IRAN – Beware of travel with Arian Tours !!
We are a couple +/-60 and booked for October 2016 an individual 22-days tour through Iran with the Teheran tour operator "Arian Tours". The package included car, driver, guide, hotels. We have agreed in written to get one single guide for whole the tour. The problems with Arian Tours started on arrival when we stated that the leg space in the car was much too small - although I have warned them that I am 1,96 m tall and they have promised a spacious car. After protests Arian Tours tinkered at the seats and we got some more space.
But the most serious problem was the travel guide. He never before has been in the majority of the cities/landscapes we have visited and did not know the sightseeing spots personally. Therefore he had to permanently stop the car and ask people on the road for the way. Neither driver nor guide had maps, but helped themselves with "google maps" on the mobile phone. Problem for them was that they could not "read" google maps and therefore we frequently went into wrong directions and lost a lot of time. In addition our guide had no idea how to use a day, there was no time planning, on the contrary, he started into the day, idled away, lost time, and in afternoon got into stress in order to reach in time the next overnight stay. Most unpleasantly our guide has not prepared lunch stops, did not know where to stop for lunch, did not know where to find a restaurant. We frequently had to fight for a lunch stop and for getting something to eat - and finally got it at 3.30 p.m.
After more than a week of patiently and unsuccessfully trying to "train" our unprofessional guide we gave up and after dozens of cumbersome emails and telephone calls we got another guide. Whereas the first guide at least told us little bits of information at the different sightseeing sites, the new guide did not do that at all. He said to us that we know in anyway more by our own books than he knows himself and we therefore wouldn’t need his explanations. Instead he permanently phoned with his mobile phone. When we complained he said that he has two other jobs and he therefore needs to stay in contact with his companies while on tour with us!
After three days we convinced Arian Tours that also the second guide was insufficient and therefore got a third guide. That one definitely was very polite and helpful, BUT – he hardly spoke or understood English! Otherwise he was as unprofessional as the two predecessors: No knowledge of the cities and places, no sense of orientation, no maps and map reading capacities,… he also did not explain us something about the sites visited - bluntly excusing himself with the story that he is no travel guide but a nurse (!) and just wanted to help out Arian Tours because they were in need of a travel guide!
In sum; Three unprofessional guides instead of one professional; 22 days of many disputes and discussions with them about our daily travel itinerary (although it was agreed in advance!) and planning; hours of driving in wrong directions; late or no lunch breaks…..AWFUL! AVOID ARIAN TOURS!!