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Rafting the Sezar River in Iran

Tehran, Iran

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Book this tour through our partner: MT Sobek

Iran's Sezar River cuts a seemingly impossible path through the Zagros Mountains' defiant limestone canyons and ridges. Join MT Sobek's expert guides on the first commercial raft descent of the Sezar! Be the first to raft the river's length, approximately 70 miles, from Dorud to Tele Zang. Tackle challenging, boulder-choked Class IV and V rapids, portage around the unrunnable ones, enjoy some hiking time, and camp under endless stars. Before the river experience of a lifetime, tour the cultural treasures of Isfahan, Shiraz, and ancient Persepolis. Come pioneer Sezar rapids on this unparalleled rafting adventure!


Arrive in Tehran

Welcome to Iran! Meet your MT Sobek river expedition leader at the Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport. Bypass the hustle and bustle of Tehran and jump on a quick flight to the culturally rich city of Shiraz, full of gardens and breathtaking architectural masterpieces. Upon arrival, have lunch and then take a short guided exploration of the city.

Explore the Wonders of Shiraz

This morning head out on a full-day tour of Shiraz, "the town of roses and nightingales." Begin with Bagh-e Eram (Eram Garden), with its collection of magnificent roses, followed by a visit to the tomb of Hafiz, the 13th-century mystic and the most celebrated Persian poet. Later, enter the old quarter of town and pay a visit to the 9th-century old Jameh mosque, Khan theological school, and the colorful nomadic bazaar."

Tour Ancient Persepolis

Today is a cultural highlight of your trip: an excursion to Persepolis (the ancient ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire) and the royal necropolis in Naqsh-e Rostam. Alexander the Great burned Persepolis — a vast complex of ceremonial palaces, halls, and tombs — in 330 BC, but there are incredible remains of several monumental buildings, including the Gate of All Nations, Palace of 100 Columns, Palace of Darius, Xerxes' Palace, Central Palace, and Apadana Palace. Tour these exquisite antiquities, have lunch in an urban caravanserai, and then return to Shiraz.

Drive the Scenic Zagros Mountains to Isfahan

Today take a scenic drive through the Zagros mountain range, passing many villages along the way. Stop for lunch in Yasuj before arriving in Isfahan via Shahreza.

Discover Vibrant Isfahan

Isfahan, the four-time capital of Iran, is a wonderful, colorful city filled with Islamic art and architecture. Begin your tour with the Vank Cathedral, home to a museum, a historic printing press, and a library that includes the first book printed in Iran. Walk to Chehel-Sotoun Palace, with large frescoes depicting court life counterbalanced by miniature paintings of the 17th-century Safavid dynasty, and visit the Jameh mosque to enjoy a thousand years of art and architecture of the Islamic world in Iran. End today with a beautiful Persian carpet show.

Drive to Doroud & Launch River Rafts

Right after breakfast, leave Isfahan and drive to the city of Dorud, near the headwaters of the Sezar River. Have a tasty lunch in town and then meet the rafts a few minutes away at the confluence of the Tire and Marbore Rivers, where the Sezar begins. You won't go far on the water today, but you'll get a feel for the river as you're propelled by its power and camp under the stars.

Sezar Rafting Adventure Begins

On the first full day of your rafting adventure, you'll run some good white water and likely encounter your first portage as well (un-runnable rapids that require we portage around them). There are some calmer stretches too, which will allow you to practice your river skills and to rest between rapids. As this is the very first rafting descent of the Sezar, none of the rapids have names yet. Perhaps you will come up with a few names for the rapids along the way! (Considering using names or phrases in Farsi/Persian.)

Raft the Upper Sezar

Stop for a brief visit at Bishe waterfall this morning, a lovely collection of low volume cascading ribbons of water which flow from springs above the river. It's a popular spot for locals and tourists for good reason. Afterward, it's time for whitewater. While this upper part of the Sezar flows through more gentle pastoral hills, it includes some of the most challenging rapids — you'll be tested by powerful, boulder choked Class IV and V rapids today and in throughout the next few days.

Downstream to Sepid Dasht

Continue downstream, occasionally stopping to scout rapids, then testing your skills in them. If you're making good time, stop for a side hike on terra firma. All the while look out for camps with great views! In this section of the river, encounter another portage. There's a double-drop waterfall here that, while enticing, would be a fool's run. Not long after the portage, arrive in the town of Sepid Dasht - where we will have lunch. If you're up to it, take a stroll through the town of about 3,000 people. The views are quite nice in town. You won't spend much time here, but it marks the transition from the upper Sezar to the lower part of the river — and you can feel good about what you've accomplished so far!

Raft the Lower Sezar

Begin your descent into the rugged reaches of the lower Sezar River. The desert canyon walls rise steeply here to slice the sky with their jagged tops. The Sezar is free flowing, and you'll be rafting it during the spring snow melt. River levels can fluctuate depending on the year's snowpack, the current air temperatures, and possibly (but less likely) due to rain. You could find yourself on some pretty big water here, or the river may allow you to relax a bit. Either way, they'll be generally less technical here and they'll be lots of fun.

Camp Layover on the Lower Sezar

If you're making good time by this point in the trip, the group may take a layover day to rest, do some hiking, read a book, or simply marvel at the canyon walls. We may be near one of a number of small, rural villages along the route, each which consist of clusters of small stone or brick houses, and are inhabited by no more than 400 people. If we're making good time, we might stop and explore these remote communities that rarely are visited by anyone.

Downstream on the Lower Sezar

It's another fun day of running white water! There are rapids every day on the Sezar, but with river levels fluctuating who knows exactly what is in store today. The excitement of an "exploratory" trip is that the day's adventure always comes with a bit of the unknown.

Reach Confluence with Bakhtiari River

The canyon continues to be a scenic marvel, and the Sezar picks up a lot of volume where it meets the Bakhtiari. The Bakhtiari River is actually the bigger of the two — and it demands respect. It has been kayaked but never rafted, and unfortunately MT Sobek has missed the opportunity for being the first to run it, as they're building a hydroelectric dam a few miles upstream. The 1,000-foot-high structure will be the second-highest dam in the world. The Sezar has not yet been similarly impacted, so now is a good time to go!

Hike & Raft the Lower Sezar

There should be some opportunities to hike in this lower section today. And depending on your progress, you'll reach what should be your final portage of the trip. And of course, you'll keep running more rapids too!

Approach Tele Zang

We are nearing the end of our journey, and today is your final full day on the Sezar. After a great last day, we'll camp just upstream of the Tele Zang train stop for one last night on the river with the group. Share tales of your adventure around the camp fire!

Arrive at Tele Zang, Transfer to Shustar

Rise early, enjoy one last morning on the river, and then float down to Tele Zang. Here you load the equipment and yourself onto a train that will take you to Andimeshk, where you transfer to vehicles and drive to historic Shustar. Shustar is a pleasant city and serves well as your reintroduction to civilization. It is home to a collection of water mills dating from the fifth century BC. Today the mills are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy a festive farewell dinner with the group tonight.

Fly to Tehran & Homeward

After a leisurely breakfast, visit the historic Shustar water mills. We'll have lunch afterward, then transfer to the airport in Ahvaz and take a short afternoon flight to Tehran. Bid farewell to the group here and begin your journey home.

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Starting From


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17 Days


Tehran, Iran


Tehran, Iran

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