Asia Adventures and Study Tours - vacations and travel

The Caucasus - Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia

Caucasus
, Azerbaijan
, Baku
, Georgia
, Tbilisi
, Armenia
, Yerevan
, Mount Ararat
, Monasteries, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Asia

Contact provider for price 18 Days Year-round
Comfort accommodations Exertion level: 3
Operator: Asia Adventures and Study Tours 15 people max
  • Baku airport, azerbaijan
  • Culture & Nature trips
The Caucasus countries comprise three unique yet interconnected former Soviet republics: Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, each with its own distinct customs, language and traditions. Connected historically with the great Silk Road, this rich region was once traced by ancient caravans from the East carrying delicate jewels, precious stones and spices.

Our own journey along the Caucasus will begin in oil-rich Baku, Azerbaijan, from where we travel west into the famous wine-making regions of Georgia, north into the mountainous provinces of the Greater Caucasus, and finally into Armenia, one of the world’s oldest Christian countries. We will visit architectural monuments, monastic wonders and cities steeped in a long, rich history of Soviet, Arab, Christian and pagan cultures. The itinerary covers the most important and valuable cultural sites in the region. Along the way we will experience fabulous food, wine and hospitality from our Caucasian hosts. Indeed, the celebration of the table - with endless toasts of wine - is part of the Georgian celebration of life and one in which we will be fortunate enough to participate.
The mountains of the Caucasus, the area's remoteness, and its long incorporation in a Russian-dominated empire make it singularly little known in the West. And yet, the region is also one of the most fascinating on earth. Join us on what is sure to be a memorable adventure!

Locations visited/nearby

Caucasus , Azerbaijan , Baku , Georgia , Tbilisi , Armenia , Yerevan , Mount Ararat , Monasteries, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Asia

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Special information

  • This is a custom departure, meaning this trip is offered on dates that you arrange privately with the provider. Additionally, you need to form your own private group for this trip. The itinerary and price here is just a sample. Contact the provider for detailed pricing, minimum group size, and scheduling information. For most providers, the larger the group you are traveling with, the lower the per-person cost will be.

Itinerary

Day 1, Sun. Arrive Baku
Upon arrival in Baku, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel.
D Hyatt Regency

Day 2, Mon. Baku Sightseeing Tour
Baku one of the great oil gushers of the world is an intrinsically fascinating place. The atmospheric medieval town surrounded by an impressive defensive wall dating from the 12th century was one of the five biggest cities in the former USSR and the most prosperous of the Caucasian capitals. After a trip briefing over a late breakfast, we will begin our tour of Icheri Shey Har, the old town, with its maze of narrow, cobblestone streets lined with small mosques nestled between terrace cafes and grand turn-of-the-century architecture. A highlight of our afternoon's explorations will surely be Shirvan Shahs Palace, a royal palace built in the 15th century and the finest surviving example of Shirvan architecture. After lunch, we will visit the State Museum of Carpets and Applied Art. Housed in the former Lenin Museum, this impressive collection displays many rare and beautiful Azeri carpets from Azerbaijan as well as northern Iran and villages in Georgia and Armenia. We will enjoy a leisurely boat tour on the bay before dinner at a local restaurant.
B/L/D Hyatt Regency

Day 3, Tue. Absheron Peninsula
Once the center of Baku booming oil industry, this former agricultural jewel north of the capital is now a desolate landscape of semi-arid vegetation, grim industry and forgotten oil fields. However, the views of the Caspian are top-notch and hidden among this industrial sprawl, lay several sightseeing gems. We will visit both Atesgah, the sacred Zoroastrian fire temple built on the site of a natural gas vent, and Yanar Dag or Flaming Mountain, one of few remaining natural gas flares in the area. We will carry on further down the Caspian coast to Gobustan where over 6000 stone and iron age petroglyphs have been discovered in the hill caves above town depicting scenes of hunting and dancing rituals, a varied repertoire of animal figures along with thousands of artefacts and tools.
B/L/D Hyatt Regency

Day 4, Wed. Baku/Shemakha/Sheki
Today we head westward along one of the most scenic routes in Azerbaijan. Passing through stark, arid landscapes dotted with mud volcanoes, we will arrive in Maraza where just off the main road lies Pir Diri Baba
mausoleum built precariously into the side of a cliff.
Continuing past small villages nestled among steep mountains and lush valleys dotted with vineyards, we will stop in Shemakha, a city that served for many centuries as the capital and commercial center of western Azerbaijan before being replaced by Baku in the latter part of the 19th century. Nearby sit the famed Yeddi Gumbaz (Seven Tombs), of which only three remain completely intact, the royal tombs of the last Shirvan Khans to rule before the region became part of the Russian Empire. In town, we will stop at Juma
Meschid or Grand Mosque whose 10th century foundations are part of the first mosque built in the Caucasus. We will stop for lunch in Gabala, former capital of Caucasian Albania, before reaching Sheki, our home for the night. Sheki grew rich as a trade center linking mountain traders with the Caucasian trade route and is an architectural preserve famed for its silks and crafts.
B/L/D Caravan Saray Hotel

