Two Caucasian countries
At the crossroads between Europe and Asia: although they are neighbors, Georgia and Azerbaijan are two very different countries but each of them is fascinating in its own way. This 12-day trip begins in Azerbaijan, where you will fall under the spell of the wonderful hospitality of the Caucasus. You will discover the sites of the “land of fire”, Azerbaijan. From the Flame Towers of Baku to the fiery hill of Yanar Dag, Azerbaijan thrills its visitors. But the secrets of this ancient nation are begging to be discovered, as you will see in Shaki, Shamakhi and Goboustan. On the other side of the border, you will visit monasteries perched on hills, imposing fortresses, remarkable museums and cave towns, and you will also learn how 8,000 years of wine-making tradition have made it possible to produce very refined wines.
Departure TimeJanuary - December
Arrival - Baku
Arrive in Baku, meeting at the airport and transfer to the hotel.
Visit the capital Baku and Absheron Peninsula
City tour of Baku - the capital of Azerbaijan, once a small fishing port fortified the city owes its extraordinary development to oil. Visit the cemetery of Martyrs located with a beautiful panorama over the bay of Baku: the palace of Chirvan Shahs (15th century), the old town, the tower of virgin (XII C), the caravanserai of Bukhara (XIV C) the mosques, the crossroad points of the traders, etc…
Visit the Absheron Peninsula that extends into the Caspian Sea and strange monument surrounded by an aura of mystery: the Temple of Fire Worshippers. It is a land full of naphtha, the innumerable wisp which has given rise to the Cult of Fire. Fortified since Roman times, the peninsula has preserved several medieval fortresses and one of them is Mardakyan.
Return back to Baku.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 1h, 30 km. Walking hours: 3 h. Overnight in Baku.
Gobustan – the volcanic area
Departure to Gobustan, volcanic area and archaeological site, 70 km from Baku. Between the rivers Pirsagat and Goslu, more than 6000 petroglyphs and other prehistoric objects have been identified in the caves and on the rocks. The oldest findings dates back to the Stone Age. Continue to Mamedly to visit "Yanardag" (burning mountain) that burns with an eternal fire, fueled by the natural gas from the basement.
Return back to Baku.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 2h35, 160 km. Walking hours: 1 h. Overnight in Baku.
Exploring the mausoleums and the mosques
Departure to Chamakha. Visit Shemakha, former residence of the Shirvan Shahs and museum of seven domes and mosque. Visit the mausoleums of Sufi masters Diri Baba and Pirsaat Pir. Explore the Yeddi Gumbaz mausoleums, the 12th and the 13th centuries mosques.
Continue to Sheki and discover the town. Visit the Upper Town, a classified area with the houses, 18th century fortress, the magnificent Palace of Sheki Khans. Visit the workshop of Halva, a popular dessert in Sheki.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 4h30, 300 km. Walking hours: 1 h. Overnight in Sheki.
On the trail of the former Albanian country in the Caucasus
Departure to Kish, a small village perched on the mountain, here we visit a very old Albanian church dating back to the 1st century.
Then we cross the Azerbaijan-Georgia border.
We discover one of the most beautiful sites of Kakheti region, the East part of Georgia. Visit the fortress of Gremi with a small museum and the Church of the Archangels, decorated with the frescoes of the XVIth century. Residence of King Levan, capital of Kakheti for 150 years in the XVIth and XVIIth centuries. Then we visit Nekresi Monastery founded in the 6th century.
We arrive in the capital and historical city of Kakheti – Telavi.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 4h, 235 km. Walking hours: 1 h. Overnight in Telavi.
We visit Tsinandali - palace and historic winery-estate which once belonged to the 19th-century aristocratic poet Alexander Chavchavadze, the palace combines Georgian architecture with Italian inspiration.
We continue our trip to the small and charming village Sighnaghi, stroll through its cobbled streets and along the wall, admire the splendid panorama of Alazani Valley and the Caucasus.
We continue our trip to the old wine cellar, where the locals show us their traditional methods of winemaking, very different from European practice. Degustation of wine.
Short break at Bodbé monastery where St Nino stop of rest during spreading the Christianity in Georgia, this visit allows us to learn the history of the holy evangelizer, very important figure of Georgian religion.
Arriva in Tbilisi – the capital of Georgia.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 3h, 180 km. Walking hours: 2 h. Overnight in Tbilisi.
Visit the capital of Georgia
Discover the capital of Georgia – Tbilisi, explore its old district with cobbled streets and traditional houses with wooden balconies, at the bank of Mtkvari river. We visit the landmarks of the city: Metekhi church and its plateau which unfolds a superb view of the old city, Narikala Fortress - the ancient symbol of the city, the district of baths (Abanotubani) known for its Sulphur hot springs.
In the afternoon we visit the National Museum and its collections of “golden treasure” from the ancient period. At the end of our day we visit Dry Bridge - place which attracts visitors with its flea market.
Walking hours: around 3h. Overnight in Tbilisi.
From UNESCO Sights to the Greather Caucasus
Departure for Mtskheta – an old capital of Iberia kingdom, visit Jvari (Cross) monastery perched on a hill and overlooking the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers. Visit Svetitskhoveli Cathedral ("Life-giving column") dated back to the 11tcentury. Shopping of Georgian national handmade souvenirs. Possibility of buying national handcrafted souvenirs.
On the way of Kazbegi visit Ananuri Fortress offers picturesque views over the Jinvali Reservoir. Cross the legendary Georgian Military Highway, one of the world’s most beautiful roads, through the valleys, ravines and finally over the 2300 meters Cross Pass. Arrive in Stepantsminda, Kazbegi.
Visit Gergeti Trinity church situated 300 m above the village.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 3h30, 160 km. Walking hours: 2 h. Overnight in Kazbegi.
The region with its history since the 1st millennium BC till XX C
Early departure for Gori – soviet city and the central part of Georgia, the hometown of J. Stalin, where you can visit the house-museum of Stalin and its armored car ...
Then we discover an abandoned rock-hewn town Uplistsikhe (about 1h30), dug into the rocks dates back to the 2nd century, is overlooking to the river Mtkvari.
Departure for Kutaisi via Rikoti Pass, the second city of Georgia, the West part of the country. Transfer: Private vehicle, around 6h, 365 km. Walking hours: 2 h. Overnight in Kutaisi.
Explore UNESCO sights and balneological resort
Visit Kutaisi and its UNESCO sites: Gelati monastery, which is the illustration of the Georgian culture since X C until the XVIII C, the masterpiece of the Golden Age of medieval Georgia, the center of science and education during that period. After we visit recently renovated Bagrati cathedral – the symbol of the city, dated back to the X century. Visit local market.
Continue to Borjomi, remarkable with its natural mineral springs, visit Borjomi park, take taste of natural sour water.
Arrive in Akhaltsikhe.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 2h20, 130 km. Walking hours: 2 h. Overnight in Akhaltsikhe.
Region of medieval fortresses
Departure for Vardzia Cave Town, located in Javakheti region at the left bank of Mtkvari river. The monastery complex caved in a rock, is XII-XIII CC Georgian picturesque monument, high mountains and rock cliffs, special kind of architecture. We visit this site which still requires a good physical shape - the multi-storey caves are connected by narrow tunnels, carved into the rocks.
Return back to Tbilisi via Tsalka, on the way visit Poka monastery located on the edge of the alpine lake Paravani.
Arrive in Tbilisi in the evening.
Transfer: Private vehicle, around 5h, 240 km. Walking hours: 3h. Overnight in Tbilisi.
Tbilisi - Departure