Highlights of Georgia & Armenia

14 days
from
$2,749 USD
incl. taxes
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Suitable for:
Age 16+
Activity level:
Leisurely / Moderate
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Trip code: 
AXC
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Culture
Group size:
4–16
Min age:
16

A fascinating cultural journey through the heart of the Caucasus 

The monasteries, churches and cathedrals of Georgia and Armenia are amongst the oldest in the world. Many are built in stunning locations, surrounded by gardens and forests, perched on top of dramatic gorges or silhouetted before snowcapped mountains. The range of scenery is immense, from Mount Ararat towering majestically over the skyline of Yerevan, to the lush valleys of ancient vineyards across the lowlands of Georgia. Here, wine has been produced for almost 10,000 years and there is the opportunity to visit one of its most famous wine cellars. 

Highlights

  • Visit UNESCO churches and fortresses in Georgia
  • See Mount Ararat towering over Yerevan
  • Explore spectacular monasteries in Armenia including Khor Virap
  • Walk amongst the pre-Christian cave houses in Uplistsikhe
  • Experience cafe culture in Tbilisi
  • Have the option to add-on an Azerbaijan extension 

Key information

  • 11 nights hotels and 2 nights guesthouses (shared facilities in guesthouse)
  • Group normally 6 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by private minibus 
  • Countries visited: Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 7 lunches, 4 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • Transfer for group flights

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Single supplement
  • Azerbaijan extension
Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailor made trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

Tourism can be a real help to local communities, providing income, positive cultural exchanges and a financial incentive to protect their natural environment. Ours is a 'total approach' to responsible tourism, covering everything from the way we plan and operate our trips to the practices of Exodus as a company. 

On this trip, we spend most nights in family-run hotels and guesthouses that are usually locally owned or at least employs local staff and uses local produce. Our small group size allows us to support smaller hotels and restaurants that do not usually benefit from mass tourism, bringing a positive impact on the overall employment levels and economy in the region. Treated water is readily available throughout the trip hence we strongly encourage clients to bring their own reusable water bottles to refill.

There are plenty of opportunities to explore about the cultures of Georgia and Armenia with visits to various cultural hotspots and UNESCO sites such as Geghard Monastery, the Genocide Memorial at Yerevan and the 7th Century ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral. Our visit greatly contributes to the preservation of these important sites.

In March 2019, Exodus Travels launched the Exodus Travels Foundation where we support initiatives all around the world. But it cannot exist without travellers who care. Get involved or learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus here

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Yerevan

    Our trip begins in the hotel in Yerevan. 
    Regineh Hotel or similar

  • Day 2

    Full day exploring Yerevan and the surrounding area.

    A short drive through the city takes us to the churches of Hripsime and Gayane followed by Echmiadzin. This was the capital of Armenia from 180 to 340 AD (when Christianity was first adopted by the Armenian people). The main cathedral sits amongst hedges and lawns, where bearded clergy in dark robes sit in theological debate. In the gardens, there are many fine khachkars (carved cross stones) and bell towers. After lunch, we visit the impressive 7th-century ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral and then the Genocide Memorial and museum, dedicated to the massacre of 1.5 million victims in 1915. The visit will help us understand how the huge Armenian diaspora community has developed across the world.
    Regineh Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 3

    Morning visit to Geghard Monastery and pagan temple at Garni; afternoon free.

    In the morning we drive for an hour to Geghard Monastery (a UNESCO site) where on the hillside you can still see caves that housed monastic cells. A short drive takes us to the village of Garni where we explore the only pagan temple left in Armenia, and outside we're likely to meet friendly locals selling homemade honey and sweets. After lunch, we return to the city with free time to sample the thriving café culture of Yerevan.
    Regineh Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    Khor Virap Monastery; wine tasting at Areni village; visit Noravank monastery; to Goris.

    Today is a long but fascinating day. First, we visit the Matenadaran (Armenia’s ancient manuscripts library) which is an imposing building at the top of Yerevan’s grandest avenue. Leaving the capital we drive to the monastery of Khor Virap, one of the holiest sites in the country, with stunning views of Mount Ararat. Our second stop is in Areni village where the finest Armenian wine is produced. Here we visit a vineyard and have a tasting. The next stop is Noravank, where, after lunch we visit the monastery (a masterpiece of the 13th century architect Momik) dramatically located in the canyon.

