Best of the Caucasus

Georgia | Armenia | Azerbaijan

Culture

Charms & contradictions of Azerbaijan, Georgia & Armenia

15 days £2,595 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
Dates & Prices

Intro

Sandwiched between the region’s great powers – the Persian, the Turks and the Soviets - the history of the Caucasus has been a turbulent one. See how these tiny countries have found their respective paths and marvel at the diversity of this small region. Start in Baku, make your way through the hills of Georgia and finish in Yerevan. Along the way, prepare homemade meals with local families, taste wines in Georgia's Kakheti region and learn about a variety of crafting techniques. Explore the must-see cultural, historical and architectural sites, like the authentic Taza Bazar in Baku, the 3,000-year-old rock-hewn town of Uplistsikhe, the Stalin Museum in Gori and Armenia’s unique churches. Admire the panoramic views of Mount Kazbek, explore Borjomi National Park and marvel at the 'Symphony of the Stones' at Garni. This is a truly remarkable journey filled with ancient architecture, breath-taking natural beauty and incredibly warm hospitality. Discover the beautiful and unique region of the Caucasus before the rest of the world does!

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Iconic Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower in Baku
  • 40,000-year-old engravings in Gobustan National Park
  • Venture to Telavi, one of Georgia's most ancient cities
  • Head just south of the Russian border for panoramic views of Mount Kazbek
  • Georgian felt-making workshop
  • Delve deeply into Soviet history at The Stalin Museum
  • 3,000-year-old rock-hewn town of Uplistsikhe
  • Stunning views over Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park
  • Enjoy stunning views from the sacred pilgrimage site of Jvari Monastery
  • The 'Pink City' of Yerevan
  • Lake Sevan, the largest lake in the Caucasus
  • The ruins of Zvartnotz Temple
  • Pay your respects at the Armenian Genocide Museum
  • 'Symphony of the Stones' at Garni
  • Yerevan Brandy Factory tour and tasting

Places Visited

Baku - Sheki - Telavi - Gremi - Velistsikhe - Tsinandali - Gudauri - Kazbegi - Uplistsikhe - Borjomi - Gori - Vardzia - Rabati Castle - Tbilisi - Mtskheta - Lake Sevan - Fioletovo - Sevanavank - Yerevan - Garni - Areni Village

What's Included

Arrival & departure transfers
Air-conditioned ground transport with driver
English-speaking guides
Accommodation
Meals as specified in the itinerary
Entrance fees to sites & parks
500ml bottle of water per person per day
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Arrival

Arrive into Baku, where you will be met at the airport by a Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Baku.

Meal plan: n/a

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Day 2 : Baku - Gobustan - Baku

Go on a sightseeing tour of Baku, where you will visit the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, Maiden Tower, Martyr's Lane and the authentic Taza Bazar. After lunch at the bazar, drive to Gobustan National Park to see the famous caves. Return to Baku for a cooking masterclass at Caravanserai restaurant. Overnight in Baku. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, is an ancient city that is located between Asia and Europe on the Absheron peninsula in the Caspian Sea. Its name means 'city of winds' or 'city on the hill' and Baku was first mentioned in the Egyptian Pharaoh Minesan's Book of the Dead in 3500 BC, meaning the city is at least 5,500 years old. A UNESCO World Heritage site since 2000, Baku was an important staging post on the Silk Road and is still a key rail junction and Caspian port. The city is also where the first national theatre in the Muslim world opened, and where the country’s first newspaper and library were established. In the area around Baku there is a large concentration of ancient oil fields (or 'Oil Stones').

The Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower sit on top of a hill in Baku's Inner City (or Icheri Sheher). The complex used to be the seat of the Muslim rulers of Shirvan, a historical region in the eastern Caucasus. The Palace is composed of the Divankhana pavillion, Shirvanshah Mausoleum, Palace Mosque, Sultan Murad's Gate and a bath house, as well as several residential buildings and caravanserais. The Maiden Tower (or Giz Galasi) is an iconic symbol of Baku that features on Azeri bank notes. The tower holds a museum showcasing the historic development of Baku. There is a great view of the Old City from the top.

Martyr's Lane is a memorial park located on one of the highest hills in Baku, overlooking the beautiful coastline and boulevard zone. The complex is dedicated to those that were killed fighting for Azerbaijan's independence on 20 January 1990, known as Black January. On that day, Soviet forces invaded the city and shot thousands of innocents, along with many Turkish and British soldiers. Roughly 15,000 people are buried in the cemetery here. At the end of the lane, there is a large eternal flame where visiting dignitaries lay wreaths to commemorate the lost lives. 

Gobustan National Park is located in the southeastern part of the Greater Caucasus mountain range in the Jeyrankechmaz River basin. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007, it boasts more than 6,000 preserved rock engravings that reflect up to 40,000 years of rock art. These engravings cover hunting scenes, people, plants, animals, boats and much more. The National Park also hosts the remains of settlements, lived-in caves and burial sites used between the Upper Palaeolithic and Middle Ages.

Taza Bazar is Baku's main market and is arguably the largest in the Caucasus, much larger than the main markets of Yerevan and Tbilisi. You can find many stalls of fresh and pickled produce, meats, spices, carpets, kitchen utensils and even hardware. Some traditional buys are dried persimmons, pomegranate juice, Azeri jams, fresh beluga caviar and Lankaran tea. Haggling is expected here!

