Transfer to the airport and departure.
Today we drive to East Armenia and visit glorious ruins of old Hellenistic temple of Garni (77 A.D) and then continue to Another UNESCO World Heritage Site of the county-Geghard Monastery-one of the oldest in Armenia.
Overnight in Yerevan
Today we visit the spiritual centre of Armenia Echmiadzin and then continue to visit the archaeological site of the 7th c. ruins of Zvantnots –both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. After lunch we visit Famous Brandy Factory of Armenia and taste different local tipples here.
Overnight in Yerevan
This morning we drive to Georgia-Armenian border Sadakhlo and after some formalities continue our trip in Armenia. First we visit monastic Hagpat Monastic Complex (976 AD)-one of the most impressive landmarks of the country inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage list and then drive to mountainous Lake Sevan –the second largest alpine freshwater lake in the world and the biggest in the Caucasus. We explore local Sevan monastery here and drive to Yerevan-the capital of Armenia.
Overnight in a hotel in Yerevan.
We will leave the capital of Georgia to visit the spiritual heart of Georgia – at Mtskheta – the first capital of Georgian empire from the 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD. First we drive up to the mountains to visit one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Mtskheta – 6th century Jvari (Holy Cross) monastery and enjoy the spectacular views of Mtskheta and the confluence of the two rivers below.
Then, we drive down to the town dominated by the impressive cathedral called “Life-Giving Pillar” or Svetitskhoveli in Old Georgian. According to ancient legend, the first church (4th century AD) was built on the burial site of Christ’s robe. As the church was being constructed, a wooden pillar rose into the air and a miraculous chrism started to flow from it, healing all the diseases which gave its name to the church.
Later, we start to drive along the Great Military Highway of Georgia and enjoy breathtaking views of the Great Caucasus Mountains, En-route we visit Ananuri Architectural Complex overlooking a water-reservoir .Later, the road starts to wind up through beautiful deciduous forests and alpine meadows along the Tergi river up to the town of Stepantsminda (St. Stephan) – the main town of the area. Arriving there, we go for a rough drive in a 4 WD car along the forested slopes of the mountain to Gergeti Trinity church (14th century) to enjoy great views of different glaciers of the Caucasus Mountains including mount Kazbegi (5047m).
We arrive back to Tbilisi in the evening
Today we will explore the tremendous heritage of Georgia’s capital city as we walk through its narrow, cobbled streets, ancient twisted pathways and boulevards, marvelling at the 1500 year history of this great city.
Throughout its history, Tbilisi has been a crucial location for many different trade routes and has been famous for its multi religious and multicultural character. Its diversity and cultural richness can be seen in the magnificence of Tbilisi’s architecture which been influenced by Byzantine, European and Oriental art. In the heart of the old town we will find churches, synagogues, mosques, Caravanserai, and even a Zoroastrian temple as well as the famous Sulphur Baths and glorious ruins of Narikala castle – which was the main fortification of Tbilisi.
After lunch we will continue to visit the treasury of Georgian State museum which displays artefacts in gold and silver from the 2nd millennium B.C. Later, we will take a walk along Rustaveli Avenue – one of the major arterial streets of Tbilisi and we will wonder at elegance of 19th century palaces, secular and spiritual buildings. We will then be able to enjoy some free time in this lovely and relaxed city.
The best opportunity to acknowledge the ancient traditions of world’s one of the first wine-makers is to visit East Georgia’s Kakheti region famous for its fertile valleys, endless lines of vineyards, ancient monasteries, castles and delicious cuisine.
In the morning we drive to visit the town of Signaghi – a place of romance and love as it has been called in recent years. Perched on the mountain cliff with its 4,5 km. long defensive wall of the 18th century Sighnaghi is one of the prettiest towns of the country which still retains its original scent and style with its narrow, cobbled streets full of one or two storey houses with bright red tiled roofs and beautifully carved balconies. The city has wonderful views over the Alazani Valley to the snow capped Caucasus mountains beyond.
After our leisurely walk through the winding streets and backyards of the town, we continue to drive to a local peasant’s wine-cellar and taste different home-made wines from Qvevri (clay jar). Qvevri wines are unique for their rich chemical composition, very distinctive bouquet and for their nutritional and curative qualities. Our host will tell us the way his ancestors have preserved the Kakhetian method of wine-making from generation to generation and will propose different traditional toasts.
We drive to Tbilisi and check-in a hotel
This morning we visit authentic open-air markets of Sheki and beautifully painted Khan’s palace situated on the top on the mountain .Afterwards, we start to drive to Georgian-Azerbaijan border and after some border formalities continue out trip to Georgia.
Our alfresco lunch will be held by a local family in their house where we will have the unique chance to taste delicious Georgian home-made dishes and drinks.
Later, we continue to drive through different villages and beautiful countryside to Gremi Complex – once a symbol of the thriving cultural and political life of Kakheti Region and the capital of the area before Persian Shah Abas razed it down to the ground. Giving an impression of floating in the air over the river, the Gremi Complex includes the church of Archangels with its beautiful frescos and adjacent royal tower as well as the ruins of different old bath-houses and watchtowers.
We overnight in a hotel in Kvareli.
After breakfast we leave Baku and head to nearby National park in Gobustan Situated on a plateau of rocky boulders rising-out of the semi-desert with an outstanding collection of more than 6000 rock engravings, remains of inhabited caves and burials showing a human use of the area from the upper Palaeolithic .
Afterwards,we start to drive along famous Great Silk road once connecting Asia to Europe and reach small town of Sheki famous for its Caravanserais and Khans palaces. Nestled on the slopes of the Caucasus Mountains, Sheki was one of the important hubs of the Silk Road traders on their way to Georgia.
Dinner and overnight in Sheki
This morning we drive to Absheron peninsula to visit one of the most remarkable landmarks of Azerbaijan-Ateshgah Fire Temple situated on the site of a natural gas vent that was sacred for Zoroastrians for hundreds of years though the temple was built by 18th c. Indian Shiva devotees who lived in the vicinities of pentagonal Caravanserai and performed some ascetic practices.
Driving back to Baku, we explore Old Town of this fascinating city visiting Palaces of Shah’s ,old Caravanserai, Maiden Tower and Medieval Bath-houses as well as breath-taking panoramic views of Baku.
Dinner in a traditional restaurant