    Afterwards we journey for approx. 3hrs to the small town of Goris where we stay the night.
    Diana Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 5

    Visit to Tatev Monastery. Silk Road and Lake Sevan via Selim Caravanserai and Noraduz.

    The day starts with taking one of the world’s longest cable cars to visit the Tatev Monastery, perched on the edge of the Vorotan Canyon.

    On our return, it's a two-hour drive on part of the ancient Silk Road, where we stop for a lunch break then drive on for another hour up to the well-preserved 14th century Selim caravanserai. From here we continue to the top of the pass where the landscape changes, before descending to the blue water of Lake Sevan. We make a stop at Noraduz to see the 'forest' of khachkars (cross-stones which incorporate both Pagan and Christian symbols) before continuing to our hotel on the shores of the lake, the largest in the Caucasus and known as Armenia's 'seaside'. The lake is volcanic and lies at an altitude of 1950m reflecting the sky like a mirror and changing colour throughout the day.
    Bohemian Resort Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    To Sevanavank and Haghartsin Monasteries; to Haghpat.

    After breakfast, we visit Sevanavank, a famous monastery with commanding views of Lake Sevan.

    Our group then heads north to Lori, the lush alpine region of northern Armenia. After a short stop in Dilijan, a small town known for its arts and crafts, we visit the 12th-century Haghartsin Monastery, nestled in a forested valley. This beautiful site, whose name means ‘Dance of the Eagles’, was built by two brothers, princes of the Bagratuni kingdom. On the way to Haghpat, our final stop of the day, we pass through Molokan villages. Molokans (milk drinkers) are a sect of Russian Old Believers who broke away from the Russian Orthodox Church in the 16th century.
    Qefo Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 7

    Visit mediaeval churches at Haghpat and Sanahin before crossing into Georgia; to Tbilisi.

    Our final morning in Armenia includes visits to the impressive UNESCO sites of Haghpat and Sanahin. After lunch in Alaverdi we will continue on to cross the border. Here we say goodbye to our Armenian leader and driver and walk approximately 10 minutes across the border into Georgia, where we will be met by our new guide, and travel onto the capital Tbilisi. Our hotel is a short walk to the wonderfully restored historical centre with its relaxing pavement cafes and bars.
    Tbilisi Inn or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    Walking tour of Tbilisi; free afternoon.

    Much of Tbilisi can be visited on foot and in the morning we will explore the old town. Here we see the ancient sulphur baths, Sioni Cathedral - the main church of Tbilisi and the beautifully decorated synagogue, built at the beginning of the 20th century. We will also visit Rustaveli Avenue, the main artery of the city and the Treasury of the State Museum, with its fantastic collection of pre-Christian gold artefacts and jewellery. The rest of the afternoon will be free, with time to explore the art galleries, handicraft and painting markets and the enormous new Holy Trinity Cathedral, all within a reasonable distance from our hotel. Or you may choose to just relax with a coffee in one of the many cafes that line the streets of the old town. This evening we will enjoy a dinner at a local restaurant and a Georgian folk show.

    Tbilisi Inn or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 9

    To Kazbegi village for views of Mt. Kazbek; alpine walk to Gergeti Trinity Church; onto Gudauri.

    After breakfast, we will take a long drive up the Georgian Military Highway, through the great Caucasus Mountains via Ananuri Church. Our goal for the day is the town of Stepantsminda (formerly Kazbegi) where, after lunch, we walk up through the village of Gergeti to the landmark Holy Trinity church. The walk will take us about 2-3 hours in total. For those who don't want to walk, local jeeps can usually be rented for a reasonable cost. Hopefully we will have clear views of Mount Kazbek, the third highest of the Georgian Caucasus Mountains, soaring to 5047m. We will drive back to the ski resort of Gudauri, where we have dinner and spend the night in a cosy alpine hut-style hotel.
    Hotel Alpine Hut or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 10

    To Uplistsikhe pre-Christian cave town; onto Gori, birthplace of Stalin; finish Kutaisi

    Today is our longest day. We drive three hours to Uplistsikhe which was once an enormous cave town dating from the pre-Christian era. In times of siege, dead bodies were temporarily buried in jars until they could be peacefully re-buried and a large underground tunnel to the river for water collection still exists. Ancient temples and theatres can still be identified and we walk up sandstone steps for a winding view across the river and plains.