The Caravanserai Restaurant aims to preserve the ambience of ancient Silk Road travellers' inns with its castle-like decorations, friendly service and live entertainment. It is located in the Old City and serves traditional Azeri dishes like kutab (a very thin variation of pizza) and dushbere (a classic dumpling soup).

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Day 3 : Baku - Shamakhi - Sheki

After breakfast, visit the Ateshgah Fire temple before driving to Maraza to visit the Diribaba Mausoleum. Continue on to Shamakhi to see the Seven Domes tomb complex and the Juma Mosque, then drive to Sheki, where you will visit the Khan's Palace and the local history museum. In the evening, attend a Shebekhe craft workshop for a vitrage masterclass. Overnight in Sheki. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

The 17th-century Ateshgah Temple (also known as the 'Fire Temple of Baku') is located in the Surakhani district of Baku and is often described as a castle-like monastery complex. Ateshgah was built on a pocket of natural gas that produced a 'holy fire' and was used by Hindus and Zoroastrians as a place of worship. The temple was abandoned in 1883 when the flow of natural gas ended and extinguished the flame. Nonetheless, it is still frequently visited by Zoroastrians on religious pilgrimages.

The 15th-century Diribaba Mausoleum is located on and partly carved into a cliff in the Maraza district, approximately 110 km away from Baku. There are many myths and legends associated with it that have been attracting curious visitors since the 17th century.

Juma Mosque (translated as 'Friday Mosque') was the second mosque to ever be built in the Caucasus, with construction being completed in 744 AD. As a result of serious damage caused by earthquakes as well as a series of battles throughout the years, the mosque has been reconstructed several times. Its interior is beautifully decorated and the building is one of Shamakhi's must-see attractions.

The Seven Domes (also known as the Shirvan Domes) is a complex of tombs built for Shirvan's royal family in the 18th century. Only three of these domes remain to this day - the others have been destroyed by earthquakes. There is a good view of Shamakhi city from this location.

Sheki Khan's Palace is one of Azerbaijan's major historical sites. It was built in the late 18th century by Khan Gadzi Chelebi, who founded the country's first independent khanate. The palace was used by his grandson, Hussein-khan Mushtad, as a summer palace. It is the only remaining structure from the larger complex that was once surrounded by fortress walls. Among its main attractions are the outstanding drawings and stained-glass Shebeke windows.

Sheki's 18th-century Upper and Lower Caravanserais served as temporary homes for Silk Road traders who passed through the city. At that time, there were five main caravanserais in Sheki, but only two have survived. Both are huge 14-metre-tall structures, consisting of more than 300 rooms that cover 6,000 m.sq. in the Upper Caravanserai and 8,000 m.sq. in the Lower Caravanserai. In the Middle Ages, caravanserais were built like castles, with one gate, to help secure them against intruders. Merchants typically stored their goods in the cellars, traded on the first floor and lived on the second. Today, the Upper Caravanserai is used as a hotel complex.

Shebeke is an ancient Azeri technique of making vitrage windows that is also practised in Georgia and Iran. Thousands of pieces of colourful glass and walnut wood are assembled together in intricate, usually geometric, patterns without the help of any nails or glue. One square metre of this artwork consists of 4,000 small parts, although this number can rise up to 14,000 in more complex styles. This precise and complicated craft has been passed down through generations of artisans. Shebeke panels are a central feature in Azeri architecture

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Day 4 : Sheki - Gremi (Georgia) - Telavi

After breakfast, visit Sheki Bazar and the local sweet bakery to stock up on snacks for your journey into Georgia over the Lagodekhi checkpoint. Travel to the home of a local Georgian family, where you will help prepare a home-made lunch to enjoy with local wine. Your main meal will be 'Mtsvadi', a pork shashlik (a form of shish kebab popular in Eastern and Central Europe) barbecued on vine tree branches. You will also get to bake 'shoti' bread in a 'tone', which is a tall upright circular clay oven lined with bricks. After a delicious lunch, you will journey on to explore the Gremi Architectural Complex. Next, you will visit a local master who will show you how traditional Georgian 'Qvevri' wine jars are made. Overnight near Telavi. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Telavi is a historical city in Kakheti, an eastern region of Georgia and is considered to be one of Georgia’s most ancient cities. With fascinating museums, well-preserved religious buildings and a castle, Telavi offers visitors a unique insight into Georgian history and culture.

Gremi was once a trading town with a population that reached 100,000, until it was destroyed by invading Persian forces in the mid-17th century. The architectural complex used to be a citadel and consists of a tower, the king's chambers, defensive walls and the Church of Archangels that was built out of square bricks. The Church is now one of the only remains of the 16th-century town. It is a fine example of Georgian architecture and its faded frescoes offer a glimpse into the religious devotion of the period. King Levan, who built this complex, is buried here.

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Day 5 : Telavi - Gudauri

This morning you will explore Kakheti, the famous wine region. Visit a typical farmers' market in Telavi and go on a tour of the Tsinandali family estate, where you will enjoy a glass of wine. Then visit a local farmer's family and the Numisi Wine Cellar in Velistsikhe to taste some typical wines of the region. Afterwards, drive to Gudauri ski resort, visiting Ananuri fort and passing along part of the Georgian Military Highway on the way. Overnight in Gudauri ski resort.

