we take other forms of transport, such as a train, where we are unable to pack the bikes ourselves.Your bike will also be secured in the same way as our included bikes. Please note this can occasionally be outside (where the bikes are locked together). While our mechanics can usually assist with minor repairs, you are responsible for the safety and upkeep of your own bicycle. This includes conducting regular safety checks of your bike during the trip and cleaning your bike. In addition, any parts that require replacing are your responsibility. Most destinations have access to only limited spares along the way, and access to bike shops can be days apart. Therefore, please ensure you bring any spare parts that you may require (especially specialist parts). In order to reach our destination it is necessary for us to travel via various modes of transportation, including planes and trains. Please be aware that any extra costs involved with transporting personal bikes are your responsibility. This includes (but is not limited to) additional transport costs and customs/import fees. TRANSPORTING YOUR BIKE TO/FROM THE DESTINATION Your preferred airline should have no problem carrying your bike, but many will charge an extra fee. Contact them before departing to discuss their arrangements for transporting bikes. A well-padded bike box obtainable from a bike shop is usually the best method of plane transportation. We recommend that you accompany your bicycle on the flight. Unaccompanied bicycles have been known to spend some extra days in the hands of customs authorities. Please also note that many taxis are not large enough to transport a bike box/bag so you may be delayed waiting for a suitably sized vehicle.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php

Your fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. SINGLE TRAVELLERS: Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

Itinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk. DEPOSITS Please note deposits on this trip are non refundable and non-transferable as per our terms and conditions. You are required to pay a non-refundable deposit of $400 per person per trip for your booking to be confirmed.

Accommodation

Hotel (13 nights),Local home (2 nights)