    We take a short drive to the town of Gori, the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. Visiting Stalin Square where a huge statue of him used to stand we take a guided tour of the fascinating museum of his life and the role he played in the Soviet Union. Stalin's bulletproof train carriage, which he used to travel to the Potsdam Conference in 1945, lies in the grounds of the museum. It is worth a visit for its simple but elegant interior. The small wooden house where he was born is also here in a temple-like structure – there are still people in Georgia who greatly admire Stalin. We then continue to Kutaisi where we spend the night.
    Kutaisi guesthouse

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 11

    Explore Kutaisi's UNESCO sites; walk in Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park.

    After breakfast we visit the ruins of the 11th century Bagrati Cathedral poised prominently above the river, and travel to the Gelati Academy and Monastery, founded by King David the Builder in the 12th century. It is no surprise to find he chose yet another superb location for this monastery, whose monks were members of the royal court. Both sites, Bagrati and Gelati, have been on the UNESCO World Heritage in Danger list since 2010.  From here we drive to the lovely Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park and take a guided walk. Overnight in Borjomi.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 12

    Visit Mtskheta; drive back to Tbilisi; free evening in the Georgian capital.

    Today we travel back to Tbilisi, stopping at Mtskheta, the former capital of Georgia where we will see the 11th-century Sveti-Tskhoveli Cathedral, the largest functioning cathedral in Georgia. However, the main reason people visit Mtskheta is to see Jvari church, perched on a hill overlooking the valley and built in the 6th century on the spot where St. Nino set up her cross in the 4th century which converted the town from paganism to Christianity. Continuing on to Tbilisi we will have some free time to enjoy this historic capital.
    Tbilisi Inn or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Visit Signagi and the wine region of Kakheti. Lunch and wine tasting; return to Tbilisi.

    After breakfast we leave Tbilisi, driving east to the wine region of Kakheti, where we visit the recently renovated royal town of Signagi.  We will then have lunch with a local family who will prepare some specialities paired with wine and we continue with a visit to Tsinandali Family Estate and its wine cellar, which once belonged to the 19th century aristocratic poet Alexander Chavchavadze. The residence consists of a summer home, garden and winery, featuring several vintages of white wine. We make our way back to Tbilisi for our final night in Georgia.

    Tbilisi Inn or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 14

    Finish Tbilisi

    Our tour ends after breakfast.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Post-trip Extensions

Azerbaijan extension

Code: XXC

Extend your adventure with our perfectly designed Azerbaijan extension.

Azerbaijan also called the 'Land of Fire', is a country of contrasts and contradictions. Its historical, cultural and natural heritage attracts visitors from all over the world while it is also a rapidly transforming ‘new’ nation with a growing economy.

This is a 4-day extension which takes you by overnight train from Tbilisi to the cosmopolitan capital, Baku, famous for its blend of historic UNESCO-listed buildings, modern skyscrapers and oil-rich location. From here you visit the Ateshgyakh Fire worshippers’ Temple, Yanar Dag (burning mountain) and the ancient rock carvings at Gobustan. There is also free time to explore beautiful Baku on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan is a wonderful contrast to Armenia and Georgia, experience an entirely different culture. The detailed itinerary can be found here

Please ask your sales consultant for more details.

 

Essential Info

Visas

Armenia

UK and EU passport holders do not need a visa for Armenia. Certain other nationaltiies can obtain a visa on arrival.

Georgia

Visas are not required for Georgia for UK passport holders, EU, Canadian and US nationals. Check with your travel agent or with the embassy for other nationalities.

Azerbaijan

All British citizens require a visa for Azerbaijan. The easiest way to do this is via an e-visa, which is significantly cheaper than through the embassy or visa agency. Please contact our Operations Team to obtain one of these visas, details of who to contact will be on your sales confirmation.

We will require the following to process your application:

1. A good quality colour copy of the photo page of your passport.
2. One good quality scanned passport size photo
3. Completed visa application form - please request the form from our Customer Operations Team
4. Copy of your air ticket, if not booked through Exodus

A payment of £40 per person, at the time of booking the visa, is also required.

Vaccinations

Armenia

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Vaccination against Meningitis is also recommended.

Azerbaijan

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements for this trip.

Recommended vaccinations for this trip are: Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A.

Vaccination against Meningitis is also recommended.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 7 lunches and 4 dinners are included.

Georgian specialities include Khachapuri (cheese pies), Khinkali (meat dumplings) and Lobio (bean stew with herbs and spices). There are many sauces made from walnuts to accompany cheese or meat dishes. Churchekhela - walnuts in solid grape juice is a typical local sweet.

