Small Group Tour in Central Asia 2021

Caucasus Group Tour: Az, Ge, Am ItineraryAzerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia


Caucasus Group Tour 2021

Explore Caucasus in the kilometers of vineyards and shady cellars, mountain peaks, ancient churches, monasteries and castles, hospitable people, mesmerizing dances, songs, and endless poetic toasts at traditional feasts. Take 16-day scheduled Caucasus tour that will introduce you to the three countries of the South Caucasus: Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. A well-balanced itinerary encapsulates a great number of archaeological, historical and architectural monuments of ancient, medieval, and Soviet times as well as free time to explore capitals at ones convenience. Experience diverse nature and 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.

Participants need to be in good health, be able to walk for 4-6 hours every day at moderate speed, climb stairs and hills, and be able to carry their own luggage for up to 1 km across borders.

Tour itinerary:

Day 1, Su: Baku – Arrival (AZE)
 
Arrive in Baku and transfer to your hotel for check-in (from 14:00). Free time to relax or explore the city until you meet your guide and other group members to go for a welcome dinner at a traditional Azerbaijani restaurant. Overnight at the hotel.
Driving distance: 30 km
Day 2, Mo: Baku city tour – Gobustan – Baku (AZE)
 
Breakfast. At 09:00, start a guided sightseeing tour of Baku. Walk along Martyrs’ Lane, known as ‘Shehidler Khiyabany’ among locals, and find a beautiful view overlooking Baku’s coastline. Move to Icheri Sheher, the old part of the city. Visit the Shirvanshah's Palace, Caravanserai, Maiden Tower, and main market square, which has numerous art studios and souvenir stalls. Finish the sightseeing tour by exploring Nizami Street and Fountain Square. After lunch, drive to Gobustan to visit the Petroglyphs Museum and explore petroglyphs dating back to 10,000 BC. The Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Weather permitting, switch to a 4x4 vehicle and continue to the mud volcanoes (Gobustan is home to almost half of the world’s mud volcanoes). Return to Baku for overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 10-11 hours
Driving distance: 150 km
Day 3, Tu: Baku – Ateshgah – Baku (AZE)
 
After breakfast, drive to the Absheron Peninsula to visit Ateshgah, located in the village of Surakhany. Zoroastrians from India used to travel thousands of kilometres to Ateshgah to worship the fire coming out of the earth. Return to Baku to visit the iconic Heydar Alyev Cultural Centre, which is located in a quirky building designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid. Free time in the afternoon. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Driving distance: 50 km
Day 4, We: Baku – Shamakhi – Lahich – Sheki (AZE)
 
Breakfast. Depart Baku and drive towards Sheki. On the way, stop at the Diri Baba Mausoleum in Maraza village. Continue to Shamakhi to visit the historical Juma Mosque, which was restored in 2013. Weather permitting, this will be followed by a scenic drive through the Girdimanchay River Canyon to the 5th century village of Lahich. Lahich is rich in historic and cultural value, with charming cobbled streets. It is famous for its medieval water supply and sewage systems and its many traditional workshops where jewellery, copperware, carpets, pottery, daggers, and iron tools are made. Continue driving to Sheki, a pleasant and easily walkable medieval town set in a lush mountainous area, which is particularly famous for its sweet baklava. Arrive in Sheki at about 19:00 and spend the night at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 10-11 hours
Driving distance: 340 km
Day 5, Th: Sheki – Georgian border – Kvareli – Akhasheni (AZE-GEO)
 
