The 5 Stans of Central Asia – Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan – must rank amongst some of the world’s least visited and least well-known destinations, making this trip a true journey of discovery.For much of the time we’ll be following ancient trade routes and discovering the remains of a bygone age but we will also experience the Central Asia of today from the bizarre white-marble city of Ashgabat to the cosmopolitan cities of Tashkent and Almaty. Continue to the Caucasus region from Azerbaijan to Georgia to Armenia.
DAY 1: ARRIVE in ASHGABAT, TURKMENISTAN
Arrive in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. Your driver will transfer to your centrally located hotel. Overnight in Ashgabat.
DAY 2: ASHGABAT (Turkmenistan) [B,L,D]
Spend the day exploring Ashgabat. Highlights of today’s tour include the National Museum of History and Ethnography, the Arch of Neutrality, and a visit to ancient a Nisa – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This huge mud-brick city, still enclosed within an imposing wall, was one of the earliest and most important cities of the Parthian Empire, a major power that dominated this region from the 3rd century BCE to the 3rd century CE.Gather this evening with fellow travelers for a welcome dinner to celebrate the beginning of the journey. Overnight in Ashgabat.
DAY 3: ASHGABAT – MARY – ASHGABAT [B,L,D]
An early morning flight (9:40 am-10:20 am) takes us to the city of Mary, from where we drive to Merv, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Across the vast flat landscape stretch the remains of an array of towns whose city walls enclose nearly 2,500 acres. There have been many incarnations of Merv. Archaeological surveys have shown that a village existed here as far back as the 3rd millennium BCE. The Ancient Persians developed the city in the 6th century BCE and, under Alexander the Great, it was renamed Alexandria. This was the Silk Road’s main trading route between Bukhara in the 12th century, before the Mongol invasion, was reputed to be the world’s largest city. After exploring the extensive remains, walk through the museum that exhibits archaeological finds from sites excavated in the Mary oasis, including material from the Bronze Age sites of Gonur Depe and Togolok, along with ancient Merv. Return to Mary for the evening flight (7:00 pm-7:40 pm) back to Ashgabat. Dinner and overnight in Ashgabat.
DAY 4: ASHGABAT – DASHOGUZ – Shavat Border – KHIVA (Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan) [B,L,D]
Fly to Dashoguz (9:45 am-10:20 am) and drive to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kunya Urgench once the capital of the Khorezm region and part of the Achaemenid Empire. A major trade center on the Silk Road from the 10th – 14th centuries, the old town contains a fascinating series of monuments including a mosque, the still standing gates of a caravanserai (an ‘inn’ for caravans), fortresses and fortification walls, several graceful mausoleums, and a brick minaret with delicate geometric designs towering almost 200 feet into the sky. After exploring this magnificent city, drive across the border (3:00 pm) into Uzbekistan and on to Khiva. Dinner and overnight in Khiva.
DAY 5: KHIVA [B,L,D]
Khorezm is a large region where oases once dotted the Kyzyl Kum (red) and Kara Kum (black) Deserts with the Aral Sea on the northern edge. Spreading across today’s borders of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, the area has been occupied since the Bronze Age and is dotted with ancient remains of settlements, some more than 5,000 years old. Fed by the fabled Oxus River, these fortified towns thrived on lush agriculture and were important stops for traders and caravans that crisscrossed this land for thousands of years. Today’s all-day excursion takes us to three captivating Silk Road centers. Dating back to the 1st millennium, the impressive ruins of the fortified capital of Toprak Kala covers more than 42 acres and is encircled by mighty adobe brick fortifications topped by protective towers. It also contained a Fire Temple with a sanctuary. Towering over the city is the 2nd century palace-stronghold of the local Khorezm rulers, once containing more than one hundred rooms. It is one of the most remarkable architectural constructions of Oriental antiquity. Nearby Kyzyl Kala, or Red Fortress, was a defensive stronghold in the line of battlements created to protect the north-eastern borders of Khorezm. Lunch today will be in a yurt camp next to Ayaz Kala, a site consisting of three fortresses built between the 4th century BC and 7th century AD. Return to Khiva in the late afternoon. Dinner and overnight in Khiva.
