South Caucasus

DURATION: 16 Days

START/END: Baku / Yerevan

START DATE: 17 May 2024

TOUR COST (Twin Share): USD 4995

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: USD 1100

MAX GROUP SIZE: 14

PHYSICAL LEVEL: Moderate

Discover the beauty of Azerbaijan, Georgia & Armenia

Nestled at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, the South Caucasus boasts a unique blend of cultures. Like a trove of hidden gems, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia await you on this immersive Byroads journey through time and tradition.

From the prehistoric art and archaeology of ancient Azerbaijan, the grandeur of fortresses to wineries in Georgia, and the medieval charm of Armenian monasteries, each country offers a totally unique experience. Think UNESCO-listed towns, ancient temples and palaces, and towering mountains.

You’ll be in good company the entire trip. Local guides with a wealth of knowledge will enhance your adventure. Your Byroads host will support you throughout the trip. And a small bunch of fellow wanderers will create meaningful memories alongside you.

Moments you’ll love

  • Exploring the architecturally stunning Heydar Aliyev Centre
  • Deciphering the ancient petroglyphs of Gobustan
  • Sleeping in a centuries-old caravanserai
  • Discovering the secrets of Georgian wine-making
  • Experiencing local hospitality with a South Ossetian family
  • Wandering the ancient UNESCO-listed town Mtskheta
  • Gazing on Mount Ararat from the walls of Kor Virap monastery

Lodgings you’ll adore

  • 4-star hotel that feels straight out of “One thousand & one nights”
  • Luxury boutique hotel and winery in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains
  • Mountain chateau on the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains

DAY 1: BAKU

Arrive at Baku Airport and transfer to your hotel | Settle in and meet up with your group in the evening.

Shah Palace Hotel (or similar)  – This 4-star hotel is brilliantly located in historic Baku Old City. Luxuriously decorated, its architecture combines stunning classical and national patterns.

DAY 2: BAKU

Take a guided tour of the walled historical centre of the capital. Wander the beautiful Palace of the Shirvanshahs and later visit the National History Museum.  (B)

Shah Palace Hotel (or similar)

DAY 3: BAKU

Take time to explore the Heydar Aliyev Centre and its museum, gallery and vast array of exhibitions | Drive to Highland Park for panoramic views of the city and its spectacular coast | Tonight, visit the memorial flame and Baku’s famous trio of Flame Towers.  (B)

Shah Palace Hotel (or similar)

DAY 4: GOBUSTAN, ATESHGAH AND BAKU

After an early breakfast drive south to the Gobustan National Park | Be guided through its ancient petroglyphs, museum and mud volcanoes | Marvel at the Fire Temple of Ateshgah, home of Zoroastrian fire worship | A last stop at the Flaming Mountain before returning to Baku. (B)

Shah Palace Hotel (or similar)

DAY 5: SHAMAKHA, LAHIJ AND SHEKI

Rise early and head west to Sheki | En route, wander through the ancient family graveyard of the Shirvanshahs at Shamakha | Travel through stunning mountains, then wander the ancient village of Lahij | In Sheki, be guided through the ornate Sheki Khans Palace. (B)

Yukari Karavansarai Hotel (or similar) – A landmark, renovated 18th-century caravanserai in Sheki. Rooms and furniture are simple, but the building itself is extraordinary. Rooms have a private bathroom and there is a bar and restaurant.

DAY 6: GEORGIAN BORDER AND KAKHETI

Cross into Georgia and enjoy lunch with a local Georgian family | Watch the unique qvevri wine-making process, then enjoy a drink of fine Georgian wine at the beautiful Khareba Winery | Be guided over the Gremi Archeological complex built during the 16th-century before overnighting in Kakheti.  (B)

Babaneuris Marani Hotel – Boutique Winery  (or similar) – Nestled in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains and surrounded by its own vineyards, this cosy 4-star hotel and winery has beautiful views, a pool and a restaurant.

