From the Black Sea to the Caucasus Mountains

“New

The rugged sunburnt Anatolian Plateau of Eastern Turkey and the steep-sided green valleys of Georgia are brilliantly paired on this unusual backroad exploration. Begin in iconic Istanbul, where both continents and cultures collide, and follow traces of the old Silk Road through arid valleys and rocky hills rich with the traces of early civilizations. Then explore the beautiful little country of Georgia, where guests are welcomed at tables laden with some of the finest food and wine on earth.

18 Day Trip

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Overview Itinerary

MIR Signature Experiences on this Tour
  • Boat over Lake Van to Akhtamar Island
    Take a boat ride to Akhtamar Island and the 10th century Church of the Holy Cross, perched above the beach on beautiful Lake Van....
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  • Explore the beautiful Ishak Pasha Palace
    Admire the heart-stopping views from Ishak Pasha Palace, built over a span of 99 years in the 17th and 18th centuries....
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  • Savor an authentic “Georgian Table” meal
    Savor an authentic "Georgian Table," featuring an abundance of local specialties and an official Georgian toastmaster....
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  • Thrill to an electrifying performance by polyphonic singers
    Thrill to an electrifying polyphonic performance by dynamic singers in Kakheti....
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Why Travel with MIR on this Tour
  • Over 30 years of South Caucasus travel experience
  • Travel programs such Harvard, World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, and the American Museum of Natural History have chosen MIR to guide them to the South Caucasus
  • Twice named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”
  • On-the-ground support and quality you can trust
  • Personalized travel planning from start to finish
  • Guides and tour managers that clients rave about
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Itinerary & Highlights at a Glance

Days 1-3: Istanbul, Van

Begin in Istanbul, the former capital of two great empires, and the historic meeting place of East and West. Fly to Van, capital of the ancient Urartu Empire, and cross blue-green Lake Van to Akhtamar Island to admire the spectacular carvings on its 10th century Armenian church. Drop in at a local carpet-weaving center, observing how traditional kilim rugs are made by hand.

Highlights

  • Fabulous Istanbul, Turkey’s capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Van Castle, with some fascinating inscriptions in Urartian cuneiform
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Days 4-7: Dogubeyazit, Kars, Ani, Akhaltsikhe, Vardzia

Drive to Dogubeyazit, a Kurdish town surrounded by towering mountains and explore the lovely Ishak Pasha Palace. Admire the old citadel of Kars and visit the remains of the medieval Armenian capital of Ani. Enjoy lunch at a village women’s cooperative, then cross into Georgia and peek into the frescoed caves dug into the bluff at the 12th century Vardzia cave monastery.

Highlights

  • Dogubeyazit, a small Kurdish town set in the shadow of Mt. Ararat at 16,960 feet
  • Ishak Pasha Palace, built over a span of 99 years in the 17th and 18th centuries
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Days 8-12: Batumi, Zugdidi, Mestia, Ushguli, Okureshi, Kutaisi

Travel to the palm-lined Black Sea coastal resort town of Batumi. Venture up to the mountainous Svaneti region, known for its UNESCO-listed medieval watchtowers. Travel down from the mountains to Okureshi village and sample rare natural wines with a family in their 140-year-old village home.

Highlights

  • Drive past tea and tobacco plantations
  • Stacked stone medieval watchtowers of Svaneti, family owned and passed on from generation to generation
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Days 13-18: Signagi, Tibaani, Qedeli, Tbilisi

Continue to Kakheti, the most important wine-growing region in Georgia. Indulge in a traditional “Georgian Table” feast, featuring sumptuous food and drink and a soulful performance of polyphonic folk singing. Tour the vineyards at renowned Pheasant’s Tears Winery, and sample their rich, organic wines made according to traditional methods. Explore charming Signagi and visit 9th century Bodbe Nunnery, formerly a coronation venue for the kings of Kakheti. Spend three nights touring sophisticated Tbilisi, celebrating the journey with a festive farewell dinner.

Highlights

  • Sixth century Jvari Monastery, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mtskheta
  • Kakheti region, Georgia’s wine country
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See Dates & Prices for more details or to see suggested extensions.

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Tour Dates & Prices
Trip Length: 18 Days

Land Tour Price, Per Person
based on double occupancy

  • 5-16 Travelers $7,295
  • Plus Internal Air $150
  • Single Supplement $1,195

2021 Dates

  • June 9-26
  • $7,295
  • Max 16 Travelers

Group Size

Small Groups – Never More than 16 Travelers. Guaranteed!

What’s Included

On Your Tour

  • Shared accommodations in superior tourist class hotels in central locations.
  • 17 breakfasts, 14 lunches and 16 dinners per the itinerary. A few lunches and dinners are not included so that you may enjoy a chance to experiment on your own.
  • Restaurant tips for included meals.
  • Services of an experienced, English-speaking MIR Tour Manager with local guides at specific sites.
  • Arrival/departure transfers, provided you arrive and depart on the tour start/end dates and in the tour start/end cities.
  • Transportation throughout itinerary by private coach or van (size of vehicle depends on group size).
  • Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees as outlined in itinerary.
  • Special events, excursions and cultural performances per the itinerary.
  • Baggage handling where available.
  • Gratuities to local guides and drivers.

Before Your Tour

  • Personalized pre-departure support from one of our knowledgeable Tour Specialists.
  • Complete pre-departure information including detailed packing list and reading list.
  • Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips.
  • Customized visa application instruction kit (if applicable to your itinerary; please note, visa fees are not included in the tour price).
  • Final document packet including luggage tags, final updates, and more.
  • Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements (on request; please note that international and internal airfares are not included in the land tour cost).
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Prepare for Your Trip

International Airfare

MIR's in-house, full-service air department will gladly assist with your air travel needs.

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Reading List

MIR recommends reading up before you leave home. So settle back in your armchair with some of our favorite books about our favorite places.

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Visas

Most MIR programs require one or more visas, and each visa requires a completely blank page in your passport. Visa information for this particular tour is listed in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

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Travel Insurance

Stay a Little Longer…

MIR can arrange for an extended program in the South Caucasus countries of Azerbaijan or Armenia; or in Iran, Western Russia, or Eastern Europe. All of MIR’s destinations are open to you. Please contact MIR for more details about exciting options for extended travel.

Or, choose from one of these suggested itineraries:

Is this Trip Right for You?

While the accommodations are chosen to be comfortable for travel in this region, they will vary from comfortable three to four star hotels. It is important to keep in mind that Eastern Turkey and Georgia may not be up to the standards North American travelers expect. Services are improving in the region; nevertheless you may encounter problems with plumbing, bureaucratic service, road conditions, unpaved sidewalks, uneven surfaces and steps, and availability and quality of public restrooms. Some areas, relatively speaking, have seen few travelers, and the infrastructure is not yet fully developed.

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