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AZERBAIJAN, GEORGIA & ARMENIA – Escorted by Mike Wood – AUD$6,995 twin share

AUD $6,995.00

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Product Description

11 May – 02 June 2020 – 22 night/23 days – Single Supp available for $1,690

If you’ve been looking for a new travel destination then step off the tourist trail in the Caucasus Mountains of Azerbaijan, Georgia & Armenia. From Baku to Tbilisi to Yerevan this trip is unique, a combination of history, culture, landscape and walking.

Watch arid landscapes give way to verdant hillsides and majestic snow-capped mountains on this eye opening adventure through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. Explore a land where the walls speak of centuries of rich history, where ancient traditions intersect with a modern way of life. Journey through forests and past tall mountain peaks to find medieval mosques and villages.

We will explore cities like cosmopolitan Baku, on the shores of the Caspian Sea, with it’s ancient Zoroastrian history, and the eternal fires burning straight out of the ground, plus the magnificent Islamic heritage. When we get to Tbilisi, you can make friends with the friendly Georgian locals over a glass of Qvevri wine or visit the many local bars and cafes in the old town. We will stroll along the Boulevard in Batumi, Georgia’s summer holiday capital on the Black Sea, with it’s quirky beach bars, cafes and hotels. Lastly, the ancient Armenia capital of Yerevan with the shape of Mt Ararat, the biblical landing place of Noah’s Ark, in the distance.

This trip is especially designed, a one-off itinerary, to not only take in the rich culture and history of this amazing region of the world, but also the natural environment. For the first time we’ll be offering a trekking portion of this itinerary in both Georgia, in the Svaneti region, and in Armenia in the Dilijan National Park region. Much of this region harbours a rural lifestyle. Picturesque villages, remote churches on far away mountain tops, lush forests and rolling mountains.

In the remote, and rarely visited, Svaneti valley we will visit the Ushba Glacier and the many waterfalls that cascade down the mountain side. The highest continuously inhabited village in Europe, Ushguli, sits within this valley at 2,200m, the village is most famous for its abundance of watchtowers and this is where you get the view of the highest mountain in Georgia – Mt. Shkhara at 5068m. Accommodation is scarce up here so while we use 4 star hotels in the main towns we will have to make do with mountain lodges and family hotels while on trek.

In Armenia we visit an area known as the ‘Little Switzerland of Armenia’, here we will trek from Parz Lich (Clear Lake), through lush, dense woodlands and up to the grassy meadows of the village of Gosh and the medieval monastery of Goshavank. Armenia is known as a haven for artists, composers, film makers and architects, the country has some spectacular natural features too such as Lake Sevan, the largest freshwater lake in the region. The magnificent medieval Geghard Monastery is not to be missed, partly carved out of a mountain and inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

Summit Trip Itinerary:

Discover, Georgia & Armenia Itinerary

Day 1/Mon 11 May 20 Airport(Baku)-Baku Meals: Dinner
Salam eleykim! Welcome to Azerbaijan. On arrival at Baku Airport, you’ll be met by a representative and transferred to your hotel. The adventure begins with a welcome meeting this evening, followed by a group dinner. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you can’t arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you’re able to attend. We’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you’re going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We’ll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Accommodation: Boutique 19 or similar

Day 2/Tue 12 May
Baku-Absheron-Baku Meals: Breakfast
In the morning we start Baku city tour: panorama view of Baku; Visit old City: Shemakha gate, Shirvanshakhs` Palace, Maiden Tower, caravanserai, old market square, Carpet museum.
Afterwards we will do a tour to the Absheron Peninsula. We will visit the ancient Zoroastrian Ateshgah fire temple, the Mardakan medieval fortress, the Yanardagh fire mountain and then return to Baku.
Accommodation: Boutique 19 or similar

Day 3/Wed 13 May
Baku-Gobustan-Baku Meals: Breakfast
Drive to Gobustan. Visit the ancient Gobustan rock paintings museum in the open air (UNESCO) & onsite archaeological museum. En-route we will have a photo-stop for a gathering of old oil rigs moored against each other in the port.
Accommodation: Boutique 19 or similar

Day 4/Thu 14 May Baku-Sheki
Meals: Breakfast
Breakfast at a hotel. Leaving Baku, depart for the Caucasus Mountains in the northwest of Azerbaijan. The dry landscape gives way to a densely forested mountain area. En-route we will visit an active mud volcanoes site by the main highway, plus the Diri Baba shrine in Maraza, also the Yeddi Gumbez tomb and Juma mosque in Shemakha. We will watch a Yoghurt making process in the local house with snacks.
Arrive in Sheki, visit local craft workshop where famous handmade vintages are produced and well-known Sheki Khans Palace with its magnificent frescoes and stained glass.
Accommodation: Sheki Palace / Sheki Saray or similar.

