Discover the secrets of the Caucasus region, from Baku to Tbilisi in depth

Visit two countries that have taken a big leap into the 21st century, where historical old towns and monasteries sit comfortably alongside towering skyscrapers. Stop by one of Europe's largest open-air rock museums, warm your hands against a mountain that is forever on fire, walk through the gardens of a local Kakheti family and talk about provincial life over a hearty lunch. Uncover the centuries-old recipe for producing Georgian wine and learn how to make your own yogurt. Reconnect with nature on hikes through wooded forests and past the Chaladi glacier. Indulge your inner history buff as wander the ramparts of the Narikala Fortress and learn the secrets of Georgian cheese making. This all-encompassing trip takes you from eccentric Baku, to the lush green slopes of Georgia's Mestia valley and ancient alleyways of Tbilisi

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Baku, Azerbaijan
Finish
Tbilisi, Georgia
Countries
Azerbaijan, Georgia
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
KFSGC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • Azerbaijan's cosmopolitan capital of Baku is often referred to as the 'new Dubai'. Enjoy a guided walking tour around the city's World Heritage-listed Old Town.

  • Mud volcanoes, ancient mosques, lush forests and tall peaks – the Caucasus Mountains will take your breath away

  • Journey to the Svaneti region of Georgia, the remote and alluring land of snow-capped mountains, medieval-style tower-houses and a fascinating local dialect.

  • Far from a mere sightseeing tour, this trip is active and hands-on. You'll try your hand at preparing delicious local food and have plenty of chances to hike and explore.

  • With a strong historical focus, this trip is perfect for history buffs.

Is this trip right for you?

  • The highest altitude reached on this trip is 2200 metres at the highest point. A good level of fitness is required. That said, alternative activities can often be arranged for those who would prefer not to hike.

  • This trip uses a mix of public and private transportation. While the latter is convenient, public transport in Georgia is a great way to experience daily life as the locals do.

  • Photography of sensitive sites such as military bases and power installations is prohibited. You maybe charged a photo fee at some tourist site. Be aware of cultural sensitivities when photographing churches and other religious sites.

  • Please note there is a chance of potential changes to the itinerary due to: heavy rain, flooding and snow at higher altitudes, which often affect roads and bridges making travel difficult or impossible (particularly in remote areas). Landslides are also common.

  • As we don't want you to miss anything, the itinerary is densely packed, so you'll be busy. There will, however, be plenty of free time and opportunity for independent exploration.

