Highlights of Georgia & Armenia

Resort:Highlights of Georgia & Armenia
Operator: Exodus
Destination: Armenia, Georgia
Price From: £2249.00


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.


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


Day 1
Fly to Yerevan.

Fly to Yerevan; transfer to city centre.
*Ani Plaza Hotel or similar*

Day 2
Full day exploring Yerevan and the surrounding area.

This morning, we embark on a city tour of Yerevan then visit the Matenadaran
(Armenia’s ancient manuscripts library), an imposing building at the top of
Yerevan’s grandest avenue. Next is the TsitsernakaberdGenocide 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.

After lunch, ashort drive through the city takes us to the impressive
7th-century ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral, the churches of Hripsime and Gayane
and then 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.

On our return to Yerevan, we stop at the Megerian Carpet Museum and Factory
to see how these intricately hand-woven rugs and carpets are brought to life.

*Ani Plaza Hotel or similar*

Day 3
Morning visit to Geghard Monastery and Garni pagan temple;afternoon visit
to Vernissage market.

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 and
visit Vernissage handicraft market then have free time to sample the thriving
caf culture of Yerevan.
*Ani Plaza Hotel or similar*

Day 4
Khor Virap Monastery; wine tasting at Areni village; visit Noravank
monastery; to Goris.

Today is a long but fascinating day. 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 enjoy a wine
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. Then, we head via one of the world’s longest cable cars toTatev
Monastery, perched on the edge of the Vorotan Canyon.Afterwards, we journey
for approx. 3 hours to the small town of Goris where we stay the night.
*Diana Hotel or similar*

Day 5
Silk Road and Lake Sevan via Selim caravanserai and Noraduz.

This morning we will drive along part of the ancient Silk Road, with a
destination of the well-preserved 14th century Selim caravanserai. After a
visit, 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
Cemetery 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 1,950m reflecting
the sky like a mirror and changing colour throughout the day.
*Harsnaqar Hotel or similar*

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 stop for lunch
in the Molokan village of Fioletovo. Molokans (milk drinkers) are a sect of
Russian Old Believers who broke away from the Russian Orthodox Church in the
16th century. On arrival in Haghpat, the evening is free for you to relax or
explore at your own pace.
*Qefo Hotel or similar*

Day 7
Visit medieval 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 Haghpat 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 on to the capital Tbilisi. Our hotel is a short
walk from the wonderfully restored historical centre with its relaxing
pavement cafs and bars.
*Tbilisi Inn or similar*

Day 8
Walking tour of Tbilisi; free afternoon; Georgian folk show.

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 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 of our
hotel. Or you may choose to relax with a coffee in one of the many cafs
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*

Day 9
To Kazbegi village for views of Mt. Kazbek; alpine walk to Gergeti Trinity
Church; on to 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 2-3 hours in total. For those who don’t want to walk, local
jeeps can usually be rented for a reasonable cost. If the weather is clear,
we will have spectacular views of Mount Kazbek, the third highest of the
Georgian Caucasus Mountains, soaring to 5,047m. We will drive back to the ski
resort of Gudauri, where we will have dinner and spend the night in a cosy,
alpine-hut-style hotel.
*Hotel Alpina or similar*

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 rock-hewn town dating from the pre-Christian era. Uplistsikhe is
located on the left bank of Mtkvari River and is notable for its unique
rock-cut style and the co-existence of pagan and Christian
architecture.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*

Day 11
Explore Sataplia Cave; visit UNESCO-listed Gelati Monastery; finish in

After breakfast drive to Sataplia Nature Reserve (about 12 km 20-25
minutes to the west), where the footprints of herbivorous and raptor
dinosaurs of different epochs are found. Easy walkways take us to the
conservation building of dinosaur footprints, an exhibition hall, unique
karst caves, Colchic Forest and the wild bee habitat area. There are also
beautiful views of the Imereti region to be enjoyed. After that, take the
road back to Kutaisi and continue on to Gelati Academy and Monastery.

Founded by King David IV in the 12th century, Gelati was inscribed in
UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1994. It is no surprise that the King chose
yet another superb location for this monastery, whose monks were members of
the royal court. After the visit, we drive to the lovely mineral town of

*Old Borjomi Hotel / Borjomi Palace or similar*

Day 12
Visit Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park and Mtskheta; drive back to Tbilisi;
free evening in the Georgian capital.

After breakfast visit the lovely Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park and take a
guided walk (1-2 hours). Afterwards 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*

Day 13
Visit Sighnaghi and the wine region of Kakheti; lunch and wine tasting with a
local family; 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 Sighnaghi. We will then
have lunch with alocal family who will prepare some specialities paired
with wine, and we continue with a visit toTsinandali Family Estate and its
wine cellar, which once belonged to the 19th century aristocratic
poetAlexander 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*

Day 14 Fly to London

Fly to London.