Limited availability With Andante Travels $1 deposit on 2020 departures

Armenia and Georgia

Between Europe and Asia, the Caspian and the Black Sea, and on the ancient Silk Roads and the Scythian invasion routes stand the republics — ancient kingdoms — of Armenia and Georgia. Until recently cut off by the Iron Curtain, these warm, hospitable countries are but little known to western travellers, yet their names conjure up images of trade and hospitality, the Greek myths of Prometheus, Medea and the Golden Fleece.

Their location between great civilisations guaranteed them a pivotal role in world history. Yet, their varied landscapes are reason enough to visit — Europe’s highest mountains, fertile plains, semi-tropical coastlands and arid steppes are the backdrop to our travels.

What's included?

  •  Expert scholar & tour manager
  •  Local transport & private transfer to/from airport and group hotel
  •  Accommodation
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
  •  Entries & tips

Led by...

Ian Colvin

Ian Colvin Expert Scholar

Ian Colvin is a historian specializing in the late Roman and Byzantine history of the Caucasus regions. He studied classical and modern Georgian after receiving his MST in Byzantine studies, and has devoted himself to excavations at the site of Nokalakevi.

Today's Price
$5,820

Benefit from this limited time offer:

  • Pay a low deposit of $1, was $1,250.

Single supplement: $90

Tour highlights:

  • Discover the captivating history that created both Tbilisi's and Yerevan’s urban centres
  • See exquisite metalwork and jewellery from the Bronze Age
  • Enjoy the country’s dramatic landscapes, from its lush sub-tropics to the semi-desert steppes
  • View fortresses, Hellenistic temples and Art Nouveau palaces
  • Learn about the ancient Georgian wine-making tradition, which involves fermenting grapes in earthenware and has now been recognised by UNESCO

Tour details

Dates October 1 2020 - June 15 2020
Duration -107 days
Cost
Today's Price
$5,820

Benefit from this limited time offer:

  • Pay a low deposit of $1, was $1,250.
Single supplement: $90 Balance due by July 9 2020
Activity Level
Tour code AGAA201001

Call for availability

October 1 2020: Itinerary

Upon arrival in Yerevan, we transfer to our hotel in the midst of the bustling city and have time to relax after our flight.

Light snack in hotel room included

Hotel: Tufenkian Historic Yerevan Hotel

Not far from Yerevan on the Araxes plain is the city and Mother Cathedral of Echmiadzin. This Cathedral complex, with its richly decorated interior, is the seat of the Catholicos- Patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the spiritual heart of the country. Just outside the city stand the striking ruins of Zvartnots, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 7th century church and ruined palace of the patriarchs dates to an innovative period in Armenian architecture. This afternoon we visit the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Manuscripts and its Matenadaran Museum, which commemorates the creation of the Armenian alphabet at the beginning of the 5th century, and the subsequent achievements of Armenia’s translators, authors, thinkers and scribes.

All meals included

Hotel: Tufenkian Historic Yerevan Hotel

Today we drive east into the Gegham mountains to visit the World Heritage Site of Geghard. Named after the relic of the Holy Spear that pierces Christ’s side during the crucifixion, the 12th and 13th century monastery is carved out of the living rock. Nearby, perched above the gorge of the Azat, stands the fortress and summer palace of Garni with its Graeco-Roman temple. In the afternoon, we explore Yerevan’s History Museum, a national treasure-house of archaeological artefacts telling the story of Armenia’s long history.

All meals included

Hotel: Tufenkian Historic Yerevan Hotel

We begin at Shengavit, a settlement that spans the Chalcolithic to the Bronze Age, the 5th millennium to the 3rd millennium BC. We continue to the museum and fortress of Erebuni, the ancient Urartian capital in the Araxes valley in the first half of the 1st millennium BC. This afternoon we have free time to explore Yerevan at our own leisure, or choose to take an optional visit to the moving Genocide Museum and memorial at Tsitsernakaberd (Swallow’s fortress). This impressively curated exhibition records the invention of the Armenian Question over the course of the 19th century, the desperate plight of the Armenians in the face of the Ottoman’s state attack on its own citizens in 1915-1920, and the long aftermath of what is often called the first modern genocide.

