Best of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan - Private Tour

Caucasus Mountains
Bridge of Peace Tblisi
Georgian cuisine
Gremi Fortress
Prometheus grotto
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  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • What's Included
  • Dates
  • Explore!

Take a private guided trip travelling through the Caucasus region and discover the diversity of a land straddling two continents. Explore lively cities, discover ancient cultures, walk through spectacular mountain scenery and indulge in hearty local cuisine on this journey through the ages.

Highlights
  • Azerbaijan - Discover the contrasts of Baku, where old meets new in spectacular fashion.
  • Armenia - Wander through ancient monasteries and stay in the shadow of Mount Ararat
  • Georgia - Explore medieval Tblisi and sample wine in Kakheti
Destinations
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Europe
  • Europe
  • Europe
  • Central Asia
  • Central Asia
Tour Types
  • Art
  • Private
  • 50 plus
  • Couples
  • Singles

Location: Yerevan

Arrive in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Tree-lined streets encase both grand soviet-era architecture and traditional Armenian coloured stone buildings; all set to the dramatic backdrop of the fabled Mount Ararat. You will be met on arrival at Zvartnots International Airport (EVN) by a local guide, and driven to your centrally-located hotel, approximately a 20 minute drive away. There are no activities planned today, so feel free to arrive in Yerevan at any time. For those booking their own flights, you will just need to let us know your flight details no later than three weeks prior to departure, in order to be met on arrival. Flights from the UK tend to arrive very late, around midnight, and details will be given to you on arrival about your meeting time for tomorrow. You may wish to consider booking an additional night in Yerevan. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to witness Mother Armenia; the female personification of Armenia located in Victory Park.

Accommodation: ,Minotel Barsam Suites

Meals: ,No Meals,

You will have the same guide throughout your trip in Armenia, and if you arrived late last night they will go through the itinerary with you this morning. Today, head first out of the city to visit the archaeological site of the 7th century ruins of the UNESCO-listed Zvartnots, its remaining columns set against a magnificent backdrop of the snowy peaks of Mount Ararat. Continue on to Armenia's Holy City of Echmiadzin, the former capital, where a visit to the UNESCO-listed Echmiadzin Cathedral is in order. If your trip coincides with a Sunday, the guide will aim for you to see part of the Sunday service. Returning to Yerevan, head to the history museum for a whistlestop tour of Armenia's fascinating history and diverse cultural make-up, from the Stone Age to the present day. Continue on to see the expansive Republic Square before some time to enjoy a solo wander through the lively open air Vernisage craft market.

Accommodation: Minotel Barsam Suites

Meals: Breakfast

Leave the city behind again and drive east through small villages and a landscape of alpine meadows to out to the Hellenistic temple at Garni. This pagan monument dedicated to the worship of the sun was built in AD 77 and is an extraordinary sight to be found in Armenia, so far from the rest of the Hellenistic world. From the temple, take an easy walk down the Garni river gorge and see the striking basalt rock formations that make up the towering walls of the gorge. Continue on to the nearby UNESCO listed Geghard Monastery found in a beautiful location surrounded by mountains. Partly made up of caves and partly built from local stone, this tranquil monastery dates from the 4th century and houses two main churches and a fountain of spring water alleged to have rejuvenating properties.

Accommodation: Minotel Barsam Suites

Meals: Breakfast

Again using Yerevan as a base, head northwest and make an excursion to the imposing Amberd Fortress on the southern flank of Mount Aragats (4090 m). Its construction began in the 7th century and continued through into the 11th. The Fortress is surrounded by cliffs on three sides, which protected it for a long time until Tamerlane managed to sack it in the 14th century. Afterward drive towards Oshakan village, where you'll be invited into the home of a local family to see how they bake traditional Armenian flatbread known as 'Lovash'. Enjoy a lunch prepared with this freshly baked bread, before returning to the city. Back in Yerevan you may have time to visit the remarkable Matenadaran library, which houses over 17,000 rare manuscripts.