Map

Itinerary

Day 1Tehran
Salaam! Welcome to Iran. Frequently misunderstood, Iran is a country of amazing diversity in both scenery and people, something you will discover cycling through this fascinating country over the next 16 days. Your adventure begins in the bustling capital city Tehran. You will be met on arrival at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport and transferred to your hotel. Take some time to relax before the Welcome Meeting at 6pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception staff where it will take place. We'll be checking your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have this with you. After the meeting, venture out into the chaotic streets of Tehran with your leader. Expect to see women wearing full-length chador competing for space with young and hip girls in figure-hugging manteau and headscarves. Also expect to be stopped by friendly locals who love nothing more than to chat with you about anything and everything. Get to know your fellow cyclists over an included dinner at a traditional teahouse, where you will have the chance to feast on a delicious local meal of Dizi (a traditional broth based stew). Cycling distance: None
Day 2Qom
Fill up on a traditional Iranian breakfast of boiled eggs, bread and vegetables before taking the subway to the Tajrish area of Tehran. After a short orientation walk guided by your leader there will be some free time to explore the bazaar, visit the Imamzadeh Saleh Mosque, or relax with a glass of doogh (a minty yogurt drink). Depart for the traditional city of Qom after lunch. The only way from Tehran to Qom is by freeway, so we’ll travel this section by vehicle (approx. 2 hrs) and arrive late in the afternoon. After checking into our hotel, you’ll be fitted to your bike to make sure you're ready for tomorrow's ride. Later, head out for an included dinner and orientation walk of this fascinating city. Qom is the second most religious and conservative city in the country. Hazrat-e Masumeh Shrine (the holy shrine of Fatima Masouma) is a must-see and, if you wish to enter, your leader can arrange a local guide to escort you. Your leader will also discuss appropriate dress while in Qom. Women will need to wear a chador, however it is possible to collect one at the gates. Cycling distance: None
Day 3Kashan
Get ready for your first day on the bike! Straight after breakfast, jump in the support vehicle and transfer out of Qom. Today’s ride will take you away from the highway and into the barren mountainous countryside of the Markazi Province. Along the way you will pass through a number of tiny villages, giving you a glimpse into local life. While the overall ride is only 32km, it will be a challenging day in the saddle thanks to the rocky terrain. From Kermjgan, pedal uphill on a gravel road for 12kms as we cycle up to 2850 metres above sea level. Be rewarded with incredible views of this remote region on the 20km downhill stretch to the small town of Bijegan. From here we re-join the highway and drive on to Kashan, where the aim is to arrive before 5pm. Kashan is a beautiful oasis city with a very long history – human settlement in the area dates back to the 4th millennium BC. It’s also a merchant town known for its high quality ceramics, silks, carpets, and some of the finest traditional houses in Iran. Enjoy a free evening in this city. Cycling distance: Approx. 32km/20miles, with around 70% done on gravel roads. First 12km uphill (approx. 785m/2575ft elevation gain) followed by 20kms downhill (-885m/-2900ft).
Day 4Kashan
This morning, take the support vehicle to the oasis that is Fin Gardens. It's perfectly symmetrical design, elaborate water features and intricate details make it one of the most beautiful gardens in the Middle East, and it has recently been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. On a guided tour you will uncover the fascinating history of this 16th century paradise. In the afternoon, enjoy some free time to explore Kashan at your leisure. There are many optional activities on offer. Maybe wander through the historic houses area (Ehsan, Abbasian, Tabatabaei, Borujerdi), visit the Aqa Bozorg Mosque, check out Kashan Bazaar or stop in at the Hammam-e Sultan Mir Ahmad (ancient bath house). Meet your leader this evening for an included dinner. Cycling distance: None
Day 5Abyaneh
Drive out of Kashan and off the main highway to a small town where we will begin today’s ride. The 20km ride will be another climb, starting at approximately 1400m and finishing at around 2200m. Along the way we will pass through tiny villages where there may be the opportunity to interact with some of the local villagers. Transfer the remaining distance in the support vehicle and arrive into Abyaneh. The historic town is well known for its rich red, mud brick walls giving the town an incredible warmth. Retire to your hotel this evening after an included dinner. Cycling distance: Approx. 20km/12 miles, mostly uphill with 770m/2530ft of elevation gain.
Day 6Esfahan
Leaving evocative Abyaneh behind you cycle downhill from Abyaneh all the way to Natanz (approx. 28km/17 miles). Depending on time, there may be the option to ride further. Continue the journey to Esfahan by vehicle. The plan today is to arrive by 5 pm, after which you can explore this beautiful city at your leisure. Cycling distance: Approx. 28km/17 miles, mostly downhill, with 647m/2120ft of elevation gain.
Day 7Esfahan
Enjoy a free day to explore the beautiful city of Esfahan today. Perhaps join your leader for a short orientation walk to the main square and then take a wander at your own pace. Be sure to visit the Shah Mosque, regarded as one of the great masterpieces of Iranian architecture, and walk around Naqsh-e Jahan (Image of the World) Square, a great spot to people-watch. Between palaces, mosques, museums and the bazaar you’re spoilt for ways to fill your day in Esfahan, so just ask your leader if you need any recommendations. Meet the group back at the hotel in the evening before heading out for dinner. Along the way there will be the chance to check out the Khaju Bridge which, with over 23 arches and length of 130 metres, is one of the finest such structures in Iran, dating back to Persian times. Further up the river is the stunning Si-o-seh pol (Farsi for the number 33) bridge, a 300m long bridge with 33 arches that has stood since 1599. Evening is the best time to view these architectural works of art as they are beautifully illuminated. Cycling distance: None
Day 8Izad Khast
Transit out of Esfahan to Shahreza (approx. 1hr) and fuel up for your ride with a morning coffee. From here, jump on your bike and cycle approximately 58km/36 miles to the small town of Izad Khast. The ride is along the highway, however there is a nice big shoulder to cycle on and the traffic is light. Izad Khast is a beautiful town and, thanks to its remote location, visitors are rare. Explore the ancient ruins of Izad Khast castle before dinner, where you’ll enjoy a fresh kebab at a traditional local house. Cycling distance: Approx. 58km/36 miles, with 420m/1400ft of elevation gain.
Day 9Pasargad
Bid farewell to Izad Khast and take the support vehicle for the highway portion of today’s journey to Pasargad. Stretch your legs by cycling the final 44km along quiet back roads before reaching Pasargadae, a UNESCO World Heritage site and once the capital of the sprawling Achaemenid Empire. Take some time to walk around these fascinating ruins and check out the well-preserved tomb of Cyrus the Great. This evening we will stay in a modest local home in Pasargad. Cycling distance: approx. 44km/27 miles, with 330m/1085ft of elevation gain.
Day 10Persepolis
From Pasargad, we’ll cycle the entire way from our local home to the hotel in Persepolis, via Naqsh-e Rajab, an ancient archaeological site. It’s a reasonable cycle day today by the foot of the mountains so we’ll take the evening to enjoy a well earned rest, saving the big Iranian attractions for the following day. Cycling distance: Approx. 80km/50 miles, with 350m/1150ft of elevation gain.
Day 11Shiraz
Cycle the short distance from the hotel to the ancient ruins of Persepolis, the former centre of the Persian Empire and Iran’s premier attraction. Persepolis was constructed in the reign of Darius I and took an astonishing 150 years to complete. Meet your local guide and take a tour of this fascinating UNESCO World Heritage site, learning about the rich history of the city. After a few hours here, continue your journey by cycling to Shiraz. It’s not an easy ride, but there is a nice 18-kilometre downhill section at the end to look forward to. It is also the last day of cycling on this trip, so don’t hold back! Along the way stop off at Naqsh-e Rustam, an ancient necropolis cut into a cliff face which dates back to 500 BC. In the evening, take a guided tour of Shahcheragh – a beautiful mausoleum for one of Imam Reza's brothers. Enjoy dinner with the group then stop by Karim Khan Citadel on the way back to the hotel. The complex is closed in the evening, however the glow of the lights make for a spectacular photograph. Cycling distance: 29km/18 miles, mostly flat with approx. 90m/290ft of elevation gain.
Day 12Shiraz
Shiraz is considered the Pearl of Persia and its very name evokes images of ancient times: tranquil gardens, lavish mansions, colourful woollen rugs, art, philosophy, poetry and of course, the famous Shiraz red wine (although it's no longer found here). Shiraz is also a renowned centre of learning and boasts many of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country. Today is a free day, but you might like to join your leader on a walk to the Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque (also known as the 'Pink Mosque' thanks to its beautifully stained glass windows and light) to get your bearings. Spend the rest of the day at leisure. You might like to visit Hafez Tomb, Shiraz Bazaar or head back to the Shahcheragh Holy Shrine to take a peak inside. Cycling distance: None
Day 13Yazd
After breakfast, settle in for the long 440km/273 mile drive to Yazd. Along the way, stop for lunch and visit the Cypress of Abarkuh, an ancient cedar tree believed to be approximately 4500–5000 years old (and even featured in the writings of Marco Polo). You'll arrive at our traditional hotel in Yazd in the late afternoon and have the rest of the evening to relax and explore the local area. This ancient desert city was once a major stop on the caravan route to Central Asia during the Silk Road period. Yazd is also the heart of the Zoroastrian religion. Cycling distance: None
Day 14Yazd
Take a guided walking tour through Yazd's Old Town with your Leader this morning. Wander the narrow, cobblestone streets and mud-brick walls and learn about Yazd’s rich history. The afternoon is free for you to explore - a good option is to visit the Jameh Mosque of Yazd, or perhaps the Amir Chakhmaq Complex and take a walk around the buzzing bazaar. Meet up with your group later this evening and head out for an included local meal. Cycling distance: None
Day 15Tehran
Today we make the 7 hour journey back to Tehran in the support vehicle. It is a long day in the van, but a great opportunity to take a rest and reflect after a busy 2 weeks. Join your leader and fellow riders tonight for an included farewell dinner and celebrate your cycling successes. Cycling distance: None
Day 16Tehran
Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast today. Please note that, due to visa restrictions, you are only permitted to extend your stay by 1 night in Iran (all nationalities) and additional accommodation must be booked with Intrepid. Additionally, as travellers from the UK, USA and Canada must be accompanied at all times by a guide it is essential that you pre-arrange any extra sightseeing and a departure transfer. See below for a list of optional activities we recommend and contact your booking agent if you would like to reserve a place.

