16 Days & 15 Nights
Old Baku – Castle Synyk Gala, Caravan Saray, Juma Mosque; historical-art reserve “Gobustan” X-XIII millennial BC, Temple of Zoroastrians – “Atashgah”, Metekhi Church (12 – 13th centuries); district sulfur baths, Sioni Cathedral (7 th – 19 – cm) Narikala Fortress (4th c); Anchishati basilica and bell tower (6th – 18th centuries); Holy Trinity Cathedral – 2004; city Sighnaghi Royal; Sighnaghi Ethnographic Museum; Bodbe monastery complex; Mtskheta (UNESCO site); Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (UNESCO site); Gonio Fortress (3rd century BC), Batumi Botanical Garden, the Archaeological Museum, the Nobel Museum;
Archeological evidence suggests that the area of South Caucasus is one of the oldest sites of human presence, dating back as far as 3 000 000 years. The gigantic isthmus of the Caucasus lies between the Black and Caspian Seas, serving as a crossroad of Europe and Asia for thousands of years. The countries of South Caucasus – Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan – are distinguished by their distinct histories, language traditions, religions, cultures and natural surroundings. The interdependence was caused by cultural and political connections as the countries developed throughout the centuries.
While exploring the South Caucasus countries you will discover a fascinating cross-roads culture that has integrated both Europe and Asia. You will visit World Heritage Monasteries, unique painted churches, cave towns, stunning gorges and valleys, ethnographical and historical museums, art galleries and more…
DAY 1.Arrival in Baku
Meeting in airport. Transfer to the hotel. Overnight in Baku.
Tour to Gobustan Excursion on historical art reserve “Gobustan”, where rock frescoes have remained unscathed along with barrows and housing objects dated from X-XIII millennial BC to the middle Ages. Start exploring Baku. The panorama of the city may be contemplated from the television tower. . The city is shaped like an amphitheater, descending down to the Caspian Sea. Tour covers the central part of the city showing the most interesting historical and architectural sites. Overnight in Baku.
After breakfast drive to Shamakhy district. Visit the town of Shemakha, Diri Baba Tomb and YeddiGumbez. Shemakha was the capital of Shirvan Kingdom for several centuries. We then drive to village Kish to visit the Albanian church. Overnight in Sheki.
Sheki is one of the most famous and ancient places of Azerbaijan. Situated 700 m (2297 ft.) above sea level like an amphitheater surrounded by the mountains and forests of oak trees, this ancient city was long famed as a silk centre and an important stop on the Great Silk Route. Then continue to drive to Azerbaijan- Georgia border in Lagodekhi. Border formalities, transport and guide change. Lunch at a local farmhouse. We continue our tour by visiting Gremi, a 16th century architectural complex in the morning and then we go on to Nekresi monastery. We proceed to the winery to taste some of our European style Georgian wines.
Drive to Tbilisi, check-in, dinner at the local restaurant.
DAY 5.TBILISI - YEREVAN
After a breakfast we go to the border, where you change the transport and guide. After meeting with the Armenian guide you move forward to Yerevan – the hospitable capital of Armenia. Check-in, rest. Welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
DAY 6.YEREVAN CITY TOUR-ETCHMIADZIN (UNESCO) - ZVARTNOTS (UNESCO)-YEREVAN
Start discovering Armenia by a visit to the State History Museum where you get familiar with a complete picture of the Armenian culture and history dating back to 1 million years ago up to nowadays. Then go sightseeing in one of the world’s oldest cities – 2796-year-old Yerevan. Open-air lunch at one of restaurants located just in Hrazdan River gorge.
Then you move forward to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin – the spiritual centre of the Armenian Apostolic Church. On the way back to Yerevan you stop at the ruins of the Zvartnots Temple. You’re in Yerevan again. We dine and spend the evening at one of open-air cafes.
DAY 7.YEREVAN-GEGHARD (UNESCO)-GARNI-YEREVAN
In the morning the coach takes you to Geghard Monastic Complex located on the mountainside of the almost closed amphitheater of harsh cliffs. On the way you stop at Charents Arch to enjoy the majestic view of the Biblical Mount Ararat. The next highlight is the only standing pagan temple in Armenia – Garni. In Garni village – you can take part in a real ritual of baking national “lavash” bread with local villagers. Enjoy the open-air lunch. Return to Yerevan. Spice this day with an excursion and tasting in Yerevan Brandy Factory. Dinner at a local restaurant.
