Caucasus Explorer - Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan

Caucasus Explorer - Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan 1035 , 11 Days
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The Caucasus - the region where Europe meets Asia, where dramatic nature landscapes meet thousands-of-years-old churches and where hearty fusion cuisine meets the oldest winemaking tradition in the world. Despite its incredible diversity and astoundingly rich history the area still remains one of the least explored parts of the world and is a real gem for off-the-beaten-path destinations seekers. On this tour you will explore the highlights of three countries - Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, each of them having its own specific charm and at the same time contributing to the overall allure of the region. 

Highlights:

Yerevan - the colorful capital of Armenia;
♦ Khor Virap Monastery - connected to Gregory the Illuminator who introduced Christianity to Armenia;
Mtskheta - ancient capital of Georgia and important religious centre;
♦ Kakheti region - Georgia’s premier wine-producing area;
Shemakha – an important ancient city of Azerbaijan;
Baku - the cosmopolitan capital of Azerbaijan, dubbed the Dubai of the Caucasus.


Itinerary:

Day 1. Arrival
Arrival at the Zvartnots airport - the main international airport of Armenia. Meet and greet transfer, accommodation at the hotel. -/-/-

Day 2. Yerevan - Echmiadzin - Zvartnots 
In the morning meet the guide and start a city tour around Yerevan. Drive to Echmiadzin – the place where the only Begotten descended. Holy Echmiadzin is the Armenia's spiritual center and one of the centers of Christianity all over the world. Here we will have the chance to participate in a Sunday liturgy. Return to Yerevan with a stop at the ruins of Zvartnots temple - the pearl of the 7th century architecture, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage. Lunchtime. Visit Tsitsernakaberd-walking through Memorial park and visit museum of the victims of Genocide. Visit Cafesjian Show Room and Vernisage flea market, the place to get a little taste of Armenia, to see the fusion between national traditions, art & crafts with contemporary taste. Overnight in Yerevan. B/-/-

Day 3. Yerevan - Khor Virap - Noravank - Yerevan 
Sightseeing tour to Khor-Virap monastery the importance of which is connected with Gregory the Illuminator, who introduced Christianity to Armenia. It is a wonderful masterpiece situated on top of a hill. It is a pilgrimage place visited by a lot of tourists and native people every year. It looks like a castle where everybody has the hint to sit and dream while admiring the beauty of the church. The highlight is the best view to the biblical Mt. Ararat. After lunch we continue our tour to Noravank monastery-religious and cultural center of 13th c. It is situated in a narrow gorge which is known for its tall, sheer, brick red cliffs, directly across from the monastery. The beauty of this monastery is appreciated by thousands of visitors not only because of its architecture and history, but for its harmony with the surrounding fabulous nature. Drive back to the capital city. Overnight in Yerevan. B/-/-

Day 4.Yerevan - Lake Sevan - Garni - Geghard - Yerevan 
Today we depart to Lake Sevan, one of the largest freshwater alpine mountain lakes in the world. The beautiful landscape and the crystal water serve as nice preconditions for excellent rest. We will visit Sevanavank Monastery before departing to Garni Temple. Garni temple, which towers over a triangular cape, is the unique survived example of heathen culture in Armenia. After adopting Christianity in 301, the pagan temple lost its significance and the fortress of Garni became the summer residence of the kings. After lunch we will drive to Geghard monastery inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage list. Geghard monastery is the unsurpassable masterpiece of the 13th century Armenian architecture. Some of the churches of the complex are masterfully hewn in a huge rock. The complex is rich in subtle sculptural embellishments and many striking khachkars (cross-stones). Return to Yerevan for overnight at the hotel. B/-/-

Day 5. Yerevan - Tbilisi (Georgia)
Breakfast at the hotel and drect transfer from your hotel to Tbilisi (without guide). After arriving at the hotel in Tbilisi and a short rest meet the guide at the lobby of the hotel and start a few unforgettable hours of familiarization with the capital. All the places of interest are very close to each other, within a few minutes walk. The first stop of our excursion from Metekhi (13th century) plateau, then we will reach Narikala Fortress (4th century) which dominates the skyline of the Old Town and we will continue exploring brick-domed underground sulphur baths (17th century) – the district of naturally hot mineral waters, cafe street Shardeni, Synagogue, Sioni Cathedral and the most ancient Basilica in Tbilisi -  Anchiskhati (6th century). We will walk across the Bridge of Peace with its stunning design which is a convenient crossing point between the newly constructed Rike Park and the Old Town. It also provides superb views over the city. Free time in the evening. Hotel accommodation and overnight in Tbilisi. B/-/-

Day 6. Tbilisi - Mtskheta - Uplistsikhe - Gori - Tbilisi
After breakfast at the hotel,  we will drive to Mtskheta – the ancient capital of Georgia, important religious centre and city-museum which is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Along the way we will stop to visit the Jvari Monastery (6th century). This well-known monastery is located on the top of the mountain, at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers. Then head to Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (11th century) which is known as a place where Christ’s robe was buried. Walk along the narrow streets of Mtskheta where you can buy some local souvenirs and presents. Then continue driving to Gori – the birthplace of the Soviet leader Stalin. Photo-stop at the museum of Stalin and proceed to the cave town Uplistsikhe (1st millennium BC) – one of the first cities in Georgia carved into the rock. The caves were the site of pagan rituals, before Georgia became a Christian country. In the evening we will return to Tbilisi for overnight. B/-/-