Trip title

Cycle Iran

Trip code

HPXI

Validity

Validity: 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019

Introduction

Embark on a cycling adventure across the hidden world of Iran. Brimming with mystery and intrigue, this is a country of refined Islamic cities, colourful bazaars, ancient Persian ruins, fascinating nomads and shimmering deserts. Visit the lively bazaars of Tehran, the immaculate gardens in Kashan, the deep red mudbrick town of Abyaneh, the incredible bridges and mosques of Esfahan, the great ruins of Izad Khast and Pasargad, the cliff-cut necropolis Naqsh-e Rustam, the jaw-dropping ancient city of Persepolis and the must-see old towns of Shiraz and Yazd.

Style

Original

Themes

Active Adventures,Cycling

Transport

Bicycle,Support vehicle (Minivan van and/or car)

Physical Rating

4

Physical preparation

This is an active trip, requiring a reasonable level of physical fitness. While there is flexibility in the distance you can elect to cycle each day, the cycling on this trip can be challenging at times, with the heat and terrain adding to the physical effort. It is also important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle. As a general rule, the more preparation you can do for this type of trip, the more you will enjoy it. Prepare for the trip by doing aerobic type exercises before travelling - jogging or swimming are some options, though cycling is best. If possible take some extended day rides before travelling, or spend time on exercise bikes in the gym. The more your muscles (and bottom) are prepared for the riding on this trip the more you will be able to enjoy the wonderful countryside and people you meet while riding. Note that an enthusiasm for bike riding and adventure is essential! CYCLING DISTANCES: The information listed in the itinerary is a guide to the approximate distances and terrain cycled each day. However, this may vary depending on the physical capabilities of the group, and changes to local conditions. For safety reasons we only cycle during daylight hours, so there may be some early morning starts. We take regular rest breaks throughout cycling days.

Joining point

Golestan Hotel

Joining point description

Golestan Hotel is located in the centre of Tehran, nearby the old market, Golestan Palace, Iranian National Museum and Hassan Abad Metro station. This simple but comfortable 2 star, 21 room hotel is equipped with wifi, a terrace, bar, restaurant and 24 hour front desk. Luggage storage and laundry service can also be arranged. Rooms include en suite facilities and breakfast at the hotel is simple, usually just tea, bread, eggs and dates. Check-in time is after 12 noon.

Joining point instructions

Iman Khomeni International Airport is located 40km south of central Tehran. On arrival you may be asked to fill out a standard customs declaration form, which you show to the customs officer, who stamps it. It’s best that you keep this form until you leave Iran. A complimentary arrival transfer is included in this tour. Please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to the start of your tour. Please look out for our transfer operator after clearing customs, who will be holding a sign with your name.

Finish point

Golestan Hotel

Finish point instructions

We highly recommend that you pre-book your departure transfer through Intrepid for safety reasons. Please ask your booking agent if you would like to add this service and provide your flight details at least 14 days prior to the start of your tour. Alternatively, the hotel reception will be able to assist you with arranging a taxi. UK, USA & CANADIAN PASSPORT HOLDERS Please note that if you are travelling on a UK, Canadian or USA passport you must be must be accompanied at all times by a guide. It is therefore essential that you pre-book a departure transfer via Intrepid.

Important information

1. This trip involves long periods of time in a vehicle transiting between destinations. 2. Approved bike helmets are hard to source in Iran so it is essential to bring your own from home. 3. On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back marker where needed). Where the vehicle cannot travel directly with the cyclists (e.g. a cyclists-only path) your leader will assign a person from the group to act as a back marker. 4. Please provide your height at the time of booking so that the correct sized bike can be arranged 5. A single supplement is available on this trip with the exception of Day 8 (Izad Khast) & Day 9 (Parsagad) when we stay in local homes. IMPORTANT - Please note that UK, USA and Canadian passport holders will need to book this trip at least 2 months before departure as this is the length of time it takes to process a visa for these nationalities. There may also be further travel restrictions that apply to these nationalities. Please see the Passport & Visa section for detailed information or contact your consulate. 

Group leader

This trip has 2 leaders – a group leader and a cycling leader. GROUP LEADER Your group leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. CYCLING LEADER Your group leader is responsible for all aspects of the trip when we are actually cycling, including safety, trip routing, mechanical issues and of course encouraging you along the way.

Safety

We take safety seriously on all our trips, but cycling tours deserve a few special considerations. HELMETS: Helmets are compulsory and we do not allow anyone to ride without one (including our own staff!). You can bring your own, or purchase one that meets international safety standards on the ground. Your leader can assist with this. FOOTWEAR For safety reasons we strongly recommend that you wear shoes that cover the toes while riding. SUPPORT VEHICLES We usually have a support vehicle following us if first-aid is ever necessary or people are feeling too tired to ride. BIKES: Our bikes are serviced regularly, and we get them checked by experts before each and every trip. Should you choose to bring your own please note that while we are happy to assist where we can with repairs you are responsible for the safety and suitability of your own equipment. TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware! There are times when traffic conditions make sections of our planned riding route unsafe – in this instance we will use the support vehicle. WEATHER Due to inclement weather posing a serious health or safety issue there may be times when we use the support vehicle instead of doing the planned ride. We will endeavour to reroute if possible but at times may have to cancel the planned ride.

