South Caucasus & Turkey

Essential Caucasus

Photo credit: Jake Smith

Duration
10 Days
Price
From $4,495
Trip Type
Private
Group Size
Your choice
Activity Level
12345

Highlights of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia

Overview

The ancient petroglyphs of Azerbaijan, the bounteous wines of Georgia, and Armenia’s intricate stone khachkar crosses are icons of these three intertwined Caucasus countries, where you can experience five UNESCO masterpieces in 10 days. Explore cave monasteries, Zoroastrian fire temples, and medieval watchtowers, and feast on the savory cuisine of the imaginative South Caucasus cultures.

  • Please note that while we recommend starting this trip in Azerbaijan, it can be reversed to start in Armenia.

Travels to: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia

Map

Itinerary

  • Days 1-3: Baku (Azerbaijan)

    Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, is a longtime center of the Caspian oil industry with a UNESCO-listed medieval Old Town. A day-trip takes you to Gobustan, an important site of ancient petroglyphs that’s also UNESCO-listed.

    HIGHLIGHTS

    • The winding streets, mosques, and tiny shops of Baku’s walled Old Town
    • Vivid hand-loomed carpets at the State Museum of Azerbaijani Carpets and Applied Folk Art
    • Baku’s Beaux Arts mansions – the byproduct of an early 20th century oil boom
    • Gobustan’s petroglyphs, which provide a surprisingly rich portrait of daily life in ancient times
  • Days 4-6: Tbilisi (Georgia), Mtskheta, Gori, David Gareja

    Get to know the red-roofed Old Town of Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital city. On subsequent days visit Mtskheta, capital of the early kingdom of Iberia; Gori, Stalin’s hometown; and the David Gareja cave monastery, one of Georgia’s most sacred sites.

    HIGHLIGHTS

    • Landmarks in and around Tbilisi, including the 4th century Narikala Fortress, the hillside Mother Georgia Monument, and the elaborately carved balconies of the Old Town.
    • UNESCO-listed Mtskheta’s two exceptional early Orthodox churches
    • The Stalin House Museum, located in the wooden hut where the Soviet ruler spent his first years
    • David Gareja Monastery, once home to 2,000 medieval monks who left behind frescoes and illuminated manuscripts
  • Days 7-10: Yerevan (Armenia), Echmiadzin, Garni, Geghard, Khor Virap

    Armenia’s capital, Yerevan – a city older than Rome – is the base for day trips to some of the country’s most fascinating sights: Echmiadzin, seat of the Christian Armenian Patriarch and a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the pagan Temple of Garni; UNESCO-listed Geghard Monastery, carved into the side of a mountain; and the little monastery of Khor Virap, which has fantastic views of Mt. Ararat. The Day 7 drive from Tbilisi includes a stop at the beautifully situated 11th-century Hagartsin Monastery.

    HIGHLIGHTS

    • Yerevan’s Cascade, a massive, magisterial staircase that functions as a public gathering place
    • The Cathedral at Echmiadzin, a major pilgrimage site that dates from the 4th century
    • The pagan Temple of Garni, situated on a cliff and built from huge basalt blocks
    • The intricately carved, distinctly Armenian khachkar stone crosses of Geghard Monastery
    • The view of looming, snow-peaked Mt. Ararat from Khor Virap

Dates & Prices

Please note:

  • Private trip prices vary by season and are subject to hotel availability for your travel dates.
  • Listed prices below are based on double occupancy and a 2 traveler minimum.
  • Hotel upgrades, additional nights, and solo traveler prices are available on request.

Land tour price, per person, starting from:

  • 2020 Dates
    Available: April - October
    Tour, double occupancy
    $4,495
    Plus internal airfare
    $200
    Single supplement
    $1,195
  • 2021 Dates
    Available: April - October
    Tour, double occupancy
    $4,595
    Plus internal airfare
    $200
    Single supplement
    $1,195

What's Included

  • Tour Includes
    • Shared accommodations as noted in the itinerary. Contact MIR for hotel upgrade prices.
    • Meals, as noted in the itinerary.
    • Restaurant tips for included meals.
    • One arrival and one departure transfer. Additional arrival and departure transfers available at additional cost.) MIR will arrange for travelers to be met upon arrival and seen off on departure, whether or not we make your air arrangements.
    • Ground transportation throughout itinerary by private vehicle (Type of vehicle depends on number of travelers in your group).
    • Services of experienced, English-speaking local guides, drivers, and other staff, as noted in the itinerary.
    • Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees, as outlined in the itinerary.
    • Special events, excursions, and cultural performances, as outlined in the itinerary.
    • Complete pre-departure information, including detailed packing list, reading list, and Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips.
    • Final document packet including luggage tags, final updates, and more.
    • Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements, on request. (Please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost).
  • Not Included
    • International airfare and taxes/fuel surcharges.
    • Internal airfare. (Internal airfare is quoted separately and subject to change by airlines).
    • Meals and drinks not specified as included in the itinerary.
    • Single supplement if requested or required.
    • Baggage handling.
    • Gratuities to local guides, drivers, porters, and other service personnel.
    • Expenses incurred as a result of delay, modification, or extension of a tour due to causes beyond MIR’s control.
    • Travel-related insurance including cancellation, medical, and evacuation insurance.
    • Visa fees, excess-baggage charges, airport departure taxes, vaccination and other medical costs.
    • Optional pre- or post-tour extensions.
    • Items of a personal nature such as phone calls, email, laundry, and alcohol.

Activity Level

Level 3: Medium, but Customizable

This ‘Essential’ itinerary designed for private travel features long days walking and standing, long days of overland travel, significant stair climbing, unpaved sidewalks and streets, uneven surfaces and steps, absent handrails, and lack of elevators. While some of these challenges are inherent in the destinations and sites, as one of our Essential Series programs this trip can be modified as needed for those travelers who are looking for a less challenging (or more challenging) program.

There is a significant amount of touring on foot, and those travelers planning to take the program as written should be able to walk at least a mile a day comfortably. Some long drives are an inevitable element of the routing this tour uses, and road conditions in the region can be bumpy and rough. Some attractions are only accessible via steep staircases with tall, uneven steps, and handrails are not always in place. Interior staircases may involve steep steps inside narrow passageways with limited light. Touring will be over a variety of surfaces such as cobblestones, bricks, packed or loose dirt, gravel, and including uphill or downhill sections.

Past travelers have also encountered challenges with bureaucratic service, plumbing in and out of hotels, and availability and quality of public restrooms.

Accommodations in the basic program are generally small, moderate, three star to four-star hotels, some quite small with basic amenities and services. Upgrades may be available in some cities, please call for details.

 

Traveler Reviews

  • "This trip was an excellent adventure, well worth every penny. [The itinerary] was well paced and accurately described in material. In-depth discussions of history, culture, and current events. The guides make the trip worthwhile. Accommodations excellent, cities interesting, scenery beautiful, guides interesting, entertaining and informative. Thank you for a memorable trip!"

    D. & D. Mountfort

    Biglerville, PA

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