  • On some days, there is a lot of walking between sights and around towns and cities. While it can be tiring to be on your feet, this is the best way to see a destination. Make sure you bring comfortable walking shoes with good support.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2018 to 31 December 2018. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Welcome to Azerbaijan! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm this evening. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Get to know Baku with a tour of the city, taking in a visit to the Old City, including the Shemakha gate, Shirvanshakhs` Palace, Maiden Tower, Old Market Square and the Carpet Museum. Don't forget your camera as you'll also see panoramic views of Baku's skyline. Afterwards head out on a tour of the Absheron Peninsula, visiting the Ateshgah fire temple, Mardakan medieval fortress and Yanardagh Fire Mountain (literally on fire!). Return to Baku in the evening. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Baku - Maiden's Tower
  • Baku - Shirvan Shah Palace
  • Baku - Carpet Museum
  • Baku - Caravanserai
  • Baku - Absheron Peninsula Tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Drive to Qobustan and visit the open-air rock paintings museum, a UNESCO heritage site with its own archaeological museum. Enjoy a free afternoon to wander Qobustan National Park before returning to Baku. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Qobustan - Petroglyphs
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Have breakfast at the hotel before leaving Baku today. Drive to the Caucasus Mountains in the northwest of Azerbaijan through a dry landscape that gives way to a densely forested mountain area. Take part in yoghurt-making in a local home in Shamakhi. Afterwards, head to Lahic, where you'll visit a copper workshop and get to know some locals over a cup of tea. Tonight, enjoy dinner with your group and stay overnight at a guesthouse or homestay in Lahic.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse/Homestay (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Shamakhi - Yoghurt making
  • Lahic - Copper workshop visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
Please note that in case of foggy or wet weather driving conditions in the mountains can be treacherous. If the drive to Lahic is deemed unsafe due to the weather then we will instead stay in the city of Qebele (Gabala).
After breakfast, head to Nidj village and meet the native Udin people, the direct descendants of ancient Caucasian Albanians. Continue on to Sheki and visit Sheki Khans Palace. Walk across rainbow-coloured floors created by the colourful frescoes and stained glass. Spend the night at a hotel in Sheki.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sheki - Khan's Palace
  • Nidj - Udin village visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Visit nearby Kis village and its old pointy spired Christian church this morning. Return to Sheki and visit a workshop, where famous 'Shebeke', intricate handmade vitrages, are produced. The rest of the afternoon is free.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kis - Church
  • Kis - Village Visit
  • Sheki - Shebeke workshop visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After breakfast at the hotel, drive to Lagodekhi on the Azerbaijan-Georgia border. Visit a traditional bazaar and change leader and transportation. From Lagodekhi, travel to the Kakheti region, famous for its wine making and welcoming hospitality. From here, both the snowy Caucasus mountains and bountiful green valleys are visible. Visit a local family, explore the gardens and vineyards and then enjoy a lunch of delicious homemade food, wine and Georgian 'Chacha'. Later, visit a 300-year-old Georgian wine cellar and taste Georgian wine produced using Qvevri, large earthenware pots. This method of wine making is protected on UNESCO's heritage list and Georgian farmers have used this method for centuries. Continue to the beautiful 18th-century town of Sighnaghi, known for its quaint stone walls, small houses with terracotta roofs and decorated balconies. Admire the picturesque views of the Alazani Valley and Great Caucasus mountains. Stay overnight at a hotel in Sighnaghi.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sighnaghi - Georgian Wine Tasting & Home Cooked Lunch
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
In the morning drive to the David Gareja caves, a rock-hewn monastery carved into the stark semi-desert landscape in the sixth century. After seeing the Lavra Monastery, walk for about 50 minutes up a steep hill to the Udabno Monastery. This monastery features wonderful painted caves and dramatic views across to Azerbaijan.

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • David Gareja - Monastery Complex & Hike
  • Tbilisi - Metekhi Church
  • David Gareja - Udabno Monastery
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Good physical condition is required to walk up to Udabno monastery as the walking time is around 2.5 hours (round trip). We recommend long trousers as there can be snakes in the area on occasion as well as sturdy shoes appropriate for trekking.