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

The 16th-century Numisi Wine Cellar in Velistsikhe is a traditional winery that also acts as an ethnographic museum. There is a permanent exhibition that showcases ancient wine-making culture and artifacts.

The Tsinandali family estate and wine cellar once belonged to the 19th-century aristocratic poet Alexandre Chavchavadze (1786-1846), who was one of the most important figures of his time. He dedicated his life to promoting and developing Georgian culture, and was the first nobleman to produce and bottle Georgian wine. Chavchavadze's residence consists of a summer home, garden and winery, and now operates as a House-Museum. It has been welcoming visitors since 1947 and periodically hosts exhibitions by prominent Georgian and foreign artists.

The Georgian Military Highway is a 220km-long road that runs between Tbilisi and Vladikavkaz, a Russian city in the southeast. The road reaches an elevation of 2,380m when going through the Jvari pass. This route has a long history of being used by armies due to its relatively straight route through the Central Caucasus.

Gudauri is one of the prime ski resorts in Georgia and has a well-developed infrastructure. It has the greatest contrast in altitude in Georgia and is the loftiest settlement on the Georgian Military Road at an altitude of 2,000m. 

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Day 6 : Gudauri - Kazbegi - Gudauri

Take a stunning drive along the Tergi River to Kazbegi, the main town of the region. From here, go on a leisurely two-hour walk through beautiful valleys and woodlands to Gergeti Trinity Church. For lunch, you will visit a local family who will teach you how to prepare a traditional Georgian dish, such as 'Khinkali', dumplings filled with meat, onions, and various spices (can be made vegetarian if needed). Drive into the Dariali Gorge. On the way back to Gudauri, visit a local Teka master. Dinner and overnight in Gudauri.

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Kazbegi, officially known as ''Stepantsminda", is a small town located just 10 kilometres south of the Russian border. The town is 1,750 metres above sea level and has breathtaking mountain views that include Mount Kazbek (or 'Glacier Mountain'), Georgia’s third highest peak, standing at 5,047 metres high. Kazbek is associated with the myth of Prometheus, who is said to have been chained to the mountain as punishment for stealing fire from the gods and giving it to mortals. 

The isolated Gergeti Trinity Church, constructed in the 14th century, is elevated 2,170m over the Chkheri riverbank, facing Mt. Kazbek. The church holds important religious relics which were brought from Mtskheta during the 18th-century Persian invasion. Even when religious services were outlawed during the Soviet era, tourists were still drawn to the church to admire the small town of Kazbegi. 

Visit a local craft studio to see how traditional Georgian Teka felt is made. Felting is one of the oldest and most ecologically clean ways of processing  wool; sheep do not  suffer at all when their wool is collected. Felt fragments have been found from as far back as the second millennium BC and felt is still commonly used in everyday garments and accessories to this day. The material is also a popular art medium. Every step of felting is a manual, individual and highly creative process. It takes 2 to 3 days (depending on complexity) to make one scarf. 

The Dariali Gorge, located on the border with Russia, boasts scenic views of the vertical mountain walls and Terek River. Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov wrote about this gorge in his work, 'The Demon', and it is now known as one of the most romantic places in the Caucasus.

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Day 7 : Gudauri - Gori - Borjomi

Visit the town of Gori to visit the Stalin Museum, then continue to Uplistsikhe Cave Town. In the afternoon, stop at Borjomi and visit the small Children's Park to taste the famous mineral water straight from the source. Dinner and overnight in Borjomi.

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Uplistsikhe (meaning 'Fortress of the Ruler') is a rock-hewn town that dates back to 1000 BC and covers an area of approximately 8 hectares. The town is divided over three levels that are connected by a series of narrow tunnels. Uplistsikhe used to be a main point on the Silk Road, but was abandoned in the 17th century.

Founded in 1829, Borjomi is a resort town that was popularised when the Russian royal family built a summer residence here in 1895. Today, Likani Palace belongs to the Georgian president, and the town remains famous as the source of Georgia’s number one export - naturally carbonated mineral water. This water is exported to over 40 countries and is said to have medicinal and restorative properties. Borjomi is known for its picturesque location and setting within the protected Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, one of the largest national parks in Europe. The town of Borjomi is also home to the most extensive ecologically-themed amusement park in the Caucasus.

The city of Gori is famously known as the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. The city is home to the Stalin Museum, which was originally built in 1951 as a local history museum. It later became a memorial museum to Stalin, following his death in 1953. Visitors to the museum can delve into the dictator's past, seeing the house where he spent the first few years of his life, his personal armored train carriage and many items that once belonged to Stalin - including hand written texts, office furniture and a bronze cast of his death mask.

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Day 8 : Borjomi - Vardzia - Borjomi

In the morning, travel to the magnificent cave town of Vardzia, making a photo stop at Khertvisi fortress on the way. On the way back to Borjomi, visit the Rabati Castle in Akhaltsikhe. Dinner and overnight in Borjomi. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

With most construction taking place during the second half of the 12th century, Vardzia is a complex of cave dwellings set over 13 levels that centre around a main church and throne room. The Church of the Dormition, which dates back to the 1180s, is decorated with religious and royal murals. The site at Vardzia, however, was destroyed beyond repair by an earthquake in 1283.