Visas

PASSPORT As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required. Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends. VISAS Depending your nationality/passport you are travelling on, the Iran visa process can be detailed and time consuming. Please carefully read this section and note the instructions and application deadlines applicable to your nationality/passport. Please also note that visas are your responsibility and entry requirements can change at any time. Therefore, we recommend you visit the consular website for the latest information applicable to your nationality/passport. If you require assistance, please contact your booking agent. VISA EXEMPT If you are travelling on a passport from one of the following countries you do not require a visa for Iran for stays of a specified length: Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Georgia, Armenia, Venezuela, Egypt and Malaysia. VISA ON ARRIVAL (AUS, NZ, EU & SA PASSPORT HOLDERS) Some nationalities/passport holders are able to make use of a ‘Visa on Arrival’ system. This includes passport holders from Australia, New Zealand, the European Union and South Africa among others (please check with your nearest Iranian embassy/consulate to see if this applies to you). IMPORTANT: While you may read that you are able to arrive in Tehran without any pre-authorisation, it is worth noting that some airlines will not allow you to board without proof of visa. Therefore, Intrepid travellers must apply for an ‘Authorisation Code’ with us (already included in the tour cost) prior to travel. Once approved by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs you will receive a document titled ‘Visa Grant Notice’ which is sufficient proof of visa for airlines. The following instructions detail how to apply for your Authorisation Code, and what to do on arrival in Tehran. STEP 1 - Apply for an ‘Authorisation Code’ (sometimes referred to as Visa Approval Number, Iran Invite Number, Visa Grant Notice) via Intrepid AT LEAST 2 MONTHS PRIOR TO THE START OF YOUR TOUR. An Authorisation Code application form will be sent to you immediately upon booking. Please promptly complete the form and return the following documentation to Intrepid ASAP: - Completed Authorisation Code Request Form (Microsoft Word format) nominating the location from which you will collect your visa (Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport) - Scanned colour copy of the personal details page in your passport (JPEG format - must be clear) - Passport photo in colour (women must provide a photo wearing a head scarf) (JPEG format) - Copy of confirmed flight itinerary. The actual Authorisation Code can only be applied for 2 months from departure, but it is important that we collect the documents prior to that to avoid processing delays. Your documents will be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Iran who can take 2-3 weeks to process the application. We will do our best to secure your Authorisation Code, however as the final decision rests with the government of Iran we cannot guarantee when and if it will be granted. Once approved, you will be emailed your Authorisation Code (Visa Grant Notice). Please take a printed copy on your flight. STEP 2 – Arrival at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport It is important that you take paper copies of your important information in your carry-on luggage. Upon arrival, make your way to immigration and head for the desk marked ‘Insurance’. You will need to present your Certificate of Travel Insurance and your passport. After this, you will be directed to the cashier to pay for your visa (amounts vary based on nationality, but expect to pay the equivalent of approximately USD $180 - $200 in whichever currency you are paying with. You do not need to pay in USD). Give the immigration officials your payment receipt, passport and Visa Grant Notice and wait for them to process your visa (depending how busy they are this could anywhere from a few minutes to an hour). Once your items are returned to you, proceed through immigration control. The stamps for the visa are electronic and won’t be in your passport. PLEASE NOTE: If you would prefer to get your visa in advance through your nearest Iranian embassy/consulate this is possible, but does involve more paperwork and sending your passport away. Please ensure that you correctly nominate the embassy/consulate from where you will collect your visa on your Authorisation Code request form. Then, carefully read the below section ‘Visa in Advance’ and follow step 2. Please check with the embassy/consulate through which you are applying for the exact list of supporting documents required. VISA IN ADVANCE (UK, USA & CANADIAN PASSPORT HOLDERS) If you are travelling on a passport from one of the following countries you must apply for a visa in advance through your nearest Iranian embassy: UK, USA, Canada, Colombia, India, Somalia, Bangladesh, Jordan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. This requires 2 steps (see further instructions below). Iranian visas can only be applied for WITHIN 2 MONTHS OF TRAVEL and can take 6-8 weeks to be processed. We are unable to speed up the processing time so PLEASE ENSURE YOU BOOK THIS TRIP AT LEAST 2 MONTHS PRIOR TO TRAVEL. If you are planning a multi-destination trip we also recommend that you make Iran the first stop on your travels so that your passport is back in time. We further advise that you contact your nearest Iranian embassy/consulate well in advance to obtain the application form and clarify exact instructions (including if an appointment is necessary), opening hours and processing times as it is common for embassies/consulates to only open 3-4 days per week. If you are organised with this information in advance you will be ready to submit your application as soon as you receive your Authorisation Code from us. PLEASE NOTE WHEN BOOKING FLIGHTS: Due to government regulations, passengers travelling on one of these passports must be accompanied by a licensed guide at all times. You are not permitted to arrive earlier than the day the tour is scheduled to start and you may only extend your stay by 1 night after the tour concludes. Any extra accommodation and sightseeing must be booked in advance with Intrepid. A complimentary arrival transfer is included, however we highly recommend also pre-purchasing a departure transfer. There are several steps to your Iranian visa application: STEP 1 - Apply for an ‘Authorisation Code’ (sometimes referred to as Visa Approval Number, Iran Invite Number, Visa Grant Notice) via Intrepid at least 2 months prior to the start of your tour. Please note that you will need to receive your approved Authorisation Code BEFORE you submit your visa application. An Authorisation Code application form will be sent to you immediately upon booking. Please promptly complete the form and return the following documentation to Intrepid ASAP: - Completed Authorisation Code Request Form (Microsoft Word format) nominating the embassy from which you will collect your visa. - Scanned colour copy of every page in passport, including blank pages (JPEG format – must be clear) - Passport photo in colour (women must provide a photo wearing a head scarf) (JPEG format) - Screen shot of any/all social media profile pages you have showing your username (eg. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.) (JPEG format) - Copy of confirmed flight itinerary (we recommend booking a changeable/refundable fare) - A detailed resume (Microsoft Word format) which lists your education and employment history - similar to what you would prepare for a job application. It should be at least one page and detail job descriptions (not just titles) for all employment for a minimum of ten years. Due to heightened security measures, the name of your father and his employment history is also required. THE AUTHORISATION CODE CAN ONLY BE APPLIED FOR 2 MONTHS FROM DEPARTURE, but it is important that we collect the documents prior to that to avoid processing delays. Your documents will be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Iran who can take 2-3 weeks to process the application. We will do our best to secure your Authorisation Code, however as the final decision rests with the government of Iran we cannot guarantee when and if it will be granted. Once approved, you will be emailed your Authorisation Code (Visa Grant Notice). STEP 2 – Apply for a tourist visa from your nearest Iranian embassy/consulate ASAP Once you have received your Authorisation Code (Visa Grant Notice) from us, enter it into your application form and immediately submit your visa application with your nominated Iranian embassy/consulate. You will need to provide the visa application form (usually available on the embassy’s website), your passport, the visa fee (approximately US$110 depending nationality), a colour passport photo and insurance policy. Some consulates may have different requirements and you may need to set up an appointment, so please check this before submitting your application. In our experience the turnaround time for your visa to be stamped in your passport and returned to your home address is normally within 3-4 weeks, but it can take longer. If possible, visiting the embassy personally can speed up the process (even to one day). In order to collect your visa from the consulate, you must carry a copy of your Certificate of Travel Insurance and policy that covers you whilst in Iran. Women are also encouraged to wear a headscarf. Visas are valid for three months from the time of issue. Please double check that you have been issued with a TOURIST visa and not a business visa (the stamp in your passport must state that it is a tourist visa). STEP 3 – Arrival at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport Upon arrival at Tehran Airport, proceed through the immigration line marked ‘foreign’. It is recommended to have paper copies of your itinerary and important documents such as travel vouchers, passport/visa, Certificate of Insurance and travel insurance policy on hand. IRANIAN NEW YEAR – PROCESSING DELAYS During the Iranian New Year period (typically late March through early April) the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and many Iranian embassies/consulates around the world are closed. Any applications made for an Authorisation Code or Visa will not be received or processed over this time. If you are travelling in March, April or May, please make sure you take this into consideration when preparing your documents and applications. VISA REFUSALS While not common, there are occasions where the MFA rejects an Authorisation Code request or visa application for reasons they do not share. Unfortunately, we have no control over the success of your application and have no recourse if it is rejected. However, a VISA WILL BE FLATLY REFUSED IF YOUR PASSPORT CONTAINS EVIDENCE OF TRAVEL TO ISRAEL. This is not confined to an Israeli stamp in your passport. You will be refused an Iranian visa if there’s an Egyptian entry or exit stamp from the Egyptian/Israeli border (at Taba or Rafah) or a Jordanian entry or exit stamp from the Jordanian/Israeli border (at Wadi Araba near Aqaba, Sheikh Hussein bridge or King Hussein bridge, otherwise known as the Allenby bridge) in your passport. Even without having an Israeli stamp in your passport, these exit or entry stamps prove that you have visited Israel and entry into Iran will not be allowed. If we have received all of your documents by 2 months prior to travel we will submit your Authorisation Code request immediately. Despite this, it is not uncommon for the MFA to process these very close to the actual time of travel. We recognise that this can be an anxious period but unfortunately have no authority to speed up the process. DRESS CODE ON ARRIVAL Upon arrival in Iran, women not wearing an Islamic headscarf, long sleeves, covered shoes and a loose fitting skirt or loose long top and pants may be refused entry. Men may also be refused entry if they are not conservatively dressed in long trousers and sleeves upon arrival. AUTHORISATION CODE CANCELLATIONS/RESUBMISSIONS Please note that any late cancellations after the authorisation code paperwork has been lodged, will incur a $100USD cancellation fee in addition to the cancellation fee outlined in our booking conditions. This is to cover the application lodgement fees. Additionally, if for whatever reason, passengers need to apply for a second authorisation code, the above fee may also be applicable.