DAY 7: SIGHNAGHI AND TBILISI

Explore the expansive Bodbe Monastery, a major pilgrimage site to Saint Nino just 2km from the royal town of Sighnaghi | Enjoy lunch overlooking the stunning Alazani Valley, then wander the old cobblestone streets of Sighnaghi – also known as the City of Love | Settle into your Tbilisi hotel for your three-night stay.  (B)

New Tiflis Hotel (or similar)

DAY 8 & 9: TBILISI

Embark on a guided walking tour of the city, including all the major highlights | Explore the many charming coffee houses and bars and soak up the city’s vibrant atmosphere | Wander the sprawling Open Air Museum of Ethnography to learn more about the country’s cultural anthropology | Enjoy the local’s warm hospitality, traditional cuisine, and dancing!  (2B, 1D)

New Tifliss Hotel (or similar)

DAY 10: JVARI, MTSKHETA, KAZBEGI AND GUDAURI

Drive north through breathtaking mountain scenery | View the 6th Century Jvari Church | Wander through UNESCO-listed Mtskheta, the former capital and one of the country’s oldest villages | Take a 4WD to the sublime Gergeti Trinity Church, with magnificent Mount Kazbegi looming behind | Snap a million photos before returning to relax in Gudauri.  (BD)

Marco Polo Hotel (or similar) – Generously appointed, this 4-star mountain chateau hosts everything you need for a luxurious stay – including a restaurant and pool.

DAY 11: ANANURI, GORI, UPLISTIKHE AND MTSKHETA

Reflect on Georgia’s bloodied history as you wander the old castle complex of Ananuri – and then at the Stalin Museum in Gori | Clamber over the ancient rock-hewn cave town of Uplistikhe, a former centre for pagans, Arabs and Christian Kings | Settle down for an unforgettable dinner with a local South Ossetian family.  (BD)

Hotel Gino Wellness Mtskheta (or similar)

DAY 12: ARMENIAN BORDER, VANADZOR AND DILIJAN

Heading south, cross into Armenia | Explore the ancient Hagpat Monastery built during the 10th and 14th centuries | In Vanadzor, be entertained by a local artist accomplished in the medieval Christian Armenian art of crafting khachkar, the Armenian cross-stone | Arrive to Dilijan(B)

Hotel Casanova (or similar)

DAY 13: LAKE SEVAN AND YEREVAN

Stroll the ruins of Sevanavank Monastery on the edge of Lake Sevan – the largest body of water in the Caucasus region | Stop to enjoy a tour of the Megeryan carpet factory, where rugs are available to buy | This afternoon visit the peaceful but sombre Armenian Genocide Memorial to remember the 1.5 million Armenians exterminated during and after WW1 by the Ottoman government | Spend your first night in Yerevan.  (BL)

Double Tree by Hilton (or similar)

DAY 14: GARNI, GEGHARD, METCHMIADZIN AND YEREVAN

Rise early and visit the Temple of Garni, the only standing Greco-Roman colonnaded building in Armenia | Next to Geghardavank – The ‘Monastery of the Spear’ – where the spear that wounded Christ on the Cross was allegedly stored for 500 years | Marvel at UNESCO-listed Etchmiadzin Cathedral, the mother church of the Armenian Apostolic Church, originally built in the early 4th century.  (B)

Double Tree by Hilton (or similar)

DAY 15: KHOR VIRAP, NORAVANK, ARENI AND YEREVAN

Drive to the Ararat plain and to the Khor Virap Monastery, backdropped by the magnificent Mount Ararat | Arrive at the 13th Century Armenian monastery Noravank, with its Holy Mother of God Church | In the village of Areni, sample local wines made from fruits such as pomegranate and apricot | Spend your final night in Yerevan.  (B)

Double Tree by Hilton (or similar)

DAY 16: YEREVAN

Breakfast concludes your tour | Taxis to the airport are available, or Byroads can organise a transfer on request.  (B)

What’s Included

GUIDES

Byroads tour host, national and local guides

TRANSPORT

Arrival transfer, comfortable private mini-bus, 4WD

ACCOMMODATION

15 nights’ accommodation (3 to 4-star hotel average, *caravanserai 2 star)

MEALS

15 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners

TICKETS

Entrance fees to indicated sites

Armenian Church South Caucasus Tour
Due to currency volatility, trip fees are calculated in USD. However, you will be charged in Australian dollars. Currency conversion is based on the Westpac Bank buying rate on your balance due date.

Meet your trip host

Ready for travel without logistical nightmares? Your trip host has got you covered.

Every Byroads tour is supported by Steve or Bronny – two experienced travellers with a genuine passion for people. They take care of all the nitty-gritty details to ensure your trip runs smoothly – and you can focus on enjoying the moment.

Steve heads up Byroads and has over 35 years of experience in the travel industry. He’s designed and operated holidays to some of the world’s most fascinating destinations.

Like her brother, Bronny shares a keen curiosity about the world. Independently, she has journeyed far and wide – and has worked as a tour leader throughout Europe, Asia and Australia.

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