10D/9N - 2020 Highlights of Georgia-Armenia -private

    Highlights of Georgia-Armenia            privately conducted

    Tbilisi- Mtskheta-Gori-Uplistsikhe-Stepantsminda-Gergeti Charch-Stepantsminda-Sighnaghi-Kvareli-Gremi-Kondoli-Gombori Pass-Sadakhlo-Haghpat-Dilijan-Sevan-Garni-Geghard-Khor Virap-Zvartnots-Yerevan

    10days/09nights, Tbilisi/Yerevan

    2020 depart:  Apr-Oct
    Cost for 2 participants from: $2450 per person in twin share (s/sup $610)
    Cost for 4 participants from: $1980 per person in twin share (s/sup $610)

day 1 Tbilisi-Arrival
Arrive in Tbilisi. Meet at the airport and transfer to the hotel. Overnight at your hotel in Tbilisi.
day 2 Tbilisi
Today we will explore the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi. Wonder in the old districts of the city which are structured like terraces, as well as take a walk in the narrow streets to enjoy colorful houses, patterned balconies and wonderful samples of modern architecture. We will start the tour form Metekhi church (13C) facing the magnificent views over old Tbilisi. A stroll along winding little streets takes us to the main sights of the city. Afterwards we enjoy the panoramic views of the whole town and through the ancient Narikala fortress (4C), find ourselves in the historical domed Sulphur bath area-connected with the name of our city. After that enjoy your free time in the city. Overnight at a hotel in Tbilisi.
day 3 Tbilisi-Mtskheta-Gori-Uplistsikhe-Tbilisi
Drive to the ancient capital and religious centre of Georgia – Mtskheta and visit its historical places: the 6C Jvari Monastery and the 11C Svetitskhoveli Cathedral where the Robe of Christ is buried. Both Jvari and Svetitskhoveli are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Continue to Gori. Gori is the birthplace of Stalin. Here we’ll visit his house and museum. Continue to Uplistsikhe Cave Town (1st millennium BC), that’s the place where the Great Silk Road used to pass. This is an old and interesting complex with dwelling quarters, wine-cellars, bakeries, a three-nave basilica hewn out in rock and even an antic theatre. Drive back to Tbilisi. Overnight at a hotel in Tbilisi.
day 4 Tbilisi-Stepantsminda-Gergeti Charch-Stepantsminda-Tbilisi
In the morning we drive up to famous Georgian Military Highway. En-route we visit Ananuri architectural complex (17C), the two churches and the fortress overlook the Zhinvali water reservoir. Arrive to Stepantsminda (Kazbegi) and from there a leisurely 2.5 hours walk up through beautiful valleys and woodland leads us to Gergeti Trinity Church located at 2170 m. Weather permitting you may catch a glimpse of one of the highest glaciers in the Caucasus – Mt Kazbegi (5047m). Then we take the same way back and drive to Tbilisi. Overnight at a hotel in Tbilisi.
Optional: From Stepantsminda you can hire local 4WD up to Gergeti Trinity Church located at 2170m
day 5 Tbilisi-Sighnaghi-Kvareli-Gremi-Kondoli-Gombori Pass-Tbilisi
Today we travel in Kakheti region famous for being wine making area, as well as associated with welcoming hospitality. Here we can see both snowy Caucasus Mountains and fertile valleys. Firstly we visit 18C beautiful, small town of Sighnaghi which will impress us with its old fence and small houses with tile roofs and decorated balconies. From here we can see the picturesque views of Alazani valley and Great Caucasus Mountains. After that visit the Monastery of Bodbe (11C) where Georgia`s enlightener - Saint Nino was buried and see its beautiful garden as well. For lunch we will visit the local family, where we become familiar with the local peasants’ life, we will see their gardens and vineyards, and then we have lunch with delicious homemade food, wine and Georgian Chacha. Afterwards visit the 16C Gremi complex. Continue to BIO winery Kondoli. Then by Gombori Pass we will drive to Tbilisi. Dinner at a traditional restaurant. Overnight at a hotel in Tbilisi.
day 6 Tbilisi-Sadakhlo-Haghpat-Dilijan
Drive to Georgian-Armenian border. Meeting at Sadakhlo. Change guide and transportation and continue trip to Armenia. Start your acquaintance with Armenia with the monastic complexes of Haghpat (976 AD) which is among the outstanding works of medieval Armenian architecture and is inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage list. Drive and arrival in Dilijan, one of the most popular resorts of Armenia, often referred to as the "Little Switzerland" of Armenia. We have a stop at Dilijan Old Town. The forested and reclusive city is home to numerous Armenian artists, composers, and filmmakers and features some traditional Armenian architecture. Check-in at the hotel. Overnight at the hotel Hover in Dilijan.
day 7 Dilijan-Sevan-Garni-Geghard-Yerevan