Accommodation: Minotel Barsam Suites

Meals: Breakfast,Lunch

Depart Yerevan today and travel south through the vast plains of Ararat to visit Khor Virap Monastery. Mount Ararat is a constant companion on the horizon and provides a spectacular backdrop to the monastery. The plains give way to undulating hills as the road starts snaking its way into the mountains. Pass through the wine-making village of Areni and stop at a local winery to taste some of the best wine in Armenia. From here the scenery becomes more mountainous, heading into a spectacular gorge where there will be a stop at the picturesque Noravank Monastery, taking pride of place in a lofty position overlooking the gorge below. Climb higher over Selim Pass (2410 m), providing wonderful views of the mountains and Alpine meadows with its many wild flowers in the spring. As Selim Pass was once part of the Silk Road you find can the remains of a caravanserai here, where travellers would find food and shelter on their journey. The road then starts a descent and once again passes through villages, where you eventually catching your first glimpse of the expansive waters of the beautiful Lake Sevan with its backdrop of mountain peaks. Located 1900 m above sea level Lake Sevan is famous for its ever changing hues, and depending on the weather the colour of the water can range from a deep steely blue to a stunning turquoise. This huge body of water is the largest lake in the Caucasus region covering an area of 940 square km, and one of the largest fresh water high altitude lakes in the world. Take the chance to walk up to Sevanavank Monastery. The hotel for the night sits on the banks of the lake itself.

Accommodation: Blue Sevan

Meals: Breakfast,Lunch,Dinner

Before arriving at the border today at Sadakhlo, make the most of your final morning in Armenia. In picturesque Dilijan town, walk through a museum street, which has preserved houses dating back to the 18th century with typical fretwork wooden balconies as well as local handicraft studios. Continue to drive by towering escarpments, you'll see some evidence of the copper mining industry of Armenia, and the final stop is at the dramatically located Monastery of Haghpat, listed by UNESCO on account of its outstanding ecclesiastical architecture. Crossing the border to Georgia in the afternoon, you'll switch vehicles and guides as the Armenian team changes for the Georgian one. Again, your Georgian guide will be with you throughout the rest of the trip. Continuing to the capital, Tbilisi, you may have time to take a stroll up to the Narikala Citadel for fine views over the city or take a relaxing sulphur bath for which Tbilisi is famous.

Accommodation: Hotel KMM

Meals: Breakfast

Leaving the capital this morning, drive to picturesque Mtskheta, the spiritual heart of Georgia. Visit the hilltop 6th century Jvari Monastery and take in spectacular views of Mtskheta and the confluence of two rivers below. Make your way down into the town and visit Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. The 11th century basilica contains the grave of Sidonia, who was said to have been buried holding Christ's robe. Driving further west, snake through the beautiful Imerti villages that dot the landscape. Stop in Merjevi to visit a traditional winery and sample some of the Georgian bio-wines that are produced here, differing greatly to the more-famous wines found in eastern Georgia. Continue through the old mining town of Chiatura where some 20 soviet cables cars are found. Remarkably, these are still active despite appearances of being abandoned several years ago. Arrive in Kutaisi, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Colchis. Kutaisi has always been an important town throughout the ages and for many years was the capital of Georgia, when the Arabs occupied Tbilisi. The period between the reigns of King Bagrat and Queen Tamar (roughly 900 - 1200) was the golden age for Kutaisi and most of the significant buildings date from this time. Now it is the main city of the Imereti region and here the people are renowned for their sense of humour and also a special kind of 'khachapuri' - the cheese bread unique to Georgia.

Accommodation: Boutique Hotel Argo

Meals: Breakfast

Set off this morning for Batumi, Georgia's attractive summer capital that sits on the shores of the Black Sea. A renovation and regeneration project carried out at the turn of the century has transformed the city's skyline, now a mix of modern skyscrapers, sculptures and hotels, contrasting against charming 19th century buildings, all set against a backdrop of the rolling mountains that surround Batumi. Start exploring in the Old Town, walking through European Square and Piazza Square, home to charming classic architecture featuring many mosaics, stained glass windows, clock towers and churches. Move onto the Batumi Botanical garden, created in 1912 to reflect vegetation found in all of earth's 9 geographic zones. Visit also the more modern seafront, where a stroll along Batumi Boulevard takes in the modern skyscrapers, dancing water fountains and the moving metal sculpture of Ali and Nino. Return back to Kutaisi in the late afternoon, a drive of approximately three hours.

Accommodation: Boutique Hotel Argo

Meals: Breakfast

Drive 10 minutes to the magnificent UNESCO listed monastery complex at Gelati, which includes an Academy that employed some of Georgia's greatest thinkers. It was founded in 1106 by King David the Builder in gratitude to God for his victories over the Turks. The King wanted it to serve as a centre of Christendom, so as well as scholars many religious artists studied here. Many of the treasures which were made here have been lost over the centuries, however the buildings and frescos inside are extremely well preserved, and the setting of the monastery on a hillside with views over to the distant Caucasus peaks is attractive. Continue the drive south, travelling via the turquoise-roofed Bagrati Cathedral and the impressive natural wonder that is Prometheus Grotto with its impressive stalactites, stalagmites and petrified waterfalls. The day's journey ends in Akhaltsikhe, a charming town which translates literally to 'new city', although ironically there isn't much that's new about this 12th century town. The skyline is dominated by the imposing Rabati castle, its old streets are home to a large Armenian population, and the forests just outside the town hide the beautiful 10th century Saphara Monastery. There is some free time late this afternoon to explore Akhaltsikhe.

