8 Days Saffron and Barberry Harvest

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Tour code: PRS081

Accommodation grade: 3* and traditional hotels

Trip length: 8 days

Transport: One domestic flight, car or van, all airport transfers

Trip route: Tehran-Semnan-Nishabur-Mashhad-Qonabad-Birjand-Tehran

Included: All breakfasts and entrance fees

Group size: 2 to 8 pax

Best time: Mid Oct to mid Nov

This unique 8 days trip is an amazing opportunity for you to visit the main hub of saffron and barberry production in the world. It is located in the Khorasan province, but especially the southern area of Khorasan.
Barberry (zereshk in farsi) and saffron (zaferan in farsi) are often produced on the same type of land and the harvest is normally at the same time of the year, usually from mid-October for around 4 to 5 weeks.

The weather and temperature vary from one year to another, for a few days or one or two weeks. The highest quality and quantity of these products are from Qayenat and Birjand, which you will visit in this trip.
What is saffron? Saffron is a fragrant, colourful and the most expensive spice in the world. The origin of the English word "saffron" might stem from the 12th-century old French term safran, which comes from the Latin word safranum, or possibly from the Arabic za'farān, which comes from the Persian word zarparan meaning "flower with golden petals".

The saffron flower is an autumn blooming crocus with a purple colour and red stigmas. In the early morning, when the weather is cooler the flower is picked, as if this process were to be done later in the day when the temperature is higher, then removing stigmas from flowers becomes a lot more difficult. The stigmas have to be removed from the flower in the same day or the day after at most. After the stigmas are dry, they are ready to be packed for market.

Iran is the biggest producer of saffron in the world, it provides between 90-93 % of global production, equivalent to more than 390 tonnes per year.
Iranian saffron is of high quality and comes at a good price, making it the best for the global market and is the reason much of its produce is exported. Saffron is called Red Gold in Iran, as it is the most expensive spice in the world and for Iranians, it is like their national identity similar to their carpets and rugs.
Saffron is not just planted in Khorasan, it is also planted in the Fars and Kerman regions and is also of good quality.

What is Barberry? Barberry is red and small like little cranberry with a sour and tangy taste but it has less sharpness than cranberry. It is a large genus of deciduous and evergreen shrubs from 1-5 m tall and grows in subtropical regions of the world (apart from Australia). The tree also has spines on its shoots and along the margins of its leaves.

Iran is the biggest producer of barberry in the world and also the biggest consumer. Barberry (zereshk in farsi) are common in Persian cuisine such as in rice, cookies, sweets, fruit paste, juice and also is also served with meat and chicken.
Zereshk is normally dried to be sold in the global market, but Iranians also like the fruit fresh, especially for the juice.

This trip is not just a chance to visit the main hub of saffron and barberry production in the world, but also gives you the chance to visit Damghan, which has some of the best quality pistachio nuts in the world. In Damghan, you will get to visit its pistachio gardens and on the way, you will also visit the Sabzevar and Nishabur areas and their Cotton gardens.
In this trip you can become familiar with the history and culture of Iran when visiting its historical sites and monuments.

Some of these sites are Golestan Palace (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Bazar in Tehran, Semnan Bathhouse (Hamam) and the biggest shrine of Shia Muslims in the world, the "Imam Reza Shrine". It is located in the second most populated city of Iran, Mashhad. In this city you will find the best quality of turquoise stone (Firoozeh) in the world, in an area called Nishabur.

Other notable sites include the tomb of the great Persian poets, Ferdowsi and Omar Khayam (Khayam was also mathematician and astronomer). The longest and oldest Qanat in the world in Gonabad (UNESCO World Heritage Site), and also the Persian Garden (UNESCO World Heritage Site) located in Birjand.

Sounds great, doesn't it? If the itinerary however is not the exact trip you require, we can tailor it to suit your needs, with our team of specialists on standby and ready to help. For more info please contact us.

Golestan Palace (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Tehran Bazar
Imam Mosque
National Museum
Arg Gate in Semnan
Semnan Bathhouse
Saffron, barberry, pistachio and cotton gardens
Tomb of Khayam
Tomb of Attar
Tomb of Kamal ol- Molk
Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad
Nader Shah monument
Mashhad Bazar
Tomb of Ferdosi
Haruniyeh Dome
Qonabad Qanat (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Birjand Citadel
Akbariyeh Garden(UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Shokatiyeh School

Day 1: Tehran
Arrival - Welcome to Iran. Meet and greet at the airport and a half day city tour: A visit to the stunning Golestan Palace, Tehran bazar and Shah Mosque.

Accommodation: Tehran

Day 2: Tehran to Semnan (250km):
Today you will visit the National Museum and later drive to Semnan. On the way you will see Damavand Mountain from a far and then travel via the Firoozkuh area to Semnan. In Semnan you will visit Arg Gate and the Semnan Bath house, which dates back from the 16 century.

Accommodation: Semnan

Day 3: Semnan to Nishabur (550km):
In the morning you will drive to Nishabur and also visit the Saffron harvest at different stops such as Damghan and Sabzevar. As well as the saffron harvest you will visit pistachio and Cotton gardens along the way. In Nishabur you will visit Khayam, Attar and the Kamal ol- Molk tombs. You will also see turquoise stone carving in Nishabur, which has the best quality of this stone in the world.

Accommodation: Nishabur

Day 4: Nishabur to Mashhad (130km):
An early morning visit to the saffron harvest and then later drive to Mashhad. In Mashhad you will visit the beautiful Imam Reza shrine, which is one of the largest shrines for Shias in the world. You will also visit the Nader Shah monument, who was the king of Iran in the 18th century. Afternoon is spent walking in the Bazar, which is the best place to shop for turquoise stone, saffron and barberry.

Accommodation: Mashhad

Day 5: Mashhad to Gonabad (290km):
Today is the time to drive to one of the main centres of saffron and barberry in Iran, but before that you will visit the tomb of the greatest Persian poet "Ferdowsi" and also the Haruniyeh Dome. On the way to Gonabad you will visit some saffron and barberry gardens. In Gonabad you will visit a world heritage site, Gonabad Qanat (Qasabeh) which is more than 2500 years old.

Accommodation: Gonabad

Day 6: Gonabad- Qayenat to Birjand (110km):
Early morning visit to the saffron harvest and time also spent becoming familiar with barberry (zereshk). Afternoon rest in hotel.

Accommodation: Birjand or Qayenat

Day 7: Birjand to Tehran:
Today visit saffron harvest and drive to barberry gardens. Visit Birjand Citadel, Akbariyeh Garden and Shokatiyeh School. Night flight to Tehran.

Accommodation: Tehran

Day 8: Tehran:
Free day. Pick up from hotel depends on your flight time and departure from IKA.

Services included:

Iran visa code and invitation letter, all entrance fees for mentioned sites, accommodation in twin bedroom (7nights), all breakfasts, expert tour guide every day, trip with comfortable private car with AC, one domestic flight ticket, all airport transfers, private Iran cell sim card, airport welcome service and a bottle of mineral water per day.

Services Excluded in the above rate (Not included):

Iran visa stamp fee, lunch, dinner, travel insurance, international flights, portages fees, laundry service, telephone service, sauna & swimming pool, any souvenirs and tips.

Extra Note:
The maximum check-in baggage allowance for domestic flight is 20 kg per person plus hand luggage which is maximum 5kg.

The service mentioned is for an English speaking guide. If you wish to have a French, Spanish, German, Russian, Italian or another language speaking guide. Please contact us