Discover the treasures of two of the Caucasus republics on this private tour from the fashionable boulevards of Yerevan to the winding alleyways of Tbilisi’s Old Town. Travel past towering mountain ranges and through fertile valleys where the relics of early Christianity watch over the timeless landscape. Taste delicious Georgian wines and uncover a fascinating social history spanning over 2,000 years from early pagan worshipers to 20th century Soviet leaders.
Depart on your overnight Georgian Airways flight from London Gatwick to Tbilisi.
This morning you are scheduled to arrive in Tbilisi at 06:35. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to Tbilisi's old town, where your room at the Kisi Hotel will be ready for you, with early check-in included. After your overnight flight enjoy the rest of the morning at leisure, with breakfast available should you wish. At 12:30 meet your guide in the reception of the hotel to commence an introductory tour of Tbilisi. Departing the Kisi Hotel on foot, walk through the old town, passing the Sulphur Bathhouse and a currency exchange office (for the chance to purchase Georgian Lari) before arriving at the Maspindzelo Restaurant for a welcome lunch. After this welcome meal enjoy a walking tour of the old town, slowly heading northwest as you meander past the key old town sites to Liberty Square. Continue your tour with a walk along Rustaveli Aenue, heading past the exteriors of the Georgian National Museum, Parliament of Georgia, Kshueti Church and the Opera & Ballet Theatre before arriving at Rustaeli Metro Station. Here head underground and ride the rails with your guide two stops to Aclabari Station. Back above ground, walk through Rike Park to the Aerial Tramway and ascend by cable car to the Narikala Fortress for a good view over Tbilisi and the old town. Descending on foot from Narikala walk back to the Kisis Hotel, here ending your introductory excursion to the pleasant Georgian capital. (B,L)
Today enjoy the full day free to explore Tbilisi at leisure. Perhaps tour some of the museums (NB:typically closed on Mondays), head up into Mtatsminda Park, tour the Vake area of the city or visit the central market - there is plent to keep you busy! Speak with your local guide on day 2 for ideas and suggestions. (B)
Head out from Tbilisi for a day trip to explore the Kakheti Region - Georgia's principle wine country. Heading northeast from the capital drive to Telavi, the main city in the region. Here visit the local farmers' market where you can see a large selection of fruits, vegetables, meats & cheeses etc for sale - essentially all the food stuffs one would find in a Georgian kitchen. From here visit the Tsinandali Palace, the historic estate and winery belonging to the 19th century aritocratic poet Alexander Chavchadze. Pressing on drive to the walled city of Sighnaghi, here enjoying lunch and wine tasting. This afternoon spend time to explore Sighnaghi, a pleasant place to stroll the backstreets and to watch the world go by. From Sighnaghi enjoy an excursion to St. Nino at Bodbe, a nunnery just a couple of kilometres from Sighnaghi. Return to Tbilisi via Manavi and Sagarejo, completing a circuitous route of the highlights of Kakheti. Return to your hotel and enjoy of the afternoon and evening at leisure. (B,L)
This morning you will be met by your Armenian guide and driver in your hotel. Setting off south, make the drive to the Armenian frontier and go through all the Georgian exit/Armenian entry formalities. After approximately 105km of driving from Tbilisi arrive in Lori Province at the Akhtala Monastery. From Akhtala move on the the UNESCO Worl Heritage listed Haghpat, overlooking the Debed River. Your final site of the day will be the 10th Century Sanahin Monastery. Late this afternoon check into the Avan Dzoraget Hotel for an overnight stay. (B,L)
Departing your hotel continue sightseeing in northern Armenia today as you slowly make your way to Dilijan. Your day will start with the 5th-7th century Odzun Church, home to one of the finest basilicas in Armenia. Pressing on arrive in the city of Vanadzor where you will visit a stone carver's studio, where traditional Khachkars (Armenian cross stones) are still made. After Vanadzor drive to Dilijan and visit the museum street of preserved & restored 19th century homes. Heading a few kilometres out of Dilijan visit the 12-13th century Goshavank Monastery before transferring to your hotel and checking in for a one night stay. Before dinner enjoy a class in preparing Gata, a traditional Armenian dessert, which you can enjoy after your evening meal. (B,L,D)
Departing your hotel drive to Lake Sevan, the largest body of water in the Caucasus at an altitude of 1,900 metres. Here visit the Sevanavan Monastery before heading along the western shore of Sevan to the Noratus field of khackhars. Driving south head over the 2,410 metre Selim Pass, visiting en-route the 14th century Selim Caravanserai, one of the best preserved caravanserais in the world. After lunch in Yeghengnadzor head to Areni, believed to be the oldest wine growing region in the world. Here, naturally, enjoy wine-tasting before visiting Noravank Monastery. The last stretch of today's journey will take you to Yervan via the Khor Virap Monastery - this stone monastery set against the back drop of a snow-coered Mount Ararat is an iconic image of Aremina. On arriving in Yerevan check in to you hotel for a three night stay. (B,L)