All meals included

Hotel: Tufenkian Historic Yerevan Hotel

This morning we travel across the Araxes plain towards Ararat. Beneath the mountain stands the monastery of Khor Virap. Here, King Artaxias I founded one of Armenia’s ancient capitals, Artashat, on the advice of Hannibal the Carthaginian. Gregory the Illuminator was also held captive for 13 years by the Emperor Diocletian’s contemporary King Trdat III. Further south we visit Areni Cave, a fascinating archaeological site that has preserved organic materials from the 5th millennium BC, including an ancient winery and the world’s oldest shoe. We lunch at the medieval monastery of Noravank, an architectural gem in a stunning valley setting. Our day ends with a drive to our hotel in Dilijan, Armenia’s ‘Little Switzerland’.

All meals included

Hotel: Best Western Paradise, Dilijan

Today we visit three of Armenia’s finest and best-preserved monastic complexes. The 10th-13th century Haghartsin is hidden at the head of the wooded valley outside Dilijan. While the twin World Heritage Sites of Haghpat and Sanahin are perched on a high plateau above the valley of the Debed River, and the copper-processing town of Alaverdi.

All meals included

Hotel: Mercure Tbilisi Old Town

We begin our Georgian tour with an exploration of the capital, Tbilisi, ancient Tiflis, and for more than a millennium, the most important city in the South Caucasus. This morning we start with a walking tour of Old Tbilisi, taking in the Metekhi Church, the Narikala Fortress, the Baths district, the Great Synagogue, the Sioni Cathedral, and the 6th century Anchiskhati Basilica. After lunch, we visit the Georgian National Museum with its spectacular gold rooms — a testament to the skill of its ancient smiths and the wealth of its kings. Other exhibitions include the Dmanisi skulls of early hominids, its archaeological rooms, with fine Bronze Age, Hellenistic and Iranian artefacts, and an exhibit devoted to the Soviet Occupation.

All meals included

Hotel: Mercure Tbilisi Old Town

We make an excursion over the scenic Gombori pass to Kakheti, the most important of Georgia’s wine-growing regions. The monastery of Iqalto, was founded in the late 6th century, and in the 12th century, David IV ‘the Rebuilder’ founded an Academy here. We continue with a visit to Tsinandali, the 19th century summer palace of the princely Chavchavadze family. Over lunch at a local winery, we sample the local wines and learn about the ancient Georgian ‘Qvevri’ wine-making tradition, which creates its unique taste.

All meals included

Hotel: Mercure Tbilisi Old Town

Our last day in Tbilisi, we start with a visit to the Open Air Ethnographic House Museum. This attractive museum preserves type examples of traditional architecture from Georgia’s many regions. We continue to the Museum of Fine Arts, which displays some of Georgia’s most precious Medieval Christian artwork, including gilded icons, processional crosses, fine embroideries and Queen Tamar’s exquisite bejewelled cross brooch. Free time this afternoon offers the opportunity to relax and enjoy the local cafés, markets and bookshops.

All meals included

Hotel: Mercure Tbilisi Old Town

We start our day at Mtskheta, Georgia’s ancient capital and religious centre. After visiting the 6th century Jvari Chuch, we explore the excavations of the ancient royal citadel of Armazistsikhe. We finish our time here at Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. After lunch, we visit Gori for the ancient rock-cut city of Uplistsikhe and the Stalin Museum. The latter preserves the museum erected by Stalin’s murderous Caucasian viceroy Beria, making it a fascinating relic of the cult of Stalin and the counterpoint to the exhibition on the Soviet Occupation in Tbilisi’s National Museum. Later, we travel up the Mtkvari gorge to Borjomi and check-in to our hotel.

All meals included

Hotel: Hotel Likani, Borjomi

This morning we drive past the fortress of Khertvisi, to the Medieval cave monastery of Vardzia. Renowned as a mustering point of Queen Tamar’s armies in her wars against the Turks, the monastery is also famous for its cycle of frescoes, including a famous depiction of Queen Tamar herself. This afternoon we return to Borjomi via Akhaltsikhe and the Rabati fortress, a centre for Ottoman slaving at late as the 1820s.

All meals included

Hotel: Hotel Likani, Borjomi

We drive to Kutaisi this morning, Georgia’s second city and historic capital of Imereti. Here, we visit the royal monastery and World Heritage Site of Gelati, with its rich mosaic and frescoes and its medieval Academy. After lunch, we have free time to explore the city.

All meals included

Hotel: Best Western, Kutaisi

Today we visit our guide lecturer’s site of Nokalakevi. The extensive ruins of a large Byzantine-period fortress stand atop earlier archaeological levels going back through the 1st millennium BC to at least the 3rd millennium. After a tour of the site and the small museum, we lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, we drive through the Colchian lowlands towards the Black Sea coast, arriving at Batumi.