The 13th-century Rabati Castle in Akhaltsikhe stands on top of a small hill and its four towers provide excellent views over the surrounding area. The complex occupies a territory of seven hectares and its museum is of great cultural and historical importance to the region. 

The precursor to Khertvisi Fortress was purportedly destroyed by Alexander the Great; the current fortress, one of the largest in Georgia, was constructed  in the 14th century,  more than a millennium later. With 1.5-metre-thick and 20-metre-tall walls, it stretches over half a kilometre and has 19 tiers. The fortress stands guard to the current village of Khertvisi at the joining of the Mtkvari and Paravani rivers.  

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Day 9 : Borjomi - Mtskheta - Tbilisi

Drive to Mtskheta, the ancient capital and religious centre of Georgia, for a walk around the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and Jvari Monastery. Continue on to Tbilisi for dinner and overnight.

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Tbilisi, formerly known as 'Tiflis', is Georgia's capital and the largest city of Georgia. It lays on the banks of the Mtkvari River and has a population of roughly 1.5 million people. Founded in the 5th century by the monarch of Georgia's ancient precursor, the Kingdom of Iberia, the city was invaded by different invaders over the centuries. The increase of Armenian population was noticed in the 19th century. Tbilisi has many narrow streets and a mixture of religious and secular architecture. There are many churches, synagogues, mosques and 19th-century houses with multi-coloured wooden balconies. 

Mtskheta is one of Georgia’s oldest cities, located roughly 20 km north of Tbilisi at the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers. Within the city (which is itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, one of Georgia’s largest places of worship. The site, surrounded by a defensive wall, has housed churches since the 4th century, but the standing building was constructed in the early 11th century and artfully restored in the 1970s. According to Biblical canon, Christ’s robe was carried to Mtskheka after his crucifixion and buried beneath the cathedral. Inside, a painting illustrates the buried garment and the miracle of a pillar rising into the air during the church’s construction.  

The cross-shaped Jvari Monastery precipitously tops a mountain, peering over the city of Mtskheta and the three-pronged intersection of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers below.  This UNESCO World Heritage site was built on the site where St. Nino erected a cross outside of a Pagan temple, symbolising Iberia’s shift to Christianity in the 4th century. The Small Church of Jvari was built to the north of the cross, 60 years before the Jvari Monastery was completed, and can still be identified as ruins. Relief sculptures survive on the sacred pilgrimage site’s exterior, and a giant wooden cross still adorns the small monastery today.

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Day 10 : Tbilisi

After breakfast, begin your sightseeing tour of Tbilisi's old city. Take a cable car ride (if available) to Narikala Fortress, from where you can enjoy superb panoramic views of Tbilisi. Walk down to the sulphur baths which made an unforgettable impression on poets and writers like Alexander Pushkin, Mikhail Lermontov and Alexandre Dumas. Visit the stunning treasury of the Georgian History Museum (closed on Mondays), before taking a stroll along Rustaveli Avenue – Tbilisi's main street. Finish the day with dinner at a local restaurant with a folklore dance show. Overnight in Tbilisi.

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Tbilisi’s old town stands in the shadow of Mother Georgia’s silvery statue, perched on a hill overlooking a mosaic of multi-coloured houses constructed in the 19th century. Nestled together on narrow streets, the homes feature wooden balconies that allow residents to revel in the fresh air. Established in the 4th century and fortified over hundreds of years, the ruins of Narikala Fortress also tower over Georgia’s capital, offering visitors spectacular panoramic views.  

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Day 11 : Tbilisi - Yerevan (Armenia)

Make your way to Sadakhlo on the Georgia-Armenia border, where you will change your transport and go through some document formalities before continuing on to Armenia. Visit the Haghpat Monastery, Fioletovo village and then continue on to Lake Sevan, the largest lake in the Caucasus. Climb up Sevan Peninsula and, depending on timings and road conditions, you may even get to see the Sevanavank monastic complex situated on the mountain. Have dinner at a traditional Armenian restaurant with live folklore music and get an insight into the country's musical culture. Overnight in Yerevan. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Lying at 1900 metres above sea level with an area of 940 square kilometres, Lake Sevan is not only the largest lake in the Caucasus, but it's also one of the largest freshwater high-altitude lakes in the world.  It holds a large variety of fish, including crayfish and the endangered 'ishkhan' (prince trout). Considered the "jewel" of Armenia, the lake scenery is beautiful, with the water often changing colour depending on the weather, from deep blue and turquoise to bright azure. 

Built between the 10th and 13th centuries, the UNESCO-listed Haghpat Monastery was Armenia's largest centre of science during this period, holding a rich collection of books and manuscripts within its library. Along with the nearby Sanahin Monastery, Haghpat became the religious centre of the Lori region in the mid-11th century. It is a beautiful example of medieval Armenian architecture, with many well-preserved structures within the site showcasing wonderful detailing and craftsmanship. 

Fioletovo village is inhabited by molokans (translated as 'milk-drinkers'). Molokans are Russian sectarians that drank 'too much milk', even during Lent, and refused to obey the guidelines of the Russian Orthodox Church. They were rejected by their church and exiled from the Tambov Governorate in 1842. Visit one of the village houses to see how this minority lives, remains faithful to their religion and keeps their tradition alive to this day.

The Sevanavank monastic complex sits on a picturesque peninsula off the shore of Lake Sevan. It was founded in 874 AD for monks from Etchmiadzin Cathedral who had sinned against God. 