At 08:30, after breakfast and hotel check-out, visit the colourful Sheki Bazaar. Here, you can find virtually everything you may want to eat: local fruits and berries, spices, freshly-baked bread, honey, cheeses, and Sheki sweets. Continue to the Sheki Khans Palace, which is surrounded by medieval fortress walls, and then explore the handicrafts workshops and the famous caravanserai. Depart Sheki and head towards the border with Georgia (115 km, ~2 h). Cross the border and start exploring the eastern part of Georgia, which is famous for its viticulture and winemaking traditions. Our first stop will be the Khareba Winery, near the town of Kvareli. On the way there, enjoy the picturesque landscapes of vineyards and wine-producing villages. Khareba’s unique wine cellar is located in a tunnel carved out of the rock. Originally built for military purposes, today the tunnel is used to store Kakheti’s finest wines. Enjoy a wine tour and a tasting session. Transfer to Akhasheni Wine Resort for the night, arriving at 17:30-18:00. This resort is surrounded by beautiful vineyards and offers stunning views of the Caucasus Mountains – the perfect place to take a break before continuing our journey in Georgia (we’ll stay here for two nights).
Driving distance: 180 km
Day 6, Fr: Akhasheni – Tsinandali – Akhasheni (GEO)
 
Breakfast. At 09:30, visit Tsinandali Palace, the former residence of Georgian dukes. Prince Chavchavadze, a 19th century public figure and poet, turned the Estate into what it is today, with a beautiful English-style garden, a museum, and a wine cellar. Tour the palace and take the opportunity to taste several local wines, returning to Akhasheni Wine Resort by 12:00. The rest of the day is free so you can enjoy the nature, vineyards, and outdoor swimming pool. The Resort also offers masterclasses in cooking traditional Georgian dishes, and a wine tasting room. At 18:00, visit a local family to enjoy a traditional feast and hear some wonderful Georgian toasts.
Driving distance: 60 km
Day 7, Sa: Akhasheni – Sighnaghi – Bodbe – Tbilisi (GEO)
 
Breakfast. At 10:00, continue exploring Kakheti by visiting Sighnaghi, the Royal Town and “City of Love”. This city, surrounded by defensive walls with 23 towers, was an important trading centre on the Great Silk Road. Continue to Bodbe Convent – according to legend, this is the burial place of St. Nino, who converted Georgia to Christianity in the 4th century. Since 1889, following a decree by Tsar Alexander III of Russia, Bodbe Convent functions as a nunnery. Arrive in the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, at 16:00–17:00. Overnight at the hotel.
Driving distance: 160 km
Day 8, Su: Tbilisi (GEO)
 
Breakfast, followed by a sightseeing tour of Tbilisi. Start at Metekhi Church and the monument to Vakhtang Gorgasali, the legendary founder of Tbilisi. Visit Narikala Fortress to enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. Walk past Tbilisi’s only mosque, down to the sulphur bath house district. Enjoy a stroll through the Sharden area, which is full of narrow streets with cozy cafés, wine bars, and souvenir shops, and breathe in the history of Old Tbilisi. Also visit Sioni Cathedral, Anchiskhati Basilica, and the famous Rezo Gabriadze Theatre’s clock tower, before crossing the Bridge of Peace to Rike Park. After a couple of hours at your leisure, meet the rest of the group at the hotel to go for a dinner to welcome you to Georgia (departing from the hotel by bus at 19:00). Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Driving distance: 5 km
Day 9, Mo: Tbilisi – Jvari – Mtskheta – Kazbegi – Gudauri (GEO)
 
After breakfast, start exploring the north of Georgia. The first stop will be at Jvari Monastery, which is built on a hilltop and is a true architectural masterpiece of the early Medieval Period. From here you can enjoy the views of the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers. Continue to Mtskheta, one of the oldest towns in Georgia and the country’s cultural and religious centre. Mtskheta was the capital of the eastern Georgian Kingdom of Kartli from the 3rd century BC. Visit Svetitskhoveli, which is the main cathedral of Mtskheta and a sacred place where the robe of Christ is kept. Next, drive over the Cross Pass and make a short stop at the Soviet-era “People’s Friendship” viewpoint, which overlooks a deep gorge of the Caucasus mountain range. In Kazbegi, switch to a four-wheel drive vehicle to reach Gergeti Holy Trinity Church (located at an altitude of 2,170 m) and enjoy breathtaking views of Mount Kazbegi. Reach Gudauri at about 19:00 for overnight at the hotel.
Driving distance: 210 km
Day 10, Tu: Gudauri – Ananuri – Uplistsikhe – Gori – Tbilisi (GEO)
 
