Expert-Led Group Tour

Armenia and Georgia - The Caucasian Silk Route

13 days

from £3,395pp
  • Discover exceptional religious art and architecture from a diverse range of archaeological sites
  • Explore ancient cave cities, hill top monasteries and examine exquisite ancient frescoes
  • Enjoy the dramatic landscapes of the snow-capped Caucasus Mountains and stunning desert vistas
  • Sample the region's delicious food and innumerable wines, along with its renowned hospitality

Beginning in the shadow of Mount Ararat, travel from the world famous illuminated manuscripts in Yerevan to the staggering religious architecture of Sanahin and Haghpat. En route visit the pilgrimage site of Echmiadzin and the vast mountain lake of Sevan with its ever-changing colours and shades of blue.

Crossing over in to Georgia, land of Jason and the Argonauts, discover dramatic, unspoilt scenery peppered with fascinating historical and religious sites. Spend time amidst the beautiful alpine scenery of Kazbegi where Tsminda Sameba Church sits in its hilltop location beneath the towering peaks of Mount Kazbek. From Tbilisi's Metekhi Citadel to the rock-cut monasteries of Gareja, explore Georgia's magnificent art and architecture. Georgia is fast gaining a reputation for excellent food and wine so there will be ample opportunity to sample this side of the country's rich character.

WHY SHOULD I JOIN THIS GROUP TOUR?

For the addition of the expertise of Ian Colvin, as well as the opportunity to travel with like-minded individuals.   

IS THIS GROUP TOUR SUITABLE FOR SOLO TRAVELLERS?

Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places does provide security and peace of mind. We handle all of the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of a Tour Lecturer.

If you are willing to share, we will always do our best to match you up with another solo traveller of the same sex so that you do not have to pay for a single room.

If you would prefer the privacy of your own room and would like this guaranteed, then the single room price supplement will apply.

WHAT IS THE ACCOMMODATION LIKE IN ARMENIA AND GEORGIA?

Luxury hotels in Armenia are not to the same standard as those of other more developed countries within Europe. The capital city of Yerevan offers a larger selection and therefore a slightly higher standard than accomodation outside of the main city, which is more basic. 

Georgia hotels range from cosy boutique options, to modern design accommodation and to the more unique.

HOW FIT SHOULD I BE TO ENJOY THIS TOUR?

You do not need to be particularly fit to participate, there are no long walks involved but there will be a certain number of stone steps and uneven surfaces.

WHAT IS THE FOOD LIKE IN ARMENIA AND GEORGIA?

There is a huge variety of food in both countries. 

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). 

Georgian local 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.

WHAT WILL THE WEATHER BE LIKE?

Not excessively hot, clear sunny days, but when travelling in the mountainous areas the weather can vary. The best time to travel to Armenia and Georgia is generally during the months of May, June and September, as it is neither too hot nor cold.



Departing on:
  • 3rd May 2018

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

DEPART UKARRIVE UKPrice Excluding Flights (£)Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour LecturerStatus 
3rd May 2018 15th May 2018 £ 3,395 £ 450 £ 575 Ian Colvin Available
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • 1 night at Rixos Hotel Borjomi
  • 1 night at the Vardzia Resort Hotel
  • 1 night at Vardzia Resort Hotel
  • 12 Breakfasts, 11 lunches, 12 Dinners
  • 2 nights at Rooms Hotel Kazbegi
  • 3 nights at Sharden Hotel
  • All transfers and transportation throughout
  • Entrance fees to all sites
  • Local English speaking guide throughou

what is excluded

  • Drinks not mentioned in the itinerary
  • International Flights
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Visa's (when necessary)

PLEASE NOTE THE ABOVE FLIGHT COST IS A SUGGESTED FROM PRICE. FLIGHT COSTS WILL BE CONFIRMED AT TIME OF BOOKING. ALL FLIGHTS ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

Collapse all
Day 1

Fly London to Kiev

Fly Kiev to Yerevan


No meals included today other than food on the flight


You will be staying at Historic Yerevan Hotel

Day 2

Full Day's Exploration of Yerevan
Visit the Genocide Memorial and Museum. With breath-taking views over the capital city, it is a solemn reminder of a harsh and little known period of the country's history. The names of many who lost their lives are inscribed on the memorial wall.

