Inside Iran - Our CEO recounts her travels through this intriguing country

Ancient ruins of Nash-e-Rostam | Bec Leorke
Ancient ruins of Nash-e-Rostam | Bec Leorke

What's it really like inside Iran? World Expeditions Travel Group CEO, Sue Badyari, shares her observations as well as her must see highlights.

For a long time the idea of travelling to Iran had been frequently returning to my conscience. Having met dozens of others who have, including well travelled colleagues in the travel industry, they’d speak avidly about the ancient lands of Persia; often placing Iran as the most interesting destination they’d visited.

So last month, with much anticipation, I stepped out of my busy work life to take this long anticipated trip to Iran. Travelling with family and friend on the Emirates flight into Tehran, I witnessed the tattooed, the blue haired, the tight clothed female travellers around me, don head scarfs and long jackets, transforming their image very quickly to the conservative attire of Iranian women.

I had been curious about how to dress but quickly learned that by covering your hair with a scarf and your bottom with loose clothing you fit right in.

January is winter in Iran and as a keen trekker, many of the mountain trekking opportunities in the north and ascents of Mt Damavand are ‘off limits’ at this time. That however, certainly doesn’t limit the possibilities to still enjoy an active holiday in Iran at this time of year. In a little over two weeks I was able to compile a quite lengthy list of travel highlights.



In Tehran, head on a short hike just above Tehran city through a ‘cultural gorge’, enjoy the atmosphere of the night markets and visit the Golestan Palace, National Museum.

The old city of Yazd’s Zoroastrian Sky Temples are truly impressive, while in Isfahan it is easy to get lost among the various book shops, tea & coffee houses or while shopping for carpets, jewellery or perhaps hand printed tablecloths and painted pottery. Shiraz however, was my favourite city, with its beautiful decorative structures, the Nasir-ol-Molk mosque, Eram Garden, the Vakil bazzar and bath, and Haezieh.

The Persian Gulf Islands provided wonderful escapes into nature, with great hikes on Qeshm Island’s Valley of the Stars in the Chahkuh Valley while Hurmoz Island was simply an incredible natural wonderland. Then there’s the stunning Rainbow Valley, Silver Coast, Statue Valley and the interesting Portuguese fortress to keep you occupied.

The caravan serais, ancient bathhouses and the delicate mosques of Kerman and the nearby desert provide plenty to do for the active traveller. Explore the ancient fortified mud city of Rayen, hike in the Kaluts in the Lut Desert while enjoying a traditional homestay in Shahdad Kaluts.



There really are so many more highlights of places to see, but the experience is complete with the warmth and genuine local people, beautiful food, exotic smells of spice markets, ease of travel and the many comfortable lodgings, some quite ornate.

It must be said that Iran is a very misunderstood country. It is a highly educated, sophisticated society, progressive in industry but also sustainability and utterly fascinating in its culture and historic aspects. Many associate Iran with desert landscapes yet mountain ranges carve the entire country hemming vast tracks to desert but also verdant valleys.

Ancient village of AbyanehAncient village of Abyaneh is like a living museum, dating back 2500 years

I loved every minute of my time there and cannot wait to return, which I’m already planning for. And it was not just me affected by this journey, the words from my 25 year old son to his community are very telling and are written below.

“My musings of Iran... I knew from the moment we met, that my nightmarish imagination of a murderous, anti-American, missile making, woman muting land was but a misconception meticulously manufactured by mainstream media to muddy the mind But I won’t remember Iran for its military might or Khomeini command, I will remember Iran for its mastery of mosaic, bringing magic to every medieval mosque, I will remember the musical mayhem of marketplaces beaming with miraculous Persian mats and manicured men with musky perfumes and mysterious moustaches - the merchants of menace I will remember the many images of immortalised martyrs, mystical mullahs and modest yet cosmetic mothers, I will remember the majestic mountains and it's meadows of mouth-watering mandarins But most of all, I will remember the amazing mates whose warm welcomings made me feel so at home.” J. Badyari

Ready to travel to Iran? View our range of tours to Iran.

