Step inside thousand-year-old churches, explore the ghost city of Aghdam and be one of the first visitors to sip homemade mulberry vodka with locals in our pioneering tour of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Enjoying a beautiful setting amidst the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, Nagorno-Karabakh is an ethnic Armenian enclave inside Azerbaijan. A self-declared republic since 1992, Regent Holidays was one of the first and still one of the only tour agencies to bring visitors to the region.
Nagorno- Karabakh revealed
It’s a region rich in history, and amidst the spectacular scenery of its mountain peaks are ancient monasteries where life has remained much the same since Armenia became the world’s first Christian state in the 4th century. This was once a kingdom that rivaled Rome, and at the ruins of Tigranakert you can explore the remains of what was once one of its biggest cities. It is now one of the world’s most exciting new archaeological digs. Our tour also takes in the small but spruced up capital of Stepanakert, including an introduction to its strong Soviet heritage and the chance to see the government buildings of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
Images courtesy of Mark Stratton
Depart London Gatwick on your flight to Yerevan, via Kiev.
Arrive in Yerevan in the early hours. On arrival in Armenia you will be met by your local guide and transferred to the centrally located Republica Hotel. Here check in for a 3 night stay. This morning visit the Pagan Temple at Garni. Dating from the 1st century AD, this was part of a great complex of palaces and temples that served as a summer residence for the Armenian Kings of the day. Enjoy a jeep trip from here down into the Garni Gorge to admire the attractive natural scenery and unusual rock formations. Pressing on visit the Geghard Cave Monastery, cut into the side of the cliff and surrounded by ancient gravestones. Returning to Yerevan enjoy dinner. (B,L,D)
Today explore Yerevan with your local guide. Sights to visit will include Victory Park and the Mother Armenia monument (for a great panoramic view of the city), Republic Square, Opera House (exterior only), The Cascade (including Fernando Botero’s sculpture of ‘The Black Cat’), the Matenadaran Manuscript Museum and the Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial Complex. There will likely be some leisure time in the late afternoon to explore the city freely. (B,L)
Departing Yerevan begin the journey towards Nagorno Karabakh, heading south east to the city of Goris. First site of the day will be the Khor Virap Monastery – this stone monastery set against the back drop of a snow-covered Mount Ararat is an iconic image of Armenia. Pressing on visit the Noravank Monastery. Last site of the day before arriving in Goris for an 2 night stay will be Karahunj—the Armenian equivalent of Stonehenge. Check into the Mirhav Hotel for a two night stay. (B,L,D)
Today take a cable car to the spectacular Tatev Monastery. Known as Wings of Tatev, the cable car holds the record for the longest non-stop double track cable car in the world, measuring some 3.5 miles. In the afternoon visit Vorotnavank Monastery overlooking the Vorotan Gorge. Spend the night back at the pleasant Mirhav Hotel. (B,L,D)
This morning depart Goris and visit the village of Khndzoresk, famous for its canyon with picturesque rock formations and ancient cave settlement. The artificial caves, some of which are currently used as stables and warehouses, were inhabited until the 1950s. Pressing on drive to Nagorno Karabakh, enjoying lunch en-route. In the early afternoon arrive in Stepanakert and check into the central Vallex Garden Hotel for a 4 night stay. This afternoon enjoy some time at leisure before commencing a brief introductory walking tour of the city to include the Stepan Shahumian Monument, the Main Square, Government Offices and Presidential Residence (exteriors only). (B,L,D)
This morning visit the We Are Mountains and Victory Monuments before going to the Artsakh State Museum. Pressing on visit the small Museum of Missing Soldiers & Museum of Fallen Warriors. After a morning of getting to understand the contemporary history of Karabakh enjoy, after lunch, the rest of the day free at leisure to explore the friendly and walkable city independently. (B,L)
Today visit Gandzasar Monastery, one of the main religious sites of Karabakh. This monastery was founded in the 13th century on a site where locals believe the head of John the Baptist is buried. Continue to Dadivank Monastery, one of the largest medieval monasteries founded by St. Dadi, a disciple of St. Thaddeus, who spread Christianity across the region in the 1st century. (B,L)
Explore two important city-fortresses in Karabakh, starting with the remains of the Mayraberd Fortress. En-route pass by the ruins of Aghdam city (a stop may be possible but subject to local conditions), destroyed during the Karabakh War. After Mayraberd visit Tigranakert, established by King Tigranes the Great in the 1st century BC. This is now a rich archaeological site and working dig, only discovered in 2006. (B,L)
Checking out of your hotel depart Stepanakert and visit Shosh, an area of outstanding natural beauty, where there are many plantations of mulberry trees that are used in the making of mulberry vodka. Here those who wish can enjoy a 3km walk to see what is believed to be a 2000 year old Platanus tree—oldest tree in the former USSR. (Please note in the event of poor weather we will omit this hike). Also today visit the Amaras Monastery. Moving on drive to Shushi, and here check into the Avan Shushi Plaza Hotel for an overnight stay. In Shushi visit the main church of Ghazanchetsots, the Mosque and so-called “Green Church,” known as Kanach Jam. The night will be spent in Shushi in the Avan Shushi Plaza Hotel.
IMPORTANT NOTE: As today is Shushi Liberation Day, 25th anniversary of the “Liberation of Shushi,” it is possible that some celebrations / events will be taking place in the region to mark this date. The itinerary will therefore have a degree of flexibility to maximise the chances of witnessing any events. It is possible that some local fees may be payable locally to attend any such events. (B,L,D)
This morning depart Shushi and spend the day driving to Yerevan, stopping en-route for lunch in Areni. Arrive back into Yerevan and return to the Republica Hotel for your last night in Armenia. Time pending enjoy free time at leisure in Yerevan before enjoying a farewell dinner near your hotel in the Pandok Yerevan Restaurant. Please note that this will be a long day of driving. (B,L,D)
In the early hours you will be transferred to the airport to depart Yerevan on your flight back to the UK, via Kiev.
12 day tour, from £1690 per person
(Single person supplement + £375)
- Return flights in economy class with Ukraine International from London Gatwick via Kyiv
- All airport taxes
- Accommodation throughout
- Meals as specified (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
- All transfers and transportation by air-conditioned vehicles
- All sightseeing tours as specified with a local English-speaking guide
- Entrance fees on sightseeing tours
- Visa fee for your Nagorno Karabakh Republic Visa (arranged / obtained locally)
- One complimentary copy of the Bradt Travel Guide to “Armenia with Nagorno Karabakh” per each booking
- Travel Insurance
- Meals/Services other than those specified
30 Apr 2017
11 May 2017
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