Then head to the State Historical Museum, which has some 400,000 exhibits. These range from Bronze Age Urartian remains to Soviet documents and photographs.

Continue to the National Library, the Matenadaran, with its illuminated Armenian manuscripts. Dating from the 6th century onwards, these are unique artefacts from the Golden Age of Armenian culture. The collection includes 17,000 manuscripts covering many areas of the arts and sciences.

Then take a panoramic drive around the city. Visit Republic Square, the Opera House, the Cascade and Parliament Avenue.

Yerevan is the capital city of Armenia. Both the cultural and administrative centre of the country, it is a city overlooked by the commanding Mount Ararat just across the border in neighbouring Turkey. At the city's heart is the attractive and colourful Republic Square, home to some of the capital's most beautiful architecture, and invigorated by its famous illuminated dancing fountains.

Nearby is the lively Vernissage Market, a bonanza of local arts, crafts and hand-made souvenirs. Take a guided tour of Matenadaran Museum, which lays claim to being the richest depository of Armenian texts and manuscripts in the world and provides a real insight into Armenian heritage.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included


You will be staying at Historic Yerevan Hotel

Day 3

Full Day Sightseeing of Geghard, Garni & Khor Virap
An hour’s drive along a winding road through the green hills above Yerevan, is the superb Roman temple at Garni. Dating from the 2nd century BC it was once a pagan Temple of the Sun and also part of a palace complex for the Armenian Kings. It is spectacularly situated on a cliff top above a deep and craggy gorge.
Twenty minutes further on is the monastery of Geghard, a unique architectural construction partially carved out of the adjacent mountain and surrounded by cliffs. A World Heritage site, the monastery complex was founded in the 4th century by Gregory the Illuminator. Geghard means ’the Holy Lance’ and the lance in question is said to be that used to pierce Jesus’s side as he hung on the cross and is now housed at Echmiadzin.

Also visit Khor Virap Monastery, which rests atop a small hill. Famous for being built on top of the pit in which St. Gregory spent 13 years imprisoned, this pilgrimage site has stunning views of Mount Ararat.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included


You will be staying at Historic Yerevan Hotel

Day 4

Travel from Yerevan to Dzoraget with Sightseeing en route


Depart Yerevan and travel overland to Dzoraget visiting a number of sites en route.

Echmiadzin, meaning ’the coming of the Only Begotten’, is the seat of the Armenian Patriarch and a place of pilgrimage. Legend has it that Jesus Christ descended from heaven to indicate the perfect location for a church and this is now the seat of the Supreme Catolicos of the Armenians. Inside the main church you can see what are (allegedly) the Holy Lance and a piece of Noah’s Ark.

Lake Sevan is well known for the many different colours that the water turns, depending on the weather, which can change rapidly. Rolling mist can often be seen racing down the hills that surround the lake. Two churches, part of Sevan Monastery (Sevanavank) on the edge of Lake Sevan, Arakelots (874 AD) and Astvatsatin, now sit on a peninsula rather than the island on which they were built after over irrigation by the former Soviet authorities. Walk up to the churches and beyond to the summit for fine 360' views of the lake and surrounding land.

Dilijan is known as 'The Switzerland of Armenia' - take a walk through this picturesque village with its wooden buildings.

Next, visit Haghartsin Monastery. Located 18km north of the town of Dilijan, in the Canyon of Hagartsin River and nestled in a picturesque woodland setting, the monastery here is one of the leading cultural centres of medieval Armenia.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included


You will be staying at Tufenkian Avan Dzoraget Hotel

Day 5

Visit Haghpat and Sanahin
Spend the day exploring the surrounding area in particular visiting Haghpat and Sanahin monasteries. Drive to the Lori Region to see Haghpat Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built on a high plateau amidst low structures, it stands out against the background of steeply forested slopes. The ensembles are complemented by small churches built near them. Among them are churches and chapels, four annexes, sepulchres, bell-towers, the building of the Academy, book depositories, refectories, galleries, bridges and other monumental structures. Also visit Sanahin Monastery. The name Sanahin literally translates from Armenian as "this one is older than that one", presumably representing a claim to having an older monastery than the neighbouring Haghpat. The two villages and their monasteries are similar in many ways, and lie in plain view of each other on a dissected plateau formation, separated by a deep "crack" formed by a small river flowing into the Debed river. Haghpat monastery was founded by Saint Nishan (Sourb Nshan) during the reign of King Abas I.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included


You will be staying at Tufenkian Avan Dzoraget Hotel

Day 6

Travel overland from Armenia to Georgia with Sightseeing


Today depart Dzoraget and travel overland to the border with Georgia.

