TRANSCAUCASIA

The breakaway republics of Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh via Georgia and Armenia 

Yerevan – Stepanakert – Shushi – Tbilisi – Gori – Sukhum


Tour dates

Regular monthly departures: this tour is offered regularly once a month in spring (March to June) and autumn (August to November). Let us know your desired departure month by clicking on the ask-us button below and we will match your preferences with the relevant scheduled group departure. If you are unsure about the month you wish to travel in, then simply tell us a period or a season of the year and we will provide you a range of scheduled group departures: just pick up yours! 

Our scheduled group departures don't suit your plans? If you are travelling with friends and there are 5 or more of you, you can set your own dates and we will organise a tour just for you without charging any additional fee. If you are travelling solo or with less than 4 companions we will organise a slightly more expensive tailored tour according to your time schedule and specific geographical preferences.


ITINERARY

Day 1 - Armenia: Yerevan

  • In the morning you will meet our tour guide in the lobby of the designated hotel (exact hotel address and meeting time will be communicated well in advance per email; private airport pickup and shuttle service available for a small additional fee).

  • Introductory briefing about the region, the route and the set of rules to observe while travelling in the Caucasus.

  • Central Yerevan walking tour: Opera House, Cascade Sculpture Park, Republic Square, Soviet Victory Park and Mother Armenia Statue.

  • Traditional Armenian lunch.

  • Temples and Monasteries: after lunch we'll drive to the nearby village of Garni the impressive ruins of a 2000-year-old pagan temple and the stone monastery of Geghard, an architectonic gem entirely carved out of a mountain.

  • Genocide Memorial: once back in Yerevan, we'll head to the Armenian Genocide Memorial and Museum, one of the most significant places in the whole country. We'll learn about the tragic fate millions of Armenians endured during the last years of the Ottoman Empire, visit the Soviet-style concrete monumental complex and admire stunning sunset views over resilient Yerevan.

  • Dinner and overnight in Yerevan.

Day 2 - Armenia: Yerevan and Etchmiadzin

  • Mosques and Bazaars: morning visit to the colorful central market, a Soviet-era covered bazaar thriving with loud and friendly sellers that will tempt you with all sort of local delicacies: from fresh vegetables to pickled cockscombs. Still inebriated by exotic scents and flavors we'll head to the Iranian Mosque, a hidden jewel of Islamic architecture.

  • Holy Cities and Soviet Nostalgia: we'll drive to the nearby town of Echmiadzin, the spiritual capital of Armenia and home of a UNESCO World Heritage site: The Angels of Sky Cathedral and the surrounding religious complex.

  • Moving on from the sacred to the profane we'll then visit the abandoned Soviet sport complex, an impressively huge place full of nostalgia and brutalist concrete forms.

  • If you are more into ancient stuff and less into Soviet heritage we'll head instead to the Ionic temple of Garni and the gorgeous rock monastery of Geghard east of Yerevan.

  • Quick lunch in Echmiadzin.

  • Coffee Culture and Flea Markets: once back in Yerevan we'll stroll around town and enjoy the calm pace of its daily routine sipping a warm coffee or a fresh juice in one of the many cafés dotting the central area. We'll then shop around the bustling Flea and Art Market, the very place in Yerevan to find all kind of Soviet paraphernalia. Start honing your haggle skills, you'll need them!

  • Dinner and overnight in Yerevan.

Day 3 - Armenia: Goris, Tatev and Noravank

  • We will leave Yerevan early in the morning for the 8-hour-long journey to the internationally unrecognized but de-facto independent Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.

  • Besides the routine pauses for food, toilet and random landscape pictures, we'll break the long haul twice: in Areni to admire the ancient monastery of Noravank, set against a background of flaming red mountains, and in Goris, to visit the curious stone pillars surrounding this pretty little Soviet town and take a vertigo-inducing cable car ride to the magnificent Tatev monastery.

