Announcing the very first Eco-Tour to Iran in the name of conserving the Asiatic Cheetah!
CHEETAH CONSERVATION & WORLD HERITAGE
Join us in Iran * April 18 – May 2, 2015
“There’s an IRANIAN cheetah ?!” Yes! Join us for a magical journey into Iran as we explore this enigmatic, endangered cat’s world. Guided by Cheetah Watch conservation photographer, Marcy Mendelson, and featuring experts from the Iranian Cheetah Society, we will experience the beauty of Iran, its people and wildlife. The Iranian cheetah is in a fight for survival like never before, and we will meet with Iranians passionate about their legacy and the conservation of Iran’s environment. Travel from Tehran and national parks, to cultural centers like Yazd, Isfahan and Shiraz. We will also explore important UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Persepolis and Pasargad.
Curious about Iran? The Los Angeles Times says there’s no time like the present! Read the article here:
Iran wants American tourists, and a boomlet has begun.
To register for the journey please email me directly at marcymendelson @ gmail.com. Space is limited and we expect to sell out!
Arrivals into Iran. You will be met and transferred to our 4 star hotel in Tehran.Tonight’s meet and greet and orientation meeting is at 6:00 pm. Welcome Dinner.
At 9am share we depart for a guided City Tour of Tehran. We will visit important historic and cultural sites as we delve into Persia’s fascinating past, and present. We will have time to explore the Carpet Museum and admire some of the beautiful pieces, dating back as far as the 16th century.For the ladies in the group we will visit a local mall for shopping for manteaus, an outer garment worn by Iranian women as according to custom. This afternoon we meet with the Center for Sustainable Development and the Environment, a Conservationist organization and learn about the impacts of Iran’s political economy on conservation. Dinner and evening are free to dine and explore local tea shops and cafes.
After breakfast we will enjoy another full day immersing ourselves in Iran’s Capital. Our tour of Tehran continues and we will have time to wander the Golestan Palace and Museum complex and see the Crown Jewels. In the afternoon we request a briefing from an Iranian Conservationist group or eco-tourism specialists. Over dinner Marcy, Cheetah Conservation leader will brief you on the important work of the Iranian Cheetah Society.
After breakfast we check out of the hotel and are on or way to Touran National Park via Shahroud where few tourists ever sojourn. We will enjoy unique landscapes and some on pristine dirt roads. The Khar Turan National Park is a National Park in Iran. It is situated in Semnan province, southeast of Shahrud. With a size of 1.4 million hectares it is the second largest reserve in Iran. Kahr Turan is home to one of the largest populations of the critically endangered Asiatic cheetah. There are about 12-15of these charismatic cats in the National Park area. Occasional reports off males with cubs indicate a breeding and perhaps growing population.
After breakfast we will visit Touran National Park and enjoy a unique all day exchange with associates from the Iranian Cheetah Society. Here we will learn about their experiences, efforts, challenges and aspirations. There is also a captive cheetah here we will be introduced to. In the evening we invite a local Eco-tourism expert working on community based tourism initiatives to join us.
We continue our time in Touran with an exchange with associates from the Iranian Cheetah Society. In the afternoon we visit with a local village and enjoy a homemade meal.
After breakfast we check out and depart for the culturally significant city of Yazd. Upon arrival we enjoy a brief city tour of important and stunning historical and cultural sites where our Iranian guide shares poetic insights.
We check out of our lovely hotel to drive to Bafq,a protected area and wildlife refuge. Here we will meet and exchange with the Game Office Post and learn about local ecology and conservation efforts. We may or may not see an Asiatic Cheetah but this area is famous for its wildlife density.
Today we have a full day to explore Bafq in Yazd Province, a mountainous, hilly and steppe region with salt-lands. The region serves as a migration corridor for the cheetah between Kalmand Protected Area, Bafq Protected Area, Siah Kuh National Park and Naybandan Wildlife Refuge. Tonight over dinner our Iranian guide and Marcy facilitate a group impressions circle over famous and delicious Persian sweets.
We wake up early for our morning drive to Esfahanvia the Gavkhooni wetlands. There will be some time to explore the local endemic species as we drive through pristine dirt roads. We will stop along the way for sightseeing and request lunch with Nomads (availability depends on their migration). Upon arrival we will enjoy a guided tour of the city, including the Naqsh-e Jahan RoyalSquare. Other cultural heritage highlights include the blue-tiled Imam Mosque from the Safavid-era, the smaller Lotfollah Mosque with an impressive dome, and Ali Qapu Palace, initially built as a monumental gateway to the park lands. Discover a labyrinth of crafts in the Bazaar of Esfahan during your free time later in the evening.
Today we enjoy a morning excursion to the conservation area of Ghameslou. Once a royal hunting ground, Ghameslou is rich in wildlife. Perhaps here we will see big herds of game and predators such as wolf and leopard. After lunch we return to the city to visit the Chehel Sotun Palace with its beautiful frescoes documenting much of Persian history in its grand fashion. We will enjoy a stroll down the tree-lined ChaharBagh Ave. to Si-Oh-Seh Bridge, the famous “33 Arches Bridge,” where many locals socialize. In the evening we will request a meeting with a religious expert for an overview of contemporary Islam in Iran.
Let’s check out early this morning after breakfast to drive to Shiraz. The highlight of the afternoon is our excursion to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pasargadae where you will find the tomb of Cyrus the Great and the remains of his palaces. In the evening over tea we will have a facilitated group circle by Marcy on the state of Cheetah conservation efforts globally.
Persepolis is one of the greatest surviving masterpieces of ancient Near Eastern civilizations and a phenomenal UNESCO World Heritage Site, and today, you get to explore it all day. Following a guided tour of the ruins, you will have free time to explore and have lunch. Enjoy a side trip to Naqsh-e Rostam, full of impressive rock tombs and stone reliefs, on your return to Shiraz.
After a leisurely breakfast we will enjoy a guided walking tour of Old Shiraz, the heartland of Persian culture. Sights include the Narenjestan, Nasir al-Molk Mosque, Khan Theological School, Pars Museum and the tomb of Hafez, a noted poet and Iranian folk icon. you will have free time to wander the Bazaar of Shiraz, full of atmospheric architecture to get lost in while bargaining for souvenirs before our flight to Tehran where upon arrival we have our wrap up meeting and farewell dinner celebration.
We say ‘Merci’ here today to our new friends as we transfer to the airport. There might be some free time for museum visits, or last minute shopping for saffron, depending upon your departure times.
This itinerary is subject to evolution and small changes pending the confirmations of our local tour operator and NGO partners.
Infographics & logos courtesy of the Iranian Cheetah Society.
This journey is powered by Altruvistas who provides us with ethical, comprehensive, and philanthropic travel-planning services so that we can have the adventure of a lifetime in Iran. They offer us a culturally insightful, engaging, comfortable, and worry-free journey that synergistically benefits the local economy, our Iranian hosts, and highlights the conservation we together are doing in the world on behalf of cheetahs and their environs.