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Day 12 : Yerevan - Etchmiadzin - Zvarnots - Yerevan

Breakfast at the hotel. Full day tour of the capital visiting the main sites including: Republic Square, the Opera House and Cascade Complex, the Tsitsernakaberd Genocide Memorial Complex and the History Museum of Armenia. Lunch will be held at a local art school  where you will learn how to cook “dolma”, an Armenian traditional dish. Drive to Armavir visit the Etchmiadzin Cathedral, St. Hripsime Church and Zvartnots Temple. Overnight in Yerevan. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

The History Museum of Armenia is located on the Republic Square in Yerevan and houses a collection of over 400,000 archaeological, ethnographical and numismatic objects.

The capital of Armenia, Yerevan, sits on the Hrazdan river surrounded by picturesque hills and snow-capped mountains. It is often referred to as the 'Pink City' due to the 106 shades of tufa lava stone used on the city's buildings. During the Soviet years, Russian architect Alexander Tamanyan completely reconstructed Yerevan to resemble the neo-classical city styles of Paris and St. Petersburg. 

The 4th-century Etchmiadzin Cathedral is the central authority of the worldwide Armenian Apostolic Church. Its name translates as 'where the Only Begotten descended' in reference to Gregory the Illuminator's vision of Christ descending from heaven and striking the ground with a golden hammer. The Cathedral was then built on that exact spot. The complex consists of the Mother Cathedral, the monastery with a residing brotherhood, the Catholicos residence, the Kevorkian Theological Seminary and a museum. 

Constructed in the 7th century, the UNESCO-listed Zvartnots Temple originally stood at a height of 49 metres, making it one of Armenia's tallest structures during that period. It consisted of three stories in a cylindrical shape and was crowned with a dome. While all that remains now are the ruins of the lower walls and individual fragments, details including floor mosaics and intricate stone carvings indicate how the temple was once beautifully decorated from top to bottom. It is still questioned as to what caused the temple's fall in the 10th century, though theories include destruction by a powerful earthquake or the temple's cornerstone being removed during an Arab invasion, causing the building to collapse in on itself. 

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Day 13 : Yerevan - Garni - Yerevan

Breakfast at the hotel. Visit the museum of acclaimed Armenian filmmaker Sergey Parajanov. Afterwards, drive through rural Armenia to the ancient pagan temple of Garni. Walk towards the river valley to reach the "Symphony of Stones" (cliff side natural formations). Lunch at a local house and enjoy 'lavash', an Armenian flatbread consumed with most meals. Head up the gorge of the Azat River, northeast of Garni where the medieval Geghard monastery is located. On the way back stop at Mount Ararat Brandy Factory. Overnight at hotel in Yerevan. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Sergey Parajanov (1924-1990) was a visionary artist and film-maker, acclaimed for his film 'The Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors'. He was persecuted by the Soviet regime and arrested and imprisoned twice under dubious pretexts. The House-Museum was opened a year after his death and has over 1,400 exhibits: collages, drawings, installations, dolls and unpublished screenplays. 

Garni Temple is a picturesque monument of the Hellenistic period and an impressive piece of ancient Armenian architecture built in the 1st century A.D. After Christianity was proclaimed as a state religion in 301, the temple was used as a summer residence of the kings. The Garni canyon, which is a one-hour walk away along the Azat River, is particularly interesting. Its walls are formed of hexagonal rock strips, which is a natural formation known as the 'Symphony of Stones'. The gorge is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The Geghard Monastery is a magnificent monument of medieval Armenian architecture that is partially carved out of a mountain. It was founded in the 4th century by  Gregory the Illuminator when a  sacred spring was found inside a nearby cave, but the  main chapel was built only in 1215. The name is translated as 'Monastery of the Spear', named after the spear that pierced Jesus on the crucifix. Apostle Jude supposedly brought this spear into Armenia and it is now displayed in the Echmiadzin treasury. However, churches in Rome, Vienna and Antioch also claim to possess this spear. Geghard has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Yerevan Brandy Factory has preserved the cultural and historical heritage of its brandy-making traditions since 1887, when the first wine and brandy factory was founded in Yerevan. Authentic Armenian brandy uses only local grape varieties that are grown in the unique Ararat Valley microclimate. During a guided excursion of the factory, you will discover Armenian brandy-making secrets and see the oldest brandies kept in barrels. Afterwards, there will be a degustation of various brandies.

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Day 14 : Yerevan - Aragatsotn - Khor Virap - Yerevan

Breakfast at the hotel. Visit some other iconic Armenian monasteries including the Khor-Virap monastery built during the Arshakid's dynasty and the Noravank monastery. Enjoy lunch in a local cave restaurant and on the way back to Yerevan, stop off in the Areni region where some of the country's best wine is produced. Overnight in Yerevan. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

The Khor Virap Monastery, located in the Ararat plains, is the closest point to biblical Mt. Ararat. It is a prominent pilgrimage site, as it is where the first Armenian Catholicos resided and where Gregory the Illuminator, Armenia's patron saint, was imprisoned for 14 years. The monastery holds regular services to this day.

