Across the Southern Caucasus

Resort: Across the Southern Caucasus
Operator: Cox and Kings
Destination: Armenia
Price From: £2395.00

Overview

Take an exciting journey across all three states of the southern Caucasus. Beginning in the oil-rich Muslim nation of Azerbaijan on the shores of the Caspian Sea, you will travel through Georgia, famous for its ancient monasteries and viticulture, and finish in the small, proud nation of Armenia, one of the oldest Christian countries in the world.

Itinerary

Day 1: Fly to Baku, Azerbaijan

Fly from London (regional connections available) to Baku, via Kiev, with Ukraine International Airlines. Transfer to the Sapphire Hotel (or similar) for 2 nights. (N)

Day 2: Baku Gobustan Absheron

Excursion to see ancient rock carvings at Gobustan, a Unesco world heritage site dating back 20,000 years. Continue to Absheron and the Ateshgyakh Fire Worshippers’ temple. Return to Baku for a tour of the Old City and some time at leisure. (B)

Day 3: Shemahka Kish Sheki

Travel to Shemahka and visit the Yeddi Gumbez mausoleum. Continue to Sheki, stopping en route at the village of Kish to explore the sixth-century Albanian church. Overnight at the Sheki Saray Hotel (or similar). (B, L, D)

Day 4: Sheki Kvareli Telavi, Georgia

Morning tour of Sheki, a pretty town surrounded by forested mountains, including the Palace of Sheki Khan. Cross the Georgian border and into the country’s main wine region. Visit a vineyard for a late lunch and wine tasting. Continue to Telavi, via the Gremi monastery. Overnight at Chateau Mere. (B, L)

Day 5: Telavi Sighnaghi Tbilisi

Morning visit to Telavi market and meet a qvevri master, who will demonstrate how these large earthenware wine-keeping jars are made. Sample some local wine before continuing to the Tsinandali wine estate for lunch. Afternoon tour of hilltop Sighnaghi. Drive to Tbilisi and stay at the Shota@Rustaveli Boutique Hotel (or similar) for 2 nights. (B, L)

Day 6: Tbilisi

Tour of the Georgian capital including the old town, with its beautiful Orthodox churches, mosque, synagogue and sulphur baths. Afternoon at leisure. (B)

Day 7: Gori Uplistsikhe Kazbegi

Morning visit to the sixth-century Jvari monastery then continue to Gori, the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. Visit the museum, his private train and see the house where he was born. Travel to Kazbegi via the cave city of Uplistsikhe, set on the path of the Silk Road. Overnight at Hotel Porta Caucasia or similar. (B, D)

Day 8: Kazbegi Tbilisi

Jeep drive to the picturesque 14th-century
Gergeti Trinity church. Return to Tbilisi for
some time at leisure. (B)

Day 9: Yerevan, Armenia

Travel over the border to Armenia and continue to Yerevan. En route, visit the Unesco-listed Haghpat monastery. Stay for 5 nights at the Tufenkian Historic Hotel, just off Republic Square. (B)

Day 10: Garni Geghard

Visit Garni, the only surviving Hellenistic temple in Armenia and enjoy a performance of Armenian spiritual music. Continue to Geghard monastery, dating from the fourth century and carved into the mountainside. Have lunch with a local family and have a go at making traditional lavash bread. Return to Yerevan. (B, L)

Day 11: Ejmiatsin Zvartnots Parakar

Visit the Cathedral of Ejmiatsin, founded in 303AD and still the official residence of the Catholic Church in Armenia. Continue to the seventh-century Zvartnots temple. Have lunch in the village of Parakar and take part in a cooking lesson, learning how to make arishta (traditional Armenian pasta) and sweet sudzukh. (B, L)

Day 12: Yerevan

City tour of the Armenian capital, a highlight being the Museum of Ancient Manuscripts. Also visit the Genocide Memorial and the Ararat Cognac Factory for a tour and tasting. Afternoon at leisure. (B)

Day 13: Khor Virap Noravank Areni

Drive south to Khor Virap monastery, the site where Gregory the Illuminator, who introduced Christianity to Armenia, was imprisoned.
The monastery has stunning views of Mount Ararat. Continue to Noravank monastery, before lunch and wine tasting in Areni. Farewell dinner at a traditional Armenian restaurant in Yerevan. (B, L, D)

Day 14: Fly to London

Early transfer to Yerevan airport and fly to London, via Kiev. (B)

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