Accommodation: Lomsia Hotel

Meals: Breakfast

Today's destination is one of Georgia's most significant sites, the cave town of Vardzia. Bigger and more dramatic than Uplitsikhe, Vardia is cut into a towering cliff and is in a remote location reached by a drive through a beautiful rolling landscape. Established by King Giorgi III in the 12th century as a stronghold against the Turkish Sultanate (the Turkish border is only 10km away). Vardzia was subsequently developed by his daughter, Tamar (later to become Queen Tamar), who created a cave monastery that became a centre of Georgian culture. This network of caves above the Mtkvari (Kura) river once numbered 3000, with up to 19 tiers in some places. Much of it was destroyed after a huge earthquake in 1456 and only 550 caves have been since discovered. There are numerous churches, meeting halls, refectories and wine cellars, all interconnected by tunnels and stairways. You'll have time to explore and navigate your way around this fascinating place before returning to Akhaltsikhe via the UNESCO Alaverdi Cathedral, an 11th century Georgian Orthodox monastery. Once Georgia's highest at around 50 m, it dominates the surrounding countryside; however it was superseded in 2004 by Sameba, Tbilisi's Holy Trinity Cathedral, which stands at a magnificent 100 m. .

Accommodation: Lomsia Hotel

Meals: Breakfast,Lunch

Set off for Borjomi, travelling through the majestic forests of the Borjormi Gorge and stopping to sample the sulphurous water there. Continue the journey, stopping at the very Soviet style town of Gori, where Georgia's most famous son, Stalin, was born. Visit the museum and learn about his life. Interestingly he initially began training as a priest in the Georgian Seminary, before abandoning religion to become a brigand and join the new Bolshevik movement. It has been suggested too that Georgia escaped the worst horrors of Stalin's regime because he was afraid of his conservative Christian mother! En route, pay a visit to the Ananuri Fortress overlooking a reservoir on the Aragvi River and continue to head north into the mountains. The scenery becomes more dramatic as the route ascends along the Georgian Military Highway into the mountains of the Greater Caucasus, to Gudauri (2196 m), a winter ski resort overlooking an epic gorge.

Accommodation: Hotel Gudauri Hut

Meals: Breakfast,Dinner

North of Gudauri, the Kazbegi region is a picturesque area, with alpine meadows and towering snow-capped mountains. Spend the day in the mountains and walk from Kazbegi town through Gergeti village and up to the Church of the Holy Trinity, stunningly located on a hilltop overlooking the snowy peaks of the Caucasus Mountains. The walk is a round trip of 3-4 hours. The area is a treasure trove of mythology - it was to the majestic Mount Kazbegi (5047 m), the highest peak in this region, that Prometheus was chained. This part of the Caucasus is a protected area, and is home to a variety of flora and fauna. Georgia has over 100 different mammals, and although the European bison and Caucasian leopard have become extinct, there are still wolves and bears in the mountains. This afternoon, drive back to Tbilisi.

Accommodation: Hotel KMM

Meals: Breakfast

The capital of Georgia is an ancient and cosmopolitan city; you'll find a synagogue, a mosque, a Georgian basilica, an Armenian church and a Zoroastrian Fire-Worshipper's temple all within a 15 minute walk of one another. Tbilisi is one of Europe's most fascinating capitals, and you will have a half day orientation tour on foot which taking you first through the picturesque Old Town to the important Church of Metecki, the Sioni Cathedral and then on to the fascinating State Museum. There is plenty of time free to explore the city further, perhaps a backstage tour of the Rustaveli Theatre or a wander through the narrow streets of the Old Town perhaps finding a quirky café to pass the time. A walk over the architecturally striking contemporary Peace Bridge is also a must. The afternoon is at your leisure to explore Georgia's capital on your own steam.