Breakfast. Drive to the Ananuri architectural complex, a former residence of Argveti dukes, which features churches and towers dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries and beautifully overlooks the Jinvali Reservoir. Then explore the cave town of Uplistsikhe, which dates to the Hellenistic Period and is notable for its unique combination of various styles of rock-cut architecture, including both pagan and Christian. Continue to Stalin’s hometown of Gori. Visit the Stalin Museum, which includes more than 60,000 artifacts, the tiny house where Stalin was born, and the impressive bulletproof train that Stalin used to travel to Yalta and Potsdam. Reach Tbilisi in the evening. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 9-10 hours
Driving distance: 250 km
Day 11, We: Tbilisi – free day (GEO)
 
Breakfast. Free day in Tbilisi (guide and transportation are not provided).
Advantour offers an optional culinary masterclass on traditional Georgian food. The masterclass includes 3-4 dishes and snacks and takes 4-5 hours. It should be booked in advance. The price is US$60 per person.
We suggest the following activities and places to visit in Tbilisi:
  • Georgian National Museum on Rustaveli Avenue – to visit the “Archaeological Treasury” exhibition;
  • National Gallery on Rustaveli Avenue – to see the works of the 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 era), paintings by local artists, and handmade Georgian souvenirs;
  • David Agmashenebeli Avenue – a recently-renovated pedestrian street full of historical buildings that have beautiful facades in the 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, galleries, shops, and wine bars;
  • Dezertirebi Bazaar – which sells local, natural products including Georgian sweets (such as churchkhela); various types of dried fruits, nuts, and spices; and Georgian cheeses;
  • Funicular railway to Mtatsminda Mountain – which offers a beautiful view of Tbilisi;
  • Wander in Sololaki – a neighborhood full of art nouveau houses;
  • For nature lovers, we offer a day hike to Birtvisi Canyon and Fortress. Contact us to find out more.
In the evening, you can visit the famous Tbilisi sulphur bath houses to relax in the hot, naturally sulphur-enriched water after a long day of exploring (both public and private rooms are available, but private ones should be booked in advance).
For those who are interested in culture, we suggest visiting the State Opera House of Georgia to enjoy a ballet or opera performance (opera.ge). You can find out what other cultural events are on in Tbilisi, and book tickets, at tkt.ge.
Day 12, Th: Tbilisi – Armenian border – Haghpat – Lake Sevan – Sevanavank – Yerevan (GEO-ARM)
 
Breakfast. At 09:00, meet your driver at the hotel and transfer to the Georgian-Armenian border point, Sadakhlo-Bagratashen. Cross the border and meet your Armenian guide and driver to start the journey to the land of ancient traditions and the ancient churches. Drive to the Lori region and visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Haghpat Monastery. This is a stunning example of traditional Armenian architecture, erected between the 10th and 13th centuries. Standing on a hillside, Haghpat beautifully overlooks the Debed River Canyon. The monastery’s location was chosen to protect the peace and seclusion of the monks. Then drive through Dilijan to Lake Sevan, one of the largest high-mountain freshwater lakes in the world (and considered to be the “Jewel of Armenia”). The lake’s coastline is rich with dense woods, white cliff faces, mountain steppes, and Alpine meadows. Visit Sevanavank Monastery, which includes two churches – Surb Arakelots and Surb Karapet – standing among numerous khachkars. The buildings were constructed from black tuff, which probably gave the monastery its name of Sevanavank, “the Black Monastery”. Enjoy the magnificent views: the monastery is situated at the lake and is surrounded by snowcapped mountains. Continue to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, for overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 9-10 hours
Driving distance: 370 km
Day 13, Fr: Yerevan – Etchmiadzin – Yerevan (ARM)
 
