Georgia and Armenia holiday

“Europe meets Asia at this cultural crossroads where ancient religions have left their mark & Soviet architecture is being blown away by grand fashion boulevards. ”

Highlights

Yerevan | Geghard Monastery | Areni village wine tasting | Silk Road | Mediaeval churches at Haghpat and Sanahin | Tbilisi | Gori | Kazbegi village | Uplistsikhe pre-Christian Cave town | Kutaisi's UNESCO sites | Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park | Alaverdi cathedral |

Description of Georgia and Armenia holiday

As these are still very unknown destinations when it comes to travelling, it can be hard for independent travellers to know where to start when it comes to a Georgia and Armenia holiday. Which is why this small group holiday, travelling with an expert local guide around the cultural and natural highlights of these two fascinating countries works really well for first time travellers. We fit a lot into two weeks following a carefully crafted itinerary, with plenty of magnificent landscapes and culturescapes along the way.

Starting in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital, and one of the oldest cities in the world, we explore its juxtaposed cool, cosmopolitan city life with its traditional Orthodox Christian architecture and heritage, from the main cathedral to the 7th Century ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral.

Monasteries are magnificent and prolific in Armenia, and we take time to visit some of the greats, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site Geghard Monastery, in a dramatic location partially carved into the mountain, and surrounded by cliffs. Khor Virap Monastery is also in a stunning position looking out to the often snow capped summit of Mount Aratat, over the border in Turkey. Indeed, visiting the spiritual is often a great way to also take in the natural in Armenia, with Noravank Monastery sitting between the sheer, red cliff walls of the Amaghu River gorge, and Tatev Monastery perched on the edge of the Vorotan Canyon. And there many more such examples to discover before crossing the border into Georgia, for the second part of this holiday.

Starting in the Georgian capital city of Tbilisi, this is a great town to walk around as we take a guided tour through the cobbled old town, where cathedrals, basilicas, synagogues and mosques stand side by side in the shadow of the Narikala Fortress. There are also numerous art galleries and museums to explore in your free time here.

The mountains also play an almost spiritual role in Georgia, the Caucasus rising to heights of over 5000m, home not only to superb hiking trails, one of which we will take on for those who wish, but also to several dramatically located places of worship.

Similarly dramatic is the prehistoric cave town of Uplistsikhe, just outside Gori high up on the banks of the Mtkvari River. This is a superb archaeological site, with a world of ancient temples, theatres and tunnels to be visited. Gori is also a must visit, not so much for cultural wonders but for the museum that is dedicated to the town’s most infamous resident, Josef Stalin, who was born here in 1879.

Before completing this trip in Tbilisi, there are two other important cities to visit in Georgia. First, Kutaisi , which is the country’s third largest city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is brimming with culture, churches and cathedrals. And finally, before returning to the contemporary capital, we visit the ancient capital of Mtskheta, home to a vast 11th century cathedral as well as the stunning 6th century Jvari church, perched on a hill overlooking the town and valley, and another of Georgia’s fine UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Which brings us nicely back to Tbilisi, the UNESCO utopia of them all.

Travel Team

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08 May 2021
£2499
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Our top tip:
If you have the time in Yerevan, visit the Sergei Parajanov Museum which gives a fascinating insight into Armenia & Georgia through film.
Trip type:
Small group.
Activity level:
Moderate.
Accomm:
11 nights hotel, 2 guesthouses
Solo:
Solo travellers welcome. Single rooms available at a supplement.
Included:
Accomodation, transport, listed activities, tour leader, flights from London (if booked), transfers.
Meals:
All breakfasts, 6 lunches, 8 dinners
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Environment
UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.
Community

The Impacts of this Trip

Local Crafts and Culture:
We are very proud of local crafts and culture in Georgia and Armenia and our local guides are enthusiastic about briefing our clients on opportunities to experience this. In the mountainous regions in front of the churches and fortresses on the itinerary, local people can be found selling handmade goods on stalls such as hats, socks, jars and horns etc. Guides also encourage guests to sample some of the wonderful locally produced food and drink along the way e.g. in the small village of Areni, we stop at a winery where the finest Armenian wine is produced. Here we can try and buy these traditional wares which economically benefits local communities by supporting small businesses. Of course the biggest way we endorse culture with our trip, is to visit so many cultural hotspots and UNESCO sites: Geghard Monastery, the Genocide Memorial at Yerevan, 7th Century ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral, mediaeval monuments at Sanahin or Haghpat, just to name a few.

