Welcome to Caucasus! The three highland countries of the Caucasus straddle a stunning strip of snow-capped mountains wedged between Black and Caspian seas. The Caucasus region holds a wealth of views and warm hospitality from its inhabitants. Experience the places you have only read about.
Begin in Azerbaijan and follow in the footsteps of Silk Road traders and Crusaders from shores of the Caspian Sea and the marvelous history of Baku, through the magnificent wine fields of Kakheti and up to the spectacular High Caucasus mountains. Continue on a scenic drive over the border with Georgia to the capital of Yerevan with a European feel. The complex of cathedrals at Etchmiadzin and the Khor Virap Monastery will showcase the incredible Christian heritage of the country, while the Hellenistic-era Garni Temple goes farther back into history.
These three distinct countries and a wealth of history and culture can be found on the 14-day luxury journey through the Grand Caucasus.
Day One: Arrive
Upon arrival at Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport we meet you to take you to your hotel where you can relax after your flight.
Day Two: Baku
After breakfast at the hotel, we embark on a city tour of Baku. We take you along the central streets and green parks of the city, pointing out the main attractions along the way. In the afternoon, enjoy an excursion in Old Town, Icheri Sheher. This UNESCO-recognized area of Baku hosts fascinating structures dating back as far as the seventh century. Visit the Palace of the Shirvans’ Shahs, the most striking example of the medieval palace structures in Azerbaijan, dating to the middle of the 15th century.
Next, leave for a tour of the Absheron Peninsula. The Caspian Sea is well within reach in Baku, and a drive around the Absheron Peninsula offers an unforgettable view of this hidden Eurasian treasure. Visit the well-preserved ancient castles of the Absheron Peninsula, dated from the 12th century and situated farther from Baku. There are several fine medieval castles, in the surrounding towns, all having been built for defense by the Shirvan’s Shahs.Return to the hotel to for an evening at your leisure.
Day Three: Baku
To truly experience the historical beauty of Azerbaijan, today we set off on a trip to Gobustan National Park. Found south of Baku, Gobustan is an open-air museum with some 4,000 Neolithic rock drawings dated from as many as 12,000 years ago. Find drawings made in the Stone Age, all reflecting activities like hunting and dancing. Their dances are thought to have been accompanied by the Gaval-Dashy or Tambourine Stone, a rock that has a deep, resonating tone when struck.
Next, take an excursion to the natural phenomenon of Yanar Dag, an incessant natural fire which blazes continuously on a hillside. Many historians claim that this place gave Azerbaijan its name of “fire country.” Return to Baku this evening and prepare to head to Georgia in the morning.
Day Four: Baku to Tbilisi
This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia and the country’s largest city. Check in to your hotel, enjoy dinner at a traditional Georgian restaurant with folklore show, followed by a one hour massage and body scrub in one of the region’s famous sulfur baths.
Day Five: Tbilisi
Tbilisi is a vibrant example of the mix of nationalities, cultures, religions, and ethnic groups found in Georgia. Tbilisi was founded in the 5th century AD by Vakhtang Gorgasali, the Georgian King of Kartli (Iberia) and made into a capital in the 6th century.
Today, get acquainted with the city on a walking tour, passing through the old quarters and the center, with its famous sulphur springs along the Mtkvari River. Visit the Metekhi Church, pass across the Metekhi bridge, the first bridge built to connect the Mtkvari River’s left and right banks, stand in Sioni church, where St. Nino’s cross from 337 AD is kept, and stop at Anchiskhati church, the most ancient church in Tbilisi. Traditional houses with balconies and grape vines accompany your stroll towards Narikhala, the 4th century fort overlooking the city. The fort provides an exquisite view of the city and region.
After lunch at a local restaurant, you will visit the Georgian State Museum, known for its collection of gold and silver artifacts and jewelry from the pre-Christian period from various regions of the country. If time permits, take a stroll along Rustaveli Avenue, where notorious architectural and historical buildings such as the Palace of Youth, Parliament of Georgia, Kashveti Church, Rustaveli Theater, National Picture Gallery, and the Academy of Sciences reside. The evening is free for dinner and relaxation at your leisure.
Day Six: Tbilisi to Kazbegi
After breakfast check out of your hotel and drive via Mtskheta to Kazbegi. Mtskheta is the ancient capital of eastern Georgia. The country's conversion to Christianity occurred in Mtskheta in 337 AD, and it is considered one of Georgia's most important religious centers. While in Mtskheta, visit the Svetitskoveli Catheral and the beautiful Jvari Monastery, situated on the edge of a cliff.
Continue your drive along the stunning Caucasus Mountains to Kazbegi. The drive to Kazbegi is as exciting as Kazbegi itself. Check into your hotel, the Rooms Hotel Kazbegi, a modern, cozy resort with breathtaking mountainous views and consistently friendly service. The first of its kind in Georgia, this luxurious escape boasts a simple, open design that allows guests to feel right at home. There is much to see and do in and around the Rooms Hotel Kazbegi. You can take a short, exciting hike to the historic Gergeti Trinity Church, visit the nearby Alexander Kazbegi Museum, or even climb Mount Kazbek. Dine in style and sample a variety of Georgian cuisine from the informal buffet and a la carte menu, and pair it with a notable bottle of wine.