  • Border Crossing: before dinner we'll cross the border into Nagorno-Karabakh. Unrecognised states are much safer and friendlier than you might think and we will take care of all the border formalities; however, this is a very sensitive area and you shall strictly follow the (rather simple) instructions your guide will brief you about. After entering the Republic we'll head straight towards its capital: pleasant and lively Stepanakert.

  • Dinner and overnight in Stepanakert.

Day 4 - Nagorno-Karabakh: Shushi and Stepanakert

  • Stepanakert walking tour: Stepanakert Dramatic Theatre, Martyrs Museum, Karabakh Cultural Centre, Parliament, Central Bazaar, Soviet-era amusement park, Sport Complex, WWII Memorial and other socialist architectonic gems.

  • Traditional Karabakhi lunch.

  • After lunch we'll drive to the nearby town of Shushi, which witnessed one of the fiercest battle during the recent conflict against Azerbaijan. We'll visit the ruins of the ancient part of the town, some melancholic Soviet remains, a newly built impressive church and the abandoned central mosque. We'll also have the unique chance to meet with a local veteran, who will guide us around town and tell us more about the bloody war that lead to the unrecognised independence of this narrow strip of land.

  • Dinner and overnight in Stepanakert.

Day 5 - Nagorno-Karabakh: Agdam, Gandzasar, Vank and the Minefields

  • After a morning pilgrimage to the national symbol of Nagorno-Karabakh, the oddly looking Tatik-Papik (We Are Our Mountains) monument, we'll drive to Agdam or the "Hiroshima of the Caucasus", a once thriving and now completely abandoned town located directly on the frontline with Azerbaijan. This is an extremely sensitive area so you shall strictly follow the instructions your guide will brief you about.

  • Along the road and in the area surrounding Agdam we'll catch the sad glimpse of the minefields dotting the fertile but unusable pastures of Karabakh.

  • We'll then head north stopping by in Tigranakert to visit the local fortress and in some pretty villages along the route to admire the natural rhythms of rural life and enjoy a hearty lunch with a local family.

  • Finally we'll visit the majestic Gandzasar Monastery, the biggest in the country, and the nearby village of Vank, where an eccentric Armenian oligarch built a Titanic-shaped hotel, a surreal amusement park and an exotic zoo.

  • Dinner and overnight in Stepanakert.

Day 6 - Armenia: Didavank, Lake Sevan, Noratus, Hayravank and the Sevan Peninsula

  • We'll start the day early and head to back to Armenia.

  • We'll enter Armenia by the backdoor through a little-used but very scenic mountain road.

  • Before crossing back into Armenia we'll stop at the ancient Dadivank monastery, close to the contested border with Azerbaijan.

  • Once in Armenia we'll find ourselves in Vardenis, a rather desolate Soviet town near the mighty Lake Sevan.

  • We'll drive along the rocky shores of the lake and slowly head to the Sevan Peninsula.

  • Besides the routine pauses for food, toilet and random landscape pictures, we'll break the long haul twice: in Hayravank to visit a not-to-be-missed lakeside monastery and in Noratus, a thousand-year-old cemetery located in one of the most beautiful area of the whole country.

  • In the afternoon we'll finally arrive in Sevan, an archetypical Soviet town, which we'll briefly tour before heading the world-famous namesake peninsula (formerly an island).

  • On the peninsula we'll enjoy stunning views over the lake while admiring the gracious shapes of the Sevanavank monastic complex and the modernist and constructivist architecture of the House of Recreation for the Writers and Artists of Soviet Armenia.

  • Dinner and overnight on the Sevan Peninsula.

Day 7 - Armenia-Georgia: Alaverdi, Sanahin, Haghpat and Tbilisi

  • Early in the morning we'll head to Georgia and say goodbye to biblical Armenia.

