Armenia holiday, tailor made

Description of Armenia holiday, tailor made

Travel to Armenia on this 11-day private holiday which takes in the sights and sounds of what is a fascinating country. Explore the capital Yerevan, one of the worlds oldest continuously inhabited cities, with visits to the National Gallery, the History Museum and the Genocide Museum. Travel to Etchmiadzin and visit the 4th Century Cathedral which was built to replace a pagan temple upon the country's adoption of Christianity and listed as a UNESCO Heritage site in 2000. Enjoy panoramic views from the Church of the Holy Virgin Hripsime of Mounts Ararat and Aragats. Discover where St Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for preaching Christianity and and marvel at the mountain-top monastery of Tatev.

Continue your private tour with visits to Armenia's Stonehenge at Karahunge and drive through the Selim Pass which has been in use since the days of the ancient Silk Road. Take a tour of Dilijan and visit the Haghartsin Monastery which displays fabulous Armenian architecture dating back many generations and enjoy a master class in making traditional Armenian Sujukh. Explore the UNESCO sites of Sanahin and Hagphat and head into the darkness of the Geghard Cave Monastery which is cut into the side of a cliff and surrounded by ancient gravestones. This comprehensive tour of Armenia allows plenty of time to discover a country steeped in history and tradition with a host of World Heritage sites to discover and a population keen to introduce visitors to their pretty country.

Day-by-day experiences

Day 1Depart the UK on an indirect flight to Yerevan. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure.
Day 2Enjoy an afternoon walking tour of Yerevan which includes visits to Republic Square followed by a walk towards Freedom Square which passes the Armenian Opera Theatre. Ascend the Cascade and visit Victory Park and the Mother Armenia Statue which offers great views of the city. Take a short taxi drive to Barekamutian Metro Station and head underground back to Republic Square and visit the Post Office before returning to the hotel. (B/L)
Day 3Depart the city to visit Garni & Geghard. Visit the Geghard Cave Monastery, constructed in the 13th century followed by the restored Garni Temple. Dating from the first century AD this is a splendid example of ancient architecture. After a traditional lunch in a private home return to Yerevan and visit the Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial Complex before returning to your hotel in the mid-afternoon. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon and all evening free at your leisure. (B/L)
Day 4Depart Yerevan and drive to the mountain spa town of Jermuk. Here visit the Khor Virap Monastery, a stone monastery set against the backdrop of snow-covered Mount Ararat which is an iconic image of Armenia. Pressing on visit the Noravank Monastery. Also visit the wine grow-ing region of Areni, believed to be the oldest wine growing region in the world. Enjoy wine-tasting before ending the day in Jermuk. Check in for a 2 night stay. (B/L)
Day 5Depart Jermuk for a day trip to explore south-east Armenia. First site of the day will be Karahunj—the Armenian equivalent of Stonehenge. Continue on and take a cable car to the spectacular Tatev Monastery. Known as Wings of Tatev, the cable car holds the record for the longest non-stop double track cable car in the world at 3.5 miles long. Near Goris visit the village of Khndzoresk, famous for its canyon with picturesque rock formations and ancient cave settlement. From Khndzoresk return to Jermuk and enjoy the evening at leisure. (B/L)
Day 6Depart Jermuk drive along the road already travelled as far as Yeghegnadzor before heading north over new ground towards the 2410 metre Selim Pass. Visit the 14th century Selim Caravanserai, one of the best preserved caravanserais in the world before moving on to Lake Sevan. Continue to the Noratus field of khachkars (Armenian cross-stones) and then onwards to the Sevanavank Monastery. After lunch at the lake drive to Dilijan and visit the museum street of preserved & restored 19th century homes. Journey to the 12th-13th century Goshavank Monastery before ending the day in Dilijan. Before dinner enjoy a class in preparing Gata, a traditional Armenian dessert, which you can enjoy after your evening meal. (B/L/D)
Day 7Check out of the hotel and drive towards the Lori region. En-route drive through the Russian populated villages of Molokans, whose local customs have some striking similarities with Jewish traditions. Visit a local home and chat with your host over a cup of tea and traditional pancakes. Continue to the city of Vanadzor and visit a stone carver’s studio, where traditional Khachkars are still made. From Vanadzor travel to Alaverdi via Stepanavan, visiting Odzun Church en-route. After lunch in Alaverdi visit the Sanahin Monastery, a highlight of medieval Armenian Architecture. Later this afternoon stop for a two night stay and enjoy the evening at leisure. (B/L)
Day 8Explore further sights in the Lori region. Visit the Akhtala Monastery to see its unique frescoes before moving on to UNESCO World Heritage listed Haghpat, overlooking the Debed River. After lunch see how traditional Armenian Lori cheese is made. After a busy week of sightseeing return to your hotel and enjoy the afternoon and evening to relax at leisure. (B/L)
Day 9Today drive to the medieval fortress of Lori Berd. Continue south over the Pushkin Pass via Spitak to the city of Gyumri in the north-west of Armenia. Enjoy lunch and take an introductory walking tour of Armenia’s 2nd city. This willl include the Town Square and Sev Berd (Black Fortress), a Russian Imperial fortress built in 1834. Last visit of the day will be to the 10th century Marmashen Monastery. (B/L)
Day 10Transfer to Gyumri Railway Station, the oldest railway station in Armenia and depart on the Yerevan bound train. After approximately 2 ½ hours slowly trundling towards the capital disembark in Etchmiadsin. Meet the driver who will have pressed on ahead with your luggage and visit Etchmiadzin Cathedral, the religious centre of Armenia. From here visit the 7th century ruins of the medieval cathedral Zvartnots and Saint Hripsime Church. This entire area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Return to Yerevan and visit the Ararat Brandy Factory for a brief tour followed by brandy tasting. Enjoy the rest of your afternoon and all evening free to explore at your leisure. (B,L)
Day 11Today you will be transferred to the airport to depart Yerevan on your flight back to the UK. (B)

