Highlights of Armenia & Georgia (15 days / 14 nights)
DAY 01: ARRIVAL TO GEORGIA (KUTAISI)
Arrival at the international airport of Kutaisi. Transfer to the hotel, rest. After lunch, the guide will meet you at the hotel lobby and take on a city tour of Kutaisi - the capital of ancient Colchida, which existed already at the times of the Argonauts (13th century BC). Then we will visit Gelati Monastery - Georgia's UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, founded in the 12th century by King David the IV, named "The Builder".
The Gelati monastery and academy became a fore- most educational center in Georgia. The unique murals of saints and Georgian monarchs are located inside the main Holy Virgin's Cathedral. We will be able to visit the entire complex, including the grave of David "The Builder", which is located at the entrance door of the complex. After we will visit Bagrati Cathedral (11 c.). Welcome dinner.
DAY 02: KUTAISI - PROMETHEUS CAVE - BATUMI
After breakfast we will drive to Prometheus cave and continue to Batumi. We will visit Batumi Botanical garden - one of the biggest botanical gardens in the former Soviet Union, overlooking the Black Sea from the hilltop of the Green Cape. Lunch time. After lunch we will start the discovery of Batumi. With its charming, white, two-story buildings, Batumi still radiates the colonial atmosphere of its past. Reminiscent of past Turkish rule, British and French business activities and Russian immigration, a striking mixture of different cultures marks the town. While the street cafes and the waterfront boulevard invite the passers-by for a cup of Turkish coffee and a piece of "Pakhlava", the seaport is a hive of busy commercial activity. Dinner in Batumi.
DAY 03: BATUMI
Breakfast. Free day in Batumi.
DAY 04: BATUMI - BORJOMI - AKHALTSIKHE
After breakfast we will drive to Borjomi, famous for its mineral water, whose healing powers have been discovered in the 18th century, and which has become one of Georgia's major export goods by the beginning of the 21st century. Afterwards we will drive to Akhaltsikhe and visit newly renovated Akhaltsikhe Castle. Check -in to the hotel in Akhlatsikhe, dinner.
DAY 05: AKHALTSIKHE - LAKE SEVAN
After breakfast, we will drive to Georgia - Armenia border, on the way we will visit Vardzia. Crossing the Georgian - Armenian border we enter the Lori region and drive to Lake Sevan which is situated at an altitude above 1900m. Its crystal-clear transparent water changes color several times during the day leaving unforgettable expressions. Dinner and overnight in Sevan.
DAY 06: LAKE SEVAN - GEGHARD - GARNI - YEREVAN
Breakfast at the hotel restaurant. The guide will meet the group at the hotel lobby. Inspection of Sevan Monastery located on the Peninsula that offers magnificent panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Lunch in a private house where we'll see the baking process of Armenian traditional flatbread, lavash. By the same time we'll have an opportunity to participate in the process of baking. Later we'll visit the cave Monastery Geghard (5-13th cc) bought by princes Proshyan. The monastery consists of three churches, a huge mausoleum carved into the mountain. Continuation of the excursion to the pagan temple of Garni. Return to Yerevan.
DAY 07: YEREVAN CITY TOUR
After breakfast we start the city tour in Yerevan. Today we visit Matenadaran - Institute of ancient manuscripts. Here are kept more than 15,000 manuscripts and fragments, and a collection of constantly updated with new discoveries, acquisitions and gifts. Visit of the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex dedicated to the memory of the victims of the genocide of 1915 and Armenian Genocide Museum. Walking tour in the city center where we will see the Republic Square, the National Opera and Ballet Theater, Northern Avenue, Abovyan Street -one of the oldest and well-known streets of the capital, cultural - architectural complex Cascade. Lunch time. Visit to "Aratart" Brandy Factory with excursion and brandy tasting. Free time.
DAY 08: YEREVAN - ECHMIADZIN - ZVARTNOTS - YEREVAN
Breakfast. A trip to Echmiadzin , the spiritual and administrative center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Inspection of the pearls of Armenian architecture of the Church of St. Hripsime (618AD), and the world's first Christian Cathedral (301AD). Echmiadzin is a holy city of Armenia and is the seat of Catholicos of all Armenians, the head of Armenian Apostolic church. Tour to the museum of Echmiadzin Cathedral. Visit the Church of St. Gayane (5-7 cc). On the way back stop at the ruins of one of the most famous temples in Armenia - Zvartnots (7th century). Return to Yerevan. Visit of Gum market to buy and taste fresh, dried and marinated fruits and vegetables of your choice. In the evening enjoy your dinner in a traditional restaurant.
DAY 9: YEREVAN - KHOR VIRAP - NORAVANK - ARENI - YEREVAN
After breakfast a trip to the Ararat valley, visiting one of the most revered shrines of the Armenian people - the Monastery of Khor Virap, where for many years was imprisoned first patriarch of Armenia, St. Gregory the Illuminator. The monastery is located 200 meters away from the Turkish border. Khor Virap is considered to be a pilgrimage center for all Armenians, from where we have the best view of Biblical Mount Ararat. After we will visit one of the most beautiful monasteries in Armenia - Noravank, which is a remarkable architectural complex of 13th century. The Monastery is built in an inaccessible location amongst stunning nature. Lunch in a local restaurant. Visit Areni wine factory in Areni village, wine tasting. Return to Yerevan.
