Small Group Tour in Central Asia 2018

Caucasus Group Tour 201816 Days | Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia

Tour mapGroup size: 1 - 16 persons

10% early bird discount till December 31, 2017.

Explore Caucasus in the kilometers of vineyards and shady cellars, mountain peaks, ancient churches, monasteries and castles, hospitable people and endless poetic toasts. Take 16-day scheduled Caucasus tour that will introduce you to the three countries of the South Caucasus: Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. 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, Mo: Baku – arrival (AZE)
 
Arrival in Baku. Transfer to your hotel. Check-in at 14:00.
At 19:30, meet your guide and the group members downstairs. Enjoy welcome dinner at national restaurant. Overnight at the hotel.
Driving distance: 30 km
Day 2, Tu: Baku (AZE)
 
At 09:00, start sightseeing tour in Baku. Visit Martirs Lane called ‘Shehidler Khiyabany’ among locals. When you walk through the Alley of the Martyrs, you will find a beautiful view overlooking Baku’s coastline. Continue touring new Baku and exploring architecture of 19-20th centuries: Nizami Street, Fountain Square, Nizami Ganjavi monument. Pay a visit to Azerbaijan History National Museum and move to Icheri Sheher, the old part of the city. Visit Maiden Tower, Shirvan Shahs’ Palace, Caravanserai, and market square with numerous art studios and souvenir stalls.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5-6 hours
Driving distance: 10 km
Day 3, We: Baku – Gobustan – Absheron Peninsula – Baku (AZE)
 
Meet your guide at 09:00. 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. If the weather allows, continue to mud volcanoes in Gobustan Reserve (change of vehicle to smaller cars). 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.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 7-8 hours
Driving distance: 220 km
Day 4, Th: Baku – Shamakhi – Lahich – Sheki (AZE)
 
At 08:30, depart Baku and drive to Sheki. On the way, stop at Diri Baba mausoleum in Maraza village. Continue to Shamakhi and have a sightseeing of historical Juma Mosque. If the weather allows, drive through Girdimanchay River canyon to visit Lahich, the 5th century quaint corner high in Caucasus mountains rich in its historic and architectural values. Lahich is an ancient village with charming cobbled sidewalks. It is famous for medieval water supply and sewage systems, as well as, traditional jewelry, copperware, carpets, pottery, daggers, and iron tools workshops. Continue driving to Sheki. Arrival in Sheki at 18:00-19:00 for overnight at the hotel.
Driving distance: 340 km
Day 5, Fr: Sheki – border Lagodekhi – Kvareli – Gremi – Telavi (AZE/GEO)
 
At 10:00, start sightseeing tour. Visit Sheki Khans Palace, handicrafts workshop, caravanserai, and local bazaar. Depart Sheki and head towards border with Georgia (115 km, apx. 2 h). Cross the border, meet your Georgian guide and start exploring the Eastern part of Georgia famous for its viticulture and winemaking traditions. On the way to wine cellar ‘Khareba’ you will enjoy beautiful landscapes of vineyards and wine-producing villages. The unique wine cellar is 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 Gremi architectural complex, 16th century royal residence and the capital of Kakheti Kingdom. Reach your hotel at 18:30-19:30 for overnight.
Driving distance: 220 km
Day 6, Sa: Telavi – Tsinandali – Bodbe – Sighnaghi – Tbilisi (GEO)
 
Continue exploring Kakheti; you will visit Tsinandali, residence of dukes of Georgia, with beautiful English garden, museum, and wine cellar which belonged to prince Chavchavadze, public figure and poet of the 19th century. 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.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours
Driving distance: 180 km
Day 7, Su: Tbilisi (GEO)
 
In the morning, have sightseeing tour in Tbilisi. Start at 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, the clock tower of famous Rezo Gabriadze Theatre, and Bridge of Peace leading 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, Mo: Tbilisi – Jvari – Ananuri – Kazbegi – Gudauri (GEO)
 
Today you will explore north of Georgia. First stop will be at Jvari Church, a true architectural masterpiece of the Early Middle Ages 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 16-17th centuries is beautifully overlooking Jinvali reservoir. Drive further to see the conjunction of two small mountain rivers famous for keeping different colors even after they 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 at an altitude of 2170 m and enjoy breathtaking views of Mount Kazbegi. Reach Gudauri at around 19:00 for dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Driving distance: 210 km
Day 9, Tu: Gudauri – Gori – Uplistsikhe – Mtskheta – Tbilisi (GEO)
 