All meals included

Hotel: Batumi World Palace

Batumi, is the Bathus Limen, or deep water port discovered by Greek settlers of the Black Sea coast in the 7th and 6th centuries BC. The Russians developed it into a major warm water port in the late 19th century, with the help of foreign investors like the Rothschilds and the Nobels. The city retains much of the architecture of this Art Nouveau period, alongside the churches and mosques of its diverse population. After a leisurely walking tour of the city, we visit the Roman playing-card fort at nearby Apsarus, with its small museum. After lunch, there is some free time to explore at leisure. Tonight, we come together to celebrate the success of our memorable adventure.

All meals included

Hotel: Batumi World Palace

We transfer to the airport for our return flight.

Meals include: Breakfast

October 1 2020: Additional Info

October 1 2020: Accommodation

Featuring free WiFi and a seasonal outdoor pool, Tufenkian is a boutique hotel combining historic and contemporary features. The modern rooms include handcrafted Armenian furnishings. Yerevan’s central Republic Square is 500 yards away.

Designed in 19th-century Caucasian style, each room at the Hotel Tufenkian Historic Yerevan includes designer fittings, a flat-screen satellite TV and minibar. The private bathrooms provide bathrobes and slippers.

Kharpert Restaurant serves traditional Armenian and Halal cuisine, as well as Italian dishes in a stylish dining room with wood, stone and metal elements. Local drinks and cocktails are offered at the bar.

There are cafes, restaurants and museums in the surrounding area, including the National Historic Museum, 5 minutes' walk away. Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral is 12 minutes’ walk from the hotel.

We travel to Dilijan, surrounded by snowy peaks and alpine forests, the picturesque town has ginger-bread-style houses, medieval churches and traditional buildings with steep tiled roofs and wooden beams. The hotel makes the most of these surroundings with its very own winter gardens. Its interior is equally as charming, with a wellness centre and modern spacious rooms with plush furnishings. After a refreshing evening’s stay here, wake up to a lavish breakfast spread with local treats and international favourites.

Mercure Tbilisi Old Town is located in the center of Tbilisi, a 5-minute walk from Metekhi Cathedral. It features a spa center with sauna and hammam. Free WiFi is provided. You will find sulfur baths within a walking distance.

The comfortable rooms are air conditioned and fitted with flat-screen TV with satellite channels. Private bathrooms come with a shower, hairdryer and free toiletries.

Mercure Tbilisi features Old Town Restaurant & Lobby Bar and Rooftop Terrace Bar SKY7 which offers a variety of drinks and panoramic views of Tbilisi. Various cafes and restaurants are situated within a 5-minute walk.

Narikala Fortress is a 5-minute walk from Mercure Tbilisi Old Town. Shardeni Street is 450 yards away and Freedom Square is within a 15-minute walk. Tbilisi International Airport is 9.3 miles from the hotel. 

This hotel is a luxury retreat and resides in the beautiful pre-alpine area, carrying the name of the well-known mineral waters of Georgia. Relaxation and wellbeing are the hotels main features, offering a spa, indoor pool and sauna all on site. Experience beyond expectations in the hotel rooms with stunning views of the surrounding areas. The restaurant blends local taste and international cuisine.

Located in the heart of Kutaisi, this hotel is perfect for our stay. Witness the small cobbled streets, one-storey buildings and view the White Bridge, only a few steps away. Each hotel room has its own balcony and other various facilities. A buffet breakfast is on offer every morning.

Just 150 yards from the Black Sea coast, this hotel is set in the center of Batumi. Free WiFi and a 24-hour front desk are featured at Batumi World Palace Hotel.

The elegant, air-conditioned rooms of this hotel are decorated in warm colors and offer classic-style interiors. Each room includes a flat-screen TV, a minibar and a private bathroom.

The hotel’s restaurant, with panoramic views of Batumi and the Black Sea, serves European and Georgian cuisine. A selection of Georgian wines is offered at the restaurant.

The Medea Statue is just a 5-minute walk from the hotel, and the Alphabet Tower is 350 yards away. The picturesque Seaside Boulevard is a 7-minute walk from the hotel. Batumi Port is only 100 yards from Batumi World Palace Hotel. Batumi Train Station is 0.9 miles away, and Batumi Airport is 4.3 miles from the hotel. Free shuttle service is available.

October 1 2020: Enquiries

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