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Mike and Stephie
Jun 16, 2024

Discover Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia tour - AGA

THIS ITINERARY IS THE PROPERTY OF THE TOUR COMPANY AND IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE.

Our tour commences Baku (Azerbaijan), and concludes in Yerevan (Armenia).

The Caucasus's incorporates Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan – each quite different from the others. The three countries are in the region between the Black Sea (linked to the Mediterranean) and the landlocked Caspian sea in the east.

Join us as we explore the historic and culturally diverse Caucasus mountain region - located between the Caspian and Black seas. Stroll through picturesque old towns, monasteries in lush valleys, taste Georgian wine, a traditional meal with the locals and visit secluded Gergeti and other early Christian sites. If you are seeking a journey that takes you off the beaten track, then this is the one for you.

Availability:
  • 7th October 2024
  • 26th May 2025
Price:
  • 2024: $3,955 per person share twin. Single Supplement: Plus $1,995.
  • 2025: $4,595 per person share twin. Single Supplement: Plus $1,995.

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Includes:
  • Accomodation
  • 11 nights in 2, 3 & 4* hotel accommodation in twin share rooms with private bathrooms Single travellers have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure a private room (must be booked at time of registration and subject to availability).
  • Hotels:
  • Baku: Diamond Hotel or similar, Sheki: Issam Hotel or similar, Signagi: Ambassadori Kachreti Golf Resort or similar, Tbilisi: Hotel Astoria or similar, Haghpat: Hotel Defo or similar, Dilijan: Best WesternPlus Paradise or similar, Yerevan Ibis Yerevan Centre or similar.
  • Meals:
  • E11 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 4 Dinners *Vegetarian options are available – to be requested at time of booking.
  • Transport:
  • Modern air-conditioned coach with reclining seats, plus other transport where applicable (excludes free days).
  • Tour Leader:
  • Fully guided tour with experienced tour leader. The tour leader will accompany group throughout and manage all logistical details.
  • Local Guides:
  • As per itinerary.

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12 DAY ITINERARY

Welcome to Baku and the start of our tour. Baku is the largest city on the Caspian Sea and capital of Azerbaijan.

Today, settle in and explore at your leisure. Many think of the city as a mix between Paris and Dubai. It’s a place that offers both history and contemporary culture and is an intriguing blend of east meets west. The heart of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, surrounded by a fortified wall and pleasant pedestrianised boulevards that offer fantastic shopping opportunities.

Attractions include the local Carpet Museum and the National Museum of History and Azerbaijan

After breakfast, we dive straight into exploring the history of Azerbaijan. Head south from Baku to Gobustan National Park for a mud volcano safari. This archaeological reserve is home to mud volcanoes and over 600,000 ancient rock engravings and paintings.

After exploring this national historical landmark of Azerbaijan, travel back to Baku city and embark on a sightseeing tour. Travel to Upland Park and capture a bird’s eye view of the city and Baku Bay below. Then, visit iconic Icheri Sheher, the Old (or Inner) City of Baku with a local guide. This UNESCO World Heritage Site includes the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower.

Relax after a day of exploring strolling along the flower-lined central boulevards of the city. Finally, make a stop at the updated Fountains Square, famous for its dozens of fountains and shopping boutiques.

Experiences

  • Visit Gobustan National Park and archaeological reserve:
  • Gobustan is a rich archaeological monument in Azerbaijan. View rock engravings dating back between 5,000-40,000 years here. Gobustan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Embark on a mud volcano safari:
  • Travel along gravel roads through Gobustan National Park to experience the iconic mud volcanoes. Azerbaijan is known as the 'land of fire', and nearly half of the world's mud volcanoes are located in Azerbaijan.
  • Enjoy a Baku city sightseeing tour:
  • Explore the city of Baku with our expert local guide to learn about the history and culture of the Azerbaijani people. Inhabited for centuries, it has been described as an incredible open-air museum. Preserved in its 12th C walls, are a number of important cultural and natural landmarks. The Old City, Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower (Giz Galasi) are on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
  • Meals: Breakfast

First sight of the day is Shamakhi, an ancient city of Azerbaijan, to see where the first dynasty of the state of Shirvan was founded. Visit Yeddi Gumbez, the mausoleum known as the Seven Domes, where the remains of the last of the Shamakhi Dynasty lie. Then, visit Juma Mosque, the oldest and largest mosque in Azerbaijan.

