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Grand Caucasus Tour
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Grand Caucasus Tour

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 10 - 14 day(s)
Group Size: 1 - 12 people
Destination(s): Armenia   Georgia  
Specialty Categories: Cultural Journey   Archeology/History  
Season: January - December
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
Minimum Per Person Price: 1050 Euro (EUR)
Maximum Per Person Price: 1050 Euro (EUR)

Tour Dates for 2011:
- 9 Dec 2011 - 19 Dec 2011: €1,050
- 12 Jan 2012 - 22 Jan 2012: €1,050
- 23 Feb 2012 - 4 Mar 2012: €1,050
- 22 Mar 2012 - 1 Apr 2012: €1,050
- 19 Apr 2012 - 29 Apr 2012: €1,050
- 10 May 2012 - 20 May 2012: €1,050
- 7 Jun 2012 - 17 Jun 2012: €1,050
- 19 Jul 2012 - 29 Jul 2012: €1,050
- 2 Aug 2012 - 12 Aug 2012: €1,050
- 13 Sep 2012 - 23 Sep 2012: €1,050
- 25 Oct 2012 - 4 Nov 2012: €1,050
- 15 Nov 2012 - 25 Nov 2012: €1,050
- 6 Dec 2012 - 16 Dec 2012: €1,050.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Treasures of Yerevan. In the morning meet other group participants and tour leader, brief pre-tour orientation meeting. The day starts with a walking tour of Yerevan exploring various layers of its history – medieval shrines hidden behind imposing Soviet-style facades, narrow streets of the old center with sunlight playing on its pink walls, the Republic Square, Mother Armenia, Opera House and ambitious projects of independent Armenia – North Avenue and spacious Grigor Lusavorich Cathedral consecrated by His Holiness the Patriarch of All Armenians in the presence of His Holiness Pope John Paul 11.

A cultural showcase not to be missed is Matenadaran, one of the world's oldest repositories of Greek, Persian and Arabic manuscripts. Later in the day, visit Vernisage, the lively arts and crafts market. Featuring everything from exquisite artwork to naive hand-made items, it is a lot of fun to wander in. Transfer to your hotel for rest. Overnight: Hotel in Yerevan. Includes: (B).

Day 2: Classical Armenia. Breakfast at hotel. Today we continue our exploration of the treasures of Armenia with a visit to the Vatican city of Armenia, Holy Echmiadzin. Experience a fascinating journey through time, descend to the ruins of the pagan sanctuary beneath the altar and pay tribute to the Treasury of Mother Cathedral with striking collection of relics of Christianity. On to Zvartnots, a temple consecrated in the presence of Emperor Constantine of Byzantium, it stands out as one of the most prominent creations of medieval architecture.

Drive east to the magnificent Temple of the Sun at Garni and the legendary Monastery of Spear at Geghard. Explore the mosaic ancient baths and ruins of the royal palace, immerse yourself in the atmosphere of this mythical place and examine remarkable cross stones carved into sheer rock. Back to Yerevan. In the evening we offer you to enjoy the cultural life of Yerevan. An exquisite performance at National Opera or a concert at Classical Music Chamber will offer you the best of what is available at the time of your stay (optional). Overnight: Hotel in Yerevan. Includes: (B).

Day 3: Amberd Fortress. Early start today with a trip to the highest peak of Transcaucasia, Mount Aragats (4,090 m), an extinct volcano. The first stop of our trip is Saghmosavank (Monastery of Psalms) perched on the edge of picturesque Kasakh gorge. Acclimatizing gradually as we ascend the beautiful countryside, we reach Amberd Fortress on the southern slope of Aragats. Breathtaking views of the fortress and citadel, snow covered peaks of Aragats, sun scorched grasslands dressed in wildflowers combine to provide an unforgettable experience this morning. If we come here during summer months we can visit high-mountain camps of friendly Yezidi tribes who tend their sheep under the towering peaks of Aragats.

We will discover the traditional way of life of these people of the mountains, visiting their tents, trying fresh cheese and yogurt. A unique option this evening is a guided visit to Byurakan Observatory founded in 1946; star observations using 2.6 meter telescope, the second largest in Europe, explanations by the team working at the observatory. Overnight: Hotel in Byurakan. Includes: (B).

Day 4: Lori. This day takes in some of the less traveled routes of Northern Armenia, the largest of Armenia's 11 provinces. The first stop of our journey is the village Lermontovo, home to Molokan Russian community where villagers adhere to their traditional ways of life. Molokans (Milk Drinkers ) are a sect of Russian Old Believers who broke away from the Russian Orthodox Church in the 16th сentury. With our local guide serving as a translator, we learn first-hand about the unique cultural and religious traditions of the community, on foot on in a horse-driven molokan cart we explore the surrounding area, beautiful nature and worship sites.

Open air molokan-style lunch at a beautiful nature spot. Continue to Stepanavan, a charming town nestled in the mountains. Check in at hotel, short rest. Continue our exploration with a visit to the ruins of one of feudal Armenia's main fortresses, Lori Berd situated on a naturally fortified plateau between two river gorges. Explore the site and take in the beauty of dramatic mountain scenery. In the evening we have time to walk and relax in Stepanavan Dendropark, a huge botanical garden founded in 1931, on site explanations by the team at the park. Overnight: Hotel in Stepanavan. Includes: (B), (L).