DAY 6: KHIVA [B,L,D]
Spend today exploring the old walled city of Khiva, once the capital of the kingdom of Khorezm and the last resting-place for caravans before crossing the desert towards Iran. Founded about 900 AD, it was conquered by Mongols in the early 13th century, invaded by Turks in the 1400s, and became part of Russia in the 1800s. Khiva’s outer city, Dishan Kala, was once protected by earthworks with eleven gates, and Ichan Kala, the inner section, still retains its enormous enclosure wall. With wealth derived from the Silk Road trade and now a remarkable open-air museum of history and architecture, Khiva was the first site in Uzbekistan to be placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The historic district contains over fifty monuments as well as many traditional houses. Djuma Mosque originally built in the 10th century was rebuilt later using over one hundred exquisitely carved wooden columns. Sheikh Mukhtar-Vali Complex, a mausoleum built in the 16th century, is famous for its beautiful incised wooden doors. Kunya Ark was the stronghold-palace where the Khans lived from the 17th -19th centuries and housed the harem. The magnificent 19th century Tash-Hauli Palace was constructed around three courtyards with walls covered with striking azure tiles and brightly painted ceilings. Spend the day exploring this fascinating town. Dinner and overnight in Khiva.
DAY 7: KHIVA – BUKHARA [B,L,D]
After an early breakfast you will be transferred to the airport in time for your 9:35 am flight to Bukhara. Located on the Silk Road and more than 2,000 years old, fabled Bukhara has long been a focal point of trade, learning, culture, and religion. The most complete example of a medieval city in Central Asia, this breathtakingly beautiful city is like a whimsy from the Tales of Arabian Nights. We spend two full days exploring this UNESCO World Heritage site and will seldom be out of sight of ever more stunning monuments.The Old Town in Bukhara has a unified feel, drawn together by a central reflecting pool and plaza, by commonality in the structure of the domed bazaars and by the major monuments ringing the Old Town, the Kalon Assembly, the Zindan Prison, and the Ark Citadel. This morning, sightseeing begins at the Ismail Samani Mausoleum. The 10th century resting place of Ismail Samani, founder of the Persian Samanid Dynasty, is detailed with sixteen different styles of brickwork. The Chashma Ayub Mausoleum, visited next, is not a true mausoleum, but a kadamdjoy, or site visited by a holy person. Visit the nearby Kukeldash Madrassah, the largest of Central Asia’s Koran schools, which dates from 1417. Stroll through the capmaker and spice bazaars and then meander past street-level mosques and madrasa. Enjoy a traditional Uzbek performance this evening along with dinner at a former madrassah. Overnight in Bukhara.
DAY 8: BUKHARA – SAMARKAND [B,L,D]
Morning departure to continue with half a day of sightseeing in Bukhara. Admire the early 19th century Chor Minor Madrassah, whose four slender, blue-topped minarets give it its name. Next continue to Lyabi-Hauz Plaza, located in the heart of the old town. With the feel of a true oasis in an oasis town, the plaza is at the center of Bukhara’s old town and is – as it has been throughout history – a place to meet friends, to eat, to drink, and to relax in the shade. Free time at leisure. After late lunch, transfer to Samarkand by coach (3-3.5 hrs.). Dinner and overnight in Samarkand.
DAY 9: SAMARKAND – SHAKHRISABZ – SAMARKAND [B,L,D]
Today we venture outside of Samarkand and drive to Shakhrisabz, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, the 14th century conqueror Timur, known in the west as Tamerlane, took forty years to construct his palace. The exquisite beauty of the enormous iwan, or monumental entryway, is all that remains of the once huge Ak Saray Palace, but still broadcasts the wealth and power of the ruler. Return to Samarkand in the afternoon and visit the sprawling Urgut Bazaar. Dinner and overnight in Samarkand.