DAY 8.YEREVAN-LAKE SEVAN-HAGHPAT (UNESCO)-TBILISI
We drive to one of the highest fresh-water lakes in the world – the Sevan (1 900m). From the top of Sevan Peninsula you can admire the full view of the lake and the adjacent mountain chains. Driving through wooded mountains of Dilijan National Park and deep gorges of Northern regions you stop in mountainous Haghpat village to see the monastic complex. Say goodbye to Armenia and continue your route to travel within Georgia. After meeting with the Georgian guide you move forward to Tbilisi. Check-in. Rest. Welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
DAY 9.TBILISI SIGHTSEEING TOUR
Tbilisi sightseeing tour – the Old Town and the New City. We begin our tour at the compact area of Old Tbilisi. Starting at the church of Metekhi, we walk to the brick domes of sulfur baths and then on to Narikala fortress – overlooking Mtkvari river gorge. After that we visit the synagogue, and the Sioni and Anchiskhati churches, which mark the end of the Old Town. After we visit the treasury of the National Museum of Georgia, walking along Rustaveli Avenue – the main street in Tbilisi and visit the treasury of the Georgian Museum of Fine Arts. Visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the third biggest Orthodox Church in the world. Dinner in the local restaurant, tasting Georgian dishes and wine. Spend the night in Tbilisi.
After breakfast in the hotel, we visit the ancient capital– Mtskheta and see its historical sites: Jvari monastery (6th century) and Svetitskhoveli cathedral (11th century). Both are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Then we drive north towards the Northern Caucasus along the well-known Georgian Military Road. On the way we visit Ananuri – a 17th century complex. An exciting drive from Gudauri along the Terek River will take us to Kazbegi – the main town in the region. From Kazbegi, drive with 4 WD vehicles to Gergeti Trinity church located at 2170m. In good weather you can see one of the highest glaciers in the Caucasus – the mountain Kazbegi (5047m). We go back to Tbilisi. Dinner at a local restaurant. Spend the night in Tbilisi.
DAY 11.TBILISI-GORI-BORJOMI-AKHALTSIKHE-ABASTUMANI - AKHALTSIKHE / OVERNIGHT AKHALTSIKHE
After a breakfast at hotel, you will drive to Akhaltsikhe (approximately 3 hrs.). On the way to Akhaltsikhe, we may stop at Uplistsikhe, a cave town-fortress, or Stalin’s museum in Gori. Lunch will be provided in Gori or Borjomi. Check-in at Akhaltsikhe hotel. Afterwards, a tour to the 13th century Rabat Fortress that is a mix of different religions and architecture. In the evening, a dinner will be provided at the hotel (We will also have the option to visit the Abastumani Astrophysical Observatory).
DAY 12AKHALTSIKHE-KHERTVISI-VARDZIA - KUTAISI
After a breakfast at the hotel, a tour to the 2nd century B.C. Khertvisi Fortress and a cave monastery Vardzia, the caves of which stretch along the cliff for some five hundred meters and in up to nineteen tiers. Lunch will be provided at one of Vardzia’s guesthouses. After lunch we go from Meskheti to Kutaisi (second largest city of Georgia in the western part of the country), where we visit the Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites). We have supper comprising of traditional local dishes. Spend the night in Tskaltubo (nearby resort), at the hotel “Tskaltubo Plaza”.
After breakfast, we visit the Prometheus Cave and then have lunch in Kutaisi. Afterwards, we head to Mestia, a town in Svaneti, another mountainous region of northern Georgia, renowned for its natural beauty, local traditions and culture. We have supper night and spend the night at the hotel.
Tour of Mestia, Take 4×4 cars and trip to Ushguli village (2350m), located at the foot of Mt. Shkhara (5200m) the highest summit of Europe. Spend the night at the hotel in Mestia.
We travel from Mestia to the seaside city of Batumi in the extreme southwest of Georgia. After we tour the city, we have supper and then spend the night at the hotel.