Prepare your own tolma (vine-wrapped rice and mince), feast on succulent khorovats (Armenian pork barbecue) and visit a distillery to taste legendary Armenian brandy at the source.. Stay overnight in a local guesthouse in Gudauri, sitting down to a traditional meal with the family who run it.. Familiarise yourself with the local life in Telavi and make ‘mtsvadi’ (grilled pork skewers) then indulge in ‘churchkhela’, a delicious Georgian sweet!. Discover the World Heritage-listed church and cathedral in Mtskheta, Georgia’s spiritual heart since Christianity was established in 301.
Discover the punchy, herbaceous flavours of Armenia and Georgia on this food adventure. Sitting on the cusp of the Middle East and Eastern Europe, these two countries bring a knowledge, pride and tradition to their cuisine that stretches back centuries. Begin the journey in Yerevan, contrasting traditional Armenian barbecue, grilled trout and tolma with the many spicy aromas of the local market – and of course a drop or two of fine Armenian brandy. Continue the adventure in Georgia, where the charming facades of Tbilisi and the snow-dusted peaks of the Caucasus are the backdrop for culinary adventures, both hands-on and leisurely. Enjoy Adjarian-style khachapuri (cheese pie), hearty chaqafuli (beef or lamb in plumb sauce), mtsvadi (meat skewers in marinated in spices and pomegranate), churchkhela (nutty Georgian candy), khinkali (Georgian dumplings) – all washed down with a delicious array of Georgia’s famous local wines.
Breakfast Included: 9 Lunches Included: 6 Dinner Included: 5
Welcome to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. After meeting with your guide at 6pm in the hotel lobby, head out with your fellow travellers for a welcome dinner in a local restaurant. Here the main dish is khorovats – skewered and spiced meats, such as pork, grilled on a barbecue. It's the most representative dish of Armenian cuisine enjoyed in restaurants, family gatherings and feasts.
After breakfast, set off on a city tour around Yerevan. This includes a visit to the local market, the best place to browse the fresh fruits, dried fruits and many aromatic spices that Armenia is known for. In the second half of the day, make tracks for Garni. Visit the Temple of Garni, a monument of the Hellenistic period and an impressive piece of ancient Armenian architecture. Next up, enjoy lunch in a local house, sampling some delectable Armenian grilled trout – the locals often call this dish 'prince', as it's associated with all things royal and regal. Your hosts will demonstrate how to make lavash, a soft, thin unleavened flatbread so essential to Armenia that it's on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. If you're keen, try making some for yourself. After lunch, visit Geghard Monastery, a magnificent monument of medieval Armenian architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Drive to back to Yerevan and enjoy a free evening.
After breakfast at the hotel, drive to the Zvartnots Temple. Built in the 7th century, destroyed in the 10th century, and excavated in the early 20th, this World Heritage-listed marvel is impressive even in its ruined and partially reconstructed form. Look out for the sculpted eagle sitting among the columns, arches and other stone artefacts. Continue to the Etchmiadzin Cathedral, one of the oldest standing churches in Christendom. Then we visit a local art school for a cooking class, where you'll learn to make the traditional Armenian dish known as tolma (rice and ground spiced meats wrapped in grape or cabbage leaves). Head back to Yerevan and visit the Armenian Brandy Factory for a taste of various aged brandies, the classic Ararat variety is considered the pride of many generations and a symbol of Armenia. With a free evening to seek out dinner where you like, consider the excellent Yerevan Tavern – it comes highly recommended.
Start the day by visiting the Armenian Alphabet Monument, where a giant stone is dedicated to the founder of Armenia's alphabet. Then it's off to visit a bakery in Aparan called Gntunik, which has become something of a legend thanks to its delicious, soft bread cooked to perfection in huge clay pots. Continue to the forested Lori province, where our destination is Akhtala village. Here we have a coffee stop at NURIK, a centre for community and tourism development founded by the Armenian Young Women's Association. In the evening, continue to Sadakhlo, located at the Georgian border. At this juncture your leader and transport will change as the Georgia leg of your adventure begins. Once over the border, transfer to Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, and spend the night at a hotel. This evening, get your first taste of Georgian cuisine as you enjoy one of the country’s oldest and most delicious dishes for dinner, shqmeruli, a hearty combination of succulent chicken with a garlic and milk sauce.
