Travel from Baku to Tbilisi and explore the best of the Caucasus.
Day 1: Departure from USA
Overnight flight from JFK to Baku, Azerbaijan.
Day 2: Arrive Baku (Azerbaijan)
Arrive at Baku International Airport. Upon arrival, you will be met at the airport by our driver and transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Baku.
Day 3: Baku (Azerbaijan) [B,L,D]
Today, we begin our tour with a panorama of the city, viewed from a height of the Upland Park, which clearly gives an idea of the contrasts and scale of the city that covers Baku Bay as a horseshoe. The town is in the shape of an amphitheater, descending down to the Caspian Sea. The tour covers the central part of Baku showing of the most interesting historical and architectural sites, as well as visiting a favorite walking place for residents and guests – Baku Boulevard. Also we will visit the “Old Town”, there are several dozen historical and architectural monuments are situated in its the territory, including the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, the symbol of Baku – Maiden Tower, places of rest and stay of medieval merchants – Caravanserai.
After lunch, we will visit to the cultural complex named after Heydar Aliyev. Many of those who first saw the design project of the Center named after Heydar Aliyev could not believe that such a project could ever come true. In fact, even in theory, the construction of a building complex with extraordinary design looks far from being realistic. Overnight in Baku.
Day 4: Baku – Gobustan – Ateshgah – Gala – Baku (Azerbaijan) [B,L,D]
Gobustan, is a historical and an architectural reserve under the open sky with the unique cave paintings of Neolithic times, which is located in 70 kilometers from Baku. There are more than 6,000 petroglyphs dated over 12,000 years old in Gobustan. The figures reflect the life of people in the Stone Age – hunting, recreation, dance, accompanied by the melodious sounds of “Gaval Dash” (a large rock with a deep resonant sound). Thanks to the huge rocks, there were formed many caves, which served as a refuge for ancient people and helped to survive during bad weather. Before the start of the tour to Gobustan we will visit the newly-built hi-tech museum of the same name. After lunch, we will have an excursion to the Temple of fire worshipers Ateshgah.
Temple of fire worshipers is ancient religious building, built on the site of natural gas output. This temple is a part of the Zoroastrian chronicles and symbolizes the cult of the Eternal Flame. In the former cells, where pilgrims from all over the world stayed, now the museum with unique exhibits is set up. Our last stop will be the Gala village is about a 40-minute drive from Baku. Earlier only few people knew about the village, but in recent years the popularity of this small village has become enormous. And the reason is simple – someone came up with a great idea to make an open-air museum at the place of the archaeological site. Entering the museum you feel being dropped in the old days. The historic architectural monuments confirm that these places were ancient settlements of people. Overnight in Baku.
Day 5: Baku – Shamakhi – Maraza – Lahic – Sheki (Azerbaijan) [B,L,D]
After breakfast, drive to Shamakhi district. Visit the town of Shemakha, Diri Baba Tomb and Yeddi Gumbez. Shemakha was the capital of Shirvan Kingdom for several centuries. Yeddi Gumbaz (The Seven Cupolas) Mausoleum is the burial place for members of the royal families of the Shirvan Shahs. Visit famous Lahij Village in Ismayilli district. Many of the 2,000 people living in Lahij are involved in ancient crafts such as engraved copper work and carpet weaving. In the mid XIX Century, there were more than 200 workshops in Lahij. Traders discovered Lahij crafts many centuries ago, and sold them for high prices at bazaars in Baghdad (now Iraq), Shiraz (now Iran) and other Middle Eastern cities. Stop by a copper workshop for a impromptu lesson in ancient craftsmanship you’ll get to see copper-smiths use small mallets to decorate plates, trays, jugs, goblets and pitchers, just as their ancestors have done for centuries. Lunch and dinner at local restaurants. Overnight in Sheki.
Day 6: Sheki (Azerbaijan) [B,L,D]
After breakfast, visit the Palace of Sheki Khans (XVIII A.D.) where is the most outstanding and valuable monument of the XVIII Century Azerbaijan. Then drive to village Kish to visit The Albanian Church. Legend says that the church was built in 78 A.D., but the researchers place it a few centuries later. After lunch visit the Sheki Bazaar and look at the various local handicrafts including scarves, unique boxes, a plethora of sweets, confections and local sweet bakery. Dinner and overnight in Sheki.
Day 7: Sheki – Lagodekhi – Telavi (Azerbaijan-Georgia) [B,L,D]
Arrive at Georgia – Azerbaijan border Lagodekhi. After border formalities meet with the guide and driver from Georgia, we will drive to Telavi – center of Kakheti province. Visit to Tsinandali estate and first winery founded by one of the famous poets and public figures Alexander Chavchavadze in XIX Century. Explore the site – garden, home museum, wine cellar, where oldest bottle of wine dates back to 1814. Continue to local family, located close to the site. Taste homemade wine, master class of making churchkhela – Georgian traditional sweet, bread and lunch with the family. Drive to Telavi after lunch. Visit to Alaverdi Cathedral of VI Century and visit to the winery run by monks. Here you have a chance to have a brief introduction, lecture about the way of Georgian wine making and taste one of the best wines right from Qvevri – clay Jar. Overnight in Telavi.
Day 8: Telavi – Sighnaghi – Tbilisi (Georgia) [B,L,D]
After breakfast, drive to Signagi – royal town surrounded by the defiance wall with 23 towers built by the king Erekle II in XVIII Century. The town had many gates through which Georgia was connected to Europe and Asia by various trade routes. Stroll through tiny and cozy streets of Signagi and enjoy amazing view of Alazani Valley. Visit to local winery “Pheasant’s Tears” taste different types of Georgian wines and lunch, accompanied by Georgian folk singing. Drive to Tbilisi. Transfer to hotel for short rest. Evening sightseeing tour of Tbilisi – known as a capital of Georgia from V Century the city is extraordinary for its turbulent history, elegant and remarkable architecture, destroyed and restored through centuries but keeping entire style of Georgian orthodox religion and traditions. Walk through old city. Visit to Metekhi church dated XIII Century, Sulfur Bathes, take a cable car up to Narikala fortress, walkthrough oldest part of Tbilisi, along the Sharden and Erekle II streets. Dinner in Funicular restaurant located on the highest spot in Tbilisi, from where the view of the whole city opens. Enjoy Georgian meals and music performance. Overnight in Tbilisi.
Day 9: Tbilisi – Gori – Mtskheta – Tbilisi (Georgia) [B,L,D]
Morning drive to Inner Kartli Province, to the town of Gori – famous for being a birthplace of J. Stalin. Visit to Stalin’s Museum and house of birth in Gori. Excursion to Uplistsikhe rock hewn known from 1st Millennium B.C. – a complex of rock cut halls, temples, passage streets, wine pressers, tunnels where Hellenistic period is mixed together with early Christian Age, upper and lower class hierarchy dwellings. Lunch in local restaurant. After lunch drive to Mtskheta – old capital of Kartli-Iberia kingdom known as a political and cultural center from III Century B.C. Drive up to Jvari monastery dated VI Century distinguished with harmonious proportions and representing the high achievements of early Georgian Medieval Architecture. Visit to Svetitskhoveli Cathedral an XI Century architectural monument. Return back to Tbilisi. Reception in Vino Underground – here are gathered the best Georgian wines from all over Georgia. Dinner in Georgian city restaurant. Overnight in Tbilisi.
Day 10 – Departure from Tbilisi (Georgia) [B]
Transfer to Tbilisi Airport for your flight home.