Day 1: Departure. Arrival in Baku, meet in the airport and transfer to a hotel.
Day 2: Baku. In the mooring drive to Gobustan, 65 km. Visit Gobustan rock paintings museum in the open air – UNESCO Heritage site and onsite Archaeological Museum. Baku city tour: Panorama view of Baku; Old City: Shemakha gate, Shirvanshakhs’ Palace, Maiden Tower, caravanserai, old market square. Visit The Carpet Museum. Includes: (B).
Day 3: Baku – Shemaka – Sheki. Today we leave Baku, depart for the Caucasus Mountains in the northwest of Azerbaijan. The dry landscape gives way to a densely forested mountain area. En – route visit to Diri Baba shrine in Maraza; Yeddi Gumbez tomb and Juma mosque in Shemakha. Visit the Royal Summer Palace of the Sheki Khans with its magnificent frescoes and stained glass as well as Sheki Museum and Fortress. Includes: (B).
Day 4: Sheki – Telavi. In the morning drive to visit the local market and then continue the way to the Geo – Az border (Lagodekhi), change transport and guide and after some border formalities continue the trip to Georgia. We drive to explore Kakheti region well known for its wine producing. We enjoy super views of Great Caucasus Mountains and valleys of Kakheti; acknowledge traditions and culture of the country and region, taste wines and delicious food. We visit one of the 19th century Georgian duke’ palaces in Tsinandali, enjoy walking in the beautiful garden, visit the museum and taste different kind of red and white wine. Includes: (B, D).
Day 5: Telavi – Mtskheta – Gudauri. In the morning drive to visit Alaverdi Cathedral (11th c), then continue to Gremi architectural complex (16th c) and afterwards take the way via Gombori to the ancient capital and religious centre of Georgia – Mtskheta and its historic Jvari Monastery and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral – both UNESCO World Heritage sites. Later we head for the ski resort of Gudauri, en route visiting Ananuri architectural complex (15th – 17th cc). The drive is very scenic as it heads up into the Great Caucasus mountains. Dinner and overnight in Gudauri. Includes: (B, D).
Day 6: Gudauri – Kazbegi – Tbilisi. A stunning drive from Gudauri along the Tergi River will bring us to Kazbegi – the main town in the region. From Kazbegi a leisurely 1.5 hour walk up through beautiful valleys and woodland leads us to Gergeti Trinity Church located at 2170m. Weather permitting you may catch a glimpse of one of the highest glaciers in the Caucasus – Mt Kazbegi (5047 m). Then we take the same way back to drive to Tbilisi. Includes: (B).
Day 7: Tbilisi. Today we have Tbilisi sightseeing tour. The city offers a great variety of sights, most of them very ancient. All the places of interest in the Old Town are very close to each other, within a few minutes’ walk. We start our visit to Old Tbilisi from Metekhi Church, then walk up to the brick-domed Sulphur Baths. From the Baths we head up the hill to visit Narikala Fortress – one of the oldest fortifications in the city. Afterwards we continue to the Synagogue, Sioni Cathedral and Anchiskhati Church. This marks the end of the Old Town. Visit the stunning treasury of the Georgian National Art Museum, before taking a stroll along Rustaveli Avenue – the main street in Tbilisi. Includes: (B).
Day 8: Tbilisi – Gori – Kutaisi. Today we head to the town of Gori – the heart of Kartli region and its historical place: Uplistsikhe Cave Town (1st millennium BC), that’s the place where the Great Silk Road used to pass. This is an old and interesting complex with dwelling quarters, wine – cellars, bakeries, a three – nave basilica church hewn out in rock and even an antic theatre. Afterwards we continue our way to Imereti province to visit the pretty town of Kutaisi, the second largest in the country. Dinner and overnight in Kutaisi. Includes: (B, D).
Day 9: Kutaisi – Bakuriani. In the morning we visit historical sight in Kutaisi – Gelati Monastery and Academy (12th century) – UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then will drive to visit the grotto with stunning stalactites and stalagmites and enjoy time in this mystical part of land. Afterwards we drive to Meskheti and Javakheti region. We travel through forested hills and rocky mountains to Bakuriani ski resort. Dinner and overnight. Includes: (B, D).
Day 10: Bakuriani – Vardzia – Georgian – Armenian border (Bavra) – Gyumri. Today we drive to visit Vardzia – the magnificent cave town of the Golden Age. The cave complex stretching over half a kilometer once consisted of some 3000 caves and was one of the best examples of Georgia’s renaissance. It’s got a church hewn out in rock with amazing 12th century frescos. The complex also includes dwellings quarters, small hall – type churches, refectories, wine cellars, etc. On the way to Vardzia we will also visit Khertvisi fortress. Then drive to the Geo – Arm border (Bavra), change transport and guide and continue the trip to Armenia. Drive to Gyumri. Includes: (B).
Day 11: Gyumri – Yerevan. The morning will start with a short sightseeing tour of Gyumri city – the 2nd largest city in Armenia. We explore undiscovered corners of Armenia. Armenia’s long turbulent history has left it with a rich heritage of medieval monasteries and fortresses. We cross a high mountain pass and enter a hidden wilderness of mountain pastures carpeted with multicolor flowers and broad valleys lined by snowy peaks.
The way passes by a fast-running stream and spectacular mountains. We are more likely to meet a shepherd than to meet visiting walkers on the trails. We pause at the first village of migratory shepherds to see the way of their life, life moves at a different pace here and it’s hard to re – enter the 21st century. We will come to Amberd fortress. With its towers, embrasures and arches it is situated at the altitude of 2300m above sea level on a high cliff surrounded with deep gorges and full – flowing rivers. Includes: (B).
Day 12: Yerevan – Echmiadzin – Yerevan. City tour in Yerevan visiting History Museum. This excursion takes us to one of the oldest and cosiest towns of Armenia – Echmiadzin, which is the religious centre of all Armenians. The main Cathedral of Echmiadzin was the first official church built in Armenia. Today it is the Holy See of Echmiadzin, where the Catholicos of Armenia resides.
Legend tells that it was here that Jesus Christ descended from Heaven to show where he wanted a church to be built. Echmiadzin means “The Coming of Only Begotten”. On a Sunday you can listen to the beautiful choir performance of Divine Lithurgy here. After this we will visit the archaeological site of Zvartnots Cathedral, which is a masterpiece of Armenian architecture! The area is a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.
After coming back to Yerevan we will visit the Genocide Memorial Complex. If it is a week – end after coming back to Yerevan you will also have a chance to explore the outdoor handicraft market Vernisage where you can find the most attractive hand made souvenirs, carpets, handicrafts made from local volcanic glass obsidian, Armenian cross – stones (khachkars) made of tuff, some interesting ceramic items and other local souvenirs. (note that it’s open on weekends mainly). Includes: (B).
Day 13: Yerevan – Garni – Gegard – Sevan – Yerevan. Today we will visit Garni temple – a unique monument of Hellenistic period in Armenia and the only pagan temple in Armenia surviving to our days. From here we will descend to the canyon of Garni which is famous for its unique rock formations – gigantic basalt pillars often called “the symphony of stones” (1 hour easy hike).
We will then be transferred to the Goght village to visit a fantastic sample of medieval Armenian architecture, the Geghard Cave Monastery. This rock – carved monastery of 13th century is a UNESCO site. Some enclosures of the monastery have amazing acoustic and is a perfect place for singling spiritual songs. Drive to Lake Sevan and visit the monasteries on the peninsula. Drive back to Yerevan. Overnight in Yerevan. Includes: (B).
Day 14: Departure. Early in the morning transfer to the airport and departure.
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