15 Day Tour to Azerbaijan, Georgia & Armenia
Offered September 29 (arrival day) – October 13, 2023
Offered May 31, ,2024 (arrival day) – June 14, 2024
South Caucasus comprise three unique yet interconnected countries – Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan – each with its own distinct customs and traditions. Connected historically with the great Silk Road, this rich region was once traced by ancient caravans from the East carrying delicate jewels, precious stones and spices. Our own tracing of the Caucasus will begin in oil-rich Azerbaijan, from where we journey west into the famous wine-making regions of Georgia, north into the mountainous provinces of the Greater Caucasus, and finally into Armenia, one of the oldest Christian countries along with its Georgian neighbor. We will visit architectural monuments, monastic jewels and cities steeped in a long, rich history of Soviet, Christian, pagan and Arab influence. Along the way, we will experience fabulous food, wine, music, art, and warm hospitality from our Caucasian hosts. Indeed, the celebration of the table – with endless toasts of wine – is part of the Georgian celebration of life and one in which we will be fortunate to participate.
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN BAKU
Arrive at Baku airport. Meet Azerbaijan guide and transfer to the hotel for check in. Overnight in Baku. (D)
DAY 2: BAKU CITY/ ABSHERON PENINSULA
After Breakfast depart for Absheron peninsula sights located in 25 km from the city. Visit UNESCO World Heritage Site AteshgyakhFire Worshippers’ Temple and enjoy the view of Burning Mountain YanarDagh translated as Fire Mountain. Afterwards drive back to Baku and have a sightseeing tour of the city’s historic and architectural monuments. Visit – ShehidlerKhiyabany, enjoy panoramic view of Baku from the Martyrs Lane. Visit medieval fortress of Old Baku – Ichari Shahar, Maiden Tower, Complex of Medieval Caravansaray, market square. Walk along the central streets of the city.Afternoon enjoy Caspian Sea Cruise (if weather permits). Dinner at the local restaurant. Transfer to the hotel for check inn. Overnight in Baku. (B, L, D)
DAY 3: GOBUSTAN/ CARPET MUSEUM
About 60 km (southern direction) away from the capital city – Baku, there is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, which will take you back to the years of first humans inhabiting our planet. Gobustan National Park preserved more than 6.000 rock engravings for us, which are dating back between 5.000 – 40.000 years. These engravings cover hunting scenes, men, animals, boats and much more. One the way from Gobustan, we will stop by Bibi-Heybat mosque which is a recreation of a mosque built in 13th century and is one of the most visited shrines of Baku. Its main yard is another site worth mentioning as from this very angle we are going see another very old onshore oil field of Absheron peninsula. The new building of the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum will amaze you with its vast collection of more than 10.000 items. Aside from carpets woven in 17th – 20th centuries, a collection of jewelry, ceramics and old metal works is also a part of the exhibition. Overnight in Baku. (B, L, D)
DAY 4: BAKU/ MEREZE/ SHAMAKHI/ SHEKI TOUR
After breakfast continue journey to the town of Sheki. En route visit Diri Baba mausoleum in Mereze village. Visit historical mosque Juma (Friday) in Shemakha and mausoleum of YeddiGumbez (Seven Domes) – graveyard of Shirvan Shahs’. Continue trip to Sheki via Muganly pass. On the way visit to Basqal village to drink local mineral water Bado, Ven Dam village in Gabala province, ruins of the capital of ancient Caucasian Albania. Arrive in Sheki. Enjoy sightseeing tour of the city. Visit local Khan’s Palace, local history museum, mosque-madrassah, handicrafts workshop. Enjoy panoramic view of the town. Overnight in Sheki. (B, L, D)
DAY 5: SHEKI/ LAGODEKHI BORDER/ KVARELI/ TELAVI
After breakfast depart to Lagodekhi border between Georgia and Azerbaijan. We enter Georgia in the region of Kakheti, the biggest and the most important winemaking region in Georgia, which is famous with its hospitality, delicious food and ancient Georgian technique of winemaking which dates to the 8th century BC and is still used to produce unique organic Qvevri wine. First, we will visit Khareba Winery in Kvareli to enjoy wine tasting and village corner in Georgia’s largest wine cellar (7.7 km of tunnels). Continue journey towards Telavi. On the way stop to see Gremi complex on the way back – beautiful 16th century architectural monument consisting of the royal citadel, church and small archaeological exhibition. Drive to Telavi. Overnight at hotel in Telavi. (B, L, D)