  • We'll drive north to Tbilisi and break the journey in the historical city of Dilijan, where we'll tour the well preserved city centre, and in the Soviet mining town of Alaverdi, where we'll enjoy slightly eerie post-industrial atmospheres, admire pretty hilltop churches (Haghpat and Sanahin) and pay a visit to the Soviet Air Force museum dedicated to Artyom Mikoyan, a local aerospace engineer and one of the main designers of the legendary MiG.

  • Border crossing into Georgia and late afternoon arrival in Tbilisi.

  • Dinner and overnight in Tbilisi.

Day 8 - Georgia: Tbilisi and Mtskheta

  • Old and Soviet Tbilisi walking tour: ancient churches, crumbling buildings, brutalist concrete shapes, photogenic Tsarist façades, Turkish-style old houses and a fascinating labyrinth of narrow alleys and steep stairs.

  • Cable ride to the Tbilisi Fortress and visit to the Soviet-era statue of Kartlis Deda (Mother of Georgians).

  • Traditional Georgian lunch.

  • Nostalgia and Bazaars: after lunch we'll visit the Soviet Flea Market, an open street market where you can find everything from Stalin's busts to SS knives, and the Central Bazaar, a surprisingly exotic place where Eastern European flavours mix with Middle-Eastern scents.

  • In the afternoon we'll enjoy a beer, a cup of tea or a refreshing cocktail in one of the many lovely cafés dotting Tbilisi centre.

  • Dinner and overnight in Tbilisi.

Day 9 - Georgia: Gori, Chiatura and Kutaisi

  • We will leave Tbilisi early in the morning and head westwards to Kutaisi, the second biggest city in the country.

  • We'll break the long journey twice to visit the notorious city of Gori, the birthplace of Stalin, and the surreal mining town of Chiatura, a steampunk city famous for his extensive network of rickety but still functioning cable cars from the 50s.

  • Quick lunch in Chiatura and transfer to Kutaisi, with a stop en route at the stunning Katskhi rock pillar.

  • Kutaisi sightseeing: Central Park, Stalinist city centre, David the Builder monument, central bazaar, panoramic cableway and Bagrati Cathedral.

  • Dinner and overnight in Kutaisi.

Day 10 - Abkhazia: Tkvarcheli and Sukhumi

  • Early departure from Kutaisi to Zugdidi, the last Georgian town before the contested border with the breakaway Republic of Abkhazia.

  • Zugdidi is also the capital of Samegrelo, a region inhabited by the Mingrelians an ethnic subgroup of Georgians particularly renowned for their cuisine.

  • We'll visit the central market, a slightly edgy border-zone trading place, and taste some of the local delicacies before heading to the border with Abkhazia.

  • Border crossing: after lunch we'll cross the border into Abkhazia. Unrecognised states are much safer and friendlier than you might think and we will take care of all the border formalities; however, this is a very sensitive area and you shall strictly follow the (rather simple) instructions your guide will brief you about.

  • After entering Abkhazia we'll drive to Tkvarcheli, a captivating and eerie half-abandoned coal-mining Soviet town nestled in the green mountains of Southern Abkhazia.

  • We'll then continue our journey to Sukhumi, the capital of Abkhazia.

  • Dinner and overnight in Sukhumi.

Day 11 - Abkhazia: Sukhumi  

  • Sukhumi sightseeing tour: Stalinist palaces, Soviet-era promenades, war-torn buildings, botanical gardens, Soviet sanatoria, rickety piers and subtropical flavours.

  • Traditional Abkhazian lunch.

  • Monkeys and Beaches: after lunch we'll drive to the hills to visit the Space Monkeys Sanctuary, a very peculiar place that harbors space-race-era apes and their descendants. We'll then hit the beach for some quality time to be spent either trying to spot the surprisingly common Black Sea dolphins or just swimming and sunbathing like a lazy post-Soviet seal.

  • Dinner and overnight in Sukhumi.

Day 12 - Abkhazia: Novy Afon, Pitsunda and Ritza Lake

  • We'll start the day early and drive north to the Great Caucasus Mountains.