DAY 10: YEREVAN - TBILISI
Breakfast and leave for the Armenian-Georgian border. On the way visit to the Monasteries of Sanahin and Haghpat (10-13 th cc). These two architectural complexes are among the outstanding and greatest works of medieval Armenian architecture. Both monasteries are among the World Heritage List of UNESCO. Transfer to the Armenia-Georgia border Sadakhlo. After border formalities, we change the guide and bus and continue to Tbilisi. Free day in Tbilisi.
DAY 11: TBILISI - MTSKHETA - TBILISI
Breakfast at the hotel restaurant. After we are going to have a city tour in Tbilisi. The first destination will be "Metekhi" church, which dates back to the 12th century and is located on an elevated cliff that overlooks the "Mtkvari" river. Next, we'll cross the bridge of 100000 thousand martyrs. Afterwards, we walk through the Abanotubani with sulfur spas that have hosted poets, writers, musicians and even kings throughout the centuries. After a visit to one of the bathes, we will walk uphill to visit the Narikala Fortress. From here, we will have the chance to enjoy fascinating views over Tbilisi and dwell on truly amazing contrasts of the city.
After lunch we will drive towards Mtskheta - the ancient capital of Georgian Kingdom of Iberia from 500 BC to 500 AD. First we will stop at the Jvari Monastery which stands on a rocky mountain at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers. From here, we will enjoy a breathtaking view over the town of Mtskheta and the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral blazing in the color of lizard green under the morning sun. Afterwards we will visit Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. Dinner in Mtskheta and drive back to the hotel in Tbilisi.
DAY 12: TBILISI - SCHUCHMANN WINES - TSINANDALI - GURJAANI - SIGHNAGHI - TBILISI
After breakfast, we will drive to Kakheti region. First, we will drive towards the winery of Schuchmann Wine Company and continue to the village of Tsinandali, where we will visit residence of Prince Alexander Chavchavadze, the estate is famous for its decorative garden built in the 19th century. Roaming in the rooms and halls of the House Museum and the botanical garden around it takes visitors back to the world and the time of its original inhabitants.
Afterwards, we will continue our way to Gurjaani, where an exciting local experience, which will give you in-depth understanding of Georgian traditions awaits you at the "Wine House Gurjaani", where a local family will host you, and you will get an impression of how wine is made in private houses. In a traditional Georgian wine cellar, called "marani", you taste the homemade wine kept in a "kvevri" (amphora) built into the ground.
Furthermore, we will attend the process of baking the Georgian bread "Shoti", as well as the confection of the traditional Georgian dessert "Churchkhela" made of hazelnut/walnuts and grape juice porridge. Finally, you will enjoy lunch in a warm-hearted environment, which will make you familiar in Georgian traditions. After we will drive to Bodbe Monastery. Free time to discover the 18th century royal town Sighnaghi, situated at the top of the hill, sheltered by the old town wall and towers, filled with fountains and hand curved balconies, this newly renovated town, due to its truly romantic looks and atmosphere is also called The Town of Love. After we will drive back in Tbilisi.
DAY 13: TBILISI - ANANURI - KAZBEGI
Breakfast. We shall start our journey along the Georgian Military Highway, where we will make a first halt at the Ananuri architectural complex, which was the residence of the Eristavi (the rulers) of Aragvi. The main church of the Holy Virgin is the focal point of the fortress. The facade of the church is decorated with an exquisite relief and ornaments. Then we'll continue our way to Kazbegi. Up on our arrival we will have a lunch.
Afterwards we shall start ascending to the Gergeti Trinity church located at the height of 2127 meters right above the village Stephantsminda. It is a beautiful road, surrounded with the dramatic views of the tall mountains and picturesque terrain. The road will tack us through the forest and up to the vast plateau where the glorious church stands tall at the very end of the cliff. Upon our approach incredible views of the mighty Mount Kazbeg (5047m) and the fabulous Kazbegi Valley. Dinner at the hotel.
DAY 14: KAZBEGI - UPLISTSIKHE - KUTAISI
Breakfast. After we will drive to Uplistsikhe, a cave town near Gori on the left bank of the Mtkvari River, which was built during the first half of the first millennium BC. This huge rock-city is the most ancient and impressive masterpiece of the Georgian architecture. More than one hundred rooms, halls and central streets, the roof stage of the antique theatre, as well as a water system are preserved. Unfortunately, Uplistsikhe was strongly damaged by earthquakes and invasions. In spite of this, the monument has a mighty appearance and even today makes a profound impression upon the visitors. Lunch in a local restaurant and drive to Kutaisi. Free time.
DAY 15: DEPARTURE
Transfer to the airport and departure.