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Watch arid landscapes give way to verdant hillsides and majestic snow-capped mountains on this eye opening adventure through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. Explore a land where the walls speak of centuries of rich history, where ancient traditions intersect with a modern way of life. Journey through forests and past tall mountain peaks to find medieval mosques and villages. Wander through cosmopolitan Baku and Tbilisi, and make friends with the friendly Georgian locals over a glass of Qvevri wine.
Your Guided Holiday Includes:
- 13 nights accommodation
- 1 night Royal Batoni
- 14 breakfasts, 2 lunches & 6 dinners
- Selected sightseeing
Price is based on select departures from 20 Oct 2019 to 31 October 2020
Included Sightseeing Activities:
- Baku – Maidens Tower
- Qobustan – Pertoglyps
- Kvareli – Winery Visit
- Tbilisi – Old Twon Walking Tour
- Sighnaghi – Georgian Wine tasting & Home Cooked Lunch
Day 1 / Baku
Salam eleykim! Welcome to Azerbaijan. On arrival at Baku Airport you'll be met by a representative and transferred to your hotel (approximately a 40 minute drive). The adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm in the evening, followed by a group dinner. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Day 2 / Baku
Get to know Baku with a tour of the city, taking in a visit to the Old City, including time at Shemakha gate, Shirvanshahs` Palace, Maiden Tower, and Old Market Square. Bring a camera as there will be panoramic views of Baku's skyline to enjoy. Afterwards head out on a tour of the Absheron Peninsula, visiting the Ateshgah fire temple, Mardakan medieval fortress and the eternally burning Yanardagh fire mountain. Return to Baku in the evening.
Day 3 / Baku
Enjoy a day trip to Qobustan, located around 60 kilometres south of Baku. Visit one of the world's largest open-air archaeological museums and wander past ancient rock art dating back 40,000 years. The prehistoric carvings depict scenes of hunting, fishing and gathering. Return to Baku in the afternoon and finish your day with a visit to the much loved Carpet Museum, perhaps afterwards stroll along the waterfront and find a cafe for dinner.
Day 4 / Baku - Sheki
Today depart Baku and head for the Caucasus Mountains in the northwest of Azerbaijan. Watch arid landscapes slowly give way to densely forested mountains. En route to Sheki there will be stops at an active mud volcano, Diri Baba Shrine in Maraza, the Yeddi Gumbez Tomb, and the Juma Mosque in Shemakha. We also stop in to visit a family to see how they make yoghurt the traditional way and enjoy some local snacks. On arrival in Sheki, stop at a local craft workshop where the famous ‘shebeke’ – stained-glass windows with intricately carved frames – are made by hand. You will also visit the well-known Sheki Khan’s Palace to see its magnificent frescoes and stained glass. Tonight will be spent in Sheki.
Day 5 / Sheki - Kvareli
Have breakfast at the hotel visit the local Sheki bazaar before driving to Lagodecki, a town at the Azerbaijan-Georgia border, change leader and transportation. From here travel to Georgia's Kakheti region, famous for its wine making and welcoming hospitality. There will be a visit to the Gremi Architectural Complex and its museum, followed by lunch with a local family, which includes delicious homemade cuisine and wine, discover the importance of bread in the Georgian diet and discover how they make and bake this staple before, continuing to a winery and sample different kinds of famous Georgian wines. Listen to unique Georgian polyphonic songs, a traditional style of music prevalent in the Kakheti region. Afterwards, travel to the hotel in Kvareli. Our stunning hotel this evening is located in a picturesque area on the bank of Ilia Lake, between the Kvareli Mountains and the Duruji River, Royal Batoni and has a castle like exterior. It offers an outdoor swimming pool with beautiful views of the lake and free Wi-Fi. The elegant rooms feature modern design and furnishings. They offer satellite TV and private bathroom with a bath or shower, hairdryer and free toiletries. Rooms feature lake or mountain views.
Day 6 / Sighnaghi - Tbilisi
Following breakfast, journey to the beautiful 18th-century town of Sighnaghi, known for its quaint stone walls, small houses with terracotta roofs and decorated balconies. After some time to admire the picturesque views of Alazani Valley and Great Caucasus mountains, depart for Tbilisi and explore the capital of Georgia. Wander the old districts of the city, which are structured like terraces, and walk through the narrow streets to appreciate the colourful houses, patterned balconies and revamped modern architecture. Get to know the city on a walk beginning from the 13th-century Metekhi church, with its magnificent views over old Tbilisi, before visiting the main sights of the city. In the afternoon enjoy some free time.