Day Seven: Kazbegi
Enjoy breakfast this morning before visit to the Gergeti Tsminda Sameba Trinity Church, built in the 14th century and situated nearly 7,000 feet up on the hill. From this spot you have an unforgettable view of Mount Kazbek, rising over 16,500 feet and covered with glaciers and permafrost. According to the legend, the titan Prometheus who brought fire to men was chained on Mount Kazbek. Afterwards drive to Sno Gorge, an area rich in natural mineral water springs and dotted with old towers, and the beautiful Gveleti waterfall, one of the highest waterfalls in Georgia. Return to the hotel this evening for dinner.
Day Eight: Kazbegi to Signagi
After a leisurely breakfast, transfer to your helicopter for a breathtaking flight above the Great Caucasus Mountains to Signagi in the Kakheti region, Georgia’s famous wine region. Check in to your hotel, located in the heart of Signagi.
Day Nine: Singagi
After breakfast, take a guided city tour of Signagi. Meaning “shelter,” Signagi is one of the smallest towns in the country with one of the richest histories. The city is sits on a hill surrounded by a fortified wall, considered to be the second longest wall after the Great Wall of China. A large variety of languages and nationalities mingle with the unique mountain landscape to make Signagi one of the most breathtaking places on the planet.
Explore multiple architectural monuments and learn about the traditions of local people, all while enjoying the splendid views that open up on the gorgeous Alazani Valley, known as the cradle of Georgian wines. For lunch, receive hands-on experience in the preparation of traditional Georgian cuisine, including Churchkela (a delicacy consisting of a mixture of walnuts and grapes), Khinkall (dumplings), Mtsvadi (barbeque), Khachapuri (cheese pie), and Chacha (grappa). These preparations will be accompanied by a traditional Georgian feast with Georgian folklore and homemade house wine. Spend the evening at your leisure in Signagi.
Day Ten: Singagi to Dzoraget
Enjoy breakfast this morning before checking out of your hotel and drive to the Georgia-Armenia border. Arrive at the town of Sadakhlo and cross into the town of Bagratashen. Armenia is a country rich with culture, located in the highlands surrounding the mountains of Ararat in the South Caucasus. With strong ties to the Christian religion, ancient churches and monasteries dot the landscape in Northern and Southern Armenia, while many of the country’s museums are found in Central Armenia, a flat and dry region in the Ararat valley. Stop at the monasteries of Sanahin and Haghpat, both dating from the tenth century and inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. For 300 years Sanahin was an important center of learning, where humanitarian sciences and medicine were taught. Continue on to Dzoraget, the midpoint between the capitals of Armenia and Georgia. Transfer to your hotel, Avan Dzoraget Hotel, a medieval castle nestled along the Debed River among the forest-covered hills and rocky slope of the Caucasus Mountains.
Day Eleven: Dzoraget to Yerevan
After breakfast at the hotel, we drive to the pearl of Armenia, Lake Sevan. One of the greatest freshwater high-mountain lakes of Eurasia, Lake Sevan has a unique combination of great size, high mountain location, and comparatively “soft water”. Here you will have an opportunity to taste the fish from the lake and explore the Sevanavank Monastery, the summer residence of the Favorite Armenian King Ashot the Iron.
Continue on a scenic drive to Yerevan, Armenia’s capital. Home to the majority of the country’s population, Central Armenia is truly the heart of the country. Arrive at your hotel, , before embarking on the day’s activities. Once checked in, have a cognac degustation at the Ararat Brandy Factory and embark for Etchmiadzin, the holy city of Armenia. This is the site of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin complex which is comprised of cathedrals dating from the fourth, seventh, and 17th centuries, all of them included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the cathedrals, museums, libraries, residences, and other buildings in this fascinating place with your guide. Enjoy dinner in Yerevan.
Day Twelve: Yerevan
After breakfast at the hotel, embark on a walking tour of the Pink City. With a history surpassing even Rome, this ancient and cheerful city welcomes all its visitors with modesty and luxury. Situated on the main trade routes between the East and the West, Yerevan was constantly fought over and underwent at least four settlement periods between 4000 and 2000 BC. Take in the fascinating fall weather of sunny Yerevan while walking around the Cascade Monument, known for its 2,780 stairs signifying the 2,780th anniversary of the capital city. If you are able to walk up the huge staircase, you will enjoy a beautiful panorama of the entire city.
Next, pay a visit to Matenadaran, a major center for study and preservation of Armenian works of ancient literature. The institution now protects about 16,477 surviving materials and 300,000 archival documents. Among these archives is at least 2,500 fragments collected in the depository. Later, drive to the castle museum Erebuni, Tsitsernakaberd Hill, and the museum of the Armenian Genocide. Enjoy dinner at a traditional restaurant featuring a folk show.
Day Thirteen: Yerevan
After breakfast at the hotel, explore Armenia’s treasure, Garni Temple, a wonderful piece of Hellenistic architecture and the only surviving pagan temple in Armenia. Afterwards proceed to the magnificent monastic complex of Geghard, which is inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the relics housed at the monastery is the spear that wounded Christ on the cross, presumably brought there by Apostle Thaddeus.
Take in a medieval vocal concert and drive to the 17th century Khor Virap monastery, which is famous for its deep dungeon where Saint Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years. Saint Gregory was the first head of the Armenian Apostolic Church and is credited with converting Armenia to Christianity in the year 301, making it the first nation to name Christianity as its official religion. In this historic atmosphere you will enjoy the best view of Mount Ararat over the border with Turkey, where it is said that Noah’s Ark rested after the famous flood. Return to Yerevan with a stop at the open-air art and craft market called Vernissage. In Vernissage you can buy different souvenirs to take a piece of Armenia with you.
Day Fourteen: Departure
This morning, you will be transferred to the airport in time to check in for your international departing flight from Yerevan.