DAY 10: SAMARKAND – TASHKENT [B,L,D]
Today will be spent exploring Samarkand, a UNESCO World Heritage city. Begin in the fabled Registan Square, dominated by three imposing monuments that are masterpieces of Islamic Architecture. The Ulugh Beg Madrasa, built by the peaceful ruler for which it was named, was a famous theological school for the sons of wealthy families. Over the entrance way arch is a mosaic panel decorated with stylized geometric forms. The imposing entrance portal of the 17th century Shir Dor Madrasah depicts lion-like tigers pursuing gazelles below human-faced rising suns, a zoomorphic motif that mysteriously violates orthodox Islamic conventions. The Tilla Kari Madrasa and Mosque was conceived as the last, largest, and most embellished structure of Registan Square and encompasses extravagant gilt decoration in the mosque’s domed chamber. Located directly behind Shir Dar, Chorsu was the medieval commercial center. Nearby Gur-Emir Mausoleum was built for Tamerlane’s beloved grandson, Muhammad Sultan. When he died at an early age, Tamerlane ordered this mausoleum built for his burial. In 1405 Tamerlane died in a nearby city and his body was brought here since it was closer than his mausoleum at Shakhrisabz. Ulugh Beg was Tamerlane’s grandson; he was an astronomer and a prince, the governor of Samarkand. This intellectual ruler created an amazing observatory in 1428 that housed the largest 90 degree quadrant the world had ever seen, and he constructed a three-story building to support and house it. His observatory influenced subsequent Islamic astronomy, and his star atlas, constructed from observations at Samarkand, was the first original astronomical publication since Ptolemy. It survives today as one of the great artifacts of astronomy and culture, not just of Central Asia but of the world. We will view this and the excellent onsite museum. We will board our train to Tashkent late afternoon. Dinner and overnight in Tashkent.
DAY 11: TASHKENT [B,L,D]
Tashkent is often called the cultural capital of the Islamic world because of its many historic monuments. Our explorations begin in Independence Square, the largest city quadrangle in the former Soviet Union. Its most prominent feature is a globe with a map of Uzbekistan that replaces a 30-meter-tall statue of Lenin, a poetic expression of the birth of the nation. Next visit Navoi Theatre Square, where the opera house was built by the same architect who designed Lenin’s Tomb in Moscow. Then see the Crafts Center, where traders have plied their goods for centuries, and the Abdul Kassim Madrasa. Enter the Russian Orthodox Church that is over 135 years old, and the oldest in Central Asia. End today’s tour at one of the most remarkable medieval architectural monuments, the Barak Khan Madrasah, richly decorated with engravings, gilt, and glazed mosaic. Overnight in Tashkent.
DAY 12: TASHKENT – (Oybek Border) KHUJAND – DUSHANBE (Uzbekistan/Tajikistan) [B,L,D]
This morning we leave Tashkent for Tajikistan and on to Khujand, the site of another Ancient Persian city, dating back about 2,500 years. It was conquered by the Arabs in the 8th century CE and was besieged and then destroyed by the army of Genghis Khan in the 13th century. Located on the Great Silk Road, and connecting Samarkand with the Fergana Valley, Khujand enjoyed a favorable geopolitical location and significant transport importance. Here we will visit the Historical Museum of Sughd, next to a restored portion of the Khujand Fortress, and the Muslihiddin Medressa. Dinner and overnight at Dushanbe.
DAY 13: DUSHANBE [B,L,D]
Dushanbe, which means “Monday” in Tajik, developed on the site of a Monday marketplace village. Today it is a rapidly developing metropolis. Our tour of the city this morning includes the Tajikistan National Museum, the Museum of Ethnography, Shahmansoor Bazaar,and the Gurminj Musical Instrument Museum. In the afternoon, we travel outside the city to see Hissar Fortress, the remains of an 18th century fort occupied until 1924. Dinner and overnight in Dushanbe.
DAY 14: DUSHANBE – ALMATY (Tajikistan/Kazakhstan) [B,L,D]
After breakfast, flight from Dushanbe to Almaty (1:30 pm – 4:15 pm). Transfer to your hotel. Free time today at your leisure. Overnight in Almaty.
DAY 15: ALMATY [B,L,D]
After breakfast you will have a full day of sightseeing in Almaty: visit Panfilov Park, Zenkov (wooden constructed) Cathedral, St. Nicholas Cathedral, National Musical Instruments Museum, Central State Museum, Almaty Green Bazaar, Panoramic view from Kok Tobe. Overnight in Almaty.
DAY 16: ALMATY – BISHKEK (Kazakhstan/Kyrgyzstan) [B,L,D]
After breakfast, we depart from Almaty and drive to Bishkek via a newly built highway. In route watch the natural landscapes. Afternoon arrival at Bishkek. Check into the hotel. In the afternoon sightseeing of Bishkek: visit Central Museum, Independence Square, Philharmonic Square, University Boulevard, and TSUM. Overnight in Bishkek.
