Small Group Tour in Central Asia 2017

Caucasus Group Tour 2017-201813 Days | Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia

Tour mapGroup size: 1 - 14 persons
Explore Caucasus in the kilometers of vineyards and shady cellars, mountain peaks, ancient churches, monasteries and castles, hospitable people and endless poetic toasts. Take 13-day scheduled Caucasus tour that will introduce you to the three countries of the South Caucasus: Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. You will enjoy a great number of archaeological, historical and architectural monuments, diverse nature, Caucasian cuisine that you cannot resist. You will keep memories of the Caucasus, the land between two seas, for a lifetime. 

This tour also runs as an extension to Central Asia group tour with guaranteed departure dates.

Tour itinerary:

Day 1 (Friday): Baku
 
Arrival in Baku. You will be met by our driver and transferred to hotel for overnight. Check-in at noon.
Day 2 (Saturday): Baku
 
Start sightseeing tour in Baku. Visit Memory Alley – “Shehidler Khiyabany”, from where you can have a great panoramic view of Baku city. Continue touring new Baku and exploring architecture of 19-20th centuries: Nizami Street, Fountain Square, Nizami Ganjavi monument, Rasul-Zade Street. Pay a visit to Azerbaijan History National Museum and move to the old part of the city – Icheri Sheher. Visit Maiden Tower, Shirvan Shahs’ Palace, Caravanserai, and market square with numerous art studios and souvenir stalls. An excellent round-up to the city tour will be visit to the richest bank of Azeri carpets – National Carpets Museum.  In the evening enjoy welcome dinner at Azeri restaurant. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 3 (Sunday): Baku – Absheron Peninsula – Gobustan – Baku
 
Today you will visit the area of the Greater Baku and Absheron peninsula. Start with Gobustan National Park. Pay a visit to the Petroglyphs Museum and explore petroglyphs dating back to 10,000 BC. Continue to mud volcanoes in Gobustan Reserve. Gobustan is home to almost half of world’s mud volcanoes. Later drive to Ateshgah – temple of fire worshippers located in Surakhany village. Zoroastrians from India travelled thousands of kilometers to Ateshgah to worship fire coming out of the earth. Drive to Yanardag Mountain with natural gas burning for several thousands of years.
Return to Baku. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 4 (Monday): Baku – Lahij – Kish – Sheki
 
In the morning, depart Baku and drive to Sheki town. On the way, visit Diri Baba mausoleum in Maraza village. Continue to Shamakha and have a sightseeing of historical Juma Mosque, Yeddi Gumbez Mausoleum, and the Shirvan Shah's family grave yard. Drive through Girdimanchay River’s canyon to visit Lahij, the 5th century place rich in its historic and architectural values. Lahij is an ancient village with charming eye-catching sidewalks inlaid by stones. It is famous for medieval water supply and sewage systems as well as traditional workshops making jewelry, copperware, carpets, pottery, daggers, and iron tools. Continue driving to Sheki. On the way, visit the first Albanian church in Caucasus in the village Kish dating back to the 1st century AD. Arrival in Sheki for sightseeing tour. Visit Sheki Khans Palace, local History Museum, handicrafts workshop, mosque-madrassah, and local bazaar. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 5 (Tuesday): Sheki – Georgian border – Kvareli – Sighnaghi – Bodbe – Tbilisi
 
In the morning depart Sheki and head towards border with Georgia (115 km, ~2 h.). Cross the border, meet your Georgian guide and start exploring the Eastern part of Georgia famous for its viticulture and winemaking traditions.
We will pass through the beautiful landscapes of vineyards and wine-producing villages. First stop will be at unique wine cellar “Khareba” located in the tunnel carved out of the rock. Originally built for military purposes, today the tunnel is used to store Kakheti’s finest wines. Wine tour and wine tasting. Continue to Bodbe Convent and Sighnaghi Royal Town, one of the crossroads of the Great Silk Road surrounded by defensive walls with 23 towers. In the afternoon, head to Tbilisi for overnight.
Day 6 (Wednesday): Tbilisi
 
