Scheduled Caucasus Tour 2020

Active Small Group Tour of the South Caucasus 202017 Days | Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia

Explore the great outdoors while discovering numerous historical and cultural sights on this physically active small group tour of the South Caucasus. Combining city walking tours and various hikes in mountains and national parks with vehicle transfers between major destinations, this tour offers a balance between seeing as many sights and having as many different experiences as possible and taking the time to enjoy the Caucasus mountain air on your own two feet. Highlights of the tour include hiking to waterfalls and monasteries, white water rafting, wine tasting, and visiting ancient palaces, caravanserais, cave towns, fortresses, and UNESCO World Heritage churches.

 

Tour map

Tour itinerary:

Day 1, Fr: Baku
 
Arrival in Baku. Private transfer will be arranged to your hotel. Check-in at 14:00.
At 18:30, meet your guide and enjoy welcome dinner at national restaurant. Overnight at the hotel.
Driving distance: 30 km
Day 2, Sa: Baku
 
At 09:00, start sightseeing tour in Baku. Visit Martyrs Lane, known as "Shehidler Khiyabany" among locals. When you walk through the Alley of the Martyrs, you will find a beautiful view overlooking Baku’s coastline. Move to Icheri Sheher, the old part of the city. Visit Shirvanshah's Palace, Caravanserai, Maiden Tower, and the main market square, which has numerous art studios and souvenir stalls. Continue touring new Baku by exploring Nizami Street and Fountain Square.
Free time in the afternoon. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Driving distance: 10 km
Day 3, Su: Baku – Gobustan – Baku
 
After breakfast start exploring Azerbaijan with a visit to 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. Return to Baku. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Driving distance: 155 km
Day 4, Mo: Baku – Lahij – Sheki
 
At 08:00, depart Baku and drive to Sheki town. On the way, stop at Diri Baba Mausoleum in the village of Maraza. Continue to Shamakhi to visit the historical Juma Mosque, which was restored in 2013. 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. Arrival in Sheki at ~19:00 for overnight.
Driving distance: 340 km
Day 5, Tu: Sheki – Georgian border – Lagodekhi
 
Check out from hotel and start sightseeing tour in Sheki. Visit Sheki medieval fortress, Sheki Khans Palace, and local bazaar. Depart Sheki and head towards border with Georgia (115 km, ~2 h.). At the border, you will say goodbye to your guide, go through border formalities, and cross the neutral territory on foot (500 m). After exiting Georgian border control point you will meet your Georgian guide and start exploring the Eastern part of Georgia famous for its viticulture and winemaking traditions. We will greet you in Georgia with a delicious lunch in local family guesthouse in Lagodekhi. In the cozy environment, you will have an opportunity to experience genuine Georgian hospitality and taste homemade wine. Free evening. Overnight at the local guesthouse.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 3 hours
Driving distance: 125 km
Day 6, We: Lagodekhi hiking – Tbilisi
 
After breakfast head to Lagodekhi protected areas. Start your route from the Gurgeniani Information Center and follow the Ninoskhevi River on a narrow path. The path is beautiful and suited for adventurous travellers. At the end of the route a 40-meter long Ninoskhevi waterfall is waiting for you. The noise of the waterfall surrounds its viewers and creates an atmosphere of serenity. On the way, we come across rare relict plants such as Lagodekhian gentiana, Lagodekhian snowdrop, Julia purusula, bladdernut, wing nut, chestnut, Georgian oak etc.
After hiking depart Lagodekhi and head to Tbilisi. Time permitting, make a short-stop in Sighnaghi Royal Town, which is surrounded by defensive walls with 23 towers. Overnight in Tbilisi.
Hiking: 8.5 km, 4-6 hrs., pedestrian path, difficulty level: average
Day 7, Th: Tbilisi city tour
 
After breakfast start walking tour in Tbilisi. You will start your tour at Metekhi Сhurch and monument of Vakhtang Gorgasali, the legendary founder of Tbilisi. Take a cable car to Narikala Fortress to enjoy breathtaking panoramic view of the city. Continue to National Botanical garden in Georgia. At present the garden collections include over 4,500 species and infraspecific taxa of the flora of the Caucasus and other regions of the world. 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.
At 19:30, visit a local restaurant to taste dishes of traditional Georgian cuisine. Overnight in Tbilisi.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5-6 hours
Driving distance: 10 km
Day 8, Fr: Tbilisi – Rafting – Ananuri – Kazbegi
 
After breakfast, head to north of Georgia. Just within 60 km drive from Tbilisi, in the beautiful valley of the Pshavi’s Aragvi river, try white-water rafting on the river Aragvi! The trip has an easy difficulty rate, covers 8-10 km and lasts for an hour. The activity is carried out by professional rafting instructors. Have a lunch nearby and taste delicious local cuisine. Continue to Ananuri architectural complex, a former residence of Argveti Dukes. Complex featuring churches and towers dating back to the 16-17th centuries is beautifully overlooking Jinvali reservoir. Continue driving on Georgian Military Highway passing through the highest point of it at 2379 m above sea level. Arrive in Kazbegi, a small town with the views of Mount Kazbek (or Mkinvari) 5033 m, the seventh highest peak in the Caucasus Mountains. Overnight at the hotel.
Driving distance: 160 km
Day 9, Sa: Kazbegi
 