  • On the way we'll break the journey twice to visit the ancient monastery of Novy Afon and the pleasant Soviet seaside towns of Gagra and Pitsunda.

  • Seafood lunch in Pitsunda.

  • In the afternoon we'll finally reach Ritsa, a deep-blue mountain lake surrounded by thick forests and subalpine meadows.

  • Dinner and overnight in Ritsa.

Day 13 - Abkhazia: Ritza Lake and the Mountains

  • We'll wake up surrounded by the fresh air and the magical atmosphere of the Abkhaz Mountains and start the day by doing some physical exercise like true Soviet pioneers.

  • For the athletic ones: early morning challenging trek around the lake.

  • For the lazier ones: easy hike in the woods.

  • For the laziest: chill-out time with the locals (aka beer and shashliks on the lakeshore).

  • After lunch we'll head back to Sukhum.

  • Free afternoon in Sukhum for souvenir shopping and gastronomic discoveries.

  • Dinner and overnight in Sukhum.

DAY 14 - Flight back home or transfer to further destinations  

  • After enjoying a last lavish Abkhaz-style breakfast together we'll head back to Georgia.

  • After completing the border crossing formalities we'll take care of the transfer to your airport/train station of choice.

  • For those flying out: we will arrange transfer to any of the following transportation hubs in Georgia: Kutaisi International Airport, Batumi International Airport, Tbilisi International Airport.

  • For those wishing to take the train/bus to reach further destinations: we will arrange transport to the train/bus station in Zugdidi (Georgia).

  • End of the tour.


PRICE

4 to 9 participants: 1650 €


The price includes: double/twin room accommodation (breakfast included; single supplement: 15 euro/night), private transport in the region (jeep or minivan), entrance fees to the attractions listed in the itinerary, guiding and translation service.

The price does not include: international flights and any other flight not explicitly included in the tour price and itinerary, meals, drinks and tips, transport to and from the airport of arrival/departure (35 euros/ride), visas if required, entrance to attractions not listed in the itinerary, insurance.

The route of this tour has been carefully designed after several research trips in the region. It is, however, always possible to slightly modify the itinerary according to the needs and the suggestions of the participants. Our motto is flexibility. It is also possible to make the tour the other way around, starting from Tbilisi and finishing in Yerevan, if an Iran trip is planned.

Please note: It’s advisable to arrive in Yerevan one day before the actual tour begins. You should notice, however, that you’ll have to take care of your accommodation for any day and night preceding the actual start date of the tour. Without any additional charge we will readily and gladly reserve a room for you at our hotel of choice and you’ll be able to pay for it by cash or credit card once you check-in. If your flight lands on the same day as the tour begins and you prefer to rest a bit before going out sightseeing, you will then meet your tour guide and the rest of the group at the designated hotel in the late afternoon. 

Airport pickup/transfer in Yerevan and Tbilisi is available for just 35 euros per ride.

Disclaimer: the designations employed and the presentation of the material on this website do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of our company concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The territory of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia is internationally recognised as integral part of Georgia. Regardless of your/our position on the issue and for all travel-related intents and purposes, however, the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia is no longer under the control of Georgian authorities. The territory of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region is internationally recognised as integral part of Azerbaijan. Regardless of your/our position on the issue and for all travel-related intents and purposes, however, the territory of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region is no longer under the control of Azerbaijani authorities. 


WHERE THE HECK AM I TRAVELLING TO?  

BELOW YOU CAN SEE THE DIFFERENT TOUR STAGES MARKED on A MAP OF THE REGION YOU ARE GOING TO EXPLORE WITH US

CLICK HERE FOR SOME NICE PICTURES AND MORE INFO ABOUT THIS DESTINATION

POSSIBLE TOUR COMBINATIONS FOR THIS ITINERARY INCLUDE

Chechnya and the North Caucasus and/or Cherkessia and the Western Caucasus