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Feb 23rd, 2004, 10:03 AM
  #1
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Attention: Welltraveledbrit

Welltraveledbrit,

Would you be so kind as to share with Scared To Death your experience at the Sausage Tree Camp? She knows what she is getting in South Luangwa but the Lower Zambezi will be a new experience for her.

I seem to remember that you stated that you had a fabulous time in the Lower Zambezi. Although we are not at the Sausage Tree Camp, we will be staying at Star Of Africa's Kulefu Tented Camp.

Thanks!
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Feb 23rd, 2004, 01:25 PM
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Dear Scared to Death,

We really liked the Lower Zambezi area.

We stayed at Sausage Tree which was gorgeous...the camp...sorry it's the only one I know about...was situated overlooking the Zambezi river which is spectacular and and obvious attraction for game. I know Rocco has posted on the diversity of possibilities in certain camps and we enjoyed the range at Sausage Tree.

I have NO interest in fishing but the first night there the manager of the camp insited we go out with him. He was so right...the water in very calm and calling it fishing could be an exageration...he dealt with baiting the line and any other "dirty work".

I cast the line out and everytime I seemed to catch a high tiger fish! They're extradinary with large teeth but be assured the guide dealt with all the pulling off the fish and throwing it back in! While of course I received all the credit!

The best part of the fishing was the wonderful sunset across the water and the great G&T sundowners that aided our appreciation of everything! Although I have to add that it didn't hur that I caught one fish after another and my husband caught nothing!

The camp wasn't fenced in so they organized an armed guard to walk us from the tent to the dining area every night. At first I thought it was an exageration of the danger until I saw the Buffalo and then a pride of lions and a Leopard came through the camp one night!

We found the game interesting and the area very attractive. We found it much greener than Luangwa. They were very helpful and arranged for us to have a private meal outside our tent one evening which was magical with the view out over the river. I recommend requesting a private meal in each camp as they'll try to do something special for you and I find all of the shared meals a bit much after a while.

We didn't do any canoeing on this trip but I have done a canoe safari on the Zambezi and it is fabulous to glide along past the hippos and elephants etc. The only thing is that IMHO the delicate manoevering of a two person canoe can practically end in divorce (if not just a hellish argument)and so I recommend travelling in a canoe with the guide and not Roccco!

The best thing about canoeing is that the person in the back does all the work so you can sit up front and look like you're doing something while just gliding along!

One of the thing we liked about Sausage Tree and I'm not sure how true this is on the Lower Zambezi in general is that it was much less busy than many of the other areas I've visited which meant that we were on our own in the vehicle each day which makes for a great experience. It meant we had a much more relaxing time because we weren't getting up ridiculously early but left when we felt like it.

I think part of what can make for a great safari is asking for what you'd like...for example when we went to Luangwa I mentioned that I didn't like the format of breakfast at the break of dawn (I'm not interested in eating that early) and then nothing till lunch...first they offered me a small breakfast after the moring game drive but one moring they organized a brunch out in the bush for everyone which was wonderful. Perhaps they would have done it anyway but I appreciated it enormously and it was very memorable.

I hope you have a great time...in fact I'm hoping you make it to Iran soon as my husband and I loved our trip there last summer!

Hope this helps!
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Feb 23rd, 2004, 04:04 PM
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Thanks Welltraveledbrit! I will pass it along.

I did get news back from Kulefu in Lower Zambezi that a Cessna Grand Caravan (12 seater) will be used for the air transfer. The road/speedboat transfer to Kulefu was just not a viable option, as Kulefu is nicknamed "That Faraway Place" and is about an hour further away than most of the other places in the Lower Zambezi, making such a transfer about 6 hours and, thus, requiring an overnight in Lusaka...ummm, no thanks, although I was jealous of the people at the airport that had arrived with Subway Sandwiches firmly in hand, this after I had Kafunta's subsistence....errr, I mean food, for a week (their ONLY downside, as nearly everything else was perfect).

Personally, although I don't fish, I cannot wait to get out there and do some fishing on the Zambezi River (which reminds me that I had some very uncomfortably close encounters with hippos last night in my dreams!). The Zambezi River is magical and I can hardly wait to return, although my last trip was not to the Lower Zambezi National Park but to Matetsi near Victoria Falls. I much prefer the isolation that I hope Kulefu will offer.

Thanks again.
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Feb 23rd, 2004, 04:44 PM
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Roccco,
I'm not sure if Scardetodeath will want to hear this or if I'm remembering the name correctly but we flew into the airstrip near Sausage Tree, I think it was called Jeki, on a tiny plane, on which we were the only passengers, from Vic Falls.