The next stop for the day is Kish, one of the oldest villages in Azerbaijan. Visit the Mother of Alban church and ancient cemetery that dates back all the way to the 6th century. Once the tour reaches today’s final destination, Sheki, visit the Palace of Sheki Khans.

Experiences

  • Explore the Yeddi Gumbez Mausoleum:
  • See how the Shirvan Dynasty lived during the 9th to 16th C. Shamakhi was one of the main cities of its time, but also considered one of the most beautiful cities of the Orient. The Yeddi Gumbez Mausoleum in Shamakhi is where the Shirvan Dynasty rulers were laid to rest. Also known as the Seven Domes, getting its name from the number of gravestones in the crypt. The deserted cemetery has an air of mystery and old domes look as if they’ve grown from the ground below.
  • Visit Juma Mosque:
  • The oldest and largest mosque in Azerbaijan, legend states that it was built in the 8th century when Shamakhi was chosen as residence by an Arabian caliph. Built more than 1,200 years ago, Shamakhi Juma mosque still remains one of the largest religious structures in the Caucasus.
  • Explore the Albanian temple, ‘Mother of Alban’, and its ancient cemetery:
  • Explore the 6th century church, Mother of Alban, and learn about the unique history of its ancient cemetery. The excavated burial places are covered with glass cupolas and you can see the Bronze Age human skeletons within.
  • Visit Sheki:
  • Sheki is located in a picturesque mountain area rich in narrow gorges and green valleys. It offers a unique slice of the Azerbaijani lifestyle with museums, arts and crafts and souvenir shops. Visit the must-see summer and winter palaces of the Khan.
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Today, cross the border into the Kakheti region of eastern Georgia. First stop is the Khareba winery for a local wine tasting experience. Georgia has a wine history that dates back more than 8,000 years. Continue to Gremi, the once glorious capital of the kingdom of Kakheti to see the church and castles erected in the 16th century. Soak in the views of the Alazan valley before heading to Signagi, Georgia’s city of love. This royal town is surrounded by a wall of 23 towers and 6 gates that previously connected the town with Europe and Asia. Take time this afternoon to stroll the cobbled streets, see the rustic buildings and shop from local vendors.

Experiences

  • Enjoy a wine tasting at Khareba winery in Kakheti:
  • Located on the plains of the Alazani and Lori rivers, Kakheti is surrounded by the Caucasian mountains. This is also known as the iconic destination for Georgian wines. Georgian winemakers make use of both ancient and contemporary methods of winemaking. Tour the tunnels of the Khareba winery cellars and experience how Georgian wine is made today.
  • Visit the Gremi architectural complex:
  • This 16th century architectural complex is a must-see with the sights of the citadel and Church of the Archangels. These architectural wonders are the remains of the once-thriving city of Gremi, the capital of the Kingdom of Kakheti in the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • Visit Signagi:
  • Explore the city of Baku with our expert local guide to learn about the history and culture of the A fortifying wall was built in Signagi in the 18th century by King Erekle II. Surrounding the town for almost 5km, it has 23 towers and 6 gates, through which Georgia was connected to Europe and Asia by trade routes. Stroll the cosy cobbled streets of Signagi and enjoy amazing views of pastel-coloured houses and the picturesque surrounding valleys.
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

On to the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi. Embark on a tour with a local guide and discover the incredible charm of this beautiful city. A memorable stop will be made at the towering 13th century Metekhi Church which sits on a cliff over the Kura River. Other top sights to explore include the Sulphur Baths and the 4th century Narikala Fortress overlooking the city. Wander through Sioni Cathedral and end the day with some fascinating history in the Tbilisi National Museum. The rest of the day will be free to explore as you wish.

Experiences

  • Explore Tbilisi:
  • Take your time to explore all the sights that Tbilisi has to offer. Capture panoramic views from all over the city as Tbilisi is surrounded by ravines, canyons and valleys. Absorb the Eastern influence as you explore the many bazaars. In the Old Town, discover the healing powers of the Sulphur Baths. For centuries these waters were used to remedy various ailments, including skin conditions and arthritis.
  • Meals: Breakfast

This morning, drive along one of the most intriguing roads in the Caucasus. The Georgian Military Highway is the historic route that connects Georgia to Russia. On the way be sure to admire the most incredible scenery from the coach windows. Stop and take in the magnificent Russia-Georgia friendship monument which overlooks breathtaking mountains and canyons. Next, head to Kazbegi, also known as Stepantsminda. Here, drive uphill in four-wheel-drive vehicles, through narrow gorges and unspoiled mountains, until we find the prize of Georgia's isolated Gergeti Trinity Church. On the way back to Tbilisi, stop at the Ananuri fortress and castle complex which was home of the Aragvi Dynasty from the 13th century to the 18th century.