Day 7 / Tbilisi
Enjoy panoramic views of the whole town from the ancient Narikala fortress, then head to the historical domed sulphur bath area. Visit the stunning treasury of the Golden Fund at the Natural History Museum (closed on Mondays), which will prove that Georgia is truly the land of the Golden Fleece. From here visit a local art studio and become acquainted with Georgian cloisonne enamel, also known as Minanqari, and see how it is made. Enjoy an afternoon of free time.
Day 8 / Mtsheta - Borjomi - Akhaltsikhe
Today visit Mtskheta, the ancient capital and religious center of Georgia. See UNESCO Heritage Sites such as the 6th century Jvari Monastery and the impressive Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, where the Robe of Christ is purported to be buried. Afterwards, visit a wine cellar in the village of Chardakhi and taste unique BIO wines, produced using traditional Georgian methods. Meet the owners of the winer cellar over a delicious lunch and "Qvevri" wines. In the afternoon, drive to the south western part of Georgia and visit Borjomi Spa town, famous for its mineral water "Borjomi". Spend the night in Akhaltsikhe.
Day 9 / Vardzia/Akhaltsikhe
Today drive to the the magnificent cave town of Vardzia, which stretches over half a kilometer along the river Mtkvari and has 19 tiers of winding cobbled streets. There is a church hewn out in rock with amazing 12th century frescos, and the complex also includes dwellings quarters, small hall-type churches, refectories and wine cellars. En route to Vardzia you'll also visit the 10th century Khertvisi fortress. In the afternoon return to Akhaltsikhe and visit the multicultural complex of Rabat (closed on Mondays).
Day 10 / Uplistsikhe - Gudauri
In the morning visit the town of Gori, home to the Stalin Museum, and historical Uplistsikhe Cave Town. Uplistsikhe is 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 a theatre. Afterwards, drive up the famous Georgian Military Highway (leading to the Georgian-Russian border). On the way you'll visit the Ananuri architectural complex – two churches and a fortress that overlook the Zhinvali water reservoir. The carvings on the churches are one of the best surviving examples of Georgian art. Enjoy a scenic drive through the Caucasus Mountains.
Day 11 / Gudauri
Enjoy a stunning drive from Gudauri along the Tergi River before arriving in Kazbegi. From here it's a leisurely 2 hour walk each way through beautiful valleys and woodlands to Gergeti Trinity Church, located at 2170 metres above sea level. If the weather is good it's possible to catch a glimpse of Mt Kazbegi, one of the highest glaciers in the Caucasus. Return to Gudauri.
Day 12 / Dilijan (Georgia-Armenia Border)
Enjoy a final breakfast in Gudauri before driving to Sadakhlo, a village at the Georgia-Armenia border. Here the group will change leaders and transportation. Begin the Armenian leg of your adventure with a visit to Haghpat monastery, which is listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO. Haghpat stands as an example of one of the most outstanding works of medieval Armenian architecture. Afterwards, continue on to the picturesque resort town of Dilijan, often refered to as the “Little Switzerland of Armenia’’. Dilijan's central Sharambeyan Street has been preserved and maintained as a charming "old town", complete with craftsman`s workshops, a gallery and a museum. Stay overnight at a hotel in Dilijan.
Day 13 / Yerevan
After breakfast drive to the reflective waters of Lake Sevan, nicknamed “The Pearl of Armenia”. Sevan is one of the largest fresh-water high-altitude lakes in the world. Visit the romantic Sevanavank Monastery, which overlooks the water on the Peninsula. Move on to the village of Garni to visit the 1st century Garni Temple, built by the Armenian King Tiridates and dedicated to Mithra, the God of the Sun, be treated to a local performance in the temple the magnificent sounds of the Duduk. The Duduk is a flute like instrument which is indigenous to Armenia, and currently listed on the UNESCO in-tangible Cultural Heritage List. Travel northeast of Garni, higher up the gorge of the Azat River, where there is a magnificent Geghard monastery. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is partly carved out of a mountain and surrounded by cliffs. In the afternoon, drive to the capital city of Armenia, Yerevan. Stay overnight at a hotel in Yerevan.
Day 14 / Yerevan
After breakfast, become familiar with the streets of Yerevan on a guided city tour. Established in 782 BC, Armenia’s capital is one of the oldest cities in the world. Nowadays it's a lively city, where ancient culture is mixed with a modern lifestyle. Visit the Matenadaran, a depository of ancient manuscripts that contains historical documents from all over Europe and Asia. The building also holds the first copy of the Bible in Armenian. In the afternoon, depart for Zvartnots Temple, a stunning example of 7th century Armenian architecture. Return to the capital in the afternoon and discover Armenian Carpet Making and learn aout the weaving process, swing past the local fruit market to see what is in season, before returning to your hotel for a final night in Yerevan
Day 15 / Yerevan
Today your adventure comes to an end after breakfast. There are no activities included on this day and you are free to leave at any time.