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Wine, Food, History & Culture

Georgia and Armenia

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Georgia and Armenia

Wine, Food, History & Culture

 

Discover the world’s oldest winemaking tradition, two unique cuisines and a treasure trove of art, architecture, history and culture influenced by both East and West, yet distinctly their own in the two hidden gems of the Caucusus— hospitable Georgia and Armenia

 
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Highlights

  • Explore two very different Ex-Soviet capitals – charmingly unkempt Tbilisi and formal, centrally planned Yerevan

  • Discover unique art, architecture and history at World Heritage sights Mtskheta, Geghard, Haghpat and Sanahin

  • Experience a master class in Georgian cuisine in Akhaltsikhe

  • Become an expert on local wine and brandy with 2 wine tastings in Georgia and 2 in Armenia, plus a visit to Yerevan’s brandy factory.

 

  • Ride the world’s longest cable car to Tatev Monastery

  • Witness traditional grape harvesting and winemaking techniques in Georgia’s Kakheti region.

  • Photograph Mount Ararat from a church dating back to the 4th century AD

  • Dip your toes in the world’s second largest mountain lake, Sevan, and try the local trout.

Dates

Sept 21 to Oct 3, 2019

 

Cost

$2,700 USD

 

Join us on a two-week tour of Georgia and Armenia, two of the world’s best kept travel secrets. Popular with tourists from Russia and other former Soviet Union countries, but mostly undiscovered by Western tourists, these two destinations offer fantastic cuisine; the world’s oldest wine-making tradition; two different cultures, influenced by both the East and West, yet uniquely distinct; natural and historical sights aplenty; and, most importantly, some of the most hospitable people you will ever have the good fortune to meet. Come discover these gems of the Caucasus before the fast food restaurants and chain stores get here. We can’t promise to show you everything to see in Georgia and Armenia in these two short weeks, just enough to make you want to come back.

 

Itinerary

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Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival and Overnight in Tbilisi, Georgia

Arrive at Tbilisi International Airport, transfer to hotel in Old Town Tbilisi. Depending on everyone’s arrival time and energy levels we can start the tour with dinner in beautiful Old Tbilisi at one of the city’s many outdoor restaurants or take in a relaxing soak in one of the city’s Sulphur bath hot springs, or maybe take off for a downtown bar crawl. (Meals not included, but a group meal will be arranged for anyone who is up to it after the travel)

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Day 2
Tbilisi, Georgia

We start our introduction to Georgia with a tour of Tbilisi. We will explore Old Tbilisi and the Sulphur baths district of Anatubani, take the cable car up to Narikala fortress for a bird’s eye view of the old town, visit Sioni Cathedral, Freedom square, and go shopping at the Dry Bridge souvenir market. After we work up an appetite we’ll head for dinner at one of Tbilisi’s finest restaurants with live folk music and dance.
(Meals included – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) 

Day 3
Mtskheta-Borjomi-Akhaltsikhe

We depart Tbilisi at 9 AM and after a short drive through the countryside we arrive at a scenic viewpoint overlooking the confluence of the Mktvari and Aragvi rivers and the former Georgian capital city of Mtskheta, a UNESCO World Heritage site. After a tour of the town, we depart for Borjomi, a resort town known for its healing waters, where we will have a picnic lunch in the town park. After lunch we will drive to the town of Akhaltsikhe and stay at Edemi guest-house. At the guesthouse we will be treated to a master class of Georgian cuisine and learn to make some signature local dishes, which will then be served to us at dinner.
(Meals included – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

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Day 4
Akhaltsikhe-Vardzia-Tbilisi

At 9 AM we say goodbye to our gracious hosts at Edemi guesthouse and go into town for a look around Rabat castle, a recently restored fortress and a showcase of different epochs in Georgian history – independence, Ottoman rule, the Russian empire, and Soviet times. From Rabat we drive to Vardzia, the 13th century formerly underground monastery and city complex, now a scenic ruin after the collapse of the mountain face it hid behind.

We will stop for lunch at a local farm and return to Tbilisi in the evening.
(Meals included – Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 5
Telavi

We leave Tbilisi for Kaheti, Georgia’s wine country and arrive in the small town of Telavi, after a scenic drive through the Gombori mountain pass. Here we will visit the Chelti winery, take part in the harvesting of grapes and sample the local product. On the way we will also make a stop to learn about the making of kvevri, the clay casks used to make wine in Georgia instead of the wooden barrels used in other parts of the world.
(Meals included – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

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Day 6
signagi

From Telavi we drive to Kaheti’s City of Love, Signagi. On the way we will stop in the village of Tsinandali, to visit local nobleman Alexander Chavchavadze’s 19th century mansion, where we will stop for a tour and another wine tasting. We will then arrive in Signagi for lunch, walk around town and visit the local museum to see the art of local primitivist master Niko Pirosmani, whose unrequited love for a French actress was the inspiration for the town’s nickname. In the evening we drive back to Tbilisi for our last night in Georgia. (Meals Included – Breakfast, Lunch)