After breakfast start hiking to Gergeti Holy Trinity Church located on altitude of 2170 m to enjoy breathtaking views of the Mount Kazbegi. Return to Stephantsminda and Continue to Gveleti Waterfalls. A small path will lead you through a beautiful mountain scenery to an impressive waterfall of Gveleti. Overnight at the hotel.
Hiking 12,5 km
Day 10, Su: Kazbegi – Uplistsikhe – Borjomi
 
Breakfast at the hotel. Check out and head to Uplistsikhe. 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 Borjomi. Take a walk in National Park famous worldwide with its mineral water reserves. Overnight at the hotel.
Driving distance: 300 km
Day 11, Mo: Borjomi hiking
 
After breakfast, head to Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park which is located in central part of Georgia and creates eastern part of lesser Caucasus Mountains. It belongs to Caucasus mixed forest ecoregion. The diversity of geographical and ecological zones, beautiful landscapes and rich flora and fauna makes this park unique hiking destination. Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park has 11 trails. Tourist route network is up to 400-2,642 meters. Paths are marked and well-arranged. We will pick the one according to difficulty and weather conditions. Picnic will be included during this day. Overnight in Borjomi.
Day 12, Tu: Borjomi – Mtskheta – Tbilisi
 
At noon, check out of the hotel and head 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 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, and Svetitskhoveli, the main cathedral of Mtskheta and a sacred place where the robe of Christ is being kept. Reach Tbilisi by 17:00. Overnight at the hotel.
Driving distance: 165 km
Day 13, We: Tbilisi – free day
 
Free day in Tbilisi (guide and transportation are not provided).
We have compiled the list of suggestions what to do or visit in Tbilisi:
  • Georgian National Museum on Rustaveli Avenue 3/10 to visit the "Archaeological Treasury" exhibition;
  • National Gallery on Rustaveli Avenue to see the works of famous Georgian artists Niko Pirosmani, David Kakabadze, and Lado Gudiashvili;
  • Tbilisi flea market at Dry Bridge where you can find antiquities, many of which are from the Soviet period, paintings by local artists, and handmade Georgian souvenirs;
  • Recently renovated David Agmashenebeli Avenue, a pedestrian street full of historical buildings with beautiful facades made in art nouveau, pseudo gothic, and classicist styles with a mix of typical Georgian ornamentation and balconies. All along the street there are plenty of cozy art cafés, gallery/shops, and wine bars;
  • Dezertirebi Bazaar, with local natural products such as Georgian sweets – churchkhela, dry fruits, various kinds of nuts, spices, and Georgian cheeses;
  • Funicular railway to Mtatsminda Mountain to contemplate Tbilisi’s from the beautiful view;
  • Wander in Sololaki, a neighborhood full of art nouveau houses.
In the evening, you can visit the famous Tbilisi sulphur bath houses to relax after in the hot, naturally sulphur-enriched water after a long day (public and private rooms are available; private ones should be booked in advance).
For those who are interested in culture, we suggest visiting the State Opera House of Georgia and enjoying ballet or the opera (opera.ge).
If you are interested in other cultural events, please see what is on and book tickets at tkt.ge
Day 14, Th: 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 was 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 and 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.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 9-10 hours
Driving distance: 370 km
Day 15, Fr: Yerevan – Garni – Hiking to Havuts Tar monastery – Yerevan
 
After breakfast depart Yerevan and drive to Garni, one of the major villages in Armenia famous for its Temple. The temple is the only pagan sacred place from the 1st century that survived aggressive introduction of Christianity in the 4th century. Exchange transport and head to the bottom of a mountain Havuts Tar. Start hiking with instructor. Return to Yerevan for overnight.
Hiking: 2.4-kilometer point to point doubletrack; difficulty level: average
Day 16, Sa: Yerevan
 
After breakfast, start sightseeing in 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 House, Mount 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. In the evening, enjoy farewell dinner with traditional folklore show. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Driving distance: 30 km
Day 17, Su: Yerevan – departure
 
Check-out of the hotel till noon. Free time till transfer to Yerevan International Airport. Departure.
  • All transfers (1-2 pax by sedan, 3-4 pax by Mercedes Vito or similar, 5-10 pax by Mercedes Sprinter passenger van; 11-12 pax by 30-seats bus);
  • Accommodation based on double/twin room sharing, breakfasts included;
  • Sightseeing tour program in each country with local English-speaking guides;
  • Entrance tickets to sights as per itinerary;
  • Dinners in Baku, Tbilisi, and Yerevan;
  • Wine tasting in Kakheti region, Georgia;
  • Picnic in Borjomi;
  • Azerbaijan e-visa.
  • Full board (lunches and dinners);
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • Personal travel insurance.

Accommodation:

Baku - 3 nights
Central Park, Azcot or similar
Sheki - 1 night
Issam
Lagodekhi - 1 night
Guesthouse Lago or similar
Tbilisi - 4 nights
Tiflis or similar
Kazbegi - 2 nights
Guesthouse Maili, guesthouse Gogi Alibegashvili or similar
Borjomi - 2 nights
Motion Hotel Likani, guesthouse on Erekle or similar
Yerevan - 3 nights
Cascade, Silachi or similar

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