Persian Garden Tours

Persian Garden ToursPersian Garden Tours

There are many westerners who want to travel to Iran and explore the remnants of its glorious history, and the site of one of the world’s oldest continuous civilizations, Travel Pulse reports.

Vancouver-based Bestway Tours and Safaris is offering a tour of Iran focusing on the gardens and historical and archaeological sites of the country. The tour was put on the market with 20 seats open and within a few days it was already half sold.

According to Mahmood Poonja, chief explorer of Bestway Tours and Safaris, about 70 percent of the company’s customers are Americans. The company was founded by three brothers in 1978. It has been organizing tours to Iran since 1994.

Interest in travel to Iran “goes up and down”, said Poonja. “There were years when there would be a lot of interest, then it would slide down and then again there would be a lot of interest.”

The tours are based around various themes. Tours to Iran in the past have been focused on astronomy and on architecture. The current program is focused on gardens and the palaces and historical relics associated with them.

“The Persian Gardens and Treasures of Iran” program is a 15-day tour led by Jill Cherry, a British landscape architect and historian of gardens, who has previously served as the director of the gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK, and of the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, Canada.

The itinerary will include an exploration of the capital Tehran, including the Golestan Palace, the Crown Jewels Museum and the National Museum of Iran; the city of Bam; the Prince’s Garden at Mahan; the shrine of Ne’matollah Vali, a 15th century Sufi poet; the ancient city of Yazd and the Bagh-e Dolat Abad Garden; Shiraz, the Garden City; and a three-day visit to Isfahan, an ancient capital of Persia. The itinerary includes several UNESCO World Heritage sites.


“The grand scale of the architecture and the detail and artistry of the decorative arts are wonderful,” she said, “and the historic gardens are an intrinsic part of the whole experience.  The splendid pavilions, palaces and gardens were conceived as one. Perhaps it is the juxtaposition of high culture in a desert land that is so striking. For visitors, the incredible wealth of Persian history unfolds before your eyes, layer by layer.”

And of significance to westerners who are fed a constant diet of fear and negative reports on Iran: “It is one of the friendliest countries I have ever visited,” said Cherry.  “Even when traveling alone, I often have received smiles and impromptu conversation from locals, and people are usually quite kind.  As a foreigner, I have always felt safe and never been hassled.”  

Besides its more standard exotic trips, such as African safaris, Bestway Tours is fond of offering trips to countries that are far off the mainstream tourism map, such as North Korea, Yeman, Iraq, Libya and Algeria. The company’s tagline is “Journeys without Borders.”

“The whole idea has been to be a bridge between different cultures through travel,” said Poonja, “to be able to personally experience different cultures, the different kinds of people that we meet and build up your own personal opinions about different countries and different people rather than be influenced by third party or different source.”

The package is priced at $4,395 per person double occupancy, not including air. The tour will begin May 2, 2015, in Tehran.