Mountains & Monasteries - SMM

Number of Days: 21
Destination: Caucasus
Overview
Itinerary
Inclusions
Available Dates
  • Retrace old caravan routes, discover ancient pagan temples lost in time, see monasteries carved into solid rock, and marvel at a collection of mysterious stones 3,000 years older than Stonehenge. You’ll find them all in the stunning high Caucasus Mountains.

    Duration: 21 days - Baku to Tbilisi
    Countries: Azerbaijan + Georgia + Armenia
    Group Size: 15 Maximum
    Sightseeing: Comprehensive schedule of sightseeing with certified Local Guides. You’ll have a generous sprinkling of free time to relax or explore on your own.
    Expertise: An experienced Tour Leader accompanies the whole journey to keep your adventure on track. Local Guides are native to each destination and as certified professionals will share their immense knowledge with you.
  • Day 1: Baku

    Spared destruction by the Mongols, Azerbaijan’s capital of Baku has a walled city where narrow streets lead to Shirvanshah’s Palace and the Maiden Tower, while the Caravanserai is a reminder that Silk Road caravans once stopped here. In the evening of Day 1 join your Tour Leader and fellow travellers at 5:00pm for your Welcome Meeting.

    Day 2: Baku

    We begin the day exploring Baku, including the medieval walled city 'Icheri Sheher'. We then travel to the countryside where we find a Zoroastrian fire temple, formerly used by traders from Persia and India, while the Yanar Dag Fire Mountain is an interesting geological occurrence.

    Sightseeing - Baku City Tour, Absheron Peninsular, Ateshgah Fire Temple (Zoroastrian), Yanar Dag Fire Mountain

    Meals – Breakfast

    Day 3: Baku to Sheki

    Today we travel through beautiful landscapes stopping first to visit Shemakha. Weather permitting we will also stop by the 'village of masters' Lahij which is famous for its' authentic handicrafts, particularly copper.

    Sightseeing - Djuma Mosque and Diri Baba Mausoleum, Shemakha

    Meals – Breakfast

    Day 4: Sheki and Kish

    Sheki is one of the most ancient cities of Azerbaijan and is rightly called the architectural reserve of the country. The Palace of Sheki Khans is a rare and stunning example of combining the national and palace architecture traditions. We also visit the workshop of Kelagai, which is a traditional large, square silk head scarf and its production is included in the list of intangible cultural heritage UNESCO.

    Sightseeing - Sheki city tour including Palace of Sheki Khans and caravanserai, Kish city tour

    Meals – Breakfast

    Day 5: To Kakheti

    Welcome to Georgia! Today we travel across the border and into the Kakheti wine region, and the towns of Gremi, Nekresi and Telavi, enjoying the excellent food, wine and stunning mountain views.

    Sightseeing - Gremi complex, Nekresi monastery

    Meals – Breakfast

    Day 6: To Tbilisi

    Tbilisi, the charming capital is situated on the Mtkvari River and is a delightful city to explore on foot. With 5th century origins in the Old Town we visit Metekhi Church and Sioni Cathedral then stroll along Rustaveli Avenue to Freedom Square.

    Sightseeing - City Tour of Old Tbilisi, Metekhi Church, Synagogue & Sioni Cathedral and Sulphur baths, City Exploring and free time.

    Meals – Breakfast

    Day 7: To Gudauri

    Today we farewell our welcoming hosts and continue our journey to the UNESCO site of Mtskheta, the centre of the Georgian Orthodox Church and one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. Christianity was proclaimed the state religion here in the 4th century, today the Jvari Monastery and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral are UNESCO World Heritage Listed sites. From here we join the Georgian Military Highway and continue onto the mountain resort of Gudauri.

    Sightseeing - Mtskheta including Jvari church, Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Ananuri architectural complex, two churches and fortress (Zhinvali water reservoir)

    Meals – Breakfast

    Day 8: Gudauri and Stepantsminda

    A stunning drive from Gudauri along the Tergi River will bring us to Kazbegi – the main town in the region. We set out on a challenging and rewarding 1.5 hour walk to Gergeti Trinity Church (2170m) high in the Caucasus Mountains. Alternatively, transport will be arranged locally. Weather permitting you will have a chance to see Mt Kazbegi.

    Sightseeing - Kazbegi including Gergeti Trinity Church and local art studio

    Meals – Breakfast

    Day 9: Kutaisi via Gori

    We continue through Gori, Stalin’s birthplace, to see where it all began visiting the dictators house and museum – though you will not find any reference to his purges which cost millions their lives. Then on to Kutaisi.

    Sightseeing - Gori including Stalin’s Museum

    Meals - Breakfast & Dinner

    Day 10: Mestia (Svaneti)

    Climbing deep into the Caucasus Mountains to Svaneti we see unique ‘watchtower’ constructions which provided protection from would-be conquerors so successfully that the Svan tribes became isolated in their mountain fortresses. Enjoy a cable car ride up Mt Zuruldi (weather permitting) where exceptional views of the Caucasus Mountains can be enjoyed. Continuing to Zugdidi where we join a tour of the Dadiani Palace, a testimony to the regions rich royal past, before continuing to Mestia.

    Sightseeing - Cable car to Zugdidi (weather permitting) and Duke Dadiani Palace

    Meals - Breakfast & Dinner

    Day 11: Mestia

    Travel deep into the Svan heartland to Ushguli which at 2200 metres is the highest permanent village in Europe. Today upper Svaneti is a UNESCO Heritage Site, where the locals retain their old unwritten language and are known to practice blood-feuds from time to time. Svan offers some of the best views in Europe across the surrounding peaks and glaciers of the High Caucasus, and if the weather conditions are right, we’ll have the opportunity to see them.