Accommodation and Meals:
Over the course of the trip, we spend several nights in small, family-run hotels and guesthouses. Through this practice, our business provides employment and additional income to lesser known areas and their inhabitants. All the hotel food is homemade, using locally produced and sourced goods wherever possible. Furthermore, guests often have the exciting opportunity to learn from their hosts how to prepare traditional dishes. This kind of genuine experience is priceless and could not be possible in very large groups in industrial sized hotels. We would recommend trying Georgian specialties like Khachapuri (cheese pies) and Khinkali (meat dumplings); in Armenia be sure to sample Khoravats (barbecues) and Dolma (stuffed vine leaves).

Climate

8 Reviews of Georgia and Armenia holiday

4 out of 5 stars
SHOW
3
3
2
0
0

Reviewed on 06 Aug 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Scenery

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?




3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Good

Reviewed on 28 Sep 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Lunch with a wine producing family in Eastern Georgia and meeting a Russian family in their home in Armenia.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Don’t go to Armenia unless you really like visiting churches and monasteries.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


It benefitted local people.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Armenian guide very poor so the Armenian experience was not good. She was a nice person but did not lead and manage the group.

Read the operator's response here:

We would like to thank Margaret for her review; whilst we are pleased to read that she enjoyed her meetings with local people in Georgia and Armenia we are very sorry that she felt that one of the local guide’s leadership could have been improved. Other members of this group have also mentioned that the tour leaders in Armenia and Georgia had different styles and approaches, however, they have also highlighted that both were knowledgeable, professional and experienced leaders. We nonetheless genuinely regret Margaret’s disappointment and will keep a close eye on feedback received about this guide.

Reviewed on 06 Jul 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The chance to see two very interesting countries, and to benefit from the knowledge of our two guides. The opportunity to experience two quite different
countries - but ones with a number of key similarities in their recent history. The chance to try the excellent cuisine in both countries.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


The holiday involves a lot of bus travel, but it's worth it. Be prepared to visit a lot of churches and monasteries - they play a key part in the culture of each
country.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. Effort was clearly made to ensure that local people benefited from our presence.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Absolutely excellent in every respect.

Reviewed on 12 Jun 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The stunning spring/summer landscapes of Georgia and Armenia

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Go in late spring or early summer. It's green and the flowers are out.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very very good. Local guides were excellent

Reviewed on 18 Sep 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


All of it..... everything was memorable

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


It is a very active holiday..... I think there needs to be a better balance where there are shorter days..... several days we arrived back just in time for dinner and bed and no time even to take a walk in the environs of our hotel.

Climbing to the church in Kazbegi is a serious uphill sheer walk on very loose gravel, slate and stone. It's a walk that needs a local leader for those who want to do it. It's a grade 3 walk given it's steepness and the lack of safety underfoot. Coming down is a nightmare. I urge you to take serious caution about this walk and accord it a high level of ability and mobility needed to do it.

On the second last day .... there was a trip to the wine region. This was a very long journey as it entailed a trip to a church (yes another one!) and the return home was 8pm. Seven of us were leaving the hotel at 3.30 am for our Departure flight that same night .... all the others were leaving the next day. Again this was madness as it was the day before our departure.

Finally, though this was an excellent holiday it's schedule was relentless..... I feel you're Catering more for the under 40's...... wheareas two thirds of the group was over 50 and some in their 70's. Time to soak up the atmosphere of both these countries, towns and cities is incredibly important for the below......