Day 5: Northern Armenia. After breakfast we continue our exploration and start with beautiful Kobayr monastery situated on the edge of a narrow ravine. Superb frescoes and a unique atmosphere make Kobayr a jewel in the crown of Northern Armenia. We continue our trip to sleepy Alaverdi, once an industrial town and rise to our next destinations - Haghpat and Sanahin. Severe and majestic design and marvelous bas-reliefs justly rank these sites among the celebrated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Optional lunch at one of many riverside restaurants before heading to Ijevan, a small city of quaint appeal with its beautiful cypress-lined streets. Evening free to wonder in shuka, the local market or an optional visit to Ijevan wine factory.
Overnight: Hotel in Ijevan. Includes: (B).

Day 6: Old Tbilisi. Breakfast at hotel. Today we begin our journey of Georgia's fascinating and historical countryside and head for Tbilisi, the vibrant capital of Georgia. Arrival in Tbilisi and check in at hotel. After rest we visit Georgian Art Museum offering an exclusive collection - the icon of Zarzma Monastery, the Chalice of Bedia, Anchistkhati and Khakhuli Triptychs and much more. Proceed to the tour of old Tbilisi. Best explored on foot our tour includes some of the most colorful sites of this ancient city - Metekhi Temple, Narikala Fortress with a marvelous panoramic view of the city, Sulfur Baths dating back to the time of Arab Khalifs, the Synagogue and Sioni Cathedral. Fine masonry with carved woodwork, arts and crafts workshops and oriental bazaars offer us an insight into the fascinating cultural diversity of Tbilisi. Optional sulfur bath with massage in the evening. Overnight: Hotel in Tbilisi. Includes: (B).

Day 7: Old Tbilisi. Breakfast at hotel. Proceed to the tour of old Tbilisi. Best explored on foot our tour includes some of the most colourful sites of this ancient city - Metekhi Temple, Narikala Fortress with a marvelous panoramic view of the city, Sulfur Baths dating back to the time of Arab Khalifs, the Synagogue and Sioni Cathedral. Fine masonry with carved woodworks, arts and crafts workshops offer us an insight into the fascinating cultural diversity of Tbilisi. Continue to open air ethnographic museum of Tbilisi featuring 70 houses with traditional household furniture and utensils from various regions of Georgia. Optional sulphur bath with massage in the evening. Overnight: Hotel in Tbilisi. Includes: (B).

Day 8: Caucasus Mountains. Travel the famous Georgian Miltary Highway and visit Ananuri Fortress. Arrive at Kazbegi, a lovely town nestled at the base of Caucasus Mountains. Enjoy the wildly beautiful views of Mount Kazbek (5,047 m), one of the six 5,000 m peaks of the Caucasus range where Prometheus was said to be chained. Gergeti Sameba (Trinity), a remote but enchanting church dramatically sited at the foot of Kazbek, is a site not to be missed. In order to reach the church we will take a winding road uphill through flower-filled meadows enjoying fantastic vistas of the area. We spend the night at a cosy alpine hut style hotel in nearby Gudauri ski resort and enjoy genuine Georgian hospitality. Overnight: Hotel in Gudauri. Includes: (B), (D).

Day 9: Fortress of God. Travel to Gori, the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. Visit the remarkable Stalin Museum re-creating surreal and revealing scenes from the life of the tyrant. A large statue of the "Leader of the People" used to dominated the square of Gori until last year. Stalin's bulletproof train carriage, which he used to travel to the Potsdam Conference in 1945 lies in the grounds of the museum. Visit Uplistsikhe or Fortress of God, an ancient cave town dating back to I millennium BC.

Explore its caves, temples, labyrinth passages and colonnaded streets, all carved out of stone. Wander among the impressive ruins of the amphitheatre, one of the oldest in the world. Afternoon proceed to Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia founded 3000 years ago, Jvari Church built to house the robe of Jesus Christ and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, major pilgrimage site listed as UNESCO World Heritage site. Arrival Tbilisi, check-in at hotel, rest. Overnight: Hotel in Tbilisi. Includes: (B).

Day 10: Wine & Art, Kakheti. Breakfast and departure from Tbilisi. The first stop of our visit is David Gareja cave monastery. Take a light hike up the mountain, the slopes of which lead you to another world. In the footsteps of ten centuries of pilgrims, explore Lavra and Udabno churches for fine frescos and rare examples of cave architecture. Continue deep into the heart of Alazani, a fertile valley boasting three hundred years of wine making. We reach the walled town of Signagi with splendid views of romantic Alazani valley.

Here we visit a family of winemakers and taste some of the finest red and white wines of the region. We learn first-hand about the local traditions of wine making and sample wines from kvevri, a clay jar kept in the ground. In the evening we make our way back to Tbilisi. Those taking Svaneti and Eastern Turkey extensions start their tours the next morning after breakfast. Overnight: Hotel in Tbilisi. Includes: (B).

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:
- Accommodation for 10 nights
- Meals as specified in the itinerary
- Professional tour guides fluent in English
- All activities as per itinerary
- All transfers in comfortable vehicles
- Welcome to Caucasus information kit.

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Europe   Armenia   Georgia   Local Culture   Cultural Journey   Archeology/History