Armenian specialities feature a variety of local cheeses, flat Lavash bread, sweet Lavash made from fruits, Khoravats (barbecues), Dolma (stuffed vine leaves), Kartofel (raisin and apricot pilaf rice dish) and Kyufta (veal meatballs cooked with cognac).

Local beer, wine, vodka and cognac are readily available in both countries as is fruit vodka, which is locally distilled and tastes more like grappa. Still and sparkling water is easy to find, as are other soft drinks. There is a huge variety of food in both countries.

Vegetarians can easily be catered for, as there are lots of fruit and vegetables, cheese and other dairy products, various local breads and dumplings. Vegans or those with wheat or dairy intolerance will find there is far less variety but can be accommodated. Walnuts are ubiquitous in salads and sauces, so those with nut allergies should be aware. Please advice Exodus at the time of booking if this affects you. 

Weather

Temperatures are very varied in both countries with May/June and September being very pleasant in the cities and lowlands where temperatures can rise to 40 degrees C in July and August. However, these spring and autumn months may be chilly, even cold in the mountains. July and August temperatures should be very agreeable in the mountains. Lake Sevan has a short summer, late June to September and is very cold in winter. Rain can be expected at all times of the year though it is unlikely that there will be long periods of wet weather. Climate change is affecting the Caucasus as everywhere else and temperatures can be unusually high or low compared to previous norms.

Is this trip for you?

This trip is graded leisurely/moderate. The trip does involve some long days and drives. This is due to the state of the roads and an attempt to make the most of the time we have there. You don't need to be fit, although there is some day walks scheduled on uneven paths, and some walks in the city are quite long.

The accommodation style can vary from night to night and as this area is generally still in the early stages of tourism a flexible attitude is required when it comes to services such as plumbing, service in restaurants, shops and guesthouses, as well as the order of the itinerary.  

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailor made trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels and Guesthouses

You will spend 11 nights in hotels and 2 nights in guesthouses. The hotels in Yerevan and Tbilisi are modern city centre properties, within walking distance of all the main sights. Each offers buffet breakfast and Wi-Fi. The hotel in Tbilisi has a small indoor swimming pool and a terrace bar offering panoramic views of the Georgian capital. At Lake Sevan the hotel is resort style with a large pool and beautiful views out across the lake. Two of the nights in the countryside are in more basic accommodation but both are a family run and offer a very warm welcome.

Single supplement from £420

 

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailor made trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed September 2019
    Catherine Bruton

    Two wonderful countries

    This is not a trip for the ‘moaning myrtles’ of this world. These countries are not 'first world' and things don’t often work as maybe expected. Be prepared for a 2 hour wait to clear through Yerevan Airport, broken plumbing and beds in hotel rooms and itinerary changes (especially in Armenia) due to weather, road conditions and other operational difficulties. Take all these and more in your stride and you will have a great trip, see lots of stunning countryside, meet some wonderful warm friendly people, eat some amazing fresh foods, drink great local wines and see stunning frescos and ancient architecture in seemingly inaccessible places.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    At my request our guide kindly added a brief visit to an artists home and gallery in the village of Garni. We had a tour of the gallery, met the artists, discussed their work and methods and had a quick tour of their old family home. One of the artists was a tapestry weaver, her work was amazing in design and colour and now back home, has inspired me to dig out my weaving loom. It was very interesting side excursion and made a nice change from churches and monasteries. Maybe something that could be added to future tours.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both our leaders were exceptional, Sahakanush (Armenia) and Nino (Georgia). Quite different in their approaches but both very knowledgeable and were happy to inform us of all parts of their cultures, giving us an insight into their respective countries and talking on topics such as history, education, economics, and all sorts of social aspects and taboos. Sahakanush even introduced us to different types of Armenian music with CD's for the long bus journeys. Both had lovely terms of address, Sahakanush ‘my dears’ and Nino ‘ladies & gentlemen’, they were always polite, friendly and helpful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for long bus journeys, maps, books and music helped while away the time; churches and monasteries do tend to blur into one after a while. Maybe there are a few too many! Long, full-on days mean little downtime at the end of the day. Take advantage of the included lunches, several hotels outside of the cities had no nearby facilities eg; cafes, bars, restaurants. By having a large lunch, we found that a hotel soup would suffice in the evening. Be warned that Armenia doesn’t have a no-smoking policy, and as well as bars, restaurants, smoking is also allowed in some hotel bedrooms. In Georgia there is ban due to be imposed in a couple of years, but many businesses already adhere to their own no-smoking policies and don’t allow it inside. Hotel Diana in Goris had a lovely café at the back of it’s carpark, amazing kebobs, borsch & pilaf. Dilijan - Tea with the ‘Molokan Family’ was a lovely experience, but the arts and crafts of Dilijan (apart from 1 woodcarver) seemed nothing more than tourist ‘tat’. In Yerevan take a walk around the Kond area of the city, lovely (pre-soviet) tumbledown houses and winding streets. Visit the cascade at dusk as it all lights up, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes here and a real bustling atmosphere as the whole city seems to come out for an evening promenade. Tbilisi is a lovely city, we didn’t go on the museum tour, preferring to explore more of the city, be sure to visit the Flea market, the Dezerter market and the Kaleidoscope House and if you feel brave take a bath in one of the many bath houses. Enjoy the wine tasting excursion and family hospitality. Beware of tiled floors in the showers, some are very slippery when wet.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Having a large coach (16 people to 50+ seats) enabled us to spread out and move around and change seats as required, which made the long journeys more comfortable. Surprisingly, all our hotels & guesthouses were of a very good standard, some quite luxurious and others more basic but clean and functional. The bad weather made the cable car trip very disappointing as you couldn’t really see much, however this wet misty cloud added great atmosphere to the view and exploration of the Tatev Monastery. We would have liked more time in Kutaisi, half an hour to explore the city centre was not enough and disappointedly we drove from there to a motorway service station where we stopped for an hour for lunch!
  • Reviewed August 2019
    John Massey