Comment (0)

Your comment will be visible after the administrator's approval.

b i u quote

Save Comment
Join Newsletter
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/ADS.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Adventures South"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Adventure South</div>
Adventure South NZ is unrivalled in their geographic coverage, originality and overall quality of adventures holidays in New Zealand. Choose from walking, cycling, winter or multi-activity holidays, on either the North or South Island.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/AWH.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Australian Walking Holidays"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Australian Walking Holidays</div>
Australian Walking Holidays specialises in small group guided walking adventures. Since 1982 we have been guiding small groups of travellers on Australia's finest walks across our tropical, coastal or red centre landscapes.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/GCT.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Great Canadian Trails"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Great Canadian Trails</div>
Great Canadian Trails specialises in active holidays in Canada. With both guided and supported self-guided options available, our unique itineraries draw upon some of Canada's most inspiring parks, trails and landscapes from coast to coast.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/HUM.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Humac Challenge"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Huma Charity Challenge</div>
Huma enables those with adventurous spirits to challenge themselves and make a difference for a cause close to their heart. Travel, fundraise and meet life-long friends on one of Huma's meaningful and unique challenges around the world.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WB.jpg?v2' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Walkers’ Britain"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Walkers' Britain</div>
Walkers' Britain (formerly Sherpa Expeditions) have specialised in walking and cycling trips in the United Kingdom and Europe since 1973. Explore iconic trails and destinations on a self guided or small group active holiday with Walkers' Britain.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WB.jpg?v2' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Walkers’ Britain"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Walkers' Britain</div>
Walkers' Britain (formerly Sherpa Expeditions) have specialised in walking and cycling trips in the United Kingdom and Europe since 1973. Explore iconic trails and destinations on a self guided or small group active holiday with Walkers' Britain.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/TAS.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Tasmania Expeditions"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Tasmanian Expeditions</div>
Tasmanian Expeditions is the most experienced operator of treks and adventure travel holidays in Tasmania. We own and operate the most comprehensive range of adventure holidays available across Tasmania's varied landscapes.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/UTX-new.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Utracks"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>UTracks</div>
UTracks are the active European holiday specialists. Whether you prefer cycling or walking, 2-star or 4-star, small groups or self guided, land, river or sea – UTracks can help you to explore Europe exactly the way you want.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WYA.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="World Expeditions Schools"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>World Expeditions Schools</div>
World Expeditions Schools is our specialist division dedicated to organising tailor made overseas school group adventures. Specialists in Service Learning projects, choose from more destinations than any other school group provider.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/YOM.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Yomads"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Yomads</div>
Yomads offers adventures for the 20s and 30s on six continents. Designed as a way to bring young and likeminded travellers together, Yomads caters to those interested in lightly structured and active trips that allow freedom to roam and explore.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/ACT.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Australian Cycle Tours"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Australian Cycle Tours</div>
Australian Cycle Tours specialises in high quality self guided and guided cycling experiences in a selection of the most beautiful regions in Australia.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WEX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="World Expeditions"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>World Expeditions</div>
The pioneers of original, worldwide adventure travel holidays since 1975
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/TJX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Trail Journeys"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Trail Journeys</div>
Self-guided cycling experts on New Zealand's Otago Rail Trail and more
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/BMAC.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Blue Mountains Adventure Company"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Blue Mountains Adventure Company</div>
The original Blue Mountains canyoning, hiking, climbing and abseiling experts
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/GWNZ.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Great Walks of New Zealand"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Great Walks of New Zealand</div>
Explore New Zealand's most spectacular wilderness regions with the self-guided hiking experts
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/NAA.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="North America Active"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>North America Active</div>
USA Canada hiking & cycling tour specialists, choose from self-guided or guided trips