In the morning, have sightseeing tour in Tbilisi. Start at Holy Trinity cathedral, one of the largest orthodox cathedrals in the world. Continue to Metekhi church and monument to Vakhtang Gorgasali, the legendary founder of Tbilisi. Take cable car to Narikala Fortress to enjoy breathtaking panoramic view of the city. Walk down to the district of Sulphur bath houses passing by the only mosque in Tbilisi. Stroll through the Sharden area full of narrow streets with cozy cafés, wine tasting bars, souvenir shops, and breathe in the living past. Visit Sioni Cathedral, Anchiskhati Basilica, and the clock tower of famous Rezo Gabriadze Theatre. Cross the Bridge of Peace to Rike Park and head to Open Air Museum of Ethnography, a miniature model of Georgia. In the evening, visit a local restaurant to taste dishes of traditional Georgian cuisine. Overnight in Tbilisi.
Day 7 (Thursday): Tbilisi – Jvari – Ananuri – Kazbegi – Gudauri
 
Your today’s route will take over the Georgian Military Highway up North towards the border with Russia. First stop will be at Jvari Church, a true architectural masterpiece of the early Medieval Period overlooking the confluence of Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers from the top of the hill. Continue to Ananuri complex, a former residence of Argveti Dukes. Complex featuring churches and towers dating back to the XVI-XVII cc. is beautifully overlooking Jinvali reservoir. Drive further North to see the conjunction of two small mountain rivers famous for the fact that being different in color they still keep their own colors even after merge. We will then drive over the Cross pass and make a short stop at Soviet time “People’s Friendship” mountain view point overlooking a deep gorge of Caucasus mountain range. In Kazbegi, we will change our vehicle to a four-wheel drive car to reach Gergeti Holy Trinity Church located on altitude of 2170 m, and enjoy breathtaking views of Mt Kazbegi. Drive to Gudauri. Overnight at hotel.
Day 8 (Friday): Gudauri – Gori – Uplistsikhe – Mtskheta – Tbilisi
 
After breakfast, drive to Gori and visit Stalin Museum. The museum includes more than 60,000 artifacts, the tiny house where Stalin was born, and impressive bulletproof train Stalin used to travel to Yalta and Potsdam. Explore cave town Uplistsikhe dating back to Hellenistic Period and notable for unique combination of various styles of rock-cut cultures and the co-existence of pagan and Christian architecture. Continue to Mtskheta, one of the oldest towns and the cultural and religious centre of Georgia. Mtskheta was the capital of the Eastern Georgian Kingdom of Iberia from the third century BC. Visit Svetitskhoveli Cathedral which may be translated as "The Life-giving pillar". Svetitskhoveli is the main cathedral of Mtskheta and a sacred place where the robe of Christ is being kept. Reach Tbilisi for overnight at hotel.
Day 9 (Saturday): Tbilisi – Armenian border – Haghpat – Lake Sevan – Sevanavank – Yerevan
 
At 09:00, our driver will meet you at your hotel in Tbilisi and transfer to “Sadakhlo-Bagratashen” Georgian-Armenian border point. Cross the border, meet your Armenian guide and driver and start the journey to the land of ancient traditions and oldest temples.
Drive to Lori region and visit UNESCO World Heritage Site Haghpat monastery. Stunning example of Armenian traditional architecture erected in 10-13th centuries. Standing on a hillside, Haghpat beautifully overlooks Debed River. Location of monastery was chosen to protect peace and seclusion of its monks. Drive through Dilijan to Lake Sevan, “The Jewel of Armenia” and one of the largest high-mountainous fresh water lakes in the world. The coastline of Lake Sevan is rich with thick woods, white bare steep rocks, mountain steppes and Alpine meadows. Stop at Sevanavank to visit the remnants of the monastery that include two temples – Surb Arakelots and Surb Astvatsatsin standing among numerous khachkars. The buildings were constructed from black tuff which probably gave the monastery its name Sevanavank – “the Black Monastery”. The view from there is simply magnificent: the mountains surround lake from all sides and snow tops are seen almost on the entire perimeter and disappear behind horizon. Continue to Yerevan for overnight.
Day 10 (Sunday): Yerevan – Garni – Geghard – Vernissage – Etchmiadzin – Yerevan
 