The airstrip was nothing more than a clearing in the middle of the bush...when we looked down from the plane we could see nothing there, although there was a landrover parked in the shade to pick us up!

It really was incredible nothing like the small airport for Luangwa which looked like JFK by comparison!

Incidentally we bought a beautiful Zambian wedding basket at the Luangwa airport shop for about $20. My husband wasn't too pleased as it was bulky and he had to lug it through Malawi and Tanzania! However, it's gorgeous and I saw one the other day in a great local design shop for over $300!
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Feb 23rd, 2004, 05:33 PM
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WTB,

Not to worry...that airstrip doesn't sound nearly as bad as the one that we had to land on at Leopard Hills on the way to Singita in order to drop off a couple passengers.

At Leopard Hills, you literally head straight for this hill that it appears you will crash head-on with, only for the pilot to find the very top of the hill, where a rocky dirt runway appears and the plane lands on the hill right where the hill makes its descent.

Jeki should be a walk in the park next to Leopard Hills airstrip.

Oh, and if there is anyway you could delete the part about the bulky basket that gained 1000% in value, I would really appreciate it!

On my honeymoon, I had to carry about four boxes weighing a combined 30 pounds full of nuts, teas, spices, etc., from Istanbul, and of course, Istanbul was the BEGINNING of the trip.

On our first visit to South Africa in 2002, Scared To Death insisted on buying these King Proteas at the BEGINNING of our trip, and I hauled around these boxed flowers all through Cape Town, Sabi Sand, Victoria Falls and finally Johannesburg. It was about two weeks of carrying these flowers around and we finally got them all the way home, only to forget the flowers in the taxi on the way home and never seeing them again!

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Feb 24th, 2004, 02:31 AM
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Rocco I don't know if you'll be able to track down a copy but I recently watched on TV a number of episodes of a series called "On The Loose In Wildest Africa". Each episode features one camp in Africa and an episode I watched is based at Sausage Tree Camp.
It might be nice to watch this if you are able to obtain a copy.
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Feb 24th, 2004, 05:23 AM
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Kavey,

That looks like a great show, featuring a variety of lodges:

http://library.digiguide.com/lib/episodes/44068

Here is a list of locations they have featured:

No episode number - Madikwe River Lodge (Part 1 of 2)
No episode number - Lugana Cabin
No episode number - Xugana
No episode number - Garonga Safari Lodge
No episode number - Pungwe
No episode number - Ndzalama
No episode number - Simbambili
No episode number - Simbambili (Part 2 of 2)
No episode number - Selati Lodge
No episode number - Ulusaba
No episode number - Madikwe River Lodge
No episode number - Ndzalama Wildlife Reserve
No episode number - Sausage Tree Camp (Part 2 of 2)
No episode number - Sausage Tree Camp
No episode number - Benguerra Island Lodge
No episode number - Tena Tena Camp
No episode number - Kwando
No episode number - Umlani
No episode number - Garonga Safari Lodge (Part 1 of 2)
No episode number - Madikwe River Lodge (Part 2 of 2)
No episode number - Pungwe Safari Lodge
No episode number - Selati Lodge (Part 2 of 2)

I am not sure or not if the above episodes are available for viewing on DigiGuide or not, which requires buying and downloading the DigiGuide software? I will ask, because I would love to see each of these places featured.

Thanks for the tip.
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Feb 24th, 2004, 05:31 AM
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That settles it...I am ordering TiVo today, so that I don't miss these shows anymore, instead subjecting myself to useless garbage like My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance.

Haven't been able to track down yet how to see these great shows.
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Feb 24th, 2004, 05:44 AM
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You're welcome and sorry you haven't tracked down how to see the shows yet. There are other series that feature one camp a time too...

I have a PVR (I think that's what they are called generically) through SKY which is our digital TV service - the Tivo equivalent is called Sky+ and I have recorded soooo many wonderful travel shows plus wildlife documentaries since we got it in September last year.
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Feb 24th, 2004, 06:18 AM
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Here are the high season rates, as provided by Siyabona Africa, Southern Africa Places, African Odysseys and others for these lodges, exchange rates for USD are used whenever priced in Rand, courtesy of www.xe.com:

$518 USD pppns - Madikwe River Lodge - Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

??? - Lugana Cabin - Not Found

$530 USD pppns - Xugana Island Lodge - Okavango Delta

$396 USD pppns - Garonga Safari Lodge - Makalali Game Reserve, South Africa

$206 USD pppns - Pungwe Bush Camp - Manyeleti Game Reserve, South Africa

$37 USD pppns (bed and breakfast only, no game activities or full board found) - Ndzalama Game Lodge - Ndzalama Reserve, South Africa