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


We had local guides who were very good. Rafy is incredibly accomplished.. Nick was very good too, helpful and informative...... There was minimal time to interact with locals as we were constantly on the go!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent

Reviewed on 24 Sep 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Walking in the national park in Georgia.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


The walks to the monasteries are mostly uphill over rocky ground the transport cannot get you closer than a few hundred yards in most cases and in some the walk is a lot longer and over the time that the holidays are offered the temperatures the heat is in the upper 20's and low 30's but some days the thermometer is above the 35 degree centigrade mark, be prepared.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


No to all three questions; the hotel chains offer some jobs where unemployment is high but tourists demand high standards and the environmental impact is
high. Little money goes to the locals unless the tourist buys local produce which given it's perishable nature is not suitable for transport, larger items are not
practicable for packing in suitcases.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I enjoyed the holiday and would give it a rating of 7/10.

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Baron-Vahl Amos,

Firstly, thank you for your comments, we are delighted that overall you had a great trip.

It is disappointing to read that you didn’t think your holiday benefited local people. Our local guides are very keen to introduce you to the local crafts and culture and there are several opportunities to purchase some items that we hope are not all perishable or too large. We are also keen for our guests to sample some of the wonderful locally produced food and drink along the way e.g. in the small village of Areni, where you stopped at a winery where the finest Armenian wine is produced. Here we can try and buy these traditional wares which economically benefits local communities by supporting small businesses. Of course the biggest way we endorse culture with our trip, is to visit so many cultural hotspots and UNESCO sites: Geghard Monastery, the Genocide Memorial at Yerevan, 7th Century ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral, mediaeval monuments at Sanahin or Haghpat, just to name a few. Our entrance fees ensure that these sites are protected for future generations to enjoy.

Over the course of the trip, we also spend several nights in small, family-run hotels and guesthouses. Through this practice, our business provides employment and additional income to lesser known areas and their inhabitants. All the hotel food is homemade, using locally produced and sourced goods wherever possible. Furthermore, guests often have the exciting opportunity to learn from their hosts how to prepare traditional dishes.

We do hope that this explanation provides an adequate response to your review and offers you reassurance that we are continuously working on ensuring our trips are as responsible as possible. We hope to welcome you back to Georgia and Armenia one day.

Reviewed on 04 Jul 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The hike up to the Gergeti monastery in Georgia. Wonderful location.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be aware altitudes of 2000 m plus are experienced. There a lot of monastery visits so if you are not tooooo keen on them it may become a little repetative. In Georgia particularly, restaurants seemed to have difficulty providing separate bills for meals : they tended to just supply one per table. A small point perhaps but one that did cause our group a little inconvenience.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?




4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Rafik and Anna were wonderful guides, very knowledgeable and helpful. The drivers were also very good. Points to note : the Regeneh hotel in Yerevan was situated a little distance from the city centre. A city centre hotel ( like the Kopala in Tbilisi) could have been more convenient.
Also , see my comments re the (lack of separate) bills for meals in Georgia. Perhaps some coaching could be provided to the waiters / waitresses . The upstairs restaurant at the Group hotel (Kopala) in Tbilisi had difficulty with this.

Reviewed on 11 Nov 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing the Albanian Alps (relatively unspoiled), visiting Kosovo (should’ve been able to stay there longer) and the virtually untouched monastery in that region, going to Lake Ohrid (should’ve been able to stay there longer too, which I believe is going to change for next year), and seeing Albania in general emerge from the Communist era the way in which it has.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make sure that they understand what the trip’s main focus is (like, if you aren’t interested in archaeology and churches, don’t come!) Bring appropriate footwear (i.e., leave the Brighton-Beach sandals at home). Be aware that, when seeing sights, you won’t necessarily have your lunch on the dot at one o’clock every day, and that, for some travellers, lunch is not the most important thing.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Generally, but when I saw the local Albanians regularly toss every piece of refuse into a river or down the side of a hill, then you’d have to wonder. Also, water was only drunk from plastic bottles. Surely, in some places, especially in the mountains, the water would’ve been perfectly drinkable, but no one ever mentioned or told us this.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very good. Not outstanding value for money, but, in terms of content, guide and transport, very, very good - even if some things were rushed. Extending it by a couple of days (at Ohrid and Kosovo, for instance) would be a good start.

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