Depart Yerevan and drive to Garni, one of the major villages in Armenia famous for its fortress. The fortress is the only pagan sacred place from the 1st century that survived aggressive introduction of Christianity in the 4th century. Next stop is at the monastery complex Geghard (“spear”). A beautiful landscape of Geghard is framed with towering cliffs. Decorative art cut into rocks reflect and explain Medieval Ages development throughout the region. The complex was introduced to the history in the 4th century as a sacred spring inside a cave. Visit Vernissage, the biggest souvenir market in Yerevan. Continue to the Holy See of Armenia, Etchmiadzin. Visit Etchmiadzin Cathedral which is the residence of the head of Armenian Apostolic Church the Catholicos of All Armenians. Return to Yerevan for overnight at the hotel. 
Day 11 (Monday): Yerevan – Khor Virap – Areni – Noravank – Yerevan
 
In the morning, head to Khor Virap monastery (“deep pit”). According to the legend, St. Gregory the Illuminator, the Baptist of Armenia, had been kept here in the basement during 13 years for the disseminating of Christianity until tsar Tradt decided to adopt new religion. Monastery location allows you to enjoy the best views of the Mount Ararat. Continue to Complex of Noravank, situated on a ledge of a deep winding gorge of a tributary of the Arpa River near the village of Amaghu, Yeghegnadzor District. Noravank ensemble stands amidst the bizarre-shaped precipitous red cliffs. Built in place of an ancient cloister, it grew in the reign of Princes Orbelian of Syunik. In the 13th-14th centuries it became a residence of Syunik's bishops. Consequently, a major religious and later cultural center of Armenia was closely connected with many educational institutes, primarily with Gladzor’s university and library. Drive back to Yerevan. Stop on the way at Areni, a city known for producing famous Armenian wine from pomegranate and apricot. Have a wine degustation in a local winery. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 12 (Tuesday): Yerevan
 
One of the oldest cities of the world, Yerevan is famous as a pink city and calls visitors with its humble and at the same time splendid landscapes. Start city tour visiting Cascade Monument which was the main symbol of the cities 2780th anniversary with the equivalent number of stairs. Mega scale staircase is 500 meters high and 50 meters wide. A panoramic view from the monument opens up breathtaking city view with Opera HouseMount Ararat, Swan Lake, Republic Square, and Abovyan Avenue, which you will also walk by during the tour. Continue to the Armenian Genocide memorial complex on the hill of Tsitsernakaberd. An excellent round-up of the tour will be a visit to the Megeryan carpet factory where you can observe a process of creating famous Armenian rugs. You will see carpets from different regions of Armenia and find out about hidden meanings of elements used in their design. In the evening, enjoy farewell dinner and traditional folklore show. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 13 (Wednesday): Yerevan – departure
 
Check-out from hotel till noon. Free time till transfer to Yerevan International Airport. End of the tour.

Accommodation:

 Economy hotels, 3*
Baku - 3 nights

Azcot, Central Park, New Baku, Amberd, Shah Palace

Sheki - 1 night

Issam, Marxal

Tbilisi - 3 nights

Kopala, Tiflis

Gudauri - 1 night

Marco Polo, Goodaura, Carpe Diem

Yerevan - 4 nights

Cascade, Silachi, Hrazdan

 

  • All transfers;
  • Accommodation based on double/twin room sharing, breakfasts included;
  • Sightseeing tour program with a local English speaking guide in each country;
  • Entrance tickets to sights as per itinerary;
  • Wine tasting in Kakheti region (Georgia) and Areni wine factory (Armenia);
  • Dinners in Baku (day 2), Tbilisi (day 6), and Yerevan (day 12).
  • Tour leader to accompany the travelers for the whole period of the tour;
  • Full board (lunches and dinners);
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • Visa support letter and consular fees for visas to Georgia and Armenia;
  • Personal travel insurance;
  • Azerbaijan tourist e-visa.

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