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.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 9-10 hours
Driving distance: 250 km
Day 10, We: Tbilisi – free day (GEO)
 
Free leisure day in Tbilisi (guide and transportation are not provided). Please see the suggested day-long getaways:
Kutaisi Tour
Dmanisi and Bolnisi Tour
Khada Gorge Trekking
If you opt for staying in Tbilisi and relax, we have compiled the list of must-do activities.
We suggest visiting.
  • National Gallery on Rustaveli avenue to see paintings 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 of local artists, and hand-made Georgian souvenirs;
  • Recently renovated pedestrian David Agmashenebeli avenue full of historical buildings with beautiful facades made in art nouveau, pseudo gothic, classicism styles with mix of typical Georgian ornaments 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 on Mtatsminda mountain and contemplate Tbilisi from view point;
  • Wander in Sololaki area full of Art Novae houses.
In the evening, you can visit famous Tbilisi sulphur bath houses and relax after a long day in a hot, naturally sulphur enriched water.
For those who are interested in culture, we suggest visiting State Opera House of Georgia and enjoy ballet or opera performance.
Day 11, Th: Tbilisi – Armenian border – Haghpat – Lake Sevan – Sevanavank – Yerevan (GEO/ARM)
 
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 to 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 the 10-13th centuries. Standing on a hillside, Haghpat beautifully overlooks Debed River. Location of the monastery was chosen to protect peace and seclusion of the monks. Drive through Dilijan to the Lake Sevan, “The Jewel of Armenia” and one of the largest high-mountainous fresh water lakes in the world. The coastline of the 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, carved cross-stones. The buildings were constructed from black tuff which probably gave the monastery its name Sevanavank – “the Black Monastery”. The place opens up a magnificent view: 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 12, Fr: Yerevan – Etchmiadzin (ARM)
 
At 10:00, start city tour 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. Visit Cascade Monument which was the main symbol of the city’s 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 breathtaking city view with Opera House, Mount Ararat, Swan Lake, Republic Square, and Abovyan Avenue, which you will also walk by during the tour. Visit the Armenian Genocide memorial complex on the hill of Tsitsernakaberd. 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 hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours
Driving distance: 50 km
Day 13, Sa: Yerevan – Khor Virap – Areni cave – Noravank – Goris (ARM)
 
At 09:00 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. Drive to Areni cave complex, where in 2010 the earliest shoe was found. Continue to Noravank Complex situated on a ledge of a deep winding gorge. Noravank ensemble stands amidst the bizarre-shaped precipitous red cliffs.
Arrival in Goris at around 18:00. Overnight at the hotel.
Driving distance: 260 km
Day 14, Su: Goris – Tatev – Areni – Yerevan (ARM)
 
After breakfast at 09:00 check out from the hotel. Drive to Tatev Monastery (9-13th centuries). Approaching the jewel of medieval Armenian architecture on the longest aerial tramway in the world, you will see the monastery, the powerful impregnable stronghold towering on a rock. A remote location of the monastery was strategically favorable as it played the role of religious and political center of the region.
Depart back to Yerevan. On the way, stop in Areni, a town known for producing wine from pomegranate, apricots, and a variety of berries. Have a wine degustation at a local winery. Arrive in Yerevan at around 18:00. Overnight at the hotel.
Driving distance: 290 km
Day 15, Mo: Yerevan – Garni – Geghard – Yerevan (ARM)
 
At 09:00, 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 in this part of the world. The complex appeared in the 4th century as a sacred spring inside the cave. Return to Yerevan. Free time.
At 19:00, enjoy farewell dinner at the traditional restaurant with folklore show program. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5-6 hours
Driving distance: 80 km
Day 16, Tu: Yerevan – departure (ARM)
 
Check-out from the hotel till noon. Free time till transfer to Yerevan International Airport. End of the tour.
Driving distance: 10 km

Accommodation:

City

Hotels

Nights

Baku

Park Inn, Shah Palace

3

Sheki

Sheki Saray, Sheki Palace, Marxal

1

Telavi

Chateau Mere

1

Tbilisi

River Side, Ibis, Citrus, Coral Boutique

4

Gudauri

Marco Polo

1

Yerevan

DoubleTree by Hilton

4

Goris

Mirhav

1

 

  • All transfers;
  • 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 (day 1), Tbilisi (day 7), Yerevan (day 15);
  • Three wine tastings: two in Kakheti region, Georgia, and one at Areni wine factory, Armenia.
  • Full board (lunches and dinners);
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • Personal travel insurance;
  • E-visas to Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia.

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