    Highlights of Georgia and Armenia 2019

    This is an very good tour if you are fascinated by ancient churches and monasteries. You will see many on this tour. Although some are situated in amazing locations there are far too many to remember them all. I felt that the tour could benefit for a little variation in itinerary. The food and wine were excellent as were the very friendly people and our superb tour guides. All of which made this a very memorable trip to what is an interesting and relatively undiscovered part of the world for western tourists.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I was very impressed with Tibilisi. Clean city with lots of open spaces and a mix of modern and old architecture. Especially like the cafe culture. The food throughout trip was excellent and very reasonably priced. Really impressive scenery in the Causcasus mountains

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Armenia is developing it's tourism industry and I suspect that is why our tour leader wasn't a tour guide by profession. Taguhi was by profession an English lecturer at the University in Yerevan and you could tell. She had done lots of research and sometimes delivered her commentary like a lecture with far too much detail. Having said that, she was competent and kept on schedule, organising meals as we went along. It was actually nice to have a leader who wasn't a trained guide, just a local who is passionate about her country, it's history and culture. Taguhi is intelligent and she will quickly learn how to refine her skills as a guide. I had no problems. Just a little less detailed information please. In Georgia, our guide was Ia Mikiashvili. . Ia was in her early twenties and not long out of University where she studied tourism . Ia said she was little nervous at first as this was her first English group but she proved to be an excellent tour leader in every sense. She is a very friendly person with good English and she got on well with everyone. Ia has a good knowledge of the itinerary and can advise on places to visits, restaurants etc. She made herself contactable at all times and she has good organisation and problem solving skills . I think she will do very well in the tourist industry. Very well done Ia.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are interested in Georgian and Armenian churches and monasteries you will love this trip but be prepared for some long days travelling. Make sure you check in on line. Either print your boarding pass or download to your phone

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    1. Coach transport in both countries was very good. Both coaches were clean tidy and comfortable with good microphone systems. WiFi and USB charging on the Georgian coach was very well received by everyone. 2. We had free water in Armenia but none in Georgia as we were told it was Exodus policy. Confused? 3. Hotels were very good throughout. I was expecting some standard and budget accommodation but all hotels were good, clean and with full amenities. 4. The food included as part of the tour was very good in both countries. It's a good idea to have group meals provided especially early on as it brings the group together. 5. The itinerary in Georgia was fine but in Armenia there is a need to introduce some variation so guests can experience other aspects of the history and culture other than churches and monasteries. Perhaps needs to be more balanced.. for example we spend what seemed a long time looking at ancient manuscripts and books, which wasn't so interesting and not a lot of time in the genocide museum which was. We seemed to be rushed sometimes trying to cover everything in the itinerary. On the last day we asked if we could miss out the last part of the itinerary other wise we would have been back for our final meal around 9.30pm. Perhaps need to revise the itinerary and introduce some more free time en-route. 6. Our hotel in Tibilsi was very nice but not good for those who are a little infirm and have difficulty difficulty walking uphill. There is also disturbance from a disco across the street which goes on until 5 am. 7. In Armenia we were asked by the tour leader for copies of our passports. Taguhi didn't know why her company wanted this just that she had been asked to get copies. Privacy and security are big issues in the West and so without any explanation I don't think anyone provided their passports.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Hannah M