Day 5, Thu. Sheki/Telavi
We will have the morning to continue our explorations of this charming town. The jewel of Sheki is the exquisite Khan's Palace set in the midst of dilapidated fortress walls and adorned with detailed mosaics and Shebaka windows made from fragments of coloured glass and hand-shaped wooden cross-pieces. Later, we will have the opportunity to visit a Shebaka workshop as well as the local bazaar where we will wander among street peddlers and artists selling everything from local handicrafts and souvenirs to halva, a sweet confection flavoured with cinnamon, fennel or saffron.
In the afternoon arrive in Kakheti region of Georgia (which is synonymous with wine) as a fitting place to begin our introduction to the world-renowned Georgian hospitality and delicious food.
B/L/D Guest House

Day 6, Fri. Telavi/Tbilisi
A short drive from Telavi will take us to Gremi and its impressive citadel complex consisting of a 16th century domed church, tower and king chamber. Our road winds further to the Ikalto Academy beautifully located in a grove of cypresses. Founded by King David the Builder in the 12th century, the academy was the largest center of education in medieval Georgia and said to have served as a place of study for the celebrated poet Shota Rustaveli who wrote Georgia national epic, The Knight in the Panther Skin.Also visit Alaverdi Cathedral.
The Tsinandali Museum and Residence just off Gurjaani road is the former residence of the 18th century Kakhetian prince, A. Chachavadze. A poet as well as a prince, he turned the residence into a center for Georgian intellectual life. The lovely grounds boast a beautiful English-style park filled with roses and exotic plants. It also houses one of the oldest wine cellars in existence with wine dating from 1814.
B/L/D Marriott Hotel

Day 7, Sat. Tbilisi
In the more than 1500 years since becoming the capital of Georgia, the city has been destroyed and rebuilt on nearly 30 different occasions following a long history of fighting off Persian, Arab, Turkmen, Mongol, Turk and, finally, Russian invaders. The city has rebounded in recent years to become one of the most lively and cosmopolitan cities in the Caucasus. Today we will wind through Tbilisi's narrow streets and inner courtyards and stroll down Rustaveli Avenue, the main thoroughfare running east through the city. Visit Metekhi Church of the Virgin, Sioni Cathedral, Anchiskhati Basilica, Bakery. State museum of Georgia.
B/L/D Marriott Hotel

Day 8, Sun. Tbilisi/Gudauri
Today we will drive north along the famed Georgian Military Highway, the main transport artery linking Georgia with Russia into the mountainous provinces of the Greater Caucasus. Our first stop of the day will be in sacred Mtskheta, the ancient capital of eastern Georgia, at the southern end of the highway. Georgia conversion to Christianity occurred in Mtskheta in 337 AD and it is considered one of Georgia's most important religious centers. We will visit Church of Jvari perched on a cliff overlooking the city, Sveti-Tskhoveli Cathedral, the first Christian church to be built in Georgia and its largest functioning cathedral and the Samtavro monastery complex.
Continuing our journey, we will stop in Ananuri to see the incredible 16th century fortress complex built by the warring dukes of Aragvi in an attempt to control the main road. We will continue on for another hour's drive to Gudauri, a popular winter mountain resort, which will serve as our home for the night.
B/L/D Sports Hotel

Day 9, Mon. Gudauri/Kazbegi Pass
Continuing our journey up and north through alpine meadows of yellow rhododendron and mountain passes littered with medieval watchtowers, we will reach Dariali Gorge, a 9 mile gash in the earth. We will marvel at the snow-capped Mount Mkinsvartsveri, an extinct volcano which surrounds us and reaches to just over 5047 m. Legend has it that, much like Prometheus, Amirani was chained to the top as punishment for bringing fire to mortals. We'll return to Gudauri for the night.
B/L/D Sports Hotel

Day 10, Tue. Gudauri/Bakuriani
We begin our descent today stopping for lunch in Gori, a town whose place in infamy is linked to being the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. The town will also provide a convenient jumping off point for our explorations of nearby Uplis-Tsikhe, an ancient cave town dating from the first half of the 1st millennium BC. The entire town is a complex of rock-cut streets, residences, churches, secret tunnels, water passages, markets and the oldest theatre in Georgia. Of the 700 existing caves, visitors have access to a mere 150.
En route to Bakuriani - a picturesque mountain village, we will pass through Borjomi gorge. The town of Borjomi is one of the most popular Georgian spa resorts and boasts a temperate climate, mountain scenery and famed curative mineral waters.
B/L/D Apollo Hotel