The exact line of the Georgia–Azerbaijan border up here has not yet been finally demarcated, and you may find Azerbaijan border guards patrolling here; they are not normally any hindrance to visiting the caves unless there is a flare-up of border tensions. In the case of border tensions we will not visit this site.
Today, explore the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi. Wander the old districts of the city, which are structured like terraces, and walk through the narrow streets to appreciate the colourful houses, patterned balconies and revamped modern architecture. Start the tour from the 13th-century Metekhi church, with its magnificent views over old Tbilisi. A stroll along winding little streets takes us to the main sights of the city. Afterwards enjoy the panoramic views of the whole town and climb the battlements at the ancient Narikala fortress. Later explore the historical domed sulphur bath area and learn how this precinct is connected to the name of the city. Take the afternoon to continue exploring, perhaps visit the Museum of History and see the treasury as an optional extra, or why not try a spa for yourself. Spend the night at a hotel in Tbilisi.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tbilisi - Old Town Walking Tour
  • Tbilisi - Narikala Fortress
Optional Activities
  • Tbilisi - National History Museum - USD5
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is yours to explore more before a group meeting tonight to begin the second part of this combination trip.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
After breakfast take part in a sightseeing tour of Tbilisi. The locals like to call their capital the "Balcony of Europe", placing it on par with many of Europe's graceful old cities. All the sights in the Old Town are very close to each other and within a few minutes’ walk. We start our visit to Old Tbilisi from Metekhi Church, and then walk to the Synagogue, Sioni Cathedral and Anchiskhati Basilica. From here, visit Narikala Fortress and the Sulphur Baths. Afterwards, you'll have free time to further explore the capital. The evening is also free for you to enjoy. Perhaps indulge in Tbilisi's lively theater scene and witness some of the energetic and acrobatic dance that Georgia is known for.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tbilisi - City tour
Optional Activities
  • Tbilisi - Museum of Georgia - USD5
  • Tbilisi - Museum of Fine Arts - USD2
  • Tbilisi - Sulphur Baths Entry - USD35
  • Tbilisi - Aerial Cable Car - USD1
  • Wine Tour – Kakheti Region (8-9 hours) - USD155
  • Tbilisi - Funicular - USD2
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
As you will have already been in Tbilisi for some time and seen many of the sights you are free to join the tour today or do your own optional activities.
Today, drive approximately 1 hour to Georgia's ancient capital and religious centre – the town of Mtskheta, which is over 3000 years old. Visit Mtskheta's top historical sights: Jvari church (6th century) and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (11th century), where the Robe of Christ is said to be buried. Both Jvari and Svetitskhoveli are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Afterwards, continue to the pretty city of Kutaisi, the second largest in the country (approximately 3 hours). Kutaisi is more than 3000 years old, connected to the legend of Jason and the Argonauts, along with his mythical (or is it?) Golden Fleece. Here we visit another significant historical site, the Gelati Cathedral. There may also be time to explore the cobbled streets of the town as you make your way up to the ruins of Bagrati palace and citadel.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse/Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mtskheka - Jvari Church
  • Mtskheka - Svetitskoveli Cathedral
Optional Activities
  • Kutaisi - Bagrati Cathedral & Gelati Monastery - Free
  • Iago’s Winery Tastings - USD5
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
After a restful night, visit a local farmers market and a natural grotto filled with stalagmites and stalactites. After lunch get ready for the next part of the tour: a journey to the remote Svaneti region. Svaneti is the highest inhabited area in the Caucasus and is divided in two parts: Upper Svaneti and Lower Svaneti. Arrive into Mestia (approximately 5 hours), the centre of Upper Svaneti. Mestia is surrounded by mountains, medieval-type villages and disctinctive tower-houses. The famous tower-houses were built to accommodate villagers at times of invasion and violence during the 9th -13th centuries. Around 175 towers still stand today, although many are uninhabited. The area is home to the Svans, a proud people with a long history of survival in this isolated part of Europe, who speak their own language. Spend the night in a local guesthouse with shared facilities.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kutaisi - Farmers Market
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Drive to Lakhiri village (approximately 20 minutes) and start our walk (approx walking time 4-5 hours) in the direction of Mestia. After little uphill walking we descend to the beautiful valley full with blooming flowers and enjoy an amazing view of Chalati Glacier (2300m) and of Mestia Valley with its watchtowers. The paths can be steep and the ground uneven so you will need good fitness and appropriate footwear for this walk. Those not wishing to hike can stay in the village or in Mestia. Today we also witness the making of Georgian cheese. Cheese is found in many Georgian dishes and is a key ingredient in the famous khachapuri, a traditional Georgian dish of cheese-filled bread which you will no doubt eat plenty of during your time here! Participate in the preparation of another traditional meal called kubdari, a filled bread dish filled with pork and beef that originates from this region.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mestia - Cooking class
  • Mestia - Lakhiri Village Hike
  • Mestia - Georgian cheese making
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Please note that the lunch included for the next 3 days will be lunch boxes prepared by our guesthouse which will mainly consist of simple sandwiches with cheese, egg, tomato and cucumber, fruit and bottled water.
Today, visit the World Heritage-listed village of Ushguli, a town around 50 kilometres southeast of Mestia (approx 3 hours drive). The village is located at 2,200 metres above sea level, and is one of the highest inhabited villages in Europe. Ushguli is most famous for its abundance of watchtowers – this is where you'll see the famous view of the towers set to the highest mountain in Georgia, the snow capped Mt Shkhara (5,068 metres). Visit the 12th-century Lamaria Church and walk to Queen Tamar’s tower. Total walking time is 2-3 hours depending on fitness and trail conditions. Those not wishing to walk may stay and explore Ushguli, where there are a few small ethnographic museums in the watchtowers. In the evening you can walk around the village and become familiar with the daily life of the local people. Spend the night in a family-owned guesthouse with shared facilities.

Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ushguli - Village hike
  • Ushguli - Lamaria Church
  • Ushguli - Queen Tamar`s Tower
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today's walk starts from the guesthouse. The route takes us along the river to the base of Mt Shkhara. Fingers crossed for great weather! We will have a picnic lunch today. The walking trail ends at the Shkhara glacier, where the Enguri river originates below. In the afternoon, return to Mestia and stay overnight in the guesthouse. Approximate walking time is 5-6 hours. If you do not wish to walk, please discuss options with your leader in advance.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ushguli - Shkhara Glacier hike & picnic
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
From the mountains to the sea today with a long drive to Batumi (approximately 7-8 hours) on the Black Sea coast. While past its Soviet heyday where it was one of the premiere seaside resorts, it is still popular with holiday makers from all over the region for its waterfront parks and beaches. Stay in a hotel tonight.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning take part in a short tour around the city. Then drive to the nearby Makhuntseti waterfall. Return to Batumi for an afternoon of free time. Batumi has a relaxed atmosphere, great restaurants and nightlife. Stroll the boulevard, cool off in the musical fountains on the square or see the touching Ali & Nino statue lit up at night. There's also art and ethnographic museums or a cable car to panoramic views over the city.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Batumi - Makhuntseti Waterfall
  • Batumi - City Tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Depart from Batumi and transfer back to Tbilisi (approximately 5-6 hours) by private vehicle. Stop at local winery on the way for tasting and toast our time in Georgia together. Enjoy our final night in the nation's capital, perhaps with one last group dinner and night out together.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your trip comes to an end today and your are free to depart at any time.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

18 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 6 dinners

Transport

Private Bus. Public Bus

Accommodation

Hotel (13 nights), Guesthouse (6 nights)

Included activities

  • Baku - Maiden's Tower
  • Baku - Shirvan Shah Palace
  • Baku - Carpet Museum
  • Baku - Caravanserai
  • Baku - Absheron Peninsula Tour
  • Qobustan - Petroglyphs
  • Shamakhi - Yoghurt making
  • Lahic - Copper workshop visit
  • Sheki - Khan's Palace
  • Nidj - Udin village visit
  • Kis - Church
  • Kis - Village Visit
  • Sheki - Shebeke workshop visit
  • Sighnaghi - Georgian Wine Tasting & Home Cooked Lunch
  • David Gareja - Monastery Complex & Hike
  • Tbilisi - Metekhi Church
  • David Gareja - Udabno Monastery
  • Tbilisi - Old Town Walking Tour
  • Tbilisi - Narikala Fortress
  • Tbilisi - City tour
  • Mtskheka - Jvari Church
  • Mtskheka - Svetitskoveli Cathedral
  • Kutaisi - Farmers Market
  • Mestia - Cooking class
  • Mestia - Lakhiri Village Hike
  • Mestia - Georgian cheese making
  • Ushguli - Village hike
  • Ushguli - Lamaria Church
  • Ushguli - Queen Tamar`s Tower
  • Ushguli - Shkhara Glacier hike & picnic
  • Batumi - Makhuntseti Waterfall
  • Batumi - City Tour

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Please note there is a chance of potential changes to the itinerary due to heavy rain, flooding and snow at higher altitudes, which often affect roads and bridges, making travel difficult or impossible (particularly in remote areas).
2. Altitudes experienced during this trip are up to 2200m above sea level.
3. A Single Supplement is available for purchase, excluding some nights in guesthouses/homestays
4. Your leader will change at the border between Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.