Day 5/Fri 15 May
Sheki-Lagodekhi(border)-Gremi-Kvareli Meals: Breakfast , Lunch & Dinner
Breakfast at a hotel. Visit traditional bazaar and drive to Azerbaijan-Georgia border (Lagodekhi). Here we will change our local leader and transportation. There will be a local leader provide in each of the three countries as per regulations. We then continue to the Kakheti region famous for being a wine making area, as well as associated with welcoming hospitality. Here we can see both the snowy Caucasus Mountains and many fertile valleys.
First, we visit the Gremi Architectural Complex (16th century) with its museum (closed on Mondays). Then we will have a lunch at a local family with delicious homemade Georgian cuisine and wine. We continue to the wine factory, where you will try different kinds of famous Georgian wines. Afterwards we drive to our hotel and relax.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Kvareli.
Accommodation: Royal Batoni or similar

Day 6/Sat 16 May
Kvareli-Sighnaghi-Tbilisi Meals: Breakfast
After breakfast, we drive to visit the beautiful 18th century, small town of Sighnaghi that will impress you with its old wall and small houses with tile roofs and decorated balconies. From here, we can see the picturesque views of Alazani valley and Great Caucasus Mountains.
Then we depart for Tbilisi and explore the capital of Georgia. Wander in the old districts of the city that are structured like terraces, as well as take a walk in the narrow streets to enjoy the colourful houses, patterned balconies and wonderful samples of modern architecture. We will start the tour from Metekhi church (13th century) facing the magnificent views over old Tbilisi. A stroll along winding little streets takes us to the main sights of the city. Afterwards we’ll have some free time.
Accommodation: Mecure Old Town Tbilisi or similar

Day 7/Sun 17 May Tbilisi
Meals: Breakfast
In the morning, we will enjoy the panoramic views of the whole town and wander through the ancient Narikala fortress (4th century), to find ourselves in the historical domed sulphur bath area- connected with the name of the city.
We visit the stunning treasury of the Golden Fund of the historical museum (closed on Mondays), which will prove the fact that Georgia is truly the land of the Golden Fleece. Then we continue to the local art studio, where you will be acquainted to Georgian cloisonne enamel “Minanqari” technique and see how it is made. Afterwards we will have some free time.
Accommodation: Mecure Old Town Tbilisi or similar

Day 8/Mon 18 May
Tbilisi-Mtskheta-Chardakhi-Gelati-Kutaisi Meals: Breakfast & Lunch
Today we visit the ancient capital and religious centre of Georgia – Mtskheta and see its historical places: Jvari Monastery (6th century) and impressive Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (11th century) where the Robe of Christ is buried. Both Jvari and Svetitskhoveli are UNESCO World Heritage sites. We visit “Iago’s wine cellar” in the village of Chardakhi where we taste unique BIO wines produced by traditional Georgian method in Kvevri. (This method is inscribed in the UNESCO intangible heritage list). It is noteworthy that you can find this wine in the list of unique wines of hotel Ritz in London. Continue to Uplistsikhe Cave Town (1st millennium BC) where the Great Silk Road used to pass. Here you will see dwelling quarters, wine cellars, bakeries, a three nave basilica church hewn out into the rock. Drive to Kutaisi – second largest city in the country. Visit Gelati monastery and academy – UNESCO site from the 12th century.
Accommodation: Best Western or similar

Day 9/Tue 19 May
Kutaisi-Zugdidi-Becho Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Today we drive to Mountain region of Svaneti. Arrive in the small village of Becho for our overnight stay. On the way, we will stop in Zugdidi for lunch. Visit Local duke`s Palace in Zugdidi.
Dinner and overnight at a family hotel in Becho.
Accommodation: Family Hotel or similar

Day 10/Wed 20 May
Becho-Ushba waterfall-Mestia Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Today we have some amazing adventures in store. First, we will drive to Shikhra village. From there we will set out on foot to the waterfalls of Ushba. A muddy forest trail follows a noisy river, whose mouth is at Ushba glacier. Not too long after this waterfall comes into view, we see several cascades of water flowing down side by side on the mountain slope creating an unforgettable panorama. We could go to the base of the large waterfall or head up to the top and gaze down from above at the picturesque Dolra River Valley. Upon returning home, pleasantly tired, we will be treated to the most delectable Svanetian dinner when we overnight at a family hotel in Mestia.
Military Base ↑↓ 270m (walking time 2-3 hours) 1st waterfall ↑↓ 450m (walking time 3-4 hours)

