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Grand Caucasus Tour
Azerbaijan - Georgia - Armenia
 
Explore the great culture, rich spirit and diversity of the Caucasus. We make the way from Baku, Azerbaijan to Tbilisi, Georgia and Yerevan, Armenia, through the rolling hills and lush valleys, beautiful and scenic Caucasus Mountains and lakes, ancient architectural monuments and fascinating villages.
 
Itinerary
in brief:
Day 1: Arrival in Baku
Day 2: Baku City Tour
Day 3: Baku - Shemakha – Sheki
Day 4: Sheki, Azerbaijan - Telavi (Georgia)
Day 5: Telavi - David Gareji - Tbilisi
Day 6: Tbilisi city tour
Day 7: Tbilisi - Mtskheta - Gori - Uplistsikhe - Tbilisi
Day 8: Tbilisi - Haghpat (Armenia) - Dilijan - Lake Sevan - Yerevan
Day 9: Yerevan City Tour
Day 10: Yerevan - Garni - Geghard - Yerevan
Day 11: Yerevan - Khor Virap - Noravank - Areni Winery - Yerevan
Day 12: Yerevan - Echmiadzin - Zvartnots - Yerevan
Day 13: Departure
Itinerary in details
Day 1: Arrival in Baku
Arrive in Baku, Azerbaijan. Transfer to hotel. Overnight in Baku.
 
Day 2:  Baku: City Tour
Panorama of the city presented to the height of the mountainous part of a television tower clearly gives an idea of ​​the contrasts and the extent of Baku, the horseshoe bay of Baku. Later we explore the oldest district of the city – “Old Baku” or “Icheri Shey-Har” (UNESCO World Heritage Site) with its maze of cobbled streets and 12th century wall-stones. During the medieval period of Baku, such monuments as the Synyg Gala Minaret (11th century), the fortress walls and towers (11th–12th centuries), the Maiden Tower, the Multani Caravanserai and Hajji Gayyib bathhouse (15th century), the Palace of the Shirvanshahs (15th-16th centuries), the Bukhara Caravanserai and Gasimbey bathhouse (16th century) were built. In 1806, when Baku was annexed by the Russian Empire and the traditional architectural look of the Old City changed. Many European buildings were constructed during the 19th century and early 20th century, using styles such as Baroque and Gothic. Baku thus has an original and unique appearance, earning it a reputation as the 'Paris of the East'. This afternoon we visit the the Fire Temple, known locally as the Atashgah.  Overnight in Baku.

Day 3:
Baku Shemakha – Sheki
This morning we leave the capital and travel to Shemakha, for a long time the capital and trade centre for western Azerbaijan and now a small town. We briefly visit the Grand Mosque, a very large and attractive building from the late 19th century, Yeddi Gumbez 'Seven Tombs', yet only three of these desecrated octagonal royal tombs remain reasonably complete. They are 18th-19th century mausoleums of the Khans of Shemakha. We continue to Sheki, one of the most ancient settlements and architectural centers of Azerbaijan founded more than 2700 years ago. The setting here is stunning -- lying in forested hills with views of the Caucasus Mountains. On arrival we visit the mosaic-fronted Khan's Palace, a beautiful piece of Islamic architecture, and the History Museum. We will also have a walk through the busy market of Sheki. Overnight in Sheki.

Day 4: Sheki Lagodekhi Border Gremi Fortress (Georgia) Nekresi Telavi
This morning we travel along the foothills of the Greater Caucasus range and arrive at the Azerbaijani-Georgian border at Lagodekhi. After completing customs and immigration formalities we continue to Kakheti, a famous ancient wine making area.Georgia is considered one of the ancient wine making centers. The Latin term for wine, “Vino”, is said to derive from the Georgian word for wine, “Ghvino”. The Caucasus has been the very place from which domestic grapevine spread to Europe, first to Italy and then to France, North Africa, and Spain. On the way visit Gremi Fortress, built in the XVI C, which was the capital of Kakheti region in the Middle Ages.  Afterwards we drive to Nekresi Monastery complex, located in an amazing natural setting and finally drive to a local restaurant in Telavi, a cozy city in the heart of Kakheti with a large city wall. Overnight in Telavi.

