Caucasus Uncovered. Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh

Caucasus Uncovered. Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh

An off-beat holiday to the Caucasus that explores Armenia's spectacular mountain scenery, medieval monasteries and unspoilt villages. From the twisted rock formations of the Garni Gorge to high-altitude Lake Sevan and the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Geghard Monastery, this beautiful country won't fail to impress. We spend a few days in the mountainous Republic of Artsakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, an unrecognized country supported by Armenia and probably one the most beautiful parts of Caucasus.


Itinerary:

Day 1. Arrive Yerevan, Lake Sevan, Garni, Geghard.
Early morning arrival at Zvartnots Int. Aiport. Meet and greet. Transfer to the hotel for some rest.
10:00 am drive to Lake Sevan “The Pearl of Armenia”. This huge mountain lake, which takes up to 5% of Armenia’s surface area is the second highest freshwater lake in the world. Visit Sevanavank Monastery on the peninsula with breathtaking view over the lake. Drive to Kotayk region, to visit Garni Temple dating back to the 1st century. The temple is a picturesque monument of the Hellenistic period and an impressive piece of ancient Armenian architecture. We proceed to Northeast of Garni, higher up the gorge of the Azat River to visit Geghard Monastery. The spectacular towering cliffs surrounding the monastery are part of the Azat River gorge, and are included together with the monastery in the UNESCO World Heritage Site listing. Some of the chambers within the complex are entirely dug out of the cliff rocks. Return to Yerevan. Hotel in Yerevan. (B/-/-)

Day 2. Echmiadzin, Zvartnots
Today we start our exploration of the vibrant capital of Armenia, Yerevan, where ancient culture is mixed with modern lifestyle and great traditions. We start our walking tour from the Republic Square, the masterpiece of the architect Alexander Tamanian. Continue to Cascade, an open-air museum of modern art with massive stairways leading up to the Victory Park providing a fantastic overlook to the entire downtown from above. We are in the Opera House, a beautiful building, and hub of Yerevan. Freedom Square is behind it, surrounded by parks which have been taken over by outdoor cafes, and finally Swan Lake. Continue to Echmiadzin, the center of the Armenian Church and the spiritual center of all Armenian people. Here is situated the most ancient Christian church of Armenia built in 301-303 by Grigor the Enlightener. Proceed to the ruins of Zvartnots Temple (7th century) which is listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO. Zvartnots is an outstanding monument of world architecture, an evidence of the high level of the development of the artistic and engineering thought in the 7th-century Armenia. Back to Yerevan for overnight. (B/-/-)

Day 3. Yerevan - Khor Virap - Areni cave – Noravank – Jermuk - Vayk
We head to the North, to Ararat region home to former town of Artashat an ancient capital of Armenia. Visit to Khor Virap Monastery, the site of royal prison where St. Gregory the Illuminator was held for thirteen years before converting Armenia into the first Christian country in 301. This is the closest point to this mountain and to the Armenian-Turkish border. Continue the tour to Vayots Dzor region. Continue tour to Areni Cave where the excavations have found the world’s oldest leather shoe. Now the shoe is exhibited at the History museum of Armenia. The cave is also known for some of the oldest wine production facilities. Visit Noravank Canyon with Noravank monastery of 13th c. Visit Areni cave. Drive to Jermuk. Visit Jermuk waterfall of 70 meters falling into the gorge of Arpa River. It reminds of hair flowing freely and therefore locals call it “Mermaid’s hair.” Drive to Vayk for overnight. (B/-/-)

Day 4. Vayk - Karahunge – Tatev - Stepanakert (Nagorno Karabakh)
Drive to Goris, on the way stop at Sisian at Karahunge (Armenian Stonehenge) the famous pre-Christian site. Proceed to explore the monastic complex of Tatev, which is often called, a monastery built on the edge of nothing. Take a ropeway called “Wings of Tatev” which is the longest aerial tramway in the world. Crossing the border to reach Nagorno Karabakh republic. Arrival in Stepanakert. One of the main tourist sites in Stepanakert is in the outskirts, the monument called popularly "Mamik and Babik", an old Armenian man and woman hewn from rock, the symbol of Kharabakh. They represent the mountain people of Karabakh and this monument is the symbol of Kharabakh. Hotel in Stepanakert (B/-/-)

Day 5. Stepanakert - Askeran – Tigranakert - Gandzasar - Stepanakert
City tour around Stepanakert Karabakh’s capital, standing above the Karkar River, surrounded by a typical landscape of forest, pasture and fields backed by craggy mountains. Visit the Revival Square, Historical Museum of Artsakh etc. Drive to Askeran fortress is situated in the southern suburb of the town. The fortress was built for defense of Shushi. The fortress was widely used during the Russo-Persian War. Visit Tigranakert a ruined Armenian city dating back to the Hellenistic period. It is one of several former cities in the Armenian plateau with the same name, named in honor of the Armenian king Tigran the Great. Continue to Tsaghkashat village to visit Nikol Duman house-museum, a typical Armenian house with rural styling and interior. Drive to Gandzasar monastery (13th century) which is 50 km northwest of Stepanakert. Gandzasar is now the seat of the Archbishop of Artsakh appointed by the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin of the Armenian Apostolic Church and means treasure mountain or hilltop treasure in Armenian. Return Stepanakert and hotel overnight. (B/-/-)

Day 6. Stepanakert – Shushi - Hunot Canyon - Stepanakert
Today we visit Shushi an administrative province at the south-eastern part of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, city tour visiting Ghazanchetsots Church, which is the biggest church in the city. Continue to the Hunot Canyon, a natural – historic reservoir to admire the amazing gorge views. Proceed to Togh village to visit a family-owned wine factory ‘Kataro”. The wine production is based on local grape sorts and is distinguished with its exquisite taste.
Drive back to Stepanakert. Hotel. (B/-/-)

Day 7. Stepanakert/Dadivank/ Noratus/ Yerevan
Breakfast at the hotel. Visit Dadivank, complex. This sprawling monastery is great to explore, with its numerous buildings and levels. Continue to Armenia and stop at Noratus, a major and historical village in the Gegharkunik province of Armenia, near the town of Gavar. It is famous for its largest collection of Khachqars (Armenian cross stones). Drive back to Yerevan. (B/-/-).
*Museums and Tatev aerial tramway are closed on Monday and public holidays

Day 8. Departure


Price Includes:
Rooms with private facilities in standard hotels in Yerevan/Vayk/Stepanakert incl. breakfast
Transportation as per program
Professional English speaking guide throughout the program
Entrance fees to the sites as per itinerary
Tour and winetasting in Kataro winery in Togh
1 bottle of water per day/per person

Not Included:
Lunches & dinner
Travel insurance
Airport transfers
Tips & porterage


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