Duduk is a traditional Armenian instrument made of apricot wood. Duduk and its music is inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Contrary to its name (which translates to "New Monastery"), Noravank Monastery was constructed before the 12th century. Perched on the ledge of the gorge in which the river Amaghu flows and surrounded by steep red rocks, the building is as famous for its magnificent surroundings as it is for its beautiful medieval Armenian architecture. The monastery's main temple, Surb Karapet, is the oldest part of the structure, built between the 9th and 10th centuries.

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Day 15 : Departure

At an appropriate time, transfer to the airport for your flight home or to another onward destination.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation Title

All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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Sapphire City Hotel

The hotel is located at the junction of two iconic places of our capital: Torgovaya street (the Bakuvians call Nizami street just like that) and the Fountains Square. Azerbaijan Opera and Ballet Theatre is 0.6 miles from Sapphire City Hotel. Heydar Aliyev International Airport is 11.8 miles, whilst Maiden Tower is a 10 minute walk.  You can try the dishes of different national cuisines at La Fontaine restaurant at the hotel. 

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Sheki Palace

The extraordinary and elegant Sheki Palace Hotel has opened its doors in the unique historic part of Sheki – Old City. The architecture successfully combines classical and national patterns. The Hotel is luxuriously decorated with marble and stone. The rooms are equipped with all the amenities and the rooms offer stunning views of the city and surrounded by a large Caucasus Mountains.

Visit hotel's site
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Chateau Mere

Chateau Mere is housed within a stone castle, set in Georgia’s wine-producing region amidst the Caucasus Mountains and Alazani Valley.  The grounds contain a swimming pool and a garden.  The restaurant at Chateau Mere takes pride in serving traditional Georgian cuisine.  

Visit hotel's site
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Mercure Tbilisi Old Town

Mercure Tbilisi Old Town is located in the center of Old Tbilisi, a 5-minute walk from Metekhi Cathedral. Mercure Tbilisi features Old Town Restaurant & Lobby Bar, Rooftop Terrace Bar SKY7 which offers a variety of drinks and panoramic views of the Tbilisi. Various restaurants, cafes and galleries are located a 5-minute walk from the hotel. Famous Sculpture Baths, Narikala Fortress, Meydan Square and Shardeni Streets are located nearby the hotel. Free WIFI is featured at the hotel.
 

Visit hotel's site
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Central Hotel

The Hotel is located right in the heart of Yerevan, just a three-minute walk from the Republic Square and the National Gallery. Their friendly, professional and multilingual staff are committed to making your stay in the hotel greatly comfortable.

Visit hotel's site
Trip Notes

Introduction

Welcome

Thank you for booking your holiday with Travel The Unknown. We love travel and we are confident that you will go away with fantastic memories of your tour.

Itinerary

Your final itinerary will include the day-by-day details of your trip, meal plan, accommodation and relevant contacts. If you do not have your final itinerary, or are unsure about it, please contact us by one of the methods below:
 
Phone (UK): 020 7183 6371
Phone (US): 1 800 604 6024
Email: operations@traveltheunknown.com 
Skype: traveltheunknown

Itineraries are correct at the time of printing and are updated throughout the year to incorporate suggestions from past travellers, our own research and information from our guides and local operators. Itineraries are also subject to change as a result of local and individual trip circumstances, and are to be treated as a guide rather than a definitive plan. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about this. Please ensure that you have read and reviewed the final copy of your final Trip Notes and itinerary at least a week prior to travel in case there have been changes that may affect you.

Health & Safety

Hygiene

It is important to keep a high standard of hygiene when travelling, just as you would at home. Wash your hands with soap and water or antibacterial gel before eating or drinking and after using the toilet. 

We recommend that you stick to drinking bottled water as tap water may be unsafe to drink. When dining, avoid food which has been left out (especially in the heat), and ice creams (which may have been made with local water or allowed to thaw and re-freeze). Decline ice cubes in cold drinks and remove them when provided, as they may also be made with local untreated water.
 
When organising your own meals, be selective where you eat. Choose places that seem quite clean and where you see many locals eating. A high turnover usually means food is not left lying around and is made fresh. 

Health

All Travel The Unknown travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully in the group travel experience. If, in the opinion of our ground handler, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Travel The Unknown reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. Please read the itinerary for this tour thoroughly and pay close attention to the Activity Ratings shown on our website and then realistically self-assess your physical ability to complete the trip as described. Please consult with your doctor if you have any doubts or give us a call with any queries you may have. 

An excellent resource for up-to-date travel medicinal requirements is www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk. We recommend that you consult your doctor or a travel clinic at least 45 days prior to your departure for up-to-date medical travel information. You should also carry a first aid kit, as well as any personal medical requirements. Please be aware that in some more remote areas you could be some distance away from medical facilities. For legal reasons, our leaders are prohibited from administering any type of drugs, including headache tablets and antibiotics.
At the time of writing, courses or usually advised for Azerbaijan; Hepatitis A. Other vaccines to consider; Hepatitis B, Rabies and Tetanus. 
At the time of writing, courses or usually advised for Armenia; Hepatitis A. Other vaccines to consider; Hepatitis B, Rabies, Diptheria and Tetanus. 

At the time of writing, courses or usually advised for Georgia; Hepatitis A. Other vaccines to consider; Hepatitis B, Rabies and
Tetanus.
 