    Sightseeing - Ushguli village tour, Lamaria Church and Watchtowers

    Meals - Breakfast & Dinner

    Day 12: Return to Kutaisi

    It is Kutaisi where Georgia’s most revered King, David the Builder, is buried within the UNESCO listed Gelati Monastery. Here we marvel at the wonderful mosaics and wall paintings of this well-preserved complex.

    Sightseeing - Gelati Monastery

    Meals - Breakfast & Dinner

    Day 13: Borjomi via Akhaltsikhe

    We leave Kutaisi for Akhaltsikhe where we wander the Rabat Fortress (Old Town) with its rare examples of darbazebi (traditional Georgian houses), castle, mosque and synagogue. Later we visit Prometheus grotto, one of Georgia’s natural wonders rich in petrified waterfalls, stalactites, stalagmites, underground rivers and lakes.

    Sightseeing Natural Grotto “Prometheus”, Rabat Multicultural Complex

    Meals Breakfast & Dinner

    Day 14: Gyumri

    This morning we visit the remarkable remains of Vardzia, a monastery complex carved into the rocks and cliffs dating back to the 12th - 13th centuries. Continuing to the Armenian Border at Bavra we farewell our Georgian guide and after completing border formalities we set foot in Armenia bound for the capital of the Shirak Province, Gyumri.

    Sightseeing - Vardzia including Khertvisi fortress

    Meals - Breakfast & Lunch

    Day 15: Into Armenia and Yerevan

    Armenia was the world’s first state to adopt Christianity as its official religion. Winding our way to Armenia’s capital we make a stop at the archaeological remains of Zvartnots.

    Sightseeing - St. Hovhannes Church (Mastara), Aruch Cathedral and Caravanserai, Zvartnots Temple

    Meals – Breakfast

    Day 16: Yerevan

    Beyond the city we visit the last surviving Pagan Temple in Garni of indeterminate origin, and farther on the UNSECO World Heritage Listed monastery of Geghard, which is carved, literally, out of the surrounding mountain.

    Sightseeing - Kotayk region excursion including Charents Arch, Garni Pagan Temple, Geghard Monastery and Matenadaran

    Meals – Breakfast

    Day 17: Yerevan

    Whilst in Yerevan we explore the delightful city with beautiful tree-line streets, cafes and museums on our city tour including a visit to the State History Museum.

    Sightseeing - City Tour including Parliament Building, President’s Residence, Academy of Sciences, Opera House, Cascade, the statue of Alexander Tamanyan, State History Museum and Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex

    Meals – Breakfast

    Day 18: Yerevan to Goris

    Leaving Yerevan we stop to admire some of the region’s surrounding treasures including Noravank Monastery. We will also take in the stunning Tatev Monastery as well as the breathtaking view over biblical Mt Ararat (weather permitting), the reputed resting place of Noah’s Ark.

    Sightseeing - Ararat Region excursion including Khor Virap Monastery, Noravank Monastery, Tatev Monastery and ropeway

    Meals – Breakfast

    Day 19: Goris to Tsaghkadzor

    Travelling northwards from Goris to Tsaghkadzor we visit the breathtaking Khndzoresk Village. Situated on the steep slopes of Khir Dzor is the thousand-year-old Khndzoresk cave village, today around four hundred natural and man-made dwellings remain etched in the hillsides. Sixty-three metres above the ground Khndoresk Swinging Bridge runs over a deep canyon connecting the old and new villages. Continuing our journey, we take some time to uncover the mysterious Karahunge Observatory, known as the Armenian Stonehenge (predating its English counterpart by 3,000 years), Selim Caravanserai and onto Gegharkunik region to see Noratus Medieval Khachkar Field, a fascinating medieval cemetery. The scenery and mountain setting provides the perfect canvas and backdrop to such a unique and impressive array of history, carved in stone.

    Sightseeing - Khndzoresk Village, Karahunge Observatory, Vayots Dzor region, Selim caravanserai, Gegharkunik region and Noratus medieval khachkar-field

    Meals – Breakfast

    Day 20: Tsaghkadzor to Tbilisi

    Today we wind our way through valleys and gorges to seek out the hidden monasteries amongst untouched nature, serenity and impressive architecture - Haghpat and Haghartsin before returning to Tbilisi. En route we pause at the serene Lake Sevan, the world’s second largest, high altitude lake at 1900 metres above sea level. From here we can climb up to Sevanavank Monastery to marvel at the stunning panoramic views across the azure waters.

    Sightseeing - Sevanavank, Lake Sevan, Tavush region including Haghartsin monastery, Lori region, Haghpat Monastery.

    Meals - Breakfast & Lunch

    Day 21: Tbilisi

    Our adventure has drawn to a close. Say farewell to your travelling companions and tour leader before departing your hotel this morning.

    Meals - Breakfast

  • Group size: 15 maximum

    Meals: 20 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 5 dinners

    Transfers: All transfers including to and from the airport.

    Accommodation: 20 Hotel/Guesthouse (twin share)

    Optional single supplement available for hotel stays on this journey – prices available on request. 

    Sightseeing: Comprehensive schedule of sightseeing with certified Local Guides. You’ll have a generous sprinkling of free time to relax or explore on your own.

    Expertise: An experienced Tour Leader accompanies the whole journey to keep your adventure on track. Local Guides are native to each destination and as certified professionals will share their immense knowledge with you. 24/7 support is available in the office and on the ground.

  • Available Dates

    • From $7,555 per person | Multiple departures - contact us for details

    Enquire Now

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