$580 USD pppns - Simbambili Game Lodge - Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa

$534 USD pppns - Ulusaba Safari Lodge - Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa

$395 USD pppns - Sausage Tree Camp, Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

The remaining camps to follow later:

- Benguerra Island Lodge

- Tena Tena Camp

- Kwando

- Umlani

- Garonga Safari Lodge

- Pungwe Safari Lodge

- Selati Lodge

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Feb 24th, 2004, 01:55 PM
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Rocccon - You listing of prices for high season is most interesting, but two of them caught my eye as being low, namely:

>>>>$580 USD pppns - Simbambili Game Lodge - Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa<<<<

From www.e-gnu.com - Simbabili has rates depending on time of year $450 to $591/pppn - but only with a "minimum of 3-nts"

>>>$534 USD pppns - Ulusaba Safari Lodge - Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa<<<

Also from e-gnu - Ulusaba has two camps, with Safari Lodge being the less expensive with prices $545, $779, $884/pppn depending on type of room - but with "minimum of 3-nts"

And Ulusaba Rock Lodge with the prettiest view of all camps runs $545, $739, $1012pppn - again with a "minimum of 3nts"

So one has to wonder how much more per nite if staying only 2-nts.

FYI - Singita is running $1045/pppn (also for 3-nts minimum) - but we've been there, done that, and thankfully for a whole lot less.

It's interesting that Botswana used to be the expensive destination, but with the USD in free-fall, Botswana looks better every day, as does your Zambia and even more so Kenya and Tanzania.




 
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Feb 24th, 2004, 02:13 PM
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Sandi,

I agree that South Africa is pricing themselves out of the market. One very recent email from the actual owner of a great South African tour operator website said that most Americans right now are just finding that the prices are too steep, with the dollars weakening to the Rand and didn't blame me for instead choosing Zambia.

For an average lodge in the Sabi Sand, one may expect to pay upwards of $500 USD per person per night sharing right now. Even, perhaps the finest camp in Tanzania, Kirawira Luxury Tented Camp, can be had for about $350 per person per night sharing and the finest lodges in Zambia, such as Chichele Presidential Lodge (South Luangwa) and Sausage Tree Camp (Lower Zambezi N.P.) are only $400 USD per person and probably offer a lot more interesting landscapes than those found in the Sabi Sand. Plus, for the Zambian lodges, alcoholic beverages and transfers from the airstrips are usually included.

I was surprised that after the Rand gained so much against the USD that the South African lodges did not make an adjustment in their tariffs. Perhaps they get all the business they can handle from Europeans and wealthy Americans and do not need the business?
I am not even spending a single night in South Africa this year and why would I when I can spend the night at a great place like Chichele Presidential Lodge for the same price as a 5* HOTEL in Joburg or Cape Town?
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Feb 24th, 2004, 02:27 PM
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--To clarify, I am staying at the Chichele Presidential Lodge, as well as the other Star of Africa Lodges, Puku Ridge and Kulefu Tented Camp for $200 USD pppns, all part of their "Predator" promotion to "predatory" bargain hunters. I don't even know how far $200 USD pppns would go at the Cape Grace or Table Bay Hotel...perhaps a standard room on the 2nd floor over the ballroom (noise) with no view???
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Feb 24th, 2004, 02:40 PM
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And the answer is, courtesy of Travelocity.com, for a standard room is $477 per room. Unfortunately, airport transfers, full board, alcoholic beverages, game drives, canoeing, bush walks, fishing excursions and sundowner cruises are all excluded from the price, unlike in Zambia!
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Feb 28th, 2004, 04:24 AM
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Welltraveledbrit,

I am really starting to consider Iran as an alternative to India early next year, especially if I choose the Dubai Marathon on January 07th (2005) or even the Dead Sea Marathon, near Amman, Jordan, in April (2005).

Can you briefly tell me about your trip (duration, tour company, highlights, quality of accomodations, safety issues, shopping--especially availability of silk rugs and other things that would cost a fortune here).

As I may have mentioned earlier, my in-laws are originally from Iran (Assyrians from Iran), and I think it would be a wonderful opportunity to visit Iran with them in tow, before they are too old (they are still relatively young at 62 and 52?). India can always wait for another year but who knows if Iran will be safe for travel a couple years from now. With Iraq out of the picture, I imagine that some other Middle East nation will be next on the list to boost George Dubya's, or possibly even John Kerry's approval rating.

I would like to spend four nights in Dubai and then take the very short and inexpensive flight to Tehran or Shiraz.