Day 11/Thu 21 May
Mestia-Mulakhi-Mestia
Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
After breakfast we will see how Georgians make cheese at the local family farm. Then we will drive to the village of Lakhiri and start our walk towards Mestia. After an uphill (1870m) we descend to the beautiful valley full with flowers and have a view of Chalaadi glacier (2300 m.) and Mestia valley with its watchtowers. After returning in Mestia we visit Historical – Ethnographic
museum (closed on Mondays). Then we continue to the local family where we will participate in the traditional meal “Kubdari” (meat bread) preparing process. Dinner and overnight at a family hotel in Mestia.
↑320m↓500m (walking time 4-5 hours)
Accommodation: Family Hotel or similar

Day 12/Fri 22 May
Mestia-Ushguli
Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Today we visit the village of Ushguli, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The village is located at 2200m and is the highest continuously inhabited village in Europe. The village is most famous for its abundance of watchtowers and this is where you get the view of the highest mountain in Georgia – Mt. Shkhara (5068m). We will visit Lamaria church (12th century) and walk to Queen Tamar’s tower (2300m). In the evening, we can walk around the village and get familiar with the daily life of the local people.
Overnight at a guesthouse in Ushguli (Might be shared facilities).
↑↓250m (walking time 2-3 hours)
Accommodation: Guesthouse

Day 13/Sat 23 May
Ushguli-Shkhara glacier-Mestia Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
We start our walk from the guesthouse. The route takes us to the base of Georgia`s highest mountain, Shkhara (5068 m) and rich tongue of the glacier. This is the place where the main river of Svaneti – Enguri, takes its source. After reaching the glacier (2500m) we return to Ushguli. During our walking, we have opportunity to enjoy beautiful meadows rich of alpine flowers. Return to Mestia.
Dinner and overnight at a Family Hotel in Mestia.
↑↓320m (walking time: 5 hours)
Accommodation: Family Hotel or similar

Day 14/Sun 24 May
Mestia-Koruldi Lakes-Mestia Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
An amazing day is ahead of us. We will go from Mestia to Koruldi lakes, which are situated at the foot of a mountain with a double summit, Ushba (4,700 m.) On the way, we will see countless summits and glaciers and the gigantic mountains arising out of each other: Tetnuldi (4,800 m.), Laila (4,008 m.), Chatini (4,012 m.), Banguriani (3,838 m.), and Mestia will come clearly into view. At the small mountain lakes, after making the journey up, we will be overwhelmed by the impressive 360-degree panorama of the Greater Caucasus. We will return to Mestia along the very same path.
(Walking time: 7/8 hours)
Accommodation: Family Hotel or similar

Day 15/Mon 24 May Mestia-Batumi Meals: Breakfast
Today we travel to the Black Sea coast. After some hours of driving we will have chance to walk around the town of Batumi and have free time.
Accommodation: Radisson Batumi or similar

Day 16/Tue 26 May
Batumi
Meals: Breakfast
Batumi – Georgia`s summer holiday capital. The city has sprouted new hotels and attractions like mushrooms in recent years, but it still has much of its charm.
Strolling along Batum Boulevard, with its trees, paths, fountains, cafes, beach bars and some quirky attractions, this is the life and soul of Batumi.
On the Boulevard you`ll find a large Ferris wheel, the Alphabet Tower, a monument to Georgian script and culture, moving metal sculpture of Ali & Nino – the protagonists of Kurban Said`s marvellous novel of that name, an ornamental lake hosts the Dancing Fountains, an entertaining laser, music and water show.
During the city tour we`ll visit Europe square with Astronomical clock and Medea statue. Visit Piazza Square, one of the most beautiful squares in whole Georgia. Distinguished by its painting, as well as by its exquisite mosaics and stained glass windows. Piazza Square has already become the venue of numerous entertaining and cultural events.
Accommodation: Radisson Batumi or similar

Day 17/Wed 27 May
Batumi-Prometheus Grotto-Tbilisi Meals: Breakfast
Drive to Tskaltubo. Visit Prometheus grotto (closed on Mondays) with stalactites and stalagmites. Afterwards drive to Tbilisi
Accommodation: Mercure Old Town Tbilisi or similar