Experiences

  • Drive along the Georgian Military Highway:
  • Drive on the scenic highway that connects the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, and the Russian Federation territory of North Ossetia. As the quickest route across the Caucasus, its existence can be traced back to the 1st century and has been used by assailants and merchants alike.
  • See the Russia–Georgia Friendship Monument:
  • This colourful tiled mural monument was constructed in 1983 to celebrate the bicentennial of the Treaty of Georgievsk, which established eastern Georgia as a protectorate of Russia.
  • Visit Ananuri fortress and architectural complex:
  • This complex was home of the Aragvi Dynasty from the 13th century to the 18th century, when the peasants revolted and invited King Teimuraz II to rule directly over them. The complex consists of three churches, two castles and a bell tower. The upper castle is well preserved, while the lower fortification is mostly in ruins.
  • Visit the Gergeti Trinity Church:
  • Take an adventurous drive to the Gergeti Trinity Church in a 4WD vehicle. This religious wonder has ranked as one of the most beautiful churches in the world and is located near the village of Gergeti. The magnificent setting in the Caucasus Mountains makes this experience something quite unique.
  • Meals: Breakfast

Mtskheta is the first stop of the day. Inhabited since before 1,000 BC, it was the capital of the early Kingdom of Iberia (Eastern Georgia today). We drive to Jvari Monastery, a Georgian Orthodox monastery built on a hill. The church complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Next up we visit Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. This religious centre dates back to the 6th century and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Learn more about Georgian architecture and the tombs of Tbilisi's founder located inside. Continue to the town of Gori. This town is famous as the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. See the Joseph Stalin Museum and the house where he was born.

Experiences

  • Visit the Jvari Monastery:
  • Jvari Monastery is a gorgeous stone building, which overlooks the two Mtskheta rivers. Jvari is an important landmark in the ancient city of Mtskheta. It’s also one of the most important pilgrimage sites in all of Caucasus.
  • See the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral:
  • Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is one of the largest church buildings in Georgia. It’s also regarded as a main cathedral for the Georgian Orthodox church. The "Life-Giving Pillar Cathedral" is an architectural wonder and was founded in 1010, and also where Georgia's first church once stood.
  • Explore the Stalin Museum and Gori:
  • Visit the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, a Soviet revolutionary and one of history's most brutal dictators. Stalin was born here in Gori, Georgia in 1878 and lived here for the first four years of his life. The museum is dedicated to his life. Here, you can view memorabilia and learn about his Georgian roots, as well as the history of the Soviet Union.
  • Meals: Breakfast

Armenia is on the cards after breakfast today. First stop after crossing the border is the Akhtala Monastery, known for its 13th-century artistic frescoes. After exploring, continue to our lunch stop of the day - Odzun, a historic village located on the Debed river bank. Enjoy an included traditional lunch served by a local family in their home. While here, take the chance to learn more about the family's beehives and how they make honey. Afterwards, head to the hotel for the evening in the village of Haghpat.

Experiences

  • Stop at the Akhtala Monastery:
  • This 10th C Armenian Apostolic Church is a fortified monastic complex, one of the best-preserved in Armenia, and known for its highly artistic frescoes. The original fortress dates back to the Bronze and Iron Ages.
  • Lunch with local family:
  • Visit Odzun in the Lori Province of Armenia. Be treated to a traditional sit-down meal with a local Armenian family.
  • Watch a honey demonstration:
  • The local family visited for lunch live in a village that is completely self-sufficient. It's so remote that there is no supermarket so they have to produce all of their food, including delicious, organic honey. See how they harvest the honey from the hives and sample some of the delicious nectar for yourself.
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Start the day exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Haghpat. The medieval monastery complex overlooks the Debed river gorge and provides incredible views of the surrounding hills. Then, travel through the region inhabited by the Molokan people. They are the largest minority in Armenia, exiled from Russia in the 19th C. Dine with locals in a traditional Molokan home. Later, journey through the Dilijan National Park and take a short hike to 13th C Jukhtak Monastery and admire the scenery. Then, explore the spa town of Dilijan. Known for its spas and traditional craft workshops. It’s located in the Argstev Gorge, surrounded by forests and often called the Armenian Switzerland.

