Caucasus Discovered


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    Cross the Caucasus from Georgia to Azerbaijan on this 16 day overland adventure which starts in Tbilisi and ends in Baku. Discover the incredible Vardzia Cave Monastery, the lush scenery of Stepantsminda and the bubbling mud volcanoes of Gobustan. Stay in a Silk Road caravanserai in Sheki and take in the highlights of Armenia including Lake Sevan and ancient Yerevan.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 – Welcome to Tbilisi!CaucasusDiscovered-map
    Welcome to Georgia and its charming capital of Tbilisi! Make your own way to our joining hotel where there’s a pre-departure Welcome Meeting at 6pm. The evening is free to explore the city as you please.

    Day 2 – Terrific Tbilisi
    Today we explore Tbilisi. Wander through the charming Old Town and visit sites including the fascinating National Museum, the Sioni Cathedral and the 12th century Metekhi Temple. The temple once served as a fortress and residence for the Georgian Tsars and has been destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout its history. There’s free time later today if you wish to explore the hilltop Narikala Fortress or join an optional visit to the Museum of Soviet Occupation. (B)

    Day 3 – Dilijan National Park & Lake Sevan
    Boarding our overland truck for the first time, we leave Tbilisi behind and drive to the border with Armenia. Pass through the picturesque scenery of Dilijan National Park to shimmering Lake Sevan. Landlocked Armenia’s only beaches are found at the lake, making it a popular summer retreat for Armenians. We’ll spend the night camping on the shore of the lake. (B, L, D)

    Days 4-5 – Ancient Yerevan
    Setting off from Lake Sevan on day 4, our first stop is the UNESCO-listed Geghard Monastery, which has been carved out of the rock face of the Azat River Gorge. We continue to the impressive Graeco-Roman Garni Temple before arriving in ancient Yerevan, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. There’s free time to relax or explore Yerevan at leisure during our two night stay here. Perhaps join an optional excursion to the Ararat Brandy Museum.

    Day 6 – Armenian Highlands
    This morning we set off from Yerevan into the stunning scenery of the Armenian Highlands. There’s a stop at the Khor Virap Monastery, near the Turkish border. This important pilgrimage site is set in the shadow of Mt Ararat and on a clear day there will be incredible views of the snow-capped peak. After our visit we’ll continue driving and will find a suitable spot to wild camp tonight.  (B, L, D)

    Day 7 – Vardzia Cave Monastery
    Today we cross back into Georgia and arrive at the incredible Vardzia cave city. First inhabited during the Bronze Age, the network of caves is one of the highlights of the Caucasus. Though the site was mostly abandoned in the 16th century, a handful of monks still reside in the Vardzia Cave Monastery and they ring the bells at 07:00 every morning.

    We’ll either explore the site today or tomorrow, depending on how long it takes to cross the border from Armenia to Georgia. Tonight, we wild camp near to Vardzia.  (B, L, D)

    Day 8 – Mtskheta
    We’ll explore Vardzia if we didn’t get the chance yesterday, before continuing to the lush Borjomi National Park. Enjoy a short hike in the ancient forest and opt to ride a cable car up the mountain. Later, we’ll arrive in Mtskheta and visit the 11th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. (B, D)

    Day 9 – Stepantsminda
    Today we drive to the town of Stepantsminda, nestled in beautiful scenery. During our stay here we’ll enjoy a trek up to the tiny Tsminda Sameba Church, which is hidden away in the rolling hills and mountains of the Georgian Caucasus. There’s an optional cooking class where you can learn how to make delicious Georgian kinkhalis (meatballs).  (B, D)

    Days 10-11 – Telavi & Wine tasting
    On day 10 we drive to the wine producing region of Telavi. During our stay in the town there’s plenty of time to explore and visit some of the local vineyards. Watch traditions such as grape harvesting in action and enjoy some Georgian hospitality with lunch and wine tasting at a local winery on day 11. (B, D x2)

    Day 12 – Lagodekhi National Park
    Leaving Telavi, we head towards the border with Azerbaijan. Stop at the impressive Gremi Citadel before we spend our final night in Georgia wild camping in Lagodekhi National Park.  (B, L, D)

    Day 13 – Sheki & Caravanserai stay
    Today we enter Azerbaijan and drive to the old town of Sheki. Explore the exquisite Khan’s Palace before we arrive at our accommodation for the night. You’re in for a treat as we are staying in a hotel which has been built inside an ancient caravanserai, once an important stopover for weary travellers on the Silk Road.

    Day 14 – Lahij Village
    Today we drive to Lahij, an ancient mountain settlement which is famous for its copper and arms production. Explore the site at leisure and camp with facilities tonight.  (B, L, D)

    Day 15 – Gobustan & Baku
    Today we drive to Gobustan, the region known for its bubbling mud volcanoes and ancient petroglyphs. After exploring this site, we complete the final leg of our overland adventure to Baku, the bustling capital of Azerbaijan. This emerging metropolis is an incredible contrast of the old and new. The discovery of oil has led to huge economic growth and as a result, Baku is an emerging city on the world scene. Take time to explore historic architecture such as the Maiden Tower and admire the glistening skyscrapers which dot the skyline.

    Day 16 – Baku
    Today our Caucasus adventure comes to an end.

    INCLUSIONS

    • 10 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 9 dinners
    • 5 nights camping (including 1 night camping with facilities, 1 night camping without facilities and 3 nights wild camping)
    • All necessary camping equipment (excluding sleeping bags)
    • 10 nights in hotels and guesthouses
    • Visits to the Garni Temple, Geghard Monastery & Khor Virap Monastery in Armenia
    • Visit to Gobustan to see the petroglyphs and mud volcanoes
    • Visit to the Vardzia Caves in Georgia
    • A stay in the ancient Sheki caravanserai in Azerbaijan
    • Services of two crew (drivers/tour leaders) and local guides along the way
    • Transportation in an overland expedition vehicle
    • Sightseeing as per itinerary