I imagine that if I went to Jordan, that I may stay for a little longer, since there is more to see than in Dubai, but I would limit it to one week, so that I would have two full weeks in Iran.

The maximum time for my trip is three weeks, but if I could force it in within two weeks (4 nights in Dubai, 8-9 nights in Iran) that would be perfect and would allow me to sneak in a two weeker to Africa later on in the year.

Thanks.
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Feb 28th, 2004, 10:51 AM
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Dear Roccco,
Iran is incredible we had a fantastic time...here's a link to my original trip report which I know you saw at the time...but for some reason it doesn't come up when you search for Iran and I had to just go through my old posts.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...eledbrit&fid=1

Rather like your strategy for pricing safaris we went with a local operator. The thing that is crazy is that most of the US based trips are $2-3,000...by going with a local operator we paid $1,100 pp for a 14 day tour for two with a private guide and car, all food, airline tickets within Iran and hotels 3/4 star...CRAZY!

The thing is that the Iranian travel agents are the ones arranging the expensive American trips . It's far better to just contact them directly and arrange a private tour.

Before we left my husband said, "no carpets" and we brought back four! A friend of a freind who is very wealthy and had been in Iran on a charity mission recommened a carpet shop in Isfahan... (they bought a number of silk carpets )The shop was the only place that took Visa (through an account in Dubai)and they had incredible carpets. We saw an almost square antique silk carpet that was the most beautiful carpet I have ever seen.

The prices were amazing...in some shops they'd let you put down 30% in cash...take the carpet home and then send them the money! That's how incredible the country is!!! They just kept telling us we know you'll send the money! We bought three Iranian "tribal rugs" gorgeous in wool probably 5 by 8 for $900 which is less than you would pay for one in the US.

They have two locations, one in the main bazaar and one upstairs in the shopping center opposite the entrance to the Abbassi hotel funny thing is that the guy who runs the carpet shop is called something like "Cheats Us" I think it's spelt Chezzai.

I highly recommend the tour company www.irangashttour.com and their guide Mr. Abbass nejer who was an airforce pilot during the Shah's period who trained in Texas with the US airforce in the 1960's. He was so interested and engaged in Iranian history and a true gentleman.

The tour company was fabulous although I would recommend building in time on your own into the itinerary because Iranians are so hospitable that if it's in the itinerary they want to make sure you see it. Hotels are fine but not of US standards..no pools obviously. All of the ones we stayed in were good although the one in Kerman was a little run down. The hotels in Isfahan/Shiraz and Yadz were all brand new.

One thing that we appreciated about this tour company and guide was that they really tried to take us out and about to eat. Although Iranian food is fabulous most of the restaurants are Kebab, kebab, kebab! They really tried to take us out to different places and to vary the diet which matters when you're on a tour for 2 weeks.

I cannot recommend the tour company highly enough...they really cared about us enjoying our time in Iran and appreciating the culture of the country. We did contact a number of different agencies including some higher end ones but Gashttour offered the most competitive price and the most responsive email experience...I'm sure you know what I mean. They seemed the most flexible.

Oh before I forget if you go you must vist the Jewellery Museum which is fantastic...I've never seen such incredble peices! Literally unbelievable. The Reza Abassi Museum in Tehran was the most intersting to us...a small more intimate and better collection than the national museum.

We went through so many different itineraries planning this but this one was close the closest I could find to the final version:

Day 1 (July 17) : Tehran- Afternoon Arrive Tehran Airport after meet and great by Gashttour representative transfer to hotel , Jewellery Museum, and National Museum. In the evening Visit of Tehran parks O/N Hotel ferdosi

Day 2 (July 18)

Tehran- Esfahan Morning, after breakfast, we go a city tour and visit the Archaeological & Islamic Art Museums the finest museum in Iran, which exhibits the artifacts collected from the major archaeological sites in Iran from 7 thousands years ago. Carpet museum or contemporary art museum. Transfer to the airport for evening flight to Esfahan, meet and greet in Esfahan airport. O/N Esfahan Mallal Hotel



Day 3 (July 19): Full day city tour Imam Square, a jewel of Persian architecture which includes the Alighapou Palace, Imam& Sheikh Lutfullah Mosques, handicraft factories and Esfahan bazaar with its traditional arcades. In the evening visit the most beautiful and famous Esfahan bridges along the Zayandeh Rud River and acquaintance with ordinary people of Esfahan O/N Esfahan Mallal Hotel



