Oil-rich Azerbaijan has redefined itself over the past two decades from a struggling newly independent state to a major regional energy player. Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence in 1918 and became the first democratic Muslim state. In 1920 the country was incorporated into the Soviet Union as the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. Azerbaijan along with Georgia and Armenia proclaimed its independence in 1991, shortly before the dissolution of the USSR in the same year. Situated at the strategically important crossroads where Europe meets Asia, Georgia has a unique and ancient cultural heritage, and is known for its traditions of hospitality and cuisine. Over the centuries, Georgia was the object of rivalry between Persia, Turkey and Russia, before being eventually annexed by Russia in the 19th century. Armenia is landlocked country with Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, and Azerbaijan to the east, Armenia boasts a history longer than most European countries. One of the earliest Christian civilisations, Armenia’s first churches were founded in the fourth century. In later centuries, it frequently oscillated between Byzantine, Persian, Mongol or Turkish control, as well as periods of independence.
Visit Yanardag Fire Mountain,also known as burning hill, where natural gas has been ablaze for hundreds ofyears
Visit the Mud Volcanoes inQobustan Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is home to almost half ofthe world’s mud volcanoe
Sample traditional Georgiancuisine and the country’s signature wines
Drive the Sheiki, one of themost ancient cities in the Greater Caucasian Mountains.
where2travel host LisaIoakimidis
4* Hotels twin shareaccommodation (15 nights)
Meals (15 breakfasts & 6dinners)
Private transportation-16 days
English speaking guideservice-16 days; Guiding in each city
Museums Entrance fees as perthe itinerary
Activities as per the itinerary
Single entry Azerbaijan visafor Australian passport holders
Upon arrival in Baku transfer to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure before joining us for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodation: Winter Park Hotel (Breakfast and Dinner)
Today enjoy a private walking tour of the old city, including a visit to Shirvanshahs’ Palace. From there proceed to your Absheron Peninsula Tour. Your guide will explain the mysterious history behind the Baku Boulevard and its connection to the Oil Barons alongside the Boulevard. The Ateshgah Fire Temple is located in the south-eastern part of the Surakhani settlement of the Absheron Peninsula. After the Fire Temple you will visit the Fire Mountain. This natural burning flame is a result of the natural gas coming up at the foot of the hill. A hill that has been burning approximately four millenniums nonstop, even in times of rain and snow. After your excursion return to the hotel.
Accommodation: Winter Park Hotel (Breakfast)
Today visit Gobustan Rock Mountain Reserve & Museum, an Archeological monument, located 56 km from the capital city. The artifacts and rock carvings were discovered in 1939 – 1940. As a result of the researchers, more than 3,500 human and animal paintings and various markings – petroglyphs were recorded and 20 suburban shelters have been identified in this place. Later drive to Rock Mountain to see the authentic carvings. In the afternoon travel to the Mud Volcanoes in Qobustan Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Accommodation: Winter Park Hotel (Breakfast)
Today visit one the first mosques in the Azerbaijan territory, built in 743. Later stop to view the Yeddie Gumbaz (Seven Domes). Drive to Sheki – the centre of silk production and also one of the most ancient cities in the Greater Caucasian Mountains. Today you will also view two Caravansarais, dating back to the 18th century. En route visit Lahich, an ancient village with charming cobbled sidewalks. Azerbaijan also has rich religious history and in the Kish Village of Sheki, you will visit an Albanian church that dates back to the 1st century AD. People of the North part of Azerbaijan were mainly Christians before Islam.
Accommodation: Sheki Palace (Breakfast)
Today travel over the border to Georgia, via the Eastern part of the country famous for its Viticulture and winemaking traditions. Explore a traditional market in Georgian border town of Lagodekhi. Visit a local family, explore the gardens and vineyards and then enjoy a lunch of delicious homemade food, wine and Georgian ‘Chacha’. Next stop is Kvareli Wine Tunnels - previously used as a Bomb Shelter. It is a 7.7 km tunnel shaped wine cellar, which consists of 2 large parallel tunnels linked with 13 small galleries and holds 25 000 bottles of high quality wine. Later visit the Chavchavadze Estate Palace in Tsinandali, a restored in 19th-century style mansion. Enjoy a wine tour and a tasting session, and then drive to our overnight point, the Akhasheni Wine Resort (subject to availability).
Accommodation: Akasheni Wine Resort (Breakfast)
Continue to the beautiful 18th-century town of Sighnaghi, known for its quaint stone walls, small houses with terracotta roofs and decorated balconies. Admire the picturesque views of the Alazani Valley and Great Caucasus mountains.