DAY 6: TELAVI/ TSINANDALI/ ALAVERDI/ SIGNAGHI/ TBILISI
After breakfast visit magnificent Alaverdi Monastery (11th c). Continue to Tsinandali House Museum and Winery of the 18th century prince and poet, Alexander Chachavadze, explore his summer palace and enjoy the beautiful English-style Park filled with roses and exotic plants. Continue to the 18th c. Royal town of Signaghi, surrounded by the longest defensive wall in the region with 23 towers. Continue to Tbilisi. Overnight at hotel in Tbilisi. (B,L)
DAY 7: TBILISI CITY TOUR
Enjoy the sightseeing tour of old part of Tbilisi – the multicultural and multi-religious city with 1500 years of history. Visit the third largest Eastern-Orthodox church in the world – Sameba Cathedral. Visit Metekhi – 12th-13th c. cross-cupola church which used to be the part of Royal residential complex. Take Cable Car to Narikala Fortress and enjoy Tbilisi Panorama from statue of Mother of Georgia. Visit Sulfur Bath Area, Tbilisi Synagogue and Sioni Cathedral. Walk along the narrow streets of the old town, full with souvenir shops, cafes and art galleries. Enjoy sightseeing of Liberty Square and Rustaveli Avenue – the central avenue in Tbilisi named after the medieval Georgian poet, Shota Rustaveli. In the afternoon visit Archaeological Treasury Hall in Georgian National Museum (Closed on Mondays), where you will see Colchis Gold – unique examples of ancient gold and silver objects and jewelry made by early Georgian goldsmiths. Lunch and dinner independent in Tbilisi. (B)
DAY 8: TBILISI / MTSKHETA /ANANURI /KAZBEGI
After Breakfast explore ancient town of Mtskheta. Visit two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Jvari Monastery (6th c.) and Svetitskhoveli
Cathedral (11th c.)Continue journey to the north, along the Georgian Military Highway, into the mountainous provinces of the Greater Caucasus – highest mountain range in Europe. Make short stop to see incredible fortress Ananuri (16th c.), overlooking Jinvali reservoir. Continue journey via Georgia’s top ski resort – Gudauri (2,100 m.) and Cross Pass (2379 m). Stop for lunch on the way. Arrive in Kazbegi. Change vehicles to 4WD cars and drive to the 14th century Holy Trinity Church, located at the beautiful solitary spot on the top of the hill, at an elevation of 2170 meters. Enjoy the breathtaking view of snow cowered Mount Kazbeg – extinct volcano which is the third highest mountain of Georgia (5,047m) and one of the most popular destinations for alpinists. Mt. Kazbeg is associated with myth of Prometheus, according to the legend he was chained on the mountain in punishment for having stolen fire from the gods and having given it to mortals. Drive to hotel for check in.Overnight at hotel in Kazbegi. (B, L, D)
DAY 9: KAZBEGI – CHATEAU MUKHRANI – UPLISTSIKHE – KUTAISI
After breakfast transfer to Uplistsikhe cave-town. Visit Château Mukhrani winery on the way. This is the first and the only true Georgian Royal Chateau, which unites four key components: vineyards, winery, castle and history. In 1512 Mukhrani became the prince’s estate, governed by Bagrationi royal family. Mukhranian wine production was established by IvaneMukhranbatoni a famous representative of royal family, political and public figure of the 19th c. You will have chance to enjoy tour of the winery and a wine tasting with professional sommelier. Then drive to Uplistsikhe (“Fortress of Lord”) rock-hewn town (1st Millennium BC), a complex of rock-cut streets, secret tunnels, water passages, markets and the oldest theatre in Georgia. Transfer to Kutaisi. Overnight in Kutaisi. (B, L, D)
DAY 10: KUTAISI/ GELATI/ PROMETHEUS CAVE
tour. Visit old part of town and Bagraty Cathedral. Drive from Kutaisi to visit Gelati Complex (12th c). Gelati Monastery was founded in 1106, by the famous king of Georgia, Davit the Builder. Gelati Complex includes an academy and remained for a long time one of the main cultural and enlightening centers in Georgia. The Monastery Complex is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Continue journey to Prometheus Cave where you can see underground natural wonders: transparent lakes, forests of natural stalactite and stalagmite, natural rooms with fabulous ornaments. Walk 1060-meter route through the cave and enjoy a 280-meter boat tour on an underground river (ONLY If Water Level Permits). Dinner tonight is independent. Restaurant suggestions to be provided. Overnight in Kutaisi. (B, L)
