A Bit of Caucasus
A perfect opportunity to discover the Caucasus in one itinerary, get acknowledged with three neighbouring countries: Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan and discover unique history, culture, and beauty of each.
Arrival in Baku International Airport. Meet and greet with company representatives. Head out on a tour of the Absheron Peninsula, visiting the Ateshgah fire temple and the eternally burning Yanardagh fire mountain. Yanar Dag is one of the most famous volcanoes as the mountain has been burning for as long as anyone can remember. These flames jet out at least three meters into the air, through a porous layer of sandstone. Unlike the other mud volcanoes of Azerbaijan, Yanar Dag has no seepage of mud or liquid, so the fire always burns. A 10-meter long wall of fire continuously burns alongside the edge of the hill. Next, drive to Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape, where you can see more than 6,000 rock drawings left by early human Settlement almost 40,000 years ago. Thereafter, return to Baku for dinner.
After breakfast departure to Shamakhi. Throughout its history, eleven major earthquakes have rocked Shamakhi but through multiple reconstructions, it maintained its role as the economic and administrative capital of Shirvan and one of the key towns on the Silk Road. The only building to have survived eight of the eleven earthquakes is the landmark Juma Mosque of Shamakhi, built in the 10th century. Take a visit to the Juma Mosque. Afterward, head towards Sheki. Upon arrival, visit the Sheki Khan Palace.
After breakfast at the hotel, drive to Lagodekhi on the Azerbaijan-Georgia border. Travel to Kakheti – one of the oldest and most popular regions in Georgia, famous for its oldest winemaking traditions and ultimate hospitality. From here, both the snowy Caucasus mountains and stunning green valleys are visible. Visit a local family, explore the gardens and vineyards and then enjoy a lunch of delicious homemade food, wine and Georgian ‘Chacha’. Continue to the beautiful 18th-century town of Sighnaghi, known for its quaint stone walls, small pastel houses with terracotta roofs and decorated balconies. Admire the picturesque views of the Alazani Valley and the Great Caucasus mountains.
We will start our journey to the Caucasus Mountains. Drive up the famous Georgian Military Highway (leading to the Georgian- Russian Border), our first stop is Ananuri architectural complex, the two churches and the fortress overlooking Zhinvali Water Reservoir. Next, continue onto Gori, the homeland of Stalin, to visit Stalin’s house-museum and train wagon. At the Stalin museum, learn about the life of the infamous dictator at the exhibit which includes unique photos, gifts, and furniture. Thereafter, 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.
After breakfast, we will embark on a city tour in Tbilisi. Tbilisi is the capital of Georgia from the 5th century. The city tour includes visiting the Old Town, Metekhi church, Abanotubani – old Sulphur Baths district, Narikala — the main fortress of Tbilisi. Walking along some narrow streets, you will find some carpet and souvenir shops. Next, we will continue our excursion in the Old Town to visit the 11th-century Sioni Cathedral, 6th-century Anchiskhati Church, Georgian National Museum and the Rustaveli Avenue. Afterward, onboard the cable train to Funicular for the views of the city. Thereafter, free at own leisure.
After breakfast, drive to Sadakhlo, a village at the Georgia-Armenia border. Begin the Armenian leg of your adventure with a visit to the 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. later, travel to the picturesque resort town of Dilijan, often referred 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.
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 Ist century Garni Temple, built by the Armenian King Tiridates and dedicated to Mithra, the God of the Sun. 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.
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 Echmiadzin, the spiritual center for all Armenians. The legend goes that the Echmiadzin Cathedral was designated in a vision where Christ came to Earth and struck the plains with a golden hammer. A stop at the ruins of Zvartnots Temple, a stunning example of 7th century Armenian architecture before we continue to Ashtarak. Situated on the right bank of the river Kasakh, we shall start our tour by visiting the large Karmavor church built in the 7th century. The temple has a modest architecture but is considered one of the most ancient and important buildings of the town.
Free at leisure till transfer to airport for flight back. Departure.