Safety

There is rarely any trouble in the areas our tours cover. We closely monitor the safety situation on a continuous basis, using both government sources and our own network of contacts on the ground, and will amend the itinerary if safety concerns require us to. Please check www.fco.gov.uk for the latest government advice on travel to the region and please contact us if you have any further questions or concerns about safety issues.

When travelling, you are subject to the same dangers that you may find at home, such as theft or pick pocketing in busy places. Travelling with an experienced group leader will help protect your trip from such dangers, but do not let your guard down completely. You are still responsible for your own belongings. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities; however during your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. Any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Travel The Unknown itinerary, and Travel The Unknown makes no guarantees about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement. Travel The Unknown cannot be held responsible for any injuries or losses that may occur during any such optional activity. Please also note that Travel The Unknown retains the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. 

To ensure the safety of your documents and other valuables, we strongly recommend that you use a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, whilst a lock is recommended for securing your luggage. It is not advisable to bring valuable jewellery when travelling. 

Money Matters

Spending Money

Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some people spend a lot of money on drinks, whereas others may spend more on souvenirs or presents. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing money for drinks, shopping, participation in optional activities and tipping. 

Tipping

Tipping is completely voluntary and often not expected. It is, however, almost always appreciated. It is customary on tours to tip guides and drivers if you have been happy with their services.
For restaurants and cafés, we recommend tipping 10%. 

Departure Tax

Unless otherwise specified, the departure tax will be included in the cost of your tour package when you book your international flights with Travel The Unknown. If you are arranging your own international flights, please check with your travel agent or airline.

Emergency Funds

Please make sure you have access to an additional £200 ($300), to be used if unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster or political strife) necessitate a change to our intended itinerary. This is not a common occurrence, but it is better to be prepared.

Money Exchange

Currency exchange rates fluctuate. For the most up to date rates please refer to the following website: www.xe.com.

TIP 1: Slightly torn, faded or badly marked banknotes may be difficult to exchange. Coins are typically not exchangeable. 

TIP 2: We recommend you take out the majority of the spending money you require when you first arrive in a country, distribute it and keep it in secure places for the rest of the trip.

TIP 3: Make sure you inform your bank of the exact dates that you are going away and when you will be in each country to ensure that your card is not blocked when you are travelling.
The official currency is the Lari (GEL), which is divided into 100 tetri. Cash is the preferred method of payment in Georgia but major credit cards are accepted in established restaurants, hotels and shops in Tbilisi. Euros, Roubles, GBP or US Dollars can be exchanged at any of the widespread bureaux de change, but other currencies should generally be changed at the bank. Cheques are not accepted. Banking hours are Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm.

Azerbaijan

All goods and services are paid in local currency (Manats). Sterling, US dollars and Euros are easily exchanged. Major hotels, supermarkets and restaurants in Baku usually accept credit cards. There are ATMs in most major towns and cities. Before you leave the UK, let your bank know you are travelling to Azerbaijan.

Armenia

Cash can be changed at banks and in exchange bureaux. British pounds may be less readily accepted outside Yerevan than US dollars or Euros. Credit cards and UK debit cards displaying the Maestro and/or Cirrus sign are accepted at major stores and restaurants in Yerevan but far less so outside the capital. Prices for goods and services are sometimes quoted in US dollars, but by law payment must be made in Armenian Dram. There are many ATMs in Yerevan. They accept major credit cards and debit cards with the Maestro/Cirrus or Visa sign displayed on the card. 

Georgia

The official currency is the Lari (GEL), which is divided into 100 tetri. Cash is the preferred method of payment in Georgia but majorcredit cards are accepted in established restaurants, hotels and shops in Tbilisi. Euros, Roubles, GBP or US Dollars can be exchanged at any of the widespread bureaux de change, but other currencies should generally be changed at the bank. Cheques are not accepted. Banking hours are Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm.

Meals

Some meals are included in the price. Please refer to your itinerary for information on which meals are provided and budget accordingly for meals not included. 

Practicalities

Group Travel

To minimise the footprint our tours leave - both on the environment and the local culture - we keep our group sizes limited to 12 people.

In your group, there may be large variations in age and a variety of nationalities. While this is mostly a good thing, it can occasionally cause some difficulties, so we ask you to be patient with your fellow passengers and realise that everyone likes to travel differently. Please also consider your fellow passengers by respecting scheduled meeting times. If any issues occur within the group please inform your guide who will do his / her best to help to resolve it.

Tour guides

We have gone to great lengths in securing the best guides and drivers available to ensure your trip runs smoothly and you have the best experiences possible in your chosen region. 

Transport

Travel between destinations is by well-maintained and comfortable vehicles and in some instances by flight. Flights will be indicated clearly on your itinerary.

Additional Tours/Services

We can arrange additional tours, hotel nights and airport transfers before or after your chosen tour. Please let us know what you would like to do and we'll be happy to help.

Flights

Our tours typically include any in-country domestic flights. International flights from the UK can also be arranged if required. If you prefer however, you can book your own flights and our representative will meet you at the airport on arrival and take you to your hotel before your tour starts. Please let us know your preference when booking your trip.

Please note, for domestic flights, the typical baggage allowance, unless explicitly stated elsewhere, is 15kg.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. As a minimum, we require that your insurance covers you for medical expenses, including emergency repatriation. We also strongly recommend you are covered for personal liability, loss of luggage and personal effects. You will be required to give details of your insurance prior to departure. 