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Responsible tourism

Armenia holiday, tailor made

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Environment

Armenia is only just starting to implement environmental standards which would be regarded as the norm for many places in the rest of the world so our local agents work with the hotels to encourage the responsible use of materials and to minimise energy wastage, ie not washing towels daily, turning off lights when they leave rooms etc. Clients will receive a copy of our responsible travel notes which offers advice on how they can minimise their impact on the local environment and our local agents also offer advice in-country on the same.

The day tours, where possible, are conducted as walking tours to minimise emissions and all the entry fees paid to museums etc are an important part of the funding required to maintain the sites: Armenia is not a wealthy country so the entrance fees are essential to allow for site maintenance. All meals are sourced from local produce which all helps to support the local communities.

Community

Our local Armenian agents pay fair salaries to all employees and regular training is provided to support future career development. Only local guides who are aware of local customs and cultures are employed which not only keeps the funds paid to staff within the local community but also helps avoid any potential cultural clashes between visitors and locals.

On the trip guests visit a Duduk making studio to learn about the important historical and cultural importance of this reed wind instrument. Duduk musical roots go as far back as the Middle Ages and is played at important social events such as funerals and weddings. Over recent years the popularity of Armenian duduk music has declined, especially in rural areas, so our local agents are keen for visitors to experience this as part of their heritage and this visit contributes to the upkeep of the studio. There are also classes for visitors to visit a village home for lunch to try the local Armenian bread and enjoy a master class in making traditional Armenian Sujukh, threaded walnuts dipped in sweet spiced fruit syrup, coated and dried.

The tour also enjoys lunch in Etchmiadzin at the Cross of Armenian Unity Charity, a local NGO which was one of the first to be established in independent Armenia. The NGO aims to promote the development of vulnerable children through free educational programmes studying traditional Armenian crafts and arts. Many of these children received important career advice from the NGO and have been able to forge successful careers as a result. The NGO has completed many programmes with a variety of aims including the encouragement of environmentally responsible food sourcing, child rights awareness and the socialisation of the elderly through traditional rug weaving.

The trip also includes (if clients opt for it) a 2 night stay in a private home which is not only an excellent way for visitors to experience traditional Armenian life but also helps contribute funds to the host family.

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