Accommodation: Hotel KMM

Meals: Breakfast

Leave Tbilisi and head east to Kakheti, Georgia's wine region, driving through stunning countryside with mountain views. Stop first at the Tsinandali estate, a magnificent historic home that dates back to the 1700s and has been at the heart of Georgian wine production for over a hundred years. Take a tour of the museum here, before continuing on to the Kondoli winery where you can try two types of the region's 'bio wine'. Biodynamic wine uses organic farming methods both to grow the grapes and in the creation of the wine, along with following a schedule aligned with astronomical events. Alongside a local master, learn how 'Qvevris' are made, the large earthenware vessels containing the wine which are buried underground. You'll also have the chance to try some of the local firewater known as chacha! Later in the afternoon, continue on to Telavi.

Accommodation: Hotel Old Telavi

Meals: Breakfast,Dinner

Combine Georgia's underrated food scene with its impressive history today. Set out to Telavi's food market this morning, where stalls are loaded with fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, spices and drinks. Next up, visit the impressive 16th century Gremi Fortress. Continue to a local farmer's house for lunch, and to see how the local Georgian sweets ('churchkhela') and bread ('shoti') are made. Lunch is included here - the delicious Georgian delicacy 'mtsvadi', meat barbequed on a fire made from vine branches. Vegetarian options are also available. After lunch, drive on to Azerbaijan, crossing the border at Lagodekhi and driving on to Sheki. Just as with the Armenia/Georgia crossing, you will meet a new guide and driver in Azerbaijan, who will continue on with you through to the end of your trip.

Accommodation: Sheki Saray hotel

Meals: Breakfast,Lunch

Lost in the folds of the forested slopes of the Caucasus foothills, Sheki has for centuries been an important market town on the east west trading route running across the Caucasus from the Caspian Sea in the east to the Black Sea in the west. A further trade route across the mountains to Dagestan in the north turned Sheki into a thriving commercial centre - especially during the 18th and 19th centuries, when there were no fewer than five working caravanserais providing safe lodging to merchants and traders. Visit the Palace complex including the museum. In the afternoon, drive to the nearby village of Kish and learn how the traditional 'Kelagai' headscarfs are still made by hand in the local workshop.

Accommodation: Sheki Saray hotel

Meals: Breakfast

Travel the historic trade route from Sheki to Baku, on the Caspian Sea, a scenic if winding journey in the shadow of the mighty Caucasus. Stop en route at Samaxi for a visit to the second oldest mosque in the trans-Caucasus. Also stop in Shemakha and witness the making of Qatiq, a traditional yoghurt drink and a staple of Turkic countries. The land is incredibly varied during the drive: from lifeless deserts at one extreme to dense green forests at the other.

Accommodation: City Park Hotel

Meals: Breakfast

The history of Baku is long and fascinating, not least its recent past since the 'oil boom' of the early 20th century, when Azerbaijan produced more than half the world's supply of oil and the capital Baku grew uncontrollably. On the first morning however, walk through the delightful winding alleys of the Old City, whose old mosques, caravanserais and overhanging wooden balconies tell of a quieter era in Baku's history. See the Maiden's Tower, a powerful, eight-storey fortress, and the Shirvanshah's Palace complex, parts of which date back to the 15th century. In the afternoon make a trip by bus to the Absheron peninsula, to visit its remarkable Zoroastrian Atesgah (fire temple).

Accommodation: City Park Hotel

Meals: Breakfast

Today the trip ends, and you'll be taken to Heydar Aliyev International Airport (GYD), which is 30 - 40 minutes from the hotel. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart Baku at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at the hotel.

Meals: Breakfast

Included
  • Meals – Breakfast Only
  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)
  • Accommodation

Not Included
  • Country Entry Visas
    -

You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.

Dates Price Single Availability
01-Jan-2022
18 Nights
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Touring with Explore

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With Explore, you'll get to see your destination from a whole new perspective that takes you away from the typical well-trodden tourist track. You'll have the chance to meet, dine and stay with local people, rest in authentic accommodation with other like-minded explorers and travel to must-see destinations with a unique Explore twist.

From family trips to holidays for solo travellers; cycling tours to wildlife safaris; trekking on mountains or exploring miles of scenic coastline; self-guided holidays or small group trips; there is something for every kind of traveller with Explore. They will provide their expert knowledge, exciting itineraries and outstanding service as part of their sustainable travel experiences which take you under the skin of the country you're visiting for the adventure of a lifetime.

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tour details

This tour is operated by Explore!

18 nights from pp exc.flights; per Night
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Start:Yerevan
Finish:Baku
Group size:1 - 16
Suitable for: 14-99
Accommodation:Comfortable
Physical rating:Medium, FullOn
Meals:Breakfasts:18 Lunches:4 Dinners:3
Diets:Vegetarians, Vegans, Meat
Tour operated in: English
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