Day 11, Wed. Vardzia
We venture further into the south-western region of Samtshke-Javakheti, named after two of the original Georgian tribes, the Meskh and Javakhs and often seen as the cradle of Georgian culture. The road to Vardzia leads past arid and stone-terraced landscapes, past the famed Khertvisi Castle (10th century), one of the
oldest fortresses in Georgia.
Vardzia is inextricably linked to Queen Tamar, Georgia's most famous and loved royal who reigned during the 12th century. Crowned as co-ruler by her father, Giorgi III, she became the first woman to ascend to the throne of feudal Georgia and is credited with extending and unifying Georgian rule with successful defeats against Muslim and Turk forces. With Georgia's strong economic and political position, she founded the cave town of Vardzia which became the most important monastery and primary center of culture in Georgia. We will take a peek inside the monastery to view the remarkably well-preserved frescoes depicting the young queen. We will return to Bakuriani for the night.
B/L/D Apollo Hotel

Day 12, Thu. Bakuriani/Tbilisi
The Church of St. Nicholas in the Kintsvisi Monastery houses some of the most well-preserved 13th century frescoes. We will visit them today as well as Samtavisi Cathedral with its elegantly detailed, stone-carved fade en route back to Tbilisi.
B/L/D Marriott Hotel

Day 13, Fri. Tbilisi/Haghartsin/Sevan
The mountain scenery just gets grander as we head south into Armenia today. After passing through customs, we will continue on to Haghartsin Monastery – a monastery built in a picturesque location, concealed in a forest. We will then travel to Lake Sevan a popular summer resort and one of the world’s highest fresh-water lakes at just over 6200 feet. Many routes of the Silk Road passed by Lake Sevan, which is surrounded by steep mountains and pine forests. We will have the opportunity to hike or swim in its stunning turquoise waters or simply relax and enjoy the dramatic scenery.
B/L/D Harsnakar Hotel or Tufenkian Tsapatagh Hotel

Day 14, Sat. Sevan/Garni/Geghard
Armenia ’s capital Yerevan will serve as our base from which to roam the countryside over the next few days. Today we will visit the Sevan Monastery. Located on the Sevan Peninsula, the monastery was built in the 9 th century. We continue on to Garni, site of the Roman Temple of the Sun built in the 1st century. Soon after Armenia adopted Christianity, the temple became the summer residence of Armenian royalty. Featuring a sacrificial fire pit and Roman bathhouse within the complex, the temple was destroyed by an earthquake in the 17th century and only reconstructed from its ruins within the last forty years. We will also visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Geghard, a magnificent monastery partly carved out of a mountain. Later, we will return to Yerevan for our overnight stay.
B/L/D Golden Tulip Hotel

Day 15, Sun. Echmiadzin
Today we will visit the town of Echmiadzin, located just 30 minutes outside of the Yerevan and considered one of the holiest sites in Armenia. This former capital city is now home to the Supreme Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox faith. The main cathedral was founded by St. Gregory in 303 BC and sits on a former pagan shrine, remnants of which may still be visible. Beautifully illuminated manuscripts, jewelled crosses and chalices are housed in the Cathedral’s treasury. Returning to Yerevan, we will stop at the ruins of the church of St. Gregory at Zvartnots.
B/L/D Golden Tulip Hotel

Day 16, Mon. Khor Virap/Noravank
Heading to the south of Armenia, we will visit the Monastery of Khor Virap, a famous pilgrimage site, where Gregory the Illuminator, who professed Christianity in Armenia and spent 13 years in jail. The monastery is located on the border of Turkey, from where we will see the spectacular vista of Mount Ararat. From here, we continue to the Monastery of Noravank, one of the most splendid monuments of medieval Armenia, built in a location of significant natural beauty.
B/L/D Golden Tulip Hotel

Day 17, Tue. Yerevan
Yerevan once sat at the crossroads of several important trade caravans thus solidifying its importance in the region. Modern Yerevan was redesigned in the early part of the 20th century on top of the old city, creating a series of parks and squares that run through the city centre. Our explorations of the city will take us to one of Armenia’s most fascinating museums, the Matenadaran, which houses a unique collection of ancient manuscripts covering such topics as philosophy, law, mathematics, medicine and geography. We will also visit the Genocide Memorial and Museum, and stroll down Sarian Street, home to the Museum of Martrios Sarian, one of Armenia’s most well known artists.
B/L/D Golden Tulip Hotel

Day 18, Wed. Depart
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to home city.
B

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