Why we love it

Discover an Iran beyond the media portrayals of a repressive and dour regime – this is a country full of warm, lively and friendly people

Is this trip right for you

To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle. On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back marker where needed). Where the vehicle cannot travel directly with the cyclists (e.g. a cyclists-only path) your leader will assign a person from the group to act as a back marker. Iran is one of the safest and friendliest places you can travel but it is very conservative. It is very important that before you sign up for this tour you are committed to following a strict dress code (particularly for women) in what may be quite warm weather. Things don't get much more different to home than this! On arrival in Iran, all women must wear a headscarf and must also have their arms and legs covered. Men must also be conservatively dressed. Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Iran and severe penalties will be incurred by anyone attempting to bring it into the country. Drug laws are also extremely strict and travellers face lengthy jail terms if caught. If found, pork, obscene material (even glossy magazines showing people in immodest poses), and controversial literature will all be confiscated by custom officials. Upon arrival, you as a foreigner will likely be whisked through customs but note that random bag checks do occur. The pathways around some of the sites may be uneven, rocky or dusty. Some of the guided trips may involve quite a lot of walking in the elements. Please bring comfortable walking shoes and be prepared with hats, sunscreen, water or layers for cooler weather. Iran is a big country and this trip covers a lot in two weeks, so be prepared for some long travel days in the vehicle as well as cycling. When we stay in local homes we sleep on the floor rather than in a bed. While bedding is provided, you might like to bring a thin, light inflatable camping-style mattress to increase your comfort. Most group meals are on a 'shared' basis where the group orders a number of dishes and everyone shares (as opposed to ordering your own dish).

Health

All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. DRINKING WATER: As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it may contain much higher levels of different minerals than the water you are used to at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Many hotels and lodges provide safe drinking water, while bottled water is another alternative. Water consumption should be about two litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies. CYCLING AT ALTITUDE Please note that much of the cycling on this trip is done at an altitude around or above 2000m/6500ft. While this is traditionally not a concern in regards to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) it should be noted that the lower oxygen levels in the air can increase the feeling of exertion while cycling, and you should try and take it easier until you become accustomed to cycling at altitude. CYCLING HEALTH Riding across unfamiliar terrain in weather conditions that you are not used to can potentially lead to cycling-related health issues. By far the most common issue is that of dehydration. While this is most common on warm/hot days, it is also a factor during cold weather as you continue to sweat. Research shows most riders will typically lose 500-1000 ml of water per hour. While we schedule in frequent rest stops and encourage you to refill water bottles at every opportunity, it is the responsibility of each cyclist to monitor their own levels of hydration while cycling. The key point to remember is not to wait until you’re thirsty but to drink small amounts regularly from the start of your ride. Adding an electrolyte solution can aid in replenishing the salts/electrolytes lost through physical activity. This is especially important on days when you are drinking a lot of the bike.