Today we will explore the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi. Starting from the Metekhi Church, which has magnificent views over old Tbilisi, stroll through winding streets to the city’s main sites. Enjoy the terraced streets, colourful houses, patterned balconies and modern architecture. End the tour at the ancient Narikala Fortress, with panoramic views of the city and surrounds. Enjoy lunch at a restaurant specializing in khachapuri (cheese breads). Taste several varieties – all different shapes, styles and fillings. The remainder of the day is free for you to explore the sites and tastes of Tbilisi at your own pace.
Today we travel into the Kakheti region, surrounded by both snowy Caucasus mountains and fertile valleys and famous for its wines and welcoming hospitality. Your first stop is the 16th century Gremi Architectural Complex, followed by lunch with a local family. Familiarise yourself with the local life and make 'mtsvadi', a famous Georgian barbeque dish, and learn the ritual behind its preparation. Afterwards, watch a demonstration on the making of 'churchkhela', a type of Georgian sweet, and give it a go yourself! After lunch, drive to a traditional Georgian wine cellar, where you’ll learn the secret behind the unique method used to create this delicious beverage. Arrive at your night's accommodation at approximately 5 or 6 pm.
This morning, visit a local master who’ll show you the ‘kvevri’ (clay jars where Georgians store wine underground), followed by a tasting. Return to Tbilisi where you’ll enjoy lunch with a local Georgian family. Participate in making traditional Georgian hot and cold dishes, including megrelian kharcho (beef in a walnut sauce). Next, drive to Georgia's ancient capital and religious centre, Mtskheta, and see its World Heritage-listed marvels: Jvari Church, which dates back to the 6th century, and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, dating back to the 11th century (where the Robe of Christ is buried). Afterwards, drive up the famous Georgian Military Highway, which leads to the Georgian-Russian border. On the way there, visit the 17th-century Ananuri architectural complex, as well as the two churches and the fortress that overlooks the Zhinvali water reservoir. The views here are spectacular, so make sure those camera batteries are charged. The carvings on the churches are some of the best samples of Georgian art out there. Today's drive through the Caucasus Mountains is a memorable one (note that it can get slow, steep and windy up here). In the evening, sit down to dinner at a local guesthouse in Gudauri (2200m above sea level) where you’ll spend the night. Today's driving time is 5-6 hours approximately.
From Gudauri, it's a leisurely 2 hour walk up through beautiful valleys and woodland to Gergeti Trinity Church (2170m above sea level). Weather permitting, you might catch a glimpse of one of the highest glaciers in the Caucasus, Mt Kazbegi (5047 m). After the walk, visit a local family, also located in Gudauri, where the host will take a masterclass on how to make khinkali (Georgian dumplings which originated in mountainous regions of Mtiuleti, Pshavi and Khevsureti). This is sure to be an interesting history lesson too, as the pre-Mongolian origins of this classic Caucasian dish – and the legend of the toothless boy who needed a soft-boiled food (hence the dumpling) – are no doubt touched on. Return to Gudauri in the late afternoon, arriving at around 6pm to enjoy a free evening. The approximate driving time today is 4 hours.
Leave Gudauri this morning and head to Tbilisi for an afternoon at leisure. Perhaps ask your leader for tips and recommendations on things to see and do to make the most of your time here. In the evening, head out for a farewell dinner at a traditional Georgian restaurant featuring 'chaqafuli' (beef or lamb in a fresh plum sauce).
Today your adventure comes to an end after breakfast. There are no activities included on this day and you are free to leave at any time. If you would like to spend some more time in Tbilisi, please contact your booking agent to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).