DAY 17: BISHKEK – ISSYK KUL – KARAKOL [B,L,D]
After breakfast, we drive to Karakol, a town situated in the east of the lake area, at the foot of the most picturesque mountains of Tian Shan. The way passes along the south shore of Issyk Kul. Follow the way along the shore of Issyk Kul until the town of Karakol. On the way stop in yurt maker’s village Kyzyl Tuu and visit yurt master’s home. Visit Djety Oguz canyon on the way. Djety Oguz in Kyrgyz means “Seven Bulls”. This picturesque gorge is named so because of the red rocky sand formations covered with forests of Tien Shan Spruces. Overnight in Karakol.
DAY 18: KARAKOL – CHOLPON ATA – BISHKEK [B,L,D]
After breakfast, you start city-tour in Karakol: visit the wooden Russian Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral. It was completed in 1895 and used as an officers’ club during Soviet Times; it is now restored and in use again as a church. There is also a small section of Russian Colonial ‘gingerbread’ style residential buildings. Also, you visit a wooden mosque, built entirely without nails by Chinese Artisans between 1907 and 1910 for the local Dungans (Muslims of Chinese origin who fled China during the aftermath of the XIX Century Hui Minorities’ War). Next, we visit is to the Museum of Nikolay M. Prjevalskaya, the outstanding Russian Explorer of The Asian Continent. Drive to the city of Cholpon Ata, situated in the Northern shore of Issyk Kul Lake. Upon arrival to Cholpon Ata, visit a Petroglyphs site, the temple in the open air of Scythians and Hungsuns civilizations in VIII to IX Century B.C. until, III to IV Century A.D. Drive to Bishkek. Farewell dinner and overnight in Bishkek.
DAY 19: BISHKEK – FLIGHT TO BAKU (Kyrgyzstan – Azerbaijan) [B]
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Baku. Upon arrival, meet your driver at the airport and transfer to your hotel. Rest of the day is free at leisure. Overnight in Baku.
DAY 20: 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 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. 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, former President (Oct. 1993 to Oct. 2003). Many of those who first saw the design project of the center named after the former president, 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 21: BAKU (Azerbaijan) [B,L,D]
After breakfast, we drive to Gobustan, is a historical and an architectural reserve under the open sky with the unique cave paintings of Neolithic Times, which is 44 miles from Baku. There are more than 6,000 Petroglyphs (rock carvings) 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 severe 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 in Ateshgah. The 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 22: BAKU – SHEKI (Azerbaijan) [B,L,D]
After breakfast, we drive to the Shamakhi district. Visit the town of Shamakhi, Diri Baba Tomb and Yeddi Gumbaz. Shamakhi 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 Shirvanshahs. 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 soaring 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 coppersmiths 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 23: SHEKI (Azerbaijan) [B,L,D]
After breakfast, visit the Palace of Sheki Khans, dating back to XVIII A.D., where the most outstanding and valuable monument of the XVIII Century is in Azerbaijan. Then drive to Kish Village, 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. Overnight in Sheki.
DAY 24: SHEKI – TELAVI (Azerbaijan-Georgia) [B,L,D]
After breakfast, we drive to the Georgia – Azerbaijan border of Lagodekhi. After border formalities, you will meet with your guide and driver from Georgia, we will then drive to Telavi – center of Kakheti Province. A visit to the Tsinandali Estate and the 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 dating 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 XI Century and visit to the winery run by monks. Here you have a chance to have a brief introduction and lecture about the way of Georgian wine making and taste one of the best wines right from Qvevri – clay Jar. Overnight in Telavi.
DAY 25: TELAVI – TBILISI (Georgia) [B,L,D]
After breakfast, drive to Sighnaghi – 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 Sighnaghi and enjoy amazing view of Alazani Valley. Visit to local winery “Pheasant’s Tears” taste diverse types of Georgian wines and lunch, accompanied by Georgian folk singing. We drive to Tbilisi then, check into the hotel for short rest. Later in the evening a sightseeing tour of Tbilisi – known as a capital of Georgia from the V Century, the city is extraordinary for its turbulent history, elegant and remarkable architecture, destroyed and restored through centuries but keeping entire style of the Georgian orthodox religion and traditions. Walk through the old city. Visit to Metekhi Church, dated XIII Century, Sulfur Baths, 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 performances. Overnight in Tbilisi.