Food and dietary requirements

Your group leader or representative will endeavour to cater for specific dietary requirements where possible, and vegetarianism and gluten intolerance will be catered for in most instances. There are, however some meals and activities that are fixed in advance and therefore cannot be modified to suit dietary requirements. Please notify your booking consultant of any dietary requirements at the time of booking. For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader or representative will endeavour to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic. Our support vehicle carries a supply of clean drinking water for all clients (on riding days). We also carry a selection of fresh fruits to help keep your energy up. Breakfasts in Iran are relatively simple, usually consisting of bread, eggs, goats cheese and fruit. Lunches on riding days are usually a packed lunch. Most group meals are on a 'shared' basis where the group orders a number of dishes and everyone shares (as opposed to ordering your own dish). While meat is common (especially lamb, chicken and fish) vegetarians are well catered for in Iran, in terms of both seasonal vegetables and fresh/dried fruits. Maintaining a gluten-free diet in Iran can be challenging as rice and bread are the most prevalent staple item in most meals. Please discuss any dietary needs with your group leader at the initial group meeting so we can plan accordingly.

Money matters

When it comes to money matters on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping and laundry. It’s always better to bring a little more than you think you’ll need. Also make sure you’ve read your trip details thoroughly so you know what’s included in the trip price and what isn’t. This should make budgeting a little easier. You’ll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that’s this document). Please note: all recommendations for additional costs, tipping etc. are in USD. You will need to convert these into the relevant local currency. MEALS NOT INCLUDED Depending on the style of trip you have chosen (Basix, Original or Comfort), included meals will vary. Breakfast. If breakfast is not included, you can expect to pay between USD5 to USD10 at a local café. Lunch. Lunch at a touristy restaurant should cost around USD10 to USD20. However, local street food can be substantially cheaper. Dinner. At dinner time, your leader will normally recommend restaurants where you can safely try the local specialties of the region. Expect meals to cost between USD15 to USD25 for a main. These are indicative prices only. If you are in a tight budget and are happy to eat just local food you can eat cheaper than this. If you want to try the finest food at the finest restaurants, then you can expect meals to cost as much as in western countries. TIPPING Known as 'baksheesh' in the Middle East, tipping is a part of everyday life and is more than just a reward for services rendered. In countries where wages are extremely low it is an essential means of supplementing income. This practice is not merely reserved for foreigners and locals have to constantly hand out 'Baksheesh' as well - to park their cars, ensure fresh produce and pick up their mail. If you are satisfied with the services provided, a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate and always appreciated. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. Usually the equivalent of around USD5 to USD10 per person, per day to cover tips is fine. Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, your leader might raise the idea of a group tipping kitty. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running this kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips as you go. The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This kitty does not include tips for your leader and crew. TIPPING GUIDE To give you a bit of guidance, we’ve put together the following tipping notes. These are just suggestions, based on feedback from past travellers and our staff on the ground. - Basic restaurants – Round up to the nearest figure or leaving the loose change is generally fine. - Up-market restaurants – When checking the bill, if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 10% of the total bill amount is appropriate. - Local guides – Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest USD2 to USD3 per person, per day for local guides. - Your tour leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline USD2 to USD4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. EMERGENCY FUNDS We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved. CREDIT CARD, ATMS AND MONEY EXCHANGE With the exception of Iran, ATMs are widely available in major towns and cities throughout the Middle East and Turkey. Credit and debit cards are the best way to access money throughout most trips (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Credit cards are generally available in tourist shops and restaurants. Visa and Mastercard are generally preferred over American Express, Diners, etc. Smaller venues take cash only. Check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions. Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to USD100 per day. TRAVELLERS TO IRAN PLEASE NOTE: Iran is very much a cash economy. This means travellers can rarely use debit or credit cards while in Iran. There are virtually no opportunities to withdraw cash in Iran. ATM’s are non-existent. Credit cards are also only accepted sporadically; there may be rare occasions in tourist-orientated shops that credit cards are accepted, otherwise cash is the main method of trade in Iran. If you are arriving into Tehran on Thursday afternoon or Friday we highly recommend passengers exchange money at the Airport as all other currency exchange houses in the city will be closed until Saturday.

What to take

Packing for a cycling tour isn’t that different from any other adventure. But if you want to be comfortable and warm, here are a few bike-specific tips. • Helmet – these are compulsory, but if you don’t have your own you can sometimes purchase an approved and well-fitted one at the start of the trip (our leaders can assist you with this). There are some destinations where you are unable to purchase or hire appropriate helmets locally so you will need to bring your own - please check the 'Important Notes' section to see if this is the case. • Padded bike shorts • Quick-dry jerseys – you can definitely get away with a few cotton t-shirts but having a few light and breathable jerseys will make your cycling a lot more comfortable, especially in warmer/humid climates. • Quick-dry socks • Cycling gloves – not essential but recommended as padded cycle gloves will make your riding more comfortable and can help protect you in case of a fall. • Rain gear – pack a light poncho in case the weather turns when you’re out on the road • Light breathable waterproof/windproof – especially useful for those early mornings or downhill sections when the wind-chill becomes a factor. • Water bottle – we don't provide bottles but all our bikes have one bottle holder fitted (and a second one can be fitted if required). Please bring a cycling-specific water bottle as other types will fall out of the holders. A Camelbak will make drinking on-the-go easier. • Sunglasses – well fitted sports sunglasses help protect against dust, insects and (of course) the sun • Day pack – our support vehicle will carry your main bag, but a day pack for snacks and clothes is a good idea. • Suncream – please bring a high protection factor (e.g. SPF 50) sunscreen as long days in the saddle can really expose you to the sun • Shoes – normal sports shoes can be worn on all of our trips however you may want to consider a flat shoe with a relatively stiff sole as it makes pedalling a lot more efficient. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring their own cycling-specific shoes however we recommended 'mountain bike' style shoes that have grip on the sole rather than road bike' shoes as you will still be walking around while on the rides (cafe/photo/toilet stops, etc.). For safety reasons we require that you wear shoes that completely cover the toes while riding. • Saddles – are saddles are standard, unisex models –less experienced cyclists may choose to bring your own gel seat cover for added comfort. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring your own saddle – our leader will assist in fitting it to your bike • Pedals – all bikes come with flat pedals. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring their own pedals – our leader will assist in fitting them to your bike As space in our support vehicle/transport can be limited we request that you bring only a small luggage bag with you rather than larger bags or suitcases.

