This tour will bring you from the labyrinth liked city of Tbilisi, to the Ararat plain, which covers most highlights in both Georgia and Armenia. You will discover the mouth-watering cuisine, ancient cathedral and monasteries, and the surreal landscape.
Day 1 - Tbilisi Arrival
Arrive Tbilisi, be met and transferred to your hotel in the city.
Day 2 - Tbilisi
We start exploring the Georgian capital. Destroyed and rebuilt nearly 30 times, it is today one of the most lively and cosmopolitan cities in the Caucasus. Walk through the narrow streets and inner courtyards, and stroll down Rustaveli Avenue, the main thoroughfare. Visit Metekhi Church of the Virgin, which was rebuilt in the 12th and 13th centuries; Sioni Cathedral in the town centre, the main cathedral of Tbilisi and seat of the Catholics of the Georgian Orthodox Church and the history museum. An on-site lecture by a historian will also be given at the Georgian National Arts & History Museum.
In the afternoon, Gori, infamous as the birthplace of Josef Stalin, and have lunch before visiting the Stalin Museum. A private lecture by historian will be given in the museum. Then proceed just outside the town to visit Uplistsikhe cave town, developed to service the trade route from India to the west in the 1st millennium BC. The town is a complex of rock-cut streets, residences, churches, secret tunnels, water passages, markets and the oldest theatre in Georgia, all hewn out of the mountain side. Return to Tbilisi.
Day 3 - Tbilisi
Today’s excursion is to the haunting David Gareja monastery complex, set in the semi-desert on the border with Azerbaijan, 140 km or about 2 hours’ drive from Tbilisi. This complex of rock-cut cave monasteries and churches was founded in the 13th century by the Syrian Fathers, a group of monks from Assyria who came to Georgia to help with the establishment of Christianity. Many of the caves bear ancient frescoes. We have time for about 2 hours of hiking to visit two of the monasteries, enjoying a picnic lunch before returning to Tbilisi.
Day 4 - Tbilisi / Gudauri
Today we drive north along the Georgian Military Highway. Completed in 1817 to link Georgia with Russia this has long been an important military and economic route through the mountainous region. About 45 minutes out of Tbilisi, we stop to visit Ananuri, the beautifully sited 16th century fortress complex with its exquisitely carved churches; then continue into the Caucasus Mountains for another 1 hour to Gudauri, Georgia’s top ski resort.
After a brief rest to take in the mountain scenery, we continue for a 1½ drive through alpine meadows and mountain passes littered with medieval watch towers to Kazbegi. Here we take a hour and a half walk up to the Tsminda Sameba Church, perched in a beautiful, solitary spot high above the village of Kazbegi, one of Georgia’s iconic sights.
Return to Gudauri for dinner and check into your hotel.
Day 5 - Gudauri / Dzorget
Drive about 2 hours back to Tbilisi. From here it is an hour to the border crossing to Armenia at Sadakhlo; after the immigration formalities, meet your Armenian guide and driver.
Drive another 30 minutes to Dzoraget, along the Debed River nestled among the forest-covered hills. Check-in to the Avan Dzoraget hotel, built in 2004 but designed to evoke the historical atmosphere of a medieval Armenian castle. Take the rest of the day to stretch, unwind and relax. Check into your hotel for 1 night.
Day 6 - Dzorget / Dilijan
This morning we backtrack slightly to visit the 10th century monastic complexes of Sanahin and Haghpat, outstanding examples of medieval Armenian architecture and UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Visit the 8th century Sevanak monastery, built on the hill of what was once an island, turned peninsular as the lake level fell. The view over the lake and surrounding mountains is marvelous, and well worth the windy climb up the steps.
Continue driving another 30 minutes to Dilijan, Armenia’s mountain resort area, to check-in a local accommodation for the night.
Day 7 - Dilijan / Goris
Visit the preserved 19th century street and buildings of Old Dilijan, and visit the Gohsavank complex in the woods, founded in the 11th century.
Then drive towards Lake Sevan. Enroute we stop to visit the caravanserai at Selim pass, built in 1332, and also visit Noraduz, an ancient cemetery with khachkars (‘cross-stones’) dating back to the 6th century. Drive along the shore of Lake Sevan, the biggest lake in the Caucasus, occupying a full 5% of the area of this small country, and stop at Sevanavank.
Arrive to Goris for dinner and overnight.
Day 8 - Goris / Yerevan
Drive to the South of Armenia to visit Khor Virap Monastery, in the Ararat valley against the spectacular backdrop of Biblical Mt Ararat. Although the complex we see today mostly dates from the 17th century, it is built over the 4th century site of the imprisonment of St Gregory the Illuminator in a pit for 12 years. Next visit is Noravank Monastery. Then drive to Tatev Monastery, above the beautiful Vorotan Canyon.
Then continue to Yerevan for dinner and check in your hotel.
Day 9 - Yerevan
After breakfast start on a city tour, including a visit to the Memorial Park and the Museum of the Armenian Genocide. Then drive to Echmiadzin, the seat of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Visit the ancient cathedral, on the site where St Gregory the Illuminator first built in 301-303 AD; also visit the Zvartnots ruins from the 7th century. Both Echmiadzin and Zvarnots are UNESCO World Heritages; return to Yerevan for dinner.
Day 10 - Yerevan
Make an excursion to cover several highlights. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Geghard monastery, rock-cut from caves, producing some beautiful acoustics. Then continue to Garni, a pagan Hellenistic temple in a picturesque setting, and have lunch at a local house.
Return to Yerevan, and visit the Armenian History Museum, whose collection includes important relics from Stone Age to Medieval periods. Also visit the spectacular Cascade complex, which houses one of the world’s greatest collections of modern glass sculpture.
Day 11 - Yerevan Departure
Transfer to Yerevan airport for your flight back home.