Before leaving Armenia visit the cities of Gyumri, Vanadzor and Spitak. Gyumri is the second city of Armenia and has a distinct look, style & dialect.

Upon arrival at the border meet with your Georgian guide and change transportation to continue your trip to Georgia.

Note: Each traveller will need to individually clear immigration with Georgian officials. No visa is required for the EU passport holders.

Once across the border drive to Vardzia, a thirteen story cave town built between 1186-9 by Georgia's famous Queen Tamar. It stands as a unique example of the Georgian renaissance in an area of many medieval sites. En-route to Vardzia take a photo-stop at Khertvisi Fortress.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included


You will be staying at Vardzia Resort Hotel

Day 7

Travel Overland from Vardzia to Borjomi with Sightseeing


Travel overland to Akhaltsikhe and visit the recently restored 13th century Rabati Castle. Continue onto Borjomi and visit the 13th Century Timotesubani church.


Romanov Palace
After settling into your hotel visit the Romanov Palace (exterior only). which was designed by Leopold Bilfeldt as a summer mansion for Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich of Russia.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included


You will be staying at Rixos Hotel Borjomi

Day 8

Travel Overland from Borjomi to Kazbegi with Sightseeing


Today travel overland to Kazbegi via the town of Gori. Famous as the birthplace of J. Stalin, visit Stalin's Museum before proceeding to the 17th Century Aten Sioni church. Lunch will be taken at Nick Vacheishvili's Winery (former Minister of Culture).

After lunch travel north on the Georgian Military Highway towards Kazbegi driving over the Jvari (Cross) Pass (2395m) and down into Kazbegi (1700m).


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included


You will be staying at Rooms Hotel Kazbegi

Day 9

Sameba Church & Sno Valley
Surrounded by vast mountains, Kazbegi is a picturesque settlement overlooked by the biggest peak of all - Mount Kazbek (5047m) - one of the six 5000 metre peaks of the Caucasus. Change transport on to the local 4X4 vehicles to drive up to the Sameba (Trinity) Church at Gergeti which dates back to the 14th century. This is the main attraction in the area and is well worth the effort. It takes approximately half an hour in a 4x4 each way. Views of the mountains can be seen from the church including the snow-capped Caucasus Mountains in the distance.

In the afternoon drive to Sno Valley to see the stone heads carved by a local artist.Continue onto Dariali Canyon on the Georgian-Russian border.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included


You will be staying at Rooms Hotel Kazbegi

Day 10

Travel Overland from Kazbegi to Tbilisi with Sightseeing


Today depart forTbilisi visiting various sites en route. Ananuri Fortress (16th - 17th cc) was the one time home of the tyrannical Aragvi dynasty and occupies a wonderful location overlooking the Aragvi Valley and Zhinvali Reservoir. Following the dramatic Aragvi River Valley we continue on towards Mtskheta, the capital of the Georgian Kingdom of Iberia between 500 BC and 500 AD. The town lies in a lush valley at the confluence of two rivers, the Aragvi and the Mtkvari. Mtskheta was founded 2,000 BC. Georgians adopted Christianity in the 4th c. and thereafter Georgians, Byzantines, Persians, Arabs and Mongols traded control of the territory until the Russian annexation in the 19th century. It is overlooked by the marvellously simple church of Jvari (6th c.), a perfect example of early Georgian Christian architecture.Also visit Svetitsikhoveli Cathedral (11th c.), Georgia's largest remaining Cathedral and burial place of the Georgian Kings, notably members of the Bagrationi family. It has an extraordinary interior combining paintings, frescoes and a domed chapel used for the Christmas service. They are both UNESCO sites.


The largest city in Georgia by a considerable distance, Tbilisi can justifiably claim to be the heart of the country. Squeezed between mountain ranges, the city fills the Mtkvari river valley.