Breakfast at the hotel. Drive to Lake Sevan “The Pearl of Armenia”. This huge mountain lake, which takes up to 5% of Armenia’s surface area is the second highest freshwater lake in the world. Visit Sevanavank Monastery on the peninsula with breathtaking view over the lake. Drive to Kotayk region, to visit Garni Temple dating back to the 1C. The temple is a picturesque monument of the Hellenistic period and an impressive piece of ancient Armenian architecture. After enjoying the scenery, we will have lunch at a local’s house in Garni where you will have opportunity to watch how Armenian national bread “lavash” is baked in the underground stove called “tonir”. Our host is a farmer and gardener who will take us around his orchard to introduce the vast variety of plants. Here you will have a chance to taste any ripe fruit right from the tree. If we are lucky to be on right time, we may also take part in harvest of fruits, berries and nuts (seasonal activity). After a good homemade meal, we proceed to Northeast of Garni, higher up the gorge of the Azat River to visit Geghard Monastery. The spectacular towering cliffs surrounding the monastery are part of the Azat River gorge, and are included together with the monastery in the UNESCO World Heritage Site listing. Some of the chambers within the complex are entirely dug out of the cliff rocks. Return to Yerevan. Overnight at the Ani Plaza hotel in Yerevan
day 8 Yerevan City tour-Genocide Memorial Park and Museum
Sightseeing tour around the vibrant city Yerevan. Being established in 782 BC, nowadays Yerevan is a thriving city with the excitement, hustle and bustle of a modern capital. We start our exploration from the Republic Square, the masterpiece of the architect Alexander Tamanian. Continue to the Opera House, a stunning architectural piece and the hub of Yerevan. Freedom Square is just behind, surrounded by parks which have been taken over by outdoor cafes, and finally Swan Lake. We visit Cascade Complex, an open-air museum of modern art with massive stairways leading up to the Victory Park providing a fantastic overlook to the entire downtown from above. The complex links the historic residential and cultural centers of the city with a vast area of waterfalls and outdoor gardens. Drive to Fruit Market, where you can find Armenian delicious dried and candied fruits, nuts, spices, sujukh – a candy-dipped nut treat, local fruits and vegetables. Our next stop is Genocide Memorial and museum situated on the hills overlooking the city, a solemn reminder of the first genocide of the 20C. Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.
day 9 Yerevan-Khor Virap-Zvartnots-Yerevan
Breakfast at the hotel. Drive to Ararat region to visit Khor Virap Monastery, referred as the cradle of Christianity. The religious importance of the monastery is related to the first Armenian Catholicos, Gregory Illuminator who introduces the religion to Armenia. The monastery gorgeously stands at the backdrop of Mount Ararat, the national symbol of Armenia. Drive to the ruins of Zvartnots temple (closed on Monday) - the pearl of the 7C architecture (inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage list). En route take a stop at Musaler village to visit a local house for a Master cooking class, Tolma is the most favorite Armenian dish. Meet Zara, a former TV personality who hosted celebrities in her show and together we prepare Armenian recipes and Zara will share with us typical Armenian preparation techniques. Then we return to Yerevan to enjoy leisure time in night Yerevan. The city has special charm in dark when all building, cafes and facades are lit in sparkling lamps. Evening in Yerevan is the high moment to enjoy the colorful performance of “singing fountains” right at the heart of the city, in Republic Square. Here the water illustrations are in perfect harmony with background music.
Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.
day 10 Yerevan-Departure
Transfer to the airport and departure home.
Inclusions: 5 nights in Tbilisi, 1 night in Stepantsminda, 1 night in Dilijan, 3 nights in Yerevan, breakfast daily, 3 lunches, 2 dinners, A/C transportation as per itinerary, arrival/departure transfers, English speaking cultural tour guide throughout the tour (driver/guide in Armenia for 2 participants), entrance fees to the sites mentioned, wine tasting in Giorgia, 1 bottle of water per person per day

Hotels: Tbilisi-Hotel Ramada, Stepantsminda-Hotel Stancia, Dilijan-Hover Boutique Hotel, Yerevan-Hotel Ani Plaza, or similar

Excluding: flights, insurance, entry visa, tips and other personal expenses, meals (except breakfast), alcoholic drinks, entrance fees not mentioned in the program, portage at the hotels, gratuities

Notes: museums are closed on Mondays and on public holidays

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