Day 5: Telavi – Tsinandali Sighnaghi David Gareji Tbilisi
After breakfast we will visit Tsinandali– the summer residence of the noble Georgian family – Chavchavadze. The founder of this beautiful European style palace and gardens was the father of the Georgian romanticism – Alexander Chavchavadze. Later we will tour Sighnaghi "love town" - a medieval city located on the hills overlooking Alazani Valley and Dagestan Mountains (North Caucasus). Continue to David Gareji Monastery situated in the semi-desert in the region bordering with Azerbaijan. Founded in the 6th century by Assyrian monks, David Gareji is the largest monastery complex in Georgia and was once the royal monastery.  In the 1616 the Persian Shah Abbas massacred 6000 monks and had the monastery sacked. The complex is known for it amazing frescoes and range of artistic and architectural styles ranging from the 6 – 18th century.  Arrival Tbilisi. Overnight in Tbilisi.

 
Day 6: Tbilisi City Tour
After breakfast we will start our exploration of Tbilisi, a city which has quite long 1500 years of history as a capital. The foundation of the city is related with the famous Tbilisi Baths – natural spring waters with sulfur. Baths’ district is nowadays the heart of the old town of Tbilisi. During our city tour we will visit this famous baths, also XVII C. Metekhi church situated on Metekhi Plateau. From plateau you can see Georgian, Armenian and Catholic churches, also Jewish Synagogue and Muslim Mosque side by side as a symbol of Georgian tolerance. We also visit Narikala fortress (by the cable car), Cathedral Sameba – which is the highest Orthodox Church and the oldest church of Tbilisi – Anchiskhati (VI-VII C). Next to the Anchiskhati is the oldest café of Tbilisi – “café Gabriadze” named after the famous Georgian film maker Rezo Gabriadze.
We also visit the main avenue of Tbilisi – Rustaveli Avenue with the buildings of almost all the types of European Architecture of the 19th century (Baroque, Moorish, classical and even Stalinist architectural styles).  Also we visit the National History Museum.
Overnight in Tbilisi.


Day 7: Tbilisi – Mtskheta Gori – Uplistsikhe Tbilisi
After breakfast we drive to Mtskheta (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the ancient capital of the Georgian Kingdom. Here we visit Jvari Monastery (6th c.) and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral built in the 11th century as one of the symbols of unification of Georgia. We will also visit the city of Gori founded by one of the greatest kings of Georgia, David the Builder in the 12th century. One of the “must see” places of Gori is the house museum of Joseph Stalin. After visiting that unique museum we drive to Uplistsikhe meaning "the lord's fortress". It’s an ancient rock-hewn town. Built on a high rocky left bank of Mtkvari River, it contains various structures dating from the 2nd ML BC to the Late Middle Ages. Back to Tbilisi. Overnight in Tbilisi.
 
  
Day 8: Tbilisi – Sadakhlo Border Haghpat (Armenia) Dilijan Lake Sevan Yerevan
After breakfast drive to the Georgian – Armenian border at Sadakhlo. Change buses and guides. Driving through the picturesque Canyon of Debed River we visit the Monastery of Haghpat dating back to the 10th century. It’s a perfect example of medieval Armenian architecture. Being astonishingly well preserved with its frescoes, “lace” stone-crosses, inscriptions and bas-relieves it became the first Armenian architectural monument to be included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Later we drive to Dilijan National Park, a protected area renowned for its serene lakes, picturesque hill trails and peaceful villages. Many poets used to say, "If there are woods, mountains, streams and mineral waters in paradise, it must be like Dilijan”. Due to its forested mountains and mild climate, Dilijan is named "Armenia's Little Switzerland". Take a stroll in the most beautiful part of the town, the restored Old Dilijan Complex on historic Sharambeyan street. Here we experience the town as it was in the 19th century. Continue to the Lake Sevan, the world’s second largest high altitude lake at 1900m above sea level. Marvel at turquoise waters of the lake from the heights of the peninsula hill where we visit the 9th century Sevanavank Monastery. Drive to Yerevan. Overnight in Yerevan.