Climate and seasonal

Due to the sheer size of Iran temperatures can vary greatly depending on where in Iran you are. Days can be very hot between May and October, particularly in the desert and Gulf Coast regions, while the mountains in the north become freezing over winter (Nov to Feb). In April to September (when we ride) temperatures range from the mid teens (high 50's/low 60's F) at night to the mid/high 20's C (high 70's/mid 80's F) during the day. WEEKEND & PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN IRAN: Thursday (afternoon) and Friday are the weekend in Iran. Please note that there may be changes to operating hours of sites, museums and stores. Iran also has a lot of public holidays. The dates of many of these holidays change annually as they are scheduled according to the lunar calendar. If you are arriving over a weekend or public holiday we recommend you change some money beforehand as Currency Exchanges will be closed over these days RAMADAN 2019 In 2019, the important month of Ramadan will be in progress from 6th  May through until 4th  June, and the Eid ul-Fitr festival will be held directly at its conclusion for 3-4 days. Ramadan is a festival of sacrifice where the devout refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. During Ramadan, business hours are shortened, including opening hours at some tourist attractions. Alcohol is not permitted during daylight hours and many restaurants will be closed. While you should expect some delays and inconveniences during this period, the month is a fantastic opportunity to travel in a Muslim country and witness this unique period, particularly the nightly celebrations when the sun sets and the fast is broken. Please note that although the Eid ul-Fitr festival can also be a fascinating time to travel it's a period of national holiday. Most government offices and businesses will be closed and some tourist site opening hours may be affected IRANIAN NEW YEAR: Please note that the Iranian New Year will take place from 20 March to 2 April 2019. Many Iranian banks and government offices will be closed for the week of this period. Iran Authorisation code request forms will not be accepted or processed during this time by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran

A couple of rules

Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips. By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund. If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information. ALCOHOL, DRUGS AND CONTRABAND: Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Iran and severe penalties will be incurred by anyone attempting to bring it into the country. Drug laws are also extremely strict and travellers face lengthy jail terms if caught. If found, pork products, obscene material (even glossy magazines showing people in immodest poses), and controversial literature will all be confiscated by custom officials. Upon arrival, you as a foreigner will likely be whisked through customs but note that random bag checks do commonly occur. While we do accept children under 18 on this trip we do have a couple of rules. From a safety and enjoyment perspective they should be confident and competent cyclists capable of completing the riding part of the itinerary without additional assistance. Minors under 18 years old must always be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian. This includes when the minor rides in the support vehicle.

Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

Emergency contact

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager. You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete. For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below. Hamed Havalehdar: +98 919 336 2276

Responsible travel

We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller Iran is a traditional Islamic nation and a strict dress code is enforced throughout the country. The code of dress must be adhered to at all times. Men must wear long trousers at all times and generally keep themselves neat and tidy. Loose fitting cotton pants are preferable for the Iranian heat. Short sleeve shirts that cover your shoulders and open-toed sandals are now acceptable for men. Women must wear the hijab at all times, apart from in their hotel bedrooms of course. A hijab consists of the manteau, a loose-fitting trench coat that comes down to just above your knees, plus a headscarf. It is not necessary for foreigners to wear a manteau. A headscarf can be of any colour. It's now perfectly acceptable for women to wear a headscarf that shows some of their fringe and you'll see many ladies doing so and Its acceptable for women to wear loose long linen or cotton shirts, or even long light cardigans. These need to be long enough to cover your bottom. Your group leader will advise you of what attire is appropriate during the welcome meeting. Upon arrival in Iran, women not wearing a headscarf, long sleeves, closed shoes and a loose fitting skirt or pants may be refused entry into the country (to avoid this problem bring a thin full-length raincoat, long sleeved shirt or tunic from home). Men must be wearing long trousers upon arrival and shirts that cover their shoulder, or they too may be refused entry.

The Intrepid Foundation

Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation are matched by Intrepid Group dollar for dollar (up to AU$10,000 per donor and AU$500,000 in total each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And because Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/ Intrepid and Bicycles For Humanity At Intrepid, we know a bike can changes lives. Provide a person in the developing world with a bike and it means they can travel twice as far, twice as fast and carry four times the load. The extra mobility and distance gained from using a bike can make all the difference when seeking medicine or trying to find work. This is why we’ve partnered with Bicycles for Humanity to help provide bikes to communities in Namibia, Africa. Bicycles for Humanity takes bikes we no longer use, repairs them, packs them up and ships them off to the African continent in 40-foot containers. These containers then become bike workshops on arrival – a place of employment, education and business for the communities who receive them. Each of these Bicycle Empowerment Centres are self-sustaining, micro-financed small businesses and a massive step towards financial independence for the community. We also help by donating a portion of each booking of our cycling trips directly to Bicycles for Humanity, as well as using our network of contacts to bring greater exposure to the amazing work the volunteer team do every day at Bicycles for Humanity. We are also proud to have Bicycles for Humanity as a partner of The Intrepid Foundation, where our financial support will go directly towards purchasing containers and shipping bikes to Namibia. Every donation to The Intrepid Foundation from our travellers is matched by us dollar for dollar. To find out more or to make a donation, visit The Intrepid Foundation website.