This morning meet your guide in the reception of your hotel to commence an introductory tour of Yerevan. Departing the hotel on foot walk to Republic Square, the heart of the capital. From here slowly head north towards Freedom Square, passing the Armenian Opera Theatre and ascending the Cascade. Moving on visit Victory Park and the Mother Armenia Statue, from where you should be afforded good views over the central city. Hailing a taxi drive to the Barekamutiun Metro Station. From Barekmutiun head underground and ride the rails with your guide three stops to Republic Square. Back above ground visit the small Post Office on Republic Square before walking southwest through Shahumyan Park and the Childrens' Park. Heading north slowly loop back towards your hotel for a late lunch in the Tavern Yerevan Restaurant. Enjoy the rest of the day free i Yerevan at your leisure - your guide will be able togive advice and suggestions on what you may wish to do. (B,L)
This morning head out of Yerevan to visit Garni & Geghard. At Geghard visit the Geghard Cave Monastery, constructed in the 13th century. From here visit the restored Garni Temple. This temple, dating from the first century AD, is a splendid example of ancient architecture. At one timea great complex of palaces and temples, serving as a summer residence for the Armenian Kings, stood here. After lunch in a pricate home return to Yerevan and visit the Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial Complex before returning to your hotel in the mid-afternoon. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon and all evening free at your leisure.. (B,L)
Checking out of your hotel head to Etchmiadzin. Here visit Etchmiadzin Cathedral, the religious centre of Armenia. From here visit the 7th century ruins of the marvellous medieval Avatnots and Saint Hripsime Church. This entire area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pressing north drive to Gyumri, Armenia's second city. After lunch in the city check into your hotel for an overnight stay. After a chance to freshen up in your room enjoy an introductory tour by car and on foot of Gyumri. This will include the Town Square and Sev Berd (Black Fortress), a Russian Imperial fortress built in 1834 in response to the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-29. Last visit of the day will be to the 10th century Marmashen Monastery. (B,L)
Departing Gyumri make the short drive to the Georgian border and here cross into Georgia with your Armenian driver and guide, as they will manage your services for the rest of today. After a drive of around 140km arrive at Vardzia, and here tour this famous site before heading to Khertvisi. Moving on drive to Akhaltsikhe and here check into your hotel for an overnight stay. This afternoon visit Rabati Castle before your Armenian driver & guide departs to make their return journey to Yerevan. Enjoy free time to explore the small city independently. (B)
This morning meet with your Georgian driver and guide and spend a long day travelling to Kazbegi in the high Caucasus. Heading northeast pass through Borjomi before joining the main east-west highway. Due to the long journey today you have two choices, with a possibility to visit either the Stalin Museum or the cave city of Uplistsikhe. The Stalin Museum includes in its grounds the small house in which he was born and his personal railway carriage. Should you prefer pre-Christain history to the 20th century, a visit to Uplistsikhe presents a major Silk-Road trading centre that was settled for almost 2000 years before the Mongolians arrived in the 14th century. After a basic lunch near Gori (or Uplistsikhe) drive further east before branching north and heading up the Georgian Military Highway entering the Caucasus Mountains as you slowly drive towards the Russian border. On arrival in Kazbegi check into your hotel for a 2 night stay and relax after this long day of driving. (B/L)
Spend the day exploring in & around the local area. This morning enjoy a tour of the small town of Kazbegi vefore visiting the Gergeti Holy Trinity Church, located at an elevation of 2170m. This Church is accessed by 4WD, although if you prefer a hike is possible. Lunch today will be with a local family. This afternoon drive towards the Russian border for dramatic views of the Dariali gorge, and here enjoy a hike to Gveleti waterfall. This is of course a private exccursion and thus there is a degree of flexibility in today's itinerary depending on the weather and your own inclination. (B,L)
Check out of your hotel and descend the Georgian Military Highway as you spend the bulk of the day slowly returning to Tbilisi. Your first stop of the day will be to visit Ananauri and its amazing complex of churches and towers dating from the 16th-17th centuries. Next stop will be Mtskheta, the religious capital of Georgia and the ancient capital of Kartli. In Mtskehta visit three spectacular UNESCO World Heritage sites, namely the Cathedral of Svetitskhoveli, Samtarvo Monastery and Jvari Church. After lunch in Mtskheta return to teh Georgian capital and check into the Kisi Hotel for your final night of the trip. After checking-in enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening at your leisure. (B,L)
This morning check out of your hotel by midday - luggage can be stored here whilst you enjoy your last few hours in Tbilisi exploring at leisure. In the late afternoon you will be met back at your hotel and transferred to the airport to depart at 19:25 on your Georgian Airways flight home. Arrive back into London at 21:50 local time, here ending your tour. (B)
Single room supplement £700
Solo traveller price £5,880
Thank you Carl for the excellent arrangements. We packed a lot into a short time. Everything went very smoothly. All drivers and guides very good but top marks to your partner in Armenia, who provided us with the highlight of our trip by taking us to a colleague's for New Year's day lunch and to her family for a cooking lesson of traditional dishes on New Year's Eve and family meal. Excellent!