After breakfast, drive out of the city to the Holy See of Armenia, Etchmiadzin, where we’ll visit Etchmiadzin Cathedral (the residence of the Catholicos, the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church) and the museum of Christian relics. Return to explore Yerevan, one of the world’s oldest cities. Yerevan is also nicknamed the “Pink City” and impresses visitors with its grand Soviet architecture. Our first stop in Yerevan will be at the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex on Tsitsernakaberd Hill. Next, visit the Cascade Monument, a 500-metre high, 50-metre wide limestone staircase with no less than 572 steps. From the top of the monument, enjoy a breathtaking city view that includes the Opera House, Opera House, Mount Ararat, Swan Lake, Republic Square, and Abovyan Avenue, all of which we’ll see as we walk the streets of Yerevan (~2 km walking). Then transfer to the hotel. Free evening. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours
Driving distance: 50 km
Day 14, Sa: Yerevan – Khor Virap – Noravank – Areni Cave – Yerevan (ARM)
 
Breakfast. At 08:00, head to Khor Virap Monastery. According to legend, St. Gregory the Illuminator (who is credited with converting Armenia to Christianity) had been kept in the basement here for 13 years for disseminating of Christianity, until King Tradt decided to adopt the new religion. The monastery’s location allows you to enjoy superb views of Mount Ararat. Drive to the Noravank complex, which is situated on a ledge of a deep, winding gorge. Noravank stands among bizarrely shaped, precipitous red cliffs. Visit the Areni Cave complex where, in 2008, the world’s oldest leather shoe was found. On the way back to Yerevan, stop at Hin Areni winery to taste wines made from local grape varieties. Arrive in Yerevan at around 18:00. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 9-10 hours
Driving distance: 240 km
Day 15, Su: Yerevan – Garni – Geghard – Yerevan (ARM)
 
Breakfast. Depart Yerevan and drive to Garni, the only pagan temple in Armenia that survived the introduction of Christianity in the 4th century. The next stop is the Geghard (“spear”) monastery complex. The beautiful landscape surrounding Geghard is framed by towering cliffs. Decorative art cut into the rocks reflects and explains Medieval development in this region. The complex was established in the 4th century around the sacred spring inside the cave.
Return to Yerevan, which you’ll have a free afternoon to explore. Here are some possible places to visit:
Meet in the evening for a farewell dinner at a traditional local restaurant. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Driving distance: 80 km
Day 16, Mo: Yerevan – Departure (ARM)
 
Breakfast, followed by hotel check out (by 12:00). Free time until your transfer to Yerevan International Airport. Departure. End of the tour.
Driving distance: 10 km
  • All transfers (1-2 pax by sedan, 3-4 pax by Mercedes Vito or similar, 5-9 pax by Mercedes Sprinter passenger van, 10-16 pax by 30-seat bus);
  • Accommodation based on double/twin room sharing in 4* hotels, breakfasts included;
  • Sightseeing tour programme in each country with local, English-speaking guides;
  • Entrance tickets to sights as per itinerary;
  • Meals: 15 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 5 dinners;
  • Three wine tastings: Khareba (GE), Tsinandali (GE), Hin Areni (AM);
  • Azerbaijan E-visa;
  • Mineral water;
  • English-speaking tour leader to accompany groups of 6 or more travellers.
  • Tour leader for the whole duration of the tour (unless there are 6 or more travellers);
  • Other meals;
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • Personal travel insurance;
  • International flight tickets before and after the tour.

 

Accommodation:

Baku - 3 nights
Four Seasons 5-star Hotel (exclusive offer on selected departures), Park Inn
Sheki - 1 night
Marxal, Sheki Palace
Akhasheni - 2 nights
Akhasheni Wine Resort
Tbilisi - 4 nights
River Side, New Tiflis
Gudauri - 1 night
Marco Polo
Yerevan - 4 nights
DoubleTree by Hilton

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