    A nice holiday in a beautiful region

    This is an enjoyable trip to a beautiful region. There is a combination of stunning mountain scenery, church architecture, and an overview of the history of these two interesting countries. It's a comfortable trip with decent hotels, nice transport, and not too much waking (although it would not be a good option for travellers with limited mobility). The days, particularly in Georgia, are long and there isn't much 'downtime'.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    My favourite places were the monasteries of Sevanovank, Norovank and Haghpat in Armenia. The Armenian scenery in particular is really impressive.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The trip has two leaders, one for Georgia, one for Armenia. Both were very competent and well organised and ensured the trip ran smoothly throughout.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There are lots of long drives. These are on good roads in a comfortable bus so aren't difficult, but take something to do e.g. a book or ipod. The walk up to the Gergeti monastery is steep on rough paths and requires a small amount of scrambling. I managed it despite being unfit (but otherwise physically able), but it's not one for people with limited mobility. The walk itself doesn't really offer much in terms of things to see, it's just about the physical challenge and exercise, so don't worry about missing out if you're not sure. The penultimate day finishes mid afternoon so you get free time in Tbilisi afterwards - this is most useful if you travel when the days are longest. The last full day is very long and we didn't get back until nearly 10pm, so don't expect to do anything then. However the most common flights used don't leave until late afternoon so you do get the morning free on the day you go home.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Stephen Gilbert

    Very interesting, and lots of churches

    A pair of countries from the deep beginnings of world Christianity. Early architecture predominantly religious based is the mainstay of the holiday. However it’s easy to look beyond this at the beautiful landscapes, friendly people, tasty food and vibrant towns & cities

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I was surprised and enjoyed thoroughly the cities of Yerevan and Tibilisi

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had 2 group leaders. Rafik for Armenia and Nino for Georgia. Both leaders were different. Rafik was not religious and concentrated on the art and history of the buildings. He ran a tight ship and everything was like clockwork. His country was very leisurely and relaxed. The walks were very easy. The older travelers found him to be quite charming. Nino in Georgia was organised but lead the trip through the tougher stage of strict dress codes in churches and more walking with many stairs. Some travelers found this a bit tough. I think as she was religious some of the groups slack adherence to dress code and behaviour did frustrate her a bit, and frustrated some of the group too. I will mention more below.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Packing for trips is tricky and not knowing a dress code is confusing. Most churches have an English rule guide or a pictorial poster outside explains how to dress in their venues. In Armenia it was less strict. For men and ladies No shorts above knee and no vests. Ladies cover head with scarf. In Georgia men’s rules are exactly as Armenia. And sometimes there was a sarong/skirt at a rack by church door for you to wear. But not many so don’t rely on it. For ladies in Georgia churches. No shorts above knee, no vests, no trousers, jeans or leggings. But you could put a skirt or sarong over top (locals carried sarong with them to cover leg wear when they popped into pray). Behaviour in churches should be respectful. Please don’t photograph or film on your phone, people praying, having blessings, monks or priests. Take pictures of the building and frescoes and don’t interfere with locals going about their religious practice. It seems obvious but on holiday many tourists seem to forget their manners.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    In Yerevan there is a musical fountain display every night 9-11. Very popular with locals and good atmosphere. We thoroughly enjoyed it. In Tbilisi there are big queues for cable car about 1 hour before sunset. But it’s worth it. You need a travel card loaded with credit for cable car and underground. And to save 60 pence you can buy one travel card between a group and pass it back as you tap in. It’s normal, most people do that. Carry a Sarong for churches that way if it’s hot you can wear shorts. And we went in June and the meadow flowers and poppies were beautiful. Most importantly enjoy the trip.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Margaret Clower

    Highlights of Georgia & Armenia

    An excellent introduction to both countries that left me wanting to investigate them further.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Several of the monasteries were truly breath-taking and exuded a sense of history and devotion. Listening to small choir singing in one was wonderful. The scenery could have been taken from a geography textbook.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both the leaders were good but the knowledge of architecture and cultural history of Armenia shown by Rafik really added to the tour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for some long journeys and not spending as much time in some sites as you might like and be prepared for 4 seasons in 1 day. Don't bother with water purification tablets (as per trip notes) - they are not required!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The food in both countries is wonderful!
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Clare Phillips