DAY 26: TBILISI (Georgia) [B,L,D]
After breakfast we 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 – XI Century Architectural Monument. Reception in Vino Underground – here are gathered the best Georgian wines from all over Georgia. Dinner in a Georgian city restaurant. Overnight in Tbilisi.
DAY 27: TBILISI – DILIJAN (Georgia – Armenia) [B,L,D]
In the morning, transfer to the Sadakhlo Border (Armenian/Georgian) for formalities and meet your guide and driver from Armenia. Meeting at the Sadakhlo border at about 10:00 am and continuing to the town of Akhtala. This area is famous for copper and silver mines, but your main point of attraction will be the half-ruined fortress of Akhtala which is more than 1,000 years old. Archaeological excavations have shown that the area has been occupied by human since the early Bronze Age. Lunch in a local restaurant tasting local Armenian Barbecue. Continue to Haghpat (976 A.D.) Monastic Complex, which is among the outstanding works of medieval Armenian architecture and are inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list. The complex used to be an educational center of the middle ages were most of Armenian scholars and scientists get their background education. Proceed to the resort town of Dilijan. The forested and reclusive city is home to numerous Armenian artists, composers, and filmmakers and features some traditional Armenian architecture. The Sharambeyan street in the center, has been preserved and maintained as an “old town,” complete with craftsman’s workshops, a gallery and a museum which might be interesting to explore while your leisure time in Dilijan. Overnight in Dilijan.
DAY 28: DILIJAN – YEREVAN (Armenia) [B,L,D]
After breakfast we head to Lake Sevan. After your nice rest in the forested area with fresh air in your lungs, you will start the tour to the high-mountainous Lake Sevan – the emerald of Armenia. It is the largest lake in Armenia and The Caucasus, and one of the largest fresh-water high-altitude lakes in the world. This huge mountain lake which takes a huge territory of Armenia’s surface area is about 1,900 meters above sea level. Sightseeing on Sevan Peninsula. Visit the Peninsula for the monastery and perfect views over the lake. Continue to Garni. Lunch at a local house in Garni where you will have opportunity to watch Armenian national bread “Lavash” baking and barbecue making process in the underground stove called “tonir”.
The pagan temple of Garni is a picturesque monument of the Hellenistic period and an impressive piece of ancient Armenian architecture. It was built in the first century A.D. by the Armenian King Tiridates and it is dedicated to a heathen god, probably to Mithra, the god of the sun whose figure stood in the depth of the sanctuary. After proclaiming Christianity as a state religion in Armenia in 301, the temple was probably used as a summer residence of the kings. Northeast of Garni, higher up the gorge of the Azat River, there is a magnificent monument of medieval Armenian architecture – Geghard Monastery inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage list. Welcome dinner at a traditional Armenian restaurant. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 29: YEREVAN (Armenia) [B,L,D]
After breakfast, proceed to the town of Etchmiadzin which is a mere 13 miles from Yerevan. Stop at the Ruins of Zvartnots Temple – the pearl of the VII Century Architecture (inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage list). We will see Etchmiadzin Cathedral and walk the Cathedral area (no entrance, closed for re-construction) which is one of the oldest standing churches in Christendom. It was built in 303 A.D. over a pagan fire altar. The name Etchmiadzin means “descent of the Only Begotten”. It was believed to have been designated in a vision where Christ came to earth and struck the plains with a golden hammer. This landmark is protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Then a visit to St. Hripsime Apostolic Church and exhibit in Vagharshapat (UNESCO), one of the oldest surviving church in the country. Lunch will be at a local house/restaurant. Return to Yerevan to visit their famous Brandy Factory founded in 1887. During the International Exhibition in Paris in 1900, the brandy received the Grand-Prix and the legal right to be called ‘Cognac’, not ‘Brandy’. While touring the visitors are offered to visit the museum of the factory. The bar offers tasting of various old and chateau sort of cognacs, which have mellow-velvety flavor endowed with a rich bouquet of chocolate-vanilla accents. Leisure time and farewell dinner in a traditional Armenian restaurant with live folk music. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 30: YEREVAN – TBILISI (Armenia – Georgia) [B,L,D]
After breakfast we drive to the town of Ashtarak, visit the Church of Karmravor (VII Century). Participation in Folk Theater “Tonats Uyts”. Departure to the region of Lori, then lunch at a local restaurant. Driving to the border of Sadakhlo for border crossing formalities. Overnight in Tbilisi.