Day 7. Tbilisi - Alaverdi - Gremi - Khareba Winery - Tsinandali - Tbilisi
After breakfast, we will drive to Kakheti region - Georgia’s premier wine-producing area which is also home to hundreds of historical and architectural monuments. We will visit Alaverdi monastery, built in 11th century, which was one of the tallest structures of the time. The surrounding courtyard is home to vineyards from which local monks make their own wine. Afterwards we have possibility to see Gremi monastery complex. Gremi was the Capital of Kakheti Kingdom (1466–1616 years). It had booming cultural life, but due to internal strife and the invasion of Shah Abbas, the town was destroyed. Afterwards we will proceed to Khareba winery tunnel carved in the rock of the Caucasus Mountain Range and used to age wine and have wine degustatio. Afterwards we will visit Tsinandali – a village noted for the estate and its historic winery which once belonged to the 19th century aristocratic poet Alexander Chavchavadze. We will have an excursion in the family museum and a walk in the park beautifully laid out in English style with fine viewpoints and exotic plants. In the evening we will drive back to Tbilisi for overnight.B/-/-

Day 8.Tbilisi - Lagodekhi - Sheki
After breakfast we will drive to Georgian – Azerbaijan border in Lagodekhi. We will have some border formalities, change transportation and guide and start our excursion in Sheki - one of the most ancient cities of Azerbaijan, located on the picturesque hillsides of the Caucasus Mountains in the background of snowy peaks. Here we will visit the palace of the Sheki Khans (1762) – a rare example of a combination of national architecture and traditions of palace architecture. You can hardly find a second palace like this by the design and interior decoration. Its Mosaic is made in traditional style Shebeke (colored glass decoration). Hotel accommodation and overnight in Sheki. B/-/-

Day 9. Sheki - Shemakha - Baku
After breakfast in the morning, we will start our drive to Shemakha – an ancient city of Azerbaijan founded in the 5th century BC. In 11th–16th centuries, it was a capital of the kingdom of Shirvan and a residence of Shirvanshahs. Shemakha was one of the most beautiful cities in the East. Natural conditions of Shemakha lands attracted people since ancient times. Shemakha district is interesting not only for its rich nature but for an ancient history as well. Despite the numerous earthquakes in Shemakha there are many historical monuments still preserved: The Juma mosque with two minarets (743rd year), the mausoleum Shahihandan (15th century), the tomb of Shirvan Khans – mausoleum Yeddi Gumbez (Seven Domes) (18th – 19th centuries), the mausoleum “Diri-Baba” built in 1402, the ruins of the Gulistan citadel (XI-XIII centuries). In the evening  we will drive to Baku for overnight. B/-/-

Day 10. Baku city tour - Gobustan
After breakfast at the hotel,  we will start Baku city tour from Marty’s Lane, Highland park which connects the city center by funicular. A beautiful panoramic view of the city and the Baku Bay opens from the park. Continue to Maiden’s Tower – Baku landmark, a much loved symbol of the city and of Azerbaijan. It looms dark and enigmatic, looking out to sea from the southern edge of Baku’s old, walled city the Icheri Sheher. The Tower has been constructed in 12th century. Then proceed to Juma Mosque or mosque in the Icheri-sheher which has been functioning since the 12th century. According to many modern archaeologists, there was a pagan sacred centre on the site of Juma Mosque, where the fire worshipers gathered. Afterwards discover Palace of Shirvanshah – the most striking example of the medieval palace structures in Azerbaijan is the Shirvanshah Palace complex dating to the middle 15th cen. Afterwards visit Bibi-Heybat Mosque which is a historical mosque in Baku, Azerbaijan. The existing structure, built in the 1990s, is a recreation of the mosque with the same name built in the 13th century by Shirvanshah Farrukhzad II Ibn Ahsitan II, which was completely destroyed by the Bolsheviks in 1936. Afterwards we visit famous Carpet Museum. Located in the center of Baku, the museum displays Azerbaijani carpets and rug items of various weaving techniques and materials from various periods. Then drive to visit Gobustan which occupies the south-eastern spur of the Great Caucasian Range and situated 60 km south of Baku. It is a monticule semi-desert area dissected by numerous gullies and ravines and Gobustan, in translation, means "ravine land". Caves and rock outcroppings surround the region. Return back to Baku, hotel accommodation and overnight in Baku. B/-/-

Day 11. Departure
Transfer to Baku international airport and departure. -/-/-


Price Includes:
accommodation in standard 3*** hotels,rooms with en suite facilities (4 nights in Yerevan,3 nights in Tbilisi,1 night in Sheki and 2 nights in Baku)
transportation as per program
transfers
English speaking cultural tour guide throughout the tour days
entrance fees to the sites as per program
degustation of 2 types of wine at Khareba winery
catering BB: (breakfast at the hotel)
1 bottle of water per person per day

Not Included:
flight tickets
insurance
visa
tips and other personal expenses
meals except described (lunches and dinners)
alcoholic drinks
entrance fees not mentioned in the program
meals not mentioned in the program
portage at the hotels
bank transfer charge

Additional Services:
Supplement for smaller group: on request


Caucasus Explorer - Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan (Rated 4.72 / 5 Based on 5 Reviews.)
Price
1035 EUR
Duration
11 Days
Single Supplement
240 EUR
Status
Guaranteed departure
Price
1035 EUR
Duration
11 Days
Single Supplement
240 EUR
Status
Guaranteed departure
Price
1035 EUR
Duration
11 Days
Single Supplement
240 EUR
Status
Guaranteed departure
Price
1035 EUR
Duration
11 Days
Single Supplement
240 EUR
Status
Guaranteed departure
Price
1035 EUR
Duration
11 Days
Single Supplement
240 EUR
Status
Guaranteed departure
Price
1035 EUR
Duration
11 Days
Single Supplement
240 EUR
Status
Guaranteed departure

Currency fluctuations might cause correction of price at any time.

Group Size
8-16
Reservation System Code
CAUCEXPL
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