Day 4: (July 20): EsfahanVisit of Shaking Minarets. Jamee Mosque, Madresah Chahar Bagh, Chehel sooton Palace and Vank Cherche. Afternoon or possible day at leisure. O/N Esfahan Mallal Hotel



Day 5-6-7 (July 21-23): Esfahan -Shahr -e-Kurd Morning drive to toward Yasuj, This is a very nice Mountainous road ( About 6 hours ) en route you can visit Boyer Ahmad nomads continue toward Shiraz for two nights in camp beside nomads black tents O/N Camp in yasuj province

Day 8 (July 24): Shiraz
After breakfast drive to Shiraz transfer to hotel then half day city tour taking in Erma and Narenjestan Garden, Nasir -ol - Molk Mosque, Khan Theological School, Hafez and Saadi Tomb, and Vakil Bazaar. Night dinner and live music in Vail restaurant (The famous vakil Bath). O/N Shiraz Aryo hotel

Day 9 (July 25): Shiraz-Persepolis-Naghshrostam

After breakfast towards the huge Archaeological these sites belong to two thousand five hundred years ago the manifest of glorified Achaemenid Empire the sole palace in that time which was build by free workmen and artist not by slaves, O/N Shiraz Aryo hotel

Day 10 (July 26) Day at leisure. At night visit an Iranian family home, acquaintance with Iranian home tradition O/N Shiraz Aryo hotel

Day 11(July 27) : Shiraz - Kerman
Early morning, drive toward Kerman by modern vehicle with AC en route visit several small towns and village ,fig fields ,nearly 8 hours , afternoon half day city tour , visit of Ganj - Ali Khan complex including the bath, teahouse , jalyyeh Dome, O/N Kerman Hezar Hotel

Day 12 (July 28): Kerman Bam - Mahan - Kerman
Full day Excursion to visit the terrific citadel of Bam as well as the magnificent Mausoleum of Shah Nematollah - e - Valli and the lovely Shahzadeh (Prince) Garden in Mahan return to Kerman, O/N Kerman Hezar hotel

Day 13 (July29) : Kerman ?Yazd Morning visit of Kerman Bazaar then move toward Yazd nearly 4 hours after a little rest in hotel then visit Yazd Bazar, teahouse ordinary people (possible afternoon at leisure) O/N Yazd Azadi Hotel

Day 14 (July30) : Yazd Visit of historical monuments with unique architecture for this typical desert city with high wind towers (bed- girs), the great & beautiful Jame Mosque & Mir Chakhmaq Mosques & Dowlat Abad Garden, Zorostarian Fire temple. O/N Yazd Azadi Hotel

Day 15 (July31) Yazd ?Tehran
Morning flight to Tehran. Visit of Golestan Palace, Museum of Archeology (from 7 thousands years ago), Carpets museum, and evening transfer for your international flight

Total cost: $1174pp

I definately think you could see alot of Iran in 8/9 days ...Isfahan is a must and we loved Shiraz because of Perspolis because we enjoy architecture/ruins etc...I wouldn't recommend too much time in Tehran unless visiting friends and family it a VERY polluted city but we did enjoy visiting the museums and getting a quick sense for the place. By the end of the two weeks I REALLY wanted a glass of wine with dinner!

Anyway I hope this helps!

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Feb 28th, 2004, 03:46 PM
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Welltraveledbrit,

Thanks for the amazing report! With those prices, I think that Iran may be the way to go if I am springing for another couple. I will definitely be contacting Gashttour and when I get fair prices like I did in Chile and like I have received so far for India, I don't haggle. With Chile I only compared two agents, I believe...a local tour operator (but probably one of the biggest in Chile) and an operator from the USA. With India, the prices are so close together from the local operators, that I intend to go with the most responsive one.

I think it would be so cool to spend time in Iran, as who knows if I will have the opportunity to do so again with my in-laws...all depends on the way the political winds blow. One thing I do know is that I doubt that I will have any problems whatsoever with food (although I will miss not having a nice bottle of wine). I absolutely love Persian food and think that I better make it mandatory that I run a marathon before I go, as, otherwise, I can see myself gaining five pounds in a hurry with the saffron Basmati rice, kebabs, and all the other goodies.

After I really did some research last night, Iran seemed every bit as exotic as India with an equally compelling history. Plus, for combining it with another destination, it works out a lot better, as I really would like to see Dubai, although I am concerned about how cold it may be in certain parts of Iran in January (but its not like I'm going to be riding around on a 4 hour drive in a convertible Range Rover).

From Dubai, Tehran is only a 2.5 hour direct flight and Shiraz is even closer.

Thanks again. (Can't wait to hear the ignorant remarks from my intolerant American counterparts on this one).
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