Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan small group tour
Description of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan small group tour
This three week small group tour of the Caucasus takes you through three of the region’s most fascinating countries: Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, where tales of the past provide an incredible cultural back story in addition to the developing cities that you’ll discover today.
From the Ottomans to the Soviets, this region in the furthest reaches of Europe, has long been hidden from the glare of the modern world and still a sense of mystery prevails to tempt curious, culture hungry travellers into what is, for many, still deemed as the 'unknown'.
Starting in Azerbaijan opens up a land of fire where spluttering, steaming volcanoes set the scene for dramatic natural encounters in direct contrast to the more hospitable nature of everyday Azeri communities living amongst the mosques and mausoleums tucked away in the mountains.
The next stop on this 20 day tour, Georgia, takes your small group of cultural adventurers into the mythical mountains of the High Caucasus where tales of Greek heroes abound around Mt Kazbek whilst the UNESCO monuments of Mtskheta create cultural contrasts close to the capital, Tbilisi.
Trips into Georgia’s northwest region of Svaneti provide a quintessential glimpse at life within the wilds of Europe where mountains, dotted with defensive towers, make for a unique opportunity to meet local Svan people and learn more about life surrounded by snowy peaks and deep gorges.
Last, but by no means least, is Armenia which offers ecclesiastical excellence in places like Dilijan, Yerevan and Haghpat where traditional Molokan people and ancient monasteries, and churches, such as those at Echmiadzin, provide insight into the importance of religion within Armenia’s cultural fabric.
From old fashioned Kurdish and Yazidi villages to the precariously placed Geghard monastery, Armenia is rife with religious relics and historical treasures with a homestay in a small village near Garni offering travellers the chance to really get under the skin of this remarkable region.
Extensions to this 20 day small group tour of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan can take adventurous travellers into the land-locked region of the South Caucasus, Nagorno Karabakh, where forest covered mountains hide a multitude of cultural secrets and a notorious past waiting to be uncovered prior to finally heading for home.
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6 Reviews of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan small group tour
Reviewed on 01 Jun 2019 by Sondra MarkWe enjoyed getting familiar with the capital cities in all three countries: Baku, Azerbaijan; Tbilisi, Georgia; and Yerevan, Armenia. The trip was outstanding. Read full review
Reviewed on 29 May 2019 by Donna HolmesThere were so many highlights, the scenery, the food, the experiences! Read full review
Reviewed on 12 Oct 2019 by Angela FalkenbergVery good and felt most at ease as a solo traveller in Georgia and Armenia Read full review
Reviewed on 29 Sep 2019 by Sue Ellen ChristensenThe most exciting part of the trip was experiencing 3 very different cultures. Read full review
Reviewed on 28 Sep 2019 by Will MougarIt was worth visiting because of the splendid scenery: snowy mountains, wide open high grasslands, steep-sided wooded valleys and gorges. Read full review
Reviewed on 26 May 2018 by Lars LeibnitzThe highlight was the part of the trip in Svaneti. Read full review
PlanetA lot of the time on this tour is spent in towns and cities, but we do spend a significant proportion of the trip exploring the countryside and wilder areas of the region. We also visit the extraordinary landscapes of Gobustan, where mud volcanoes belch from the earth to create a very unusual phenomenon. We brief our travellers to stick to the trails so as not to disturb this unique landscape and leave it for others to enjoy. Elsewhere at Gobustan are a remarkable collection of petroglyphs and prehistoric rock art, which are particularly susceptible to damage, and again we ensure our travellers do not damage these. These countries were part of the Soviet Union and as such western European norms regarding the environment are not so well entrenched, therefore it is quite common for local people to dispose of rubbish simply by throwing it out of the window. We operate a strict no litter policy on our tours, and work to educate our drivers and other service providers so as to avoid contributing to this problem.
Similarly, in conjunction with our local team we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters – in some places this is far behind what we might be used to in other parts of the world. This includes basic things like not replacing towels - small things but the Caucasus especially outside of the capital cities is not as used to tourism as countries in western Europe.
In Svaneti we stay in small guesthouses which make a point of using local produce for the meals it provides – local in the sense of being from the village and surrounding area, not from elsewhere. Not only is this a great introduction to the culinary culture of Georgia but it helps in a small way to cut down on food miles.
PeopleOn all of tours we strive to include a strong focus on local communities and we are firm believers that tourism should have a positive impact on the places visited. On this tour we try to allow our travellers to gain a real insight into the traditional customs of the region; a good example of this is when we stop in a small village near Garni, where we have lunch in a village house and can help to prepare the food. Not only is this a great experience for travellers but it means that small scale community based tourism projects, often ignored by mainstream tourism, are able to benefit from our visit.
On this tour we spend time in the remote province of Svaneti, tucked away in the High Caucasus mountains. We stay at locally owned guesthouses and hotels and where appropriate employ the services of local people in order not only to gain a greater insight into the complex traditions here but to ensure that they gain financial benefit from our visit, rather than just being ‘exhibits’. The communities here do not have a wealth of opportunities to earn money, and tourism helps to bring vital income to the region. It also helps to ensure that there is employment for young people – a key problem with many of the more isolated communities in this part of the world is that younger generations migrate to the cities due to a lack of employment opportunities, and this has a negative impact upon such places, meaning that traditions start to die out. The presence of tourism helps, in a small way, to keep the traditional ways alive.
These are very traditional areas with certain codes of behaviour, and the people here are not that accustomed to outsiders. We ensure that our travellers are appropriately briefed in order so as not to offend local sensibilities. This can include appropriate behaviour in front of local shrines, and the customs of Georgian hospitality. This also applies to the numerous churches and monasteries that we visit on this trip; all three are deeply religious countries and it is important that we respect these traditions.
We also stop to visit communities of Armenia’s ethnic minorities including the Molokans, Kurds and Yazidis. We only visit villages that are pleased to receive us – it is important that we do not treat such communities just as ‘exhibits’, and we recognise that some traditional groups prefer to be left alone.
We visit a number of sites and monuments on this tour that do not necessarily receive much funding from other sources; the entrance fees that we include help to maintain the heritage of this country for future generations – not just western travellers but more importantly to local people to whom they have far more cultural and historical significance. We use locally owned suppliers and our partners here are deeply involved with the preservation of the culture and heritage of the country. Many of the region’s sites have been poorly maintained in the past and entrance fees play an important part in their restoration and conservation.