Day 9: Yerevan City Tour
Today we explore Yerevan, the “pink pearl” of Armenia, a beautiful European city built with different shades of purple and pink tufa stone quarried in Armenia. Yerevan as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world has a history that dates back 2800 years.  Walking down the Abovyan Street, one of the oldest streets in Yerevan which was on the Great Silk Road, we continue to Northern Avenue, Opera House, Ring Park encircling the downtown. We visit the birthplace of Yerevan – the Urartian Fortress of Erebuni, founded in 782 B.C. by the King Argishti I. A photo-stop at the legendary hero “David of Sasun” Statue. We'll have a panoramic tour of the city starting with the "Victory" Park offering a bird's eye view of the city.  We also visit the Cascade which is a colossal white stairwell built on a Yerevan hillside in the 1970’s, with water fountains running down the sides, all reminiscent of a natural river or stream cascading. Afterwards a tour of food Bazaar “GUM” - a real museum of food. Get acquainted with the rich spiritual and cultural life of ancient Armenia at Matenadaran, a unique Research Institute and museum of ancient and medieval illustrated manuscripts. Marvel at the illuminated pages of some of those manuscripts within their glass cases. Overnight in Yerevan.

Day  10: Yerevan Garni Geghard Yerevan
Leaving the frantic pace of the city we are heading towards Garni Pagan Temple, the only Hellenistic Temple in the Caucasus (and former USSR). Gracing the hillside the pagan temple was dedicated to the God of Sun, Mithra. It was built in 77A.D. by the Armenian King Tiridates I in the territory of Garni Fortress. Then we proceed to Geghard Monastery, an incredible ancient Armenian monastery, partly carved out of a mountain. The architectural forms and the decoration of Geghard's rock premises show that Armenian builders could not only create superb works of architecture out of stone, but also hew them in solid rock. It is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Back to Garni village where we visit a local house and participate in traditional Armenian bread “lavash” making in tonir (underground earth-stove). Overnight in Yerevan.

Day  11:
  Yerevan Khor Virap Noravank Areni Winery Yerevan
A day dedicated to exploration of Southern Armenia combining the magic of Armenia's finest medieval architecture with stunning landscapes.  The first stop of our trip is Khor Virap, the most sacred pilgrimage destination in Armenia. Guided by the remote majesty of the biblical Mount Ararat, we explore the site, its underground chambers, elegant chapels. We continue to the south driving through the agricultural heart of Armenia, Ararat Plain offering a fantastic scenery of fruit orchards, endless vineyards at the foothills of Ararat Mountain where the Noah’s ark landed. As soon as the we pass the Ararat Plain we can experience the untamed beauty of Southern Armenia - surreal red rocks providing an eerie echo, honey-coloured villages sandwiched between them. Our next stop is the Monastery of Noravank, an architectural gemstone nestled among brick-red cliffs, just above a deep gorge.  Later we'll drive to Areni village, the cradle of viticulture. This is where the world’s oldest winery(6100years old) has been found in the cave Areni-1. Winery tour and wine tasting. Overnight in Yerevan.

Day  12: Yerevan Echmiadzin  Zvartnots Yerevan
Today we embark on our journey to the lands of ancient treasures of Christian history…Vatican city of Armenia, Holy Echmiadzin with its world’s earliest Christian churches included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Visit Echmiadzin Mother Cathedral originally built by Saint Gregory the Illuminator in 301-303A.D., when Armenia became the first officially Christian state in the world. Afterwards visit the ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral. The remnants of Zvartnots, even in ruins, are a majestic sight... Back to Yerevan where we visit the open air market of Vernissage - the largest souvenir, arts & crafts outdoor bazaar in the Caucasus. Overnight in Yerevan.

Day 13: Transfer to Zvartnots International Airport. Departure.

*Itinerary is subjet to change upon request.

Rates include:
- Accommodation at 3* hotels (4 & 5 stars hotels are available upon request)
- Breakfasts a hotels
- English speaking tour guide
- Full transportation as per program
- 1 bottle of water per day
- Entrans fees to all visited places
- Visa support to Azerbaijan for Europe, US, Canada and Japan citizens
- Local taxes

Rates exclude:
- Flights
- Visas to Armenia and to Azerbaijan
- Tips to the guides and drivers
- Travel insurance
- Bank transfer fees
- Single room supplement at the hotels
- Lunches and dinners

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