Having been the capital of Georgia for more than 1,500 years, in some form or another, Tbilisi is rich in history. However, as a city that hints at a new-found wealth, Tbilisi is undoubtedly changing.

New building projects have added a touch of glamour to this historic city and contrast with the narrow streets, unchanged religious buildings and caravanserais (travellers' inns) of the old town.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included


You will be staying at Sharden Hotel

Day 11

Full Day Sightseeing of Tbilisi
Start your city tour of Tbilisi with visits to the Old Town - the original settlement of Tbilisi with its winding roads, alleys and pretty wooden balconies. Also visit Metekhi Church standing proudly above the river on a cliff-top, the Sulphur baths (Abanotubani) which, according to legend are responsible for giving the city its name and for the king Vakhtang Gorgasali's (5th c.) decision to move the capital from Mtskheta. The impressive ruins of Narikala Fortress sit proudly above the Old Town and are a landmark of the city, as well as offering excellent views. Sioni Cathedral is the beating-heart of Georgian Orthodoxy and Anchiskhati Church is a more ancient style of Georgian church with a choir to match - if lucky we will witness a service at this church. The State Museum of Georgia houses an extraordinary collection of gold filigree work dating from the 6th century BC among other items of repoussé work and jewellery. We will take a walk along Rustaveli Ave, a 1500 metre-long street lined with elegant Renaissance and neoclassical buildings as well as the city's most important theatres and the Opera House. End the day with visit to Sameba (Holy Trinity) Cathedral. In the evening we will board the Funicular - the upper station of the railway, built in 1903 takes you to the Panoramic Park with spectacular views of the city.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included


You will be staying at Sharden Hotel

Day 12

Visit to Gareji
Today visit David Gareji Monastery. Located in semi-desert surroundings, the monasteries were founded in the 6th Century. Visit Lavra and Peristsvaleba monasteries before walking up to Udabno Monastery to explore some of the fine frescos dating from the 8-13th Centuries.

Note: The path to Udabno can be unstable and visitors must wear sensible footwear and proceed carefully. As a guide, it will take about 40 minutes to walk up, about the same to see the caves and walking back to the car will take 45 minutes.

Return to Tbilisi and spend the remainder of the day at leisure.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included


You will be staying at Sharden Hotel

Day 13

Fly Tbilisi to Kiev

Fly Kiev to London

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Rooms Hotel Kazbegi

Rooms Hotel Kazbegi

Nestled amid the spectacular high Caucasus Mountains, Rooms Kazbegi is a former Soviet resort turned stunning design hotel offering a luxurious stay and distinctive hospitality....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Armenia

Joe Parkes, Travel Expert

"It was extremely helpful to work in conjunction with Joe and his much more up to date knowledge of India and arrive at an itinerary which we were happy with. We enjoyed the whole trip and probably what made it special for us was the fact that all the arrangements worked so well and we really didn’t have to worry about anything at all. Even when we decided to make a small change it was dealt with efficiently and promptly. We can't think of anything that would have made our trip more enjoyable."

"The service from start to finish has been excellent. Joe was very quick to respond to any queries and put together an excellent itinerary at short notice."

"A pleasure to deal with Joe. Efficient, helpful, knowledgeable and fun!"

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Paul Craven, Travel Expert

" I spoke to five different companies, but Paul was by far the most knowledgeable and empathetic."

"The service which I received from your Travel Expert Paul Craven was excellent, he was able to answer any queries I put to him."

"Paul must be congratulated on his expertise and great patience in dealing with all my programme changes. He must dread my phone calls!! A big thank-you from both of us to Paul and Carol."

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour expert

Ian Colvin

Ian Colvin
Ian Colvin is a historian and researcher at the University of Cambridge who works on the South Caucasus, Byzantium and Sasanian Iran. Alongside work for the School Classics Project, he is Director of the Anglo-Georgian Archaeological Expedition to the important site of Nokalakevi in Samegrelo, West Georgia--a project he established in 2001 in collaboration with the Georgian National Museum. He speaks and reads Georgian and has been known to supervise for the Near East in the Age of Justinian and Muhammad course (History Faculty).
Enquire about this Expert Led tour:

Group Size:

Min 15 / Max 6

Tour Expert:

Ian Colvin

Departure Date (S):

  • 3rd May 2018

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