Seeking a world that only a rare few have been fortunate enough to discover, we head for the mystique of Ethiopia.
Against warm air and strikingly clear skies, there’s an alluring caress that pulls us towards the capital this morning. The exotic nature of Addis Ababa attracts all things curious, including us. Enjoy a Welcome Dinner.
This morning, drive to Mt Entoto where exquisite views of the capital and surrounding countryside are revealed. Continue to the churches of Mariam and the Archangel Raguel before exploring the National Archaeological Museum. Home to the 3.2 million year-old skeleton, Lucy, the museum’s most acclaimed exhibition enlightened great forward thinking within the theory of evolution. Lucy has the first documented example of the modern human pelvis, reorientated for upright walking so as to free our hands and conserve energy for the growth of our brains.
Before dinner this evening, we visit the Fistula Hospital where we bear witness to the charity work of doctors.
Once the capital of Ethiopia for nearly 200 years, Gondar welcomes us early this morning and introduces itself through a tour of its major historical sites. We visit the fascinating 17th century castles and palaces where we have the chance to wander amid stone walls at leisure. Among many, we visit Castle Fasiladas. We will also see the mural-covered walls of Debre Berhan Selassie and experience authentic Ethiopian azmari music performed by a pair of minstrels.
Carved by hammer, chisel and - so legend goes - the slight touch of angels at night, today the 13th century rock-hewn churches of Lalibela await. These 11 buildings were commissioned by King Lalibela after a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Or after having a private word with angels (legend and history recount the story differently to this day). Each structure has been excavated by hand, and is under the perpetual watch of an Orthodox priest.
We explore the site, set against a backdrop of astounding mountain ranges, then retire to the Mountain View Hotel.
After breakfast, choose from these Your World experiences:
Embarking on a 4WD adventure, uncover the Axumite cave church of Yemrehanna Kristos. The olive-wood panels on which the church stands seemingly float above moory grounds. Vervet monkeys may be spied in acacia trees.
Continuing our path along the historic route, we venture to our final Ethiopian destination. Aksum only reveals that which she wants us to know, and today we pry open the enigma’s hidden secrets, wandering off the beaten track. In the wrecks, relics and ruins, stone stelaes divulge ancient tales through the voice of inscriptions dating back over 1,600 years.
We retire tonight to the Yared Zema International Hotel.
Today we farewell Ethiopia, enjoying a short flight to Addis Ababa and onward to Dubai where we check into our hotel, the Grand Hyatt Dubai.
Join a morning flight to Shiraz in Iran and spend this afternoon on your own schedule. We dive into the city’s intricacies until the sun casts a chalky tinge over vast plains. Enjoy three nights at the Homa Hotel.
History told from brittle parchment and not the fingertip of a tourist in sight. Iran is in a league of its own. We spend our afternoon amongst the kaleidoscope of colour that filters through the stain glass windows of Nasir ol Molk Mosque. A wondrous reflection of fragmented hues envelop the building.
The Achaemenid Dynasty, the first Persian empire, was the largest the ancient world had ever seen, stretching from Turkey to Egypt, and even touching on Asia. Our day begins with a trip to Persepolis. Meaning ‘City of the Persians’, we become acquainted with the original seat of government during the Achaemenid Empire. Later we return to Shiraz and perhaps venture to the bazaar or enjoy a quiet afternoon for reflection.
Today, our exploration begins in Pasargadae. Set against the plain of Dashte Morghab, we delve into this fascinating archaeological site as we please.
Those among us who relish the refreshing breeze on a scorching day will simply adore the ingenious buildings of Yazd, designed to trap the quietest draft and direct fresh air to stuffy dwellings below. During our time in the desert town, we stay cool and refreshed at the Safaiyeh Hotel.
The road less travelled tempts us today as we immerse ourselves in one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions, Zoroastrianism. Beginning with an expedition of one of the Towers of Silence, we continue to the Zoroastrian Fire Temple to gain a rare glimpse into the religion.
A primary symbol of the belief, fire, we are told represents God’s light and wisdom. We also have the opportunity to see a flame said to have been burning for over 1,500 years.
Sometimes the most fascinating sights are those you least expect to encounter. Today we embark on an overland journey to Na’in. Once known best for its ceramic handiwork, the desert town is now renowned for carefully crafted carpets and camel-wool cloaks. Continue this afternoon to Isfahan, where we stay at the Abbasi Hotel.
Mosques adorned with delicate frescoes. Glistening ceramics against a backdrop of tender, leafy avenues. The pride of Persia shines, a rich visual feast.
Visit Naqsh-e Jahan Square. Meaning ‘pattern of the world’, the square owes much of its brilliance to the surrounding buildings and mosques. Stroll at leisure before crowds flock to the promenade. Absorb the lively air of the afternoon with fierce bargaining at the Qesarieh Bazaar. The thick husk of pomegranates wait to be cracked open, revealing tiny arils of sweet juice inside.
Casting a sweet spell, Iranian music dances with spirals of steaming tea. Ancient Persia is but the close of our eyes away.
We take a step closer to the heart of Iran with a visit to the Masjed-e Jameh, also called the Friday Mosque. Dominated by four prayer halls, each Iwan is designed to reflect the era in which it was constructed, the result of which being a fascinating echo of religious architecture spanning 1,000 years. We also touch on Chehel Satun Palace and Hasht Behesht, a 17th century pavilion.
Heading for Tehran, we have reached the final leg of our journey. En route to the capital, we pass through Natanz and Kashan. Here, charming oases play with our appetite for the exotic. For our last two evenings, we unwind at the five-star Espinas International Hotel.
The sun rises over Tehran on our last day of discovery. Flecks of sunlight illuminate hand-painted tiles and heavenly gardens at the former residence of Iran’s last Royal Family. Later, we have the opportunity to visit the National Archaeological Museum.
Over dinner this evening, celebrate all that we have experienced. Share colourful tales with fellow travellers and raise a glass (of tea, of course!) to our intrepid journey.
Our bags brimming with copper trinkets and irreplaceable memories, we fly to Dubai and meet our connecting flight bound for home.
We arrive early this morning on home soil and bid farewell to new friends.
Sometimes travelling can be a chore, distracting you from the fascinating places you are in. That’s why everything mundane has been moved behind the scenes. You will never have to carry a map, luggage, small change for tips or bargain for a taxi fare.
There are no hidden costs. Everything is included – flights and other travel arrangements, luxurious accommodation, travel insurance, all dining and drinks, and even sightseeing trips. Even the Your World experiences within your itinerary and internet access when available.
Fares are in Australian dollars and include Emirates flights from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. Per Person, Twin Share. Prices from other cities available on request. All internal flights are in Economy Class with strict luggage restrictions.
Land Only Guests join the tour in Addis Ababa on Day 2 and depart at Dubai Airport on Day 21.
Solo availability at the above price is limited.
This journey is reserved for a group of just 24 guests.
Tour Notes: While Ethiopia and Iran are incredible places to visit, hotels, coaches and restaurants won’t always meet a luxurious standard. Captain’s Choice uses the best available options, but understand that things won’t be like they are in Australia or Western Europe.