    A trip of 2 halves

    Loved Armenia, Georgia itinerary needs improvement

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Everything in Armenia was beautiful.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rafik in Armenia was amazing. The group leader in Georgia did not give enough information about timings, did not organise vegetarian main courses for the vegetarian as the starters which are plentiful are mainly vegetarian.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you book in on line and print your boarding pass to avoid a fee on checking in at Gatwick. Be prepared for your check in luggage to be broken in to. 3 out of 11 of our group had their bags opened and rifled through. Get a customs lock so they don’t cut the lock. Consider getting your bag wrapped. You do not need water purification tablets. Bottled water is supplied and easily available. Day 13 is a at least 12 hours so have your last dinner together the day before. Get the jeep as the alpine walk is hard work.
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Gill Stratton

    Armenia Georgia and Azerbaijan

    The whole trip was really interesting and the timetable excellent and well organised. Breakfast at 8am and off at 9am The transport was very comfortable with excellent drivers and guides It was nice to have a trip where very many of the meals were included, unlike the usual breakfast only I felt that I had a very good overlook of the country I was disappointed on the overnight train to Azerbaijan. It was old and continually stopped all the time. The distance from Tblisi is just over 450 miles and took over 13 hours. Why could we not have gone on the modern Stadler trains which we saw all the time. I would happily have paid more to have done this

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I found the whole trip inspirational I didn’t know what to expect and felt that I know much more now Glad I added on the extension to Azerbaijan as it was totally unexpected with wonderful buildings and not Just the old town

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Guides were superb. Rafik in Armenia was excellent with unsurpassed knowledge. We all loved his humor and sense of fun Nino in Georgia was very knowledgeable and gave us a really good insight to the country Aida in Azerbaijan was also excellent with knowledge and even if she didn’t eat with us came to the restaurants to help us select Can honestly say three of the best guides ever

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A really good trip and super I sight into the three countries. Do add on Azerbaijan as well worth the visit

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Most of the hotels were very good except for the two in the mountains. Very much ski hotels and a bit faded and needing refurbishment It would be good to remind the guides that when traveling on the coaches the clients should be reminded to swap around the coach. We did have two people for the whole trip who hogged the two front seats every time and country and nothing was said. It can be awkward for the others on the coach to bring it up I did find this unusual as have always been used to swapping around on other trips
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Roselle Beard

    Three wonderful countries not to be missed

    Don't wait to visit Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Now is the time. This very interesting and thorough tour covering a large geographical area gives an in-depth experience into each of these three former Soviet republics. In Armenia, one travels from Yerevan in the centre, then south, back to Lake Sevan and on to the north to the cross the border. In Georgia, from Tbilisi, one radiates out from the capital to the North, West, East and South. In Azerbaijan, which is only for two days only Baku and a small area around can be covered. The only downside was a lot of coach travel albeit extremely comfortable as we had a 51 seater for 14 of us! I loved Armenia the best with Yerevan and its lovely Republic square, the brown dry barren scenic hills to the south, the vast expanse of Lake Sevan and the complete change of scenery to the north where it was green trees and UK type countryside. For me this trip, semi-completed a journey started three years ago. As in 2016, I visited the Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Then in 2017, three of the five Stans - Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. And finally this trip. It is so interesting being able to look back and reflect on the difference between these countries, each one of which appears to be at a different developmental stage. What I notice the most having visited all nine, is the effect of their geographical location, the West to East/Europe to Asia influence on their individual progress, along with their proximity to their friendly or not-so-friendly neighbours. I would definitely recommend visiting these three and some of the other former Soviet republics as the more you see the more one starts to understand their history.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    In Armenia, the food and wine was amazing and tasted as food should. Each day we stopped for lunch at a small out of the way restaurant in a picturesque location and were experted dined to wonderful fresh salads, BBQ trout or meat along with freshly cooked lavash (flatbread). In Georgia, taking the cable car in Tbilisi just before sunset up to the fort and then having a beer in a small café overlooking the city all lit up.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    All three group leaders were amazing. In Armenia, we had Rafik whose command of English was outstanding. As was his ability to impart in-depth knowledge about his beloved country. In Georgia, we had Nino who was equally good at imparting knowledge about her country and its numerous churches along with their saints. Then in Azerbaijan, Rizwan. We only had him for a short time, two days but he also excelled in his knowledge delivery.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    For ladies, do take dresses and skirts. In Armenia and Georgia in late September/early October, it was warm, in the late 20C or early 30C with beautiful warm sunny days. I realise that most Exodus travellers wear trousers, but if you like wearing summer frocks, this would be your opportunity. You may be concerned about the churches but as long as your dress/skirt is at least below the knee you will be fine. For quite a few churches in Georgia, ladies without skirts had to don one from a basket at the church door! In fact this statement goes for all nine of the former Soviet republics, where you can wear exactly the same clothes as the UK. I made a big mistake when travelling to the Stans, as I thought ladies would have to cover up, long sleeves, long dresses but it’s not true. Also do think about taking sandals both for ladies and men. Some of the men on the trip were very envious that I had my walking sandals as they mentioned they wished they had brought theirs. If you want some presents, look out for the lovely pale blue moonstone jewellery. You can find these both in Armenia and Georgia. They make lovely presents. Also when visiting Signagi in Georgia, do venture up the main street and over the top, through an arch towards the city walls where there are a couple of shops selling cotton rugs (very similar to kilims) in beautiful colours and designs and ever so cheap. I bought two, one 4’ x 2 1/2’ for £5 and the other 3’ x 2’ for £3. I wish I’d bought more as they make great bedside rugs. Do seriously consider the Azerbaijan extension, which although being very expensive for what turned out to be only two full days touring, was certainly extremely worthwhile as it did complete the story between the three countries.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go now before things change too much. Georgia is on the waiting list to join the EU; Armenia elected a new prime minister in May 2018 who they hope will provide them with a brighter future; Azerbaijan has a massive building programme to increase tourism. They have been advised that oil will run out by the end of the century, and they need to provide the country with an alternative source of income.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Nadine Harrison