Experiences

  • Visit Haghpat:
  • Take in the fascinating panoramic views, including the dramatic landscapes and villages from this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction on this complex started in 976 and finished in 991. The main building known as Surp Nishan is the oldest part of the structure. Over the centuries, buildings were added and the complex doubled in size from the original. The monks from here hand-copied books, to study subjects like science, theology and painting.
  • Visit a Molokan village:
  • Molokanism was the religious expression of a social protest against slavery and the Russian Orthodox Church. The community of Molokans in Dilijan settled here in the 19th century, from their home country of Russia. Explore the traditional and unique way of life for the “Milk Drinkers”.
  • Explore Dilijan:
  • This beautiful resort town is referred to as the 'Switzerland of Armenia and is surrounded by the alpine forests of Dilijan National park. Visit the historic street in the old town of Dilijan, with craft shops selling pottery, souvenirs and woodcraft. The architecture on this street reflects traditional 19th C Armenian architecture.
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Dinner

This morning wedrive to Lake Sevan, the highest freshwater lake in the Caucasus. Visit the Sevanavank Monastery and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. Drive to the UNESCO-protected Geghard Monastery. This ancient chapel was originally founded as a small cave chapel as early as the 4th C. Make a photo stop near the Turkish border for views of Mount Ararat, the place where Noah's Ark is said to rest. Continue to the Garni Pagan Temple in the State Khosrov Reserve. This is the only temple that remained after the adoption of Christianity. Continue on to overnight accommodation in Yerevan.

Experiences

  • Explore Lake Sevan:
  • Explore the largest lake of Armenia with its many forts and artefacts, up to 2,000 years old. Lake Sevan covers 5% of Armenia's land surface.
  • See Sevanavank Monastery:
  • This iconic monastic complex offers beautiful views of Lake Sevan and is one of the most visited sights in Armenia.
  • Experience Geghard Monastery:
  • Set foot in the "Monastery of the spear”, named after the spear that stabbed Jesus. Completely surrounded by towering cliffs, the original chapel was carved out of rock in the 4th century. Later, it was expanded to a full monastery of elegant Armenian stonework in 1215. Today, it still welcomes hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every year.
  • Visit the Garni Pagan Temple:
  • Garni Temple is the only pagan temple in Armenia. It is also a well-known symbol of pre-Christian Armenia. Observe the incredible rock formations in Garni Canyon, along the Azat River, and hear the music of an Armenian Duduk. The Gorge, formed by the Azat River, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Stop at Mount Ararat:
  • Make a photo stop at a vantage point for excellent views of Mount Ararat, across the border in Turkey. Tradition states that Noah's Ark came to rest on this mountain following a flood.
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

This morning we will visit Echmiadzin, the ancient capital of Armenia, and explore its stunning monastery dating back to the year 303 AD. Then we will explore Yerevan. See the sights of the Yerevan Cascade, a giant stairway made of limestone and the Matenadaran Museum. Wander along Abovyan Street, Republic Square and the Cafesjian Centre of Arts. The last stop is at the Yerevanian food market, the best place to sample some fresh Armenian fruits and sweets. For the last night on tour, to relax, we will enjoy a traditional Armenian meal at a local restaurant.

Experiences

  • Visit Echmiadzin:
  • Echmiadzin Monastery is a place of great significance in Armenia. It is where the first cathedral was built in 303 AD after the adoption of Christianity. Many regard this monastery as the Armenian equivalent of the Vatican.
  • Discover Yerevan on a city tour:
  • Visit the highest point in Yerevan and a breathtaking panorama of the city. Besides the fascinating landmarks in the city centre, the landscape is also something to behold as the city is framed by the volcanic peaks of Mounts Aragats and Azhdahak. At the shuka (market) you can taste the delectable fruits they have on offer such as apricots, pomegranates and many more.
  • Farewell group dinner:
  • Immerse yourself in the culture of Armenia with an included dinner on our last night on tour, with traditional Armenian music and dancing.
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

After breakfast, our 12-day Caucasus adventure comes to an end. It’s time to say goodbye to your fellow travellers.

Meals: Breakfast

THIS ITINERARY IS THE PROPERTY OF THE TOUR COMPANY AND IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE.


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