Accommodation notes

ACCOMMODATION Accommodation on this trip is on a twin-share basis unless stated otherwise. If you require a double bed please request this with your booking agent. Double beds are subject to availability and can not always be guaranteed. HEATING AND AIR-CONDITIONING: As a desert region, this part of the world has extremes of weather. Winter months (approx December to March) can be very cold. All of our accommodation contains suitable bedding, however some properties don't supply heating. In many cases this would be a major financial and environmental strain on our hotels and the local towns. Summer (approx June to August) can be very hot everywhere we travel, which means that it can be quite uncomfortable for those not used to the heat. Not all of our accommodation has air-conditioning, and in those that do, it's not always functioning. LOCAL HOMES We stay in local homes on two nights of this tour - Day 8 (Izad Khast) and Day 9 (Parsagad). Please note that these are not 'homestays' in the traditional sense and often the family/owners will not stay with us during our visit. In most of these home visits we sleep on the floor rather than in a bed. While bedding is provided, you might like to bring a thin, light inflatable camping-style mattress (e.g. Thermarest) to increase your comfort.

Transport notes

There are some long travel days and some rough travelling in areas away from main tourist routes. Windy roads, rough surfaces and cramped conditions make for some challenging travel experiences. On some long travel days we depart early in the morning to ensure we optimise our time at our next destination. If you experience travel sickness we recommend you consider medication to help ease the discomfort. SECURITY WHILE TRAVELLING: Occasionally you may experience armed security and convoys between select towns or regions. Convoys are used to ensure all travellers are transported safely and, in many cases, tourists are only allowed to travel in scheduled convoys of buses and jeeps. On rare occasions you may have an armed guard in your vehicle. We want to warn you so you are not alarmed. This is a practice designed to keep tourists safe, although at time it can appear a little overkill. BICYCLES USED ON THIS TRIP Due to import restrictions and a lack of supply we do not have a consistent fleet of bicycles in Iran, and use a variety of different makes and models (including Merida, Specialized, and Corratec). While the bikes are not new they come in a variety of sizes, are in sound mechanical order and suitable for the type of riding we do in Iran. All bikes are mountain-bike style bicycles, with flat bars, front suspension, disc brakes, and 24-27sp gears. If you would prefer to bring your own bike please note that road bikes are not appropriate for this itinerary. AVAILABILITY OF SPARE BIKE PARTS IN IRAN If you choose to bring your own bike please note that quality bike shops are few and far between in Iran. While generic parts are available, sanctions restrict the import of certain brands. If you are particular about the brands you use we recommend that you come prepared with your own spares. BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE While we’re confident in the quality and suitability of the bikes we include, we do recognise that sometimes you just need the comfort of your own bike to enjoy the ride. If you are thinking of bringing your own bike on this tour please advise us at time of booking and take note of the below information. If you do choose to bring your own bike please note that we will not being carrying a spare bike for you. SUITABLE TYPE OF BIKE Although the surfaces of the roads we travel on is generally good there are occasionally gravel or potholed sections of road/track. As such, we recommend a 'mountain' or 'hybrid' style bike with plenty of gear selections for easy cruising. Please note that we usually cannot accept tandem bikes on our tours as often they are too large for our transport. In some destinations we are able to make an exception. Please ask your booking agent. For more details on the type of roads we’ll be riding on see the ‘Physical Rating’ information. Please contact your booking agent if you have any questions about the suitability of your bike. BEFORE THE TRIP We recommend that you have a full service of your bike performed by a trained mechanic, to help minimise any issues you may have during the trip itself. Please also ensure that you have specific and adequate cover for loss, damage or theft for your bike under your travel, home contents or a specialist insurance policy. DURING THE TRIP Your bike will be transported in the same way as our included bikes, usually in the bike support vehicle or on the bike trailer. While we endeavour to take the best care we can, you should recognise that transported bikes do get the occasional bump or scratch along the way. The same applies when we take other forms of transport, such as a train, where we are unable to pack the bikes ourselves.Your bike will also be secured in the same way as our included bikes. Please note this can occasionally be outside (where the bikes are locked together). While our mechanics can usually assist with minor repairs, you are responsible for the safety and upkeep of your own bicycle. This includes conducting regular safety checks of your bike during the trip and cleaning your bike. In addition, any parts that require replacing are your responsibility. Most destinations have access to only limited spares along the way, and access to bike shops can be days apart. Therefore, please ensure you bring any spare parts that you may require (especially specialist parts). In order to reach our destination it is necessary for us to travel via various modes of transportation, including planes and trains. Please be aware that any extra costs involved with transporting personal bikes are your responsibility. This includes (but is not limited to) additional transport costs and customs/import fees. TRANSPORTING YOUR BIKE TO/FROM THE DESTINATION Your preferred airline should have no problem carrying your bike, but many will charge an extra fee. Contact them before departing to discuss their arrangements for transporting bikes. A well-padded bike box obtainable from a bike shop is usually the best method of plane transportation. We recommend that you accompany your bicycle on the flight. Unaccompanied bicycles have been known to spend some extra days in the hands of customs authorities. Please also note that many taxis are not large enough to transport a bike box/bag so you may be delayed waiting for a suitably sized vehicle.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php

Your fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. SINGLE TRAVELLERS: Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

Itinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk. DEPOSITS Please note deposits on this trip are non refundable and non-transferable as per our terms and conditions. You are required to pay a non-refundable deposit of $400 per person per trip for your booking to be confirmed.

Accommodation

Hotel (13 nights),Local home (2 nights)
Time until next start
21
days
01
hours
:
01
min
:
14
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Prices from

€3,665

Duration

16 days
2019

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Overview
Itinerary
Trip title
Trip code
Validity
Introduction
Style
Themes
Transport
Physical Rating
Physical preparation
Joining point
Joining point description
Joining point instructions
Finish point
Finish point instructions
Important information
Group leader
Safety
Visas
Why we love it
Is this trip right for you
Health
Food and dietary requirements
Money matters
What to take
Climate and seasonal
A couple of rules
Feedback
Emergency contact
Responsible travel
The Intrepid Foundation
Accommodation notes
Transport notes
Travel insurance
Your fellow travellers
Itinerary disclaimer
Accommodation
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Saturday, Oct 12
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