Complete Caucasus Explorer – Armenia, Azerbaijan & Georgia

Days 1-2: Baku

Day 1: Arrive in Baku and transfer to your hotel.

Day 2: This morning with your guide, drive along the coast to the desert area of Gobustan, where there are many ancient rock paintings dating back to 10,000BC. Return to Baku for an afternoon city tour including the funicular to Martyr's Alley, a memorial park, the Shirvanshah palace in the old city and the Maiden's Tower. There will also be time for a stroll along the sea front as well. (B)

Day 3: Baku - Lahij

Day 3: Heading towards the mountains you will pass the ancient capital of Shamakhi on your way to the village of Lahij. Set in a valley at the far end of a small mountain road, this area which is rich in copper has some of the best coppersmiths in Azerbaijan. See the artisans at work as you wander the cobbled streets or take a walk in the surrounding mountains. (B)

Days 4-5: Lahij - Sheki

Day 4: Returning to the main road you will move on to the town of Sheki, once home to the royal family. There is an impressively restored palace and a thriving bazaar to explore. (B)

Day 5: The small village of Kish lies just a few kilometres away and here you will find the restored Caucasus Albanian church. Visit the church and spend the afternoon walking in the surrounding hills. (B)

Days 6-7: Sheki - Tbilisi

Day 6: Leaving Azerbaijan this morning you will cross in to Georgia and the beautiful fertile region of Kakheti. A visit to a winery and a traditional Georgian lunch are the perfect introduction to the country. Take a stroll around the hill top walled town of Sighnaghi with fantastic views of the Caucasus Mountains before driving on to Tbilisi. (B,L,D)

Day 7: Visit the charming city of Tbilisi today on foot. Begin the tour from the 13th century Metekhi church. Stroll through the little streets and take the cable car to the 4th century Narikala Fortress. Take in the stunning views of Tbilisi before walking down to the historical domed sulphur bath are - connected with the name of our city. Later, start visit the stunning treasury of the Georgian State Museum or historical museum, which prove that Georgia is really the country of the Golden Fleece. (B)

Day 8: Tbilisi - Mtskheta - Gori - Uplistsikhe - Kutaisi

Day 8: This morning you will visit the ancient capital and Georgian home of Christianity - Mtskheta. It was here that St Nino converted the royal family and the town is home to the restored cathedral of Svetitskhoveli. Continue to the town of Gori, the birthplace of Stalin, to visit the Stalin museum and the nearby 6th century BC cave town of Uplistsikhe. In the afternoon head into Western Georgia and overnight in Georgia's second city Kutaisi. (B)

Day 9: Kutaisi - Gelati - Zugdidi - Becho

Day 9: The complex of Gelati, close to Kutaisi, was built by King David the Builder as the most important learning centre in Georgia in medieval times. Visit the complex before continuing on to the city of Zugdidi where you will have a chance to see the Dadiani Palace (closed Mondays) and wander the market before you driving in to the mountains of Svaneti. Stop tonight in the small village of Becho. (B,L,D)

Days 10-11: Becho - Shikhra - Mestia

Day 10: Today explore the neighbouring village of Shikhra and then walk through the woods to the foot of Mt. Ushba (4700m) and the Ushba glacier. You will see several waterfalls cascading down the mountain slope, an unforgettable sight. Choose to walk to the base of the large waterfall or head up to the top and gaze down from above at the picturesque Dolra River Valley. In the late afternoon drive on to Mestia, the centre of Upper Svaneti, where you will enjoy a Svanetian meal in your guesthouse. (B,L,D)

Day 11: The villages of Svaneti with their clusters of towers and the valleys and waterfalls await you today as you take a full day trek in the area. Alternatively you may like to drive to the remote village of Ushguli, cut off completely throughout the winter, this village is like stepping back in time with its tiny alleys between the houses. Ushguli and Mestia is set within the Upper Svaneti UNESCO world Heritage Site. (B,L,D)

Day 12: Mestia - Tskaltubo - Kutaisi

Day 12: This morning you will wind your way back down through the valleys and leave Svaneti, arriving at Kutaisi there will be time to visit a large cave system with spectacular chambers and formations. In Kutaisi visit the Bagrati Cathedral. (B,L,D)

Day 13: Kutaisi - Borjomi - Akhaltsikhe

Day 13: The scenery changes to a more rocky landscape as you drive south, stop in the town of Borjomito try the mineral waters and take a cable car to see the view of the National Park before driving on to Akhaltsikhe. The town is crowned by a fully restored fortress, the Rabat, one of the only Ottoman complexes in the country. (B)

Day 14: Akhaltsikhe - Vardzia - Dzoraget

Day 14: Drive to Vardzia this morning to visit the 12th century cave town complex, built during the reign of the Queen of Tamara. Crossing the high plateau today you will leave Georgia and cross in to Armenia. Drive through the northern valleys of this mountainous country and stay tonight by a bubbling river. (B)

Day 15: Dzoraget - Dilijan

Day 15: A scenic drive will take you to visit the monasteries of Sanahin and Haghpat in the Debed Valley before heading to the town of Dilijan and Haghartsin Monastery. (B)

Day 16: Dilijan - Goris

Day 16: Driving to the south of the country today will take you past Lake Sevan, visit a medieval field of Khochkors and the Sevan Monastery out on a peninsular in the lake. Drive over the 2400m Selim Pass, home to an old caravanserai, one of the few remaining reminders of Armenia's part in the Silk Road. Before reaching Goris you can visit Karahunj, an ancient star gazing circle of stones. (B)

Days 17-20: Goris - Yerevan

Day 17: This morning take the cable car over the valleys to the monastery of Tatev, this partially restored monastery, surrounded by a fortified wall lies on a beautiful valley. Continue on to the wine growing region of Areni where there will be time to visit a winery and taste the wines, as you near Yerevan the magnificent peaks of Ararat will come in to view. (B)

Day 18: Echmiadsin is the spiritual centre of Armenia, visit this complex on the outskirts of Yerevan before returning to the city to visit the Blue Mosque, the fortress of Erebuni and one or two of Yerevan's museums. (B)

Day 19: The monastery of Geghard lies close to Yerevan in a narrow gorge, there are many small stone chapels hewn from the rock as well as the main cathedral. Continue on to Garni, a pagan temple overlooking a valley. Return to Yerevan and spend the rest of the day at leisure in the city. (B)

Day 20: Transfer to the airport. (B)

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