    Hope you like churches and monasteries but skip the extension!

    Fortunately, the multitude of ancient churches and monasteries were sited in spectacular scenery so even if they began to merge in your memory, it was worth it for the view! Armenia and Georgia are poor developing countries still coming to terms with their history and feeling like they are still not settled because of their neighbours. Both guides were excellent for their ability to give knowledgeable information about the countries and in their attention to detail and caring approach to the group. Lovely people! I was very disappointed in the extension to Azerbaijan which was relatively expensive and, despite being billed as a 4 day extension, was really 2 days- day 1 was day 14 of the main trip with an overnight sleeper from Tbilisi which was uncomfortable, noisy and rattly stopping any chance of an adequate sleep. The land crossing took 2-3 hours in 2 parts in the middle of the night- a flight would have been better so that we could have arrived on 'day 1', had a nights sleep in a hotel and arisen refreshed for an intensive 2 day tour. Day 4 began at 1am when we had to leave for flights back to the UK. The hotel was very basic, only just adequate, and the guide was mediocre being more interested in decrying Armenia and Russia than in talking about Baku and the country. I would advise against taking this extension in its present form.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Spectacular scenery and views of the snow capped Causcasus mountains at Gergeti Monastery after a hard slog up 480 metres to the site.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Georgia and Armenia guides were both great. Azerbaijan guide was not.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't bother with the Azerbaijan extension in its current form- see above.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Tracy White

    Armenia nd Georgia are excellent destinations

    I was pleasantly surprised by Armenia and Georgia. Bot countries far exceeded my expectations for them. People are friendly. Prices are cheap by western European and American standards. The scenery is beautiful. Our hotels were nice.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I'm not a religious person, but I actually very much enjoyed visiting the numerous churches and monasteries.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The leaders in both countries were excellent. It was Nona in Armenia and Sophia in Georgia. Both ladies were intelligent and friendly, and everything flowed smoothly which made the trip a nice experience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for some long days in the bus and be prepared to see many churches and monasteries along the way. The scenery is nice, and I never grew tired of looking at it.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I'd skip the Azerbaijan extension at the end of the trip as it's VERY overpriced for such a short amount of time. The destination itself is fine, but the advertising is a bit misleading. It's not a 4 day extension as we were in Baku for under 48 hours. We only arrived at 9:30am on Day 2. Most of us had flights around 4am on Day 4.

Dates & Prices

Azerbaijan Extension - Extend your stay in the Caucus region with a three night saty in the Land of Fire - Azerbaijan, one of the least visited countries in the world.

For more details on this particular extension please go to page 4 of the Trip Notes. Alternatively, you can call one of our Sales team, who will be happy to assist you.

 

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