Continue to Bodbe Convent – according to legend, this is the burial place of St. Nino, who converted Georgia to Christianity in the 4th century. Arrive in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, in the late afternoon and enjoy dinner in the atmospheric old town.
Accommodation: Citrus (Breakfast and Dinner)
Enjoy a morning sightseeing tour of Tbilisi. Start at the 13th century Metekhi Church and the monument to Vakhtang Gorgasali, the legendary founder of Tbilisi. Visit Narikala Fortress to enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. Walk down to the district of sulphur bath houses and pass by the only mosque in Tbilisi. Stroll through the Sharden area, full of narrow streets with cozy cafés, wine tasting bars, and souvenir shops, and breathe in the history of Old Tbilisi. Also visit Sioni Cathedral, Tsminda Sameba Cathedral, Anchiskhati Basilica, and the famous Rezo Gabriadze Theatre’s clock tower, before crossing the Bridge of Peace to Rike Park. Tonight, you will sample the delicious Georgian cuisine.
Accommodation: Citrus (Breakfast)
Today depart for Mtskheta. Mtskheta is a town located at the confluence of the rivers Aragvi and Mtkvari. Town served as a capital of ancient Kingdom of Iberia and is famous for two of its historical and architectural monuments: Jvari Monastery and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. Both of these monuments are recognized by the UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. Continue to Akhaltsikhe, a historical town and administrative center of Samtskhe-Javakheti region, South Georgia. Visit Rabati Castle.
Accommodation: Gino Wellness Rabati (Breakfast and Dinner)
Drive to Vardzia cave town along Mtkvari river. Arrive in Vardzia-an ancient rock-hewn cave city established in the 12th c. Vardzia is a mediev al rock-hewn cave monastery complex, carved into the volcanic rocks on 13 levels, with numerous internal corridors, secret tunnels and chapels.
Accommodation: Gino Wellness Rabati (Breakfast)
This morning enjoy breakfast at the hotel. Drive to the village Uplistsikhe. Visit the Stalin Museum, which includes more than 60,000 artifacts, the tiny house where Stalin was born, and an impressive bulletproof train that Stalin used to travel to Yalta and Potsdam. Continue North to Gudauri ski resort via Georgian Military Highway. The way to Gudauri is quite picturesque with attractive views of Great Caucasus Range, serpentine roads and waterfalls.
Accommodation: Marco Polo (Breakfast and Dinner)
After breakfast embark on your full day of exploration. Visit the high Caucasus Mountains. Drive on 4 x 4 WD Jeep De to the Mount Gergeti to see panoramic view of mountains. Visit Gergeti Trinity church located above the alpine village Stepantsminda and on the foothills of the magnificent glacier Kazbegi (5033m). Drive to Dariali Canyon and to the Russian border. This evening arrive back at the Gudauri hotel.
Accommodation: Marco Polo (Breakfast)
Cross the Georgia Armeni border and drive to Dilijan, the little Switzerland of Armenia.
Accommodation: Tufenkian Old Dilijan Complex (Breakfast)
This morning will be at lesiure. After lunch, drive to Lake Sevan, the second largest alpine lake in the world and known as the ‘Emerald of Armenia’. You will visit Sevanavank, a beautiful monastery on the peninsula, once a strategic shelter for Armenian Kings. Later travel to Yerevan
Accommodation: Ramada (Breakfast)
Your day will begin exploring the vibrant city of Yerevan with your guide. Originally established in 782 BC, Yerevan is a thriving city with the excitement, hustle and bustle of a modern capital. You will start your exploration from the Republic Square, the masterpiece of the architect Alexander Tamanian, and then continue to the Opera House, a stunning architectural piece and the hub of Yerevan. You will then visit Cafesjian Center for the Arts and depart for Echmiadzin, the spiritual centre of all Armen ians and the seat of the Armenian Catholicos. As you return to Yerevan, you will stop at the ruins of Zvartnots – the pearl of 7th century architecture, inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage list. You will then return to Yerevan and visit the History Museum of Armenia.
Accommodation: Ramada (Breakfast)
Today you will depart for your visit to the Garni Temple dating back to the 1st century and have lunch at a local family house Here you will learn about Armenian flatbread making techniques. After lunch, visit the Geghard Monastery and visit the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex and Museum on Tsi tsernakaberd Hill. Next, visit the Cascade Monument. Enjoy a breathtaking city view that includes the Opera House, Mount Ararat, Swan Lake, Republic Square, and Abovyan Avenue, all of which we’ll see as we walk the streets of Yerevan. Enjoy a farewell dinner tonight reliving the wonderful memories had on tour.
Accommodation: Ramada (Breakfast and Dinner)
Your tour ends today after breakfast. (Breakfast)