Day 18/Thu 28 May
Tbilisi-Sadakhlo(border)-Haghpat-Dilijan Meals: Breakfast
Meeting at Armenia Georgia Sadakhlo border. Drive to visit Haghpat monastery, which is listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO. The architectural complex of Haghpat is among the outstanding works of medieval Armenian architecture. Haghpat was also a major literary centre in the middle ages. Start hiking from Haghpat monastery. This is a delightful hike showing the beauty and scenery of Lori region. The trail ends by visiting Kayanberd fortress. Arrival Dilijan resort town often referred to as the Little Switzerland of Armenia. Short city tour in the old town, Sharambeyan Street. Home to numerous Armenian artists, composers and filmmakers, the town features some traditional Armenian architecture. Overnight in Dilijan.
Total Hiking: ~1.5 hours
Accommodation: Best Western Paradise Resort or similar

Day 19/Fri 29 May
Dilijan
Meals: Breakfast
Breakfast at the hotel. Explore the forested area of Dilijan, one of the most important resorts in Armenia, often referred to as the Little Switzerland of Armenia. The forested and reclusive city is home to numerous Armenian artists, composers, and filmmakers and features some traditional Armenian architecture. Today we take on hiking in Dilijan National Park. The trail begins at Parz Lich (Clear Lake), a small, picturesque lake nestled in Dilijan highlands. From here, we will trek through lush, dense woodlands, suddenly emerging in a vast grassy meadow from which we will descend to Gosh village, finishing our hike at the breathtaking medieval monastery of Goshavank, comfortably settled on the right side of the Getik River. Return to Dilijan. Rest and overnight at the hotel in Dilijan.
Total Hiking: ~3 hours
Accommodation: Best Western Paradise Resort or similar

Day 20/Sat 30 May
Dilijan-Garni-Geghard-Yerevan Meals: Breakfast
After breakfast, depart to Lake Sevan, the Pearl of Armenia, and the largest alpine high mountain freshwater lake in the Caucasus region. Sightseeing on the Peninsula, enjoying the views over the lake. Proceed to Garni village and visit Garni Temple. The Armenian King Tiridates built it in the first century A.D. and it is dedicated to a heathen god, probably to Mithra, the god of the sun, whose figure stood in the depth of the sanctuary. Here we take short hiking to Azat river gorge. We reach the portion of the Gorge typically referred to as the Symphony of Stones, a unique and picturesque monument of nature, resembling stone pipes. Higher up the gorge of the Azat River, there is a magnificent monument of medieval Armenian architecture – Geghard monastery, inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage list. Geghard is another incredible ancient Armenian monastery, partly carved out of a mountain. Drive to the capital city, Yerevan. Check-in and overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.
Total Hiking: 1-1.5 hours
Accommodation: Grand Hotel or similar

Day 21/Sun 31 May Yerevan Meals: Breakfast
Breakfast at our hotel. Today we start our walking tour with an exploration of the vibrant capital of Armenia, Yerevan, where ancient culture is mixed with a modern lifestyle and great traditions. We start our walking tour from the Republic Square, the masterpiece of the architect Alexander Tamania and continue to Cascade, an open-air museum of modern art with massive stairways leading up to the Victory Park providing a fantastic overlook to the entire downtown from above. We are in the Opera House, a beautiful building, and hub of Yerevan. Freedom Square is behind it, surrounded by parks which have been taken over by outdoor cafes, and finally Swan Lake. Visit Yerevan Fruit Market where you can find variety of fruits and vegetables, local sweets and traditional dry fruits. Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.
Accommodation: Grand Hotel or similar

Day 22/Mon 01 June
Yerevan-Amberd Fortress-Letter Park-Zvartnots-Yerevan Meals: Breakfast
After breakfast drive to Amberd and start hiking to the fortress that stands at an elevation of 2300 meters above sea level on the high cape. It is located in the canyon of two rivers high upon the southern slope of Mount Aragats. Close to Oshakan village, which is known for the final resting place of the Armenian Alpabet creator Mesrop Mashtot; we stop at the Armenian alphabet park. It represents huge stones set against the backdrop of Armenia’s Mt. Aragats representing each of Armenian letter. Drive to the ruins of Zvartnots Temple (7th century) which is listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO (closed on Mondays). Zvartnots is an outstanding monument of world architecture, and evidence of the high level of the development of the artistic and engineering thought in the 7th-century Armenia. Drive back to Yerevan. Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan. (B/-/-)
Total Hiking: 1.5hours
Accommodation: Grand Hotel or similar
Day 23/Tue 02 June
Yerevan-Airport(Yerevan) Meals: Breakfast
Transfer to the airport and departure.

 

Summit Trip Dates:

11 May 2020 – 02 June 2020

 

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Group Size: 16

Start: 11 May 2020

End: 02 June 2020

Duration: 22 nights

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