DAY 11: KUTAISI /BORJOMI/ VARDZIA
After Breakfast depart to Borjomi. Visit Borjomi Park in Borjomi where you will have chance to taste famous Borjomi Mineral Water freshly coming out from the ground. Borjomi is the number one export of Georgia (exported to over 40 countries). Continue journey to Vardzia via Akhaltsikhe. Visit Rabati Castle in Akhaltsikhe. On the way make short photo stop at Khervisi Fortress (10th cc). Arrive in Vardzia. Overnight at hotel in Vardzia. (B,L, D)
DAY 12: VARDZIA/ BAVRA BORDER/ YEREVAN
After Breakfast drive to rock-hewn complex of Vardzia. Vardzia complex is located on the left bank of the river Mtkvari. It was founded in the 12th -13th cc. Initially planned as a town-fortress, the complex became a well-fortified monastery, which had a significant role in political, cultural, educational and spiritual life of the country. There are two-room, three-room and four-room cliff dwellings in Vardzia, including twostory ones; galleries and vertical tunnels, secret passes and a pharmacy. Drive to Bavra for border crossing to Armenia. (B, L, D) Meet Armenian guide and drive to Yerevan – capital of Armenia. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 13: YEREVAN CITY TOUR/ ECHMIADZIN/ KHOR VIRAP/ YEREVAN
Breakfast at the hotel. After breakfast visit ruins of Zvartnots Temple. Visit St. Hripsime Church (7th c.). Continue sightseeing tour of Yerevan including Echmiadzin – the holy seat of the Supreme Patriarch-Catholicos of all Armenians. The Cathedral was built in the site of a pagan temple after the adoption of Christianity as a state religion in 4th c. Visit Echmiadzin cathedral and museum. Drive though Ararat region to visit Khor Virap Monastery, located on the slopes of biblical Mt. Ararat. We will have chance to enjoy view of magnificent mountain if weather permits. Drive back to Yerevan and start sightseeing tour of the city. Visit Matenadaran and Armenia History Museum. (B, L)
DAY 14: YEREVAN/ GARNI& GEGHARD/ SEVAN/ YEREVAN
Drive through the picturesque Avan Canyon, skirting formidable cliffs and passing exotic-looking gorges until a green plateau by the Azat River comes into view. Take lunch in a private house. Here, in the harmony of the relief and the virgin nature you will see the pagan Garni architectural complex of the 1st century and feel the spirit of ancient ages. Another ten-minute ride through the gorge will take you to the cave monastery of Geghard (12th –13th centuries). Visit Sevanavank monastery in Sevan Peninsula. Driver back to Yerevan. (B, D)
DAY 15: DEPARTURE FROM YEREVAN
Enjoy morning in Yerevan. Departure. END OF SERVICE
Baku, AZERBAIJAN: Radisson https://www.radissonhotels.com/en-us/hotels/radisson-hotel-baku?cid=a:se+b:gmb+c:emea+i:local+e:rad+d:eerut+h:AZBAK1
Sheki, AZERBAIJAN:Sheki Palace Macara
Telavi, AZERBAIJAN: Holiday Inn Telavi https://www.ihg.com/holidayinn/hotels/gb/en/telavi/tbste/hoteldetail?cm_mmc=GoogleMaps-_-HI-_-GE-_-TBSTE
Tblisi, GEORGIA: Rooms
Kazbegi,GEORGIA: Rooms https://roomshotels.com/hotel/kazbegi/
Kutaisi, GEORGE: New Port
Newport Hotel Kutaisi (nhkutaisi.com)
Vardzia GEORGIA: Vardzia Resort
Main – Vardzia (vardziaresort.com)
Yerevan, ARMENIA: Tufenkian Historic Hotel
Hotel in Yerevan (tufenkianheritage.com)
- All touring described above in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia
- Airport transfers
- English speaking tour Guide and private coach
- Activities and entrances to all sites as in the itinerary
- Accommodation – double rooms on Bed & breakfast basis
- Meals included indicated by B, L and D. Other references are for narrative purposes, only!
- International airfare.
- Any purchases of a personal nature, hotel expenditures such as laundry, mini-bar, business center related expenses and spa expenses. All expenses in addition to included room and breakfast.
- Travel/trip insurance. Travel Insurance is strongly encouraged. Penalties in the case of cancellation or expenses in the event of an unexpected illness or injury can be costly.
- Gratuities to guide and drivers. Iconic Journeys Worldwide will provide suggestions regarding tipping.
- Expenses of a personal nature,
- Evening touring with guide and/or transport
- Meals, tips, personal expenses, and any other things not mentioned above.
- Visa for Azerbiajan. This is the only destination that requires a visa for US citizens. For Azerbaijan, you have the option of an eVisa as well as a traditional consular visa. The eVisa is significantly less expensive