 

Day 7
Dilijan

In the morning we meet our Armenian guide in the lobby of our Tbilisi hotel and head for the border. After an easy crossing into Armenia we drive through lush forests of that country’s North and get our first introduction to medieval Armenian architecture at two beautiful medieval monasteries – Haghpat and Sanahin, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We will stop for lunch near Haghpat. After our visit, we drive through the Debed river canyon to the quaint town of Dilijan, also known as Armenia’s Switzerland where we will spend the night. (Meals included Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

 

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Day 8
Dilijan-Sevan-Yerevan

We start our morning with a quick walk around town and set out to Yerevan. On the way we will stop at Hagartsin monastery, tucked away in the middle of a dense forest. Afterwards, we will stop for lunch at Lake Sevan, the second largest mountain lake in the world, and a true natural wonder that was almost destroyed during the Soviet era in the implementation of one of Stalin’s megalomaniacal projects. The endemic trout from this lake is our main course for lunch. Late in the afternoon we arrive in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital. (Meals included Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 9
Yerevan

We spend today exploring Yerevan, the country’s capital. Both ancient and modern, Yerevan has been inhabited for the last 2,800 years, but most of the old city was demolished in the early 20th century to make way for the first planned city of the former USSR, built mostly of purple and pink tufa. While similar in many ways to other Soviet capitals, this charming city has some unique highlights, like the Cascade, a beautiful building draped over a hillside and housing a fascinating modern art museum. After lunch at a traditional restaurant we will go to the Noy Ararat Brandy factory to sample their ports and brandies. If you have never tried Armenian brandy, be prepared for a product that can easily give its more famous French cousins a run for their money.
(Meals included Breakfast, Lunch)

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Day 10
Khor Virap- Areni- Noravank-Goris

After an early start we drive to Khor Virap, a 4th century monastery and an important historical landmark and pilgrimage site for Armenians, standing in the shadow of Mount Ararat. While Ararat itself is located across the border in Turkey, weather permitting, we should get a good view of the orchards and fields of the Ararat plain and the majestic mountain itself. From here we go into Armenia’s wine country and the archaeological site of the world’s oldest known winery, as well as nearby Noravank monastery. Our visit will be bookended by wine tastings at two modern wineries – Areni, so named after the local high-altitude grape variety, and Old Bridge.

In the evening we will head into the town of Goris for the night.
(Meals included – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 11
Goris-Tatev-Kharahunj-Yerevan

After a morning stroll around the red-roofed town of Goris, we will board the world’s longest cable car ride (5.7 km) to Tatev, a 9th century monastic complex located on a rocky peninsula above the banks of the Vorotan River. After lunch in a local restaurant we will visit Kharahunj, an ancient observatory dated to 7,500 years ago, Armenia’s older answer to Stonehenge. (Meals included – Breakfast, Lunch)

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Day 12
Garni-Geghard

In the morning we head East to the village of Garni, home of Armenia’s only Hellenistic temple dating to 77 AD. We will have a traditional lunch in Garni with a demonstration of how to make lavash, the traditional Armenian flatbread. From here we will proceed to Armenia’s only rock-hewn church – the UNESCO-inscribed Geghard. We will finish our tour with a 4X4 ride in the Azat River Canyon to see the unique basalt rock formations, known as “Armenia’s Stone Symphony.” In the evening we will head back to Yerevan for our farewell dinner. (Meals included – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 13
Yerevan

Check out from hotel and transfer to Airport for flight home.

(We recommend arriving in Tbilisi International Airport and departing from Yerevan International Airport. If you would like to arrive and depart from Tbilisi, it is possible to arrange a return to Georgia by car or overnight train, although the train option is not the most comfortable. We can help evaluate your transportation options if required)

PRICING

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Georgia and Armenia
Sept. 21 to Oct. 3, 2019

COST
 

 

$2,700 USD

(Double occupancy)

 
 

 
 

WHAT'S INCLUDED

  • All accommodations priced on double or twin rooms, sharing. Contact us for a quote for a single supplement, if you need your own room.

  • All transportation and transfers

  • Guide services in Georgia and Armenia, Russian-English translation as required.

  • Entrance fees to all museums, wineries, cable cars and tourist attractions as listed above

  • Meals and wine tastings listed in itinerary above (in the interest of time, some of the lunches will be prearranged per set menu. Please advise us of any allergies or dietary restrictions upon booking)

  • Airport pick up and drop off

  • Drinking water for the drive

  • Any local taxes

WHAT'S NOT

  • International airfares

  • Visas if required.

  • Travel insurance

  • Personal expenses such as tips, laundry, portage etc.

  • Alcoholic drinks with meals outside of wine tastings