Accommodation

We or our trusted ground handlers have personally vetted all accommodation. If any of our preferred first choice accommodations are not available, we will organise something of a similar standard. Please check your itinerary for a list of the accommodations on your trip.

Joining and finishing points

Unless otherwise indicated on your itinerary, you will be greeted at your arrival airport by a Travel The Unknown representative and escorted to your accommodation. See itinerary for details. At the end of your trip, you will be escorted to the airport for your departing flight, unless otherwise specified in your itinerary. 

Trip Specifics

Passports, Visas & Immigration

All travellers require a passport to travel. Many countries require that your passport is valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of your trip. For help with visas we recommend our partner, the Visa Machine, visit http://ttu.thevisamachine.com for details or call them on 020 7148 6402.
For Azerbaijan you require an e-visa which you need to print and carry with you throughout your stay in Azerbaijan. 

Electricity

Electrical current in the Caucasus is between 220-240 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pin attachment plugs and Schuko plugs are in use. If you are travelling with UK appliances, you will need a standard European adaptor.

Communications

Armenia

The international dialling code for Armenia is +374. Armenia has three main cell phone operators: Vivacell, Beeline and Orange/Ucom. You can go into any one of the many stores each of these have and pick up a phone or, if you’ve already got a GSM phone, a SIM card.

Azerbaijan

The international dialling code for Azerbaijan is +994. Telephone communication is no problem. Internet is also developing rapidly. Providers SuperOnline, AdaNet, AzEuroTel, Bakinternet and others provide the whole network of internet cafes. Internet cafes are common, not only in Baku, but in most cities and towns of Azerbaijan. These facilities are especially popular among young people playing computer games, so there can be noisy and smoky. In Azerbaijan there are three mobile operators - Azercell, Bakcell and Azerfon (Nar Mobile). 3G services are provided not only at all the stations of the Baku metropolitan, but in the tunnels. 

Georgia 

LTE is available in Georgia from Caucasus Online and Silknet. Fibre Optic line is available in Georgia from the same two firms. In major hotels Wi-Fi service is available. Internet cafés are common and cheap. Some places offer free Wi-Fi to their customers. In  
Tbilisi there is free WiFi through much of the central part of the the city. The international dialling code for Georgia is +995. Mobile phone coverage is good in the capital and in coastal regions, but signal strength is not as good in rural areas. Landlines are widely available and internet access is available in the city and at major hotels.

TIP: If you think you will need to make or receive a lot of calls, then it would be worth investing in a prepaid SIM card on arrival at the airport. You have to make sure your handset is unlocked prior to leaving the UK. There are three main providers;Magti, BeeLine
and GeoCell. Both, Geocell and Magti have UMTS/3G service including video call and high speed data. Roaming is possible if you own a UMTS capable mobile phone. Geocell has cheapest mobile internet solution over its network.
 

Time

Georgia and Azerbaijan are +4 hours GMT while Armenia is +3 hours GMT. 

Laundry

Laundry facilities are offered by some hotels for a charge. In addition, laundry services can be found outside our hotels in all major cities and many smaller ones.

We advise you not to leave doing your laundry to the last minute, as drying times may be required and laundry services will not be available at all stops.

Climate

Armenia 

Armenia is a mountainous, landlocked country. It has a territory of 29,800sq.km (11,490 sq. miles), Armenia borders Georgia on the north, Azerbaijan on the east, Turkey and Iran on the west and south respectively. The territory of Armenia extends some 360 km long and 200 km wide the most of which ranges from 1000 to 2500 meters above sea level. It is situated on the same latitude as Spain, Italy. Armenia is divided into 11 provinces. There are more than 100 mountain lakes in Armenia. The largest one is Sevan Lake situated at an altitude of 1900 m above sea level.

Armenia is often described as sunny and it is a fact that the Ararat Valley has almost as much sunshine as Egypt – 2700 hours a year. Its climate ranges from dry subtropical to cold mountain weather. The mean year temperature goes down one degree for each two hundred metres higher in the mountains. The mean temperature in July is 30°C and -7°C in January.

Azerbaijan

The climate of Azerbaijan can be described as continental influenced climate with warm summer and very cold, dry winters. It can be divided in three different climate zones; one north of the mountainous regions, one south of them, and along the coast of the Caspian sea.Temperatures during the summer months vary between 20°C and 30°C. summers in Azerbaijan are often warm and sunny with dry periods, but sometimes heavy cloud bursts and severe thunderstorms can occur, and can cause local flashfloods and damage.

During the winter months of December through March it gets quite cold, with daily temperatures far below zero and(little) snowfall. The mountainous regions of Azerbaijan are known for severe weather conditions and extremely cold weather that descends upon them during the winter months, with very strong winds and snowstorms. The Sheki Zakataly region lies just south of the mountains and has quite different conditions than the northern regions, with less rain, warmer summers and a bit milder winters. The coastal areas are significantly warmer then the northern mountainous portion of Azerbaijan, due to the tempering effect of the Caspian Sea.

Georgia

Georgia has a warm, temperate climate. The Likhi mountain range divides the country into western and eastern halves, shielding the eastern part of the country from the influence of the Black Sea, and creating a continental climate. The average temperature in the east in summer ranges between 27°C - 35°C and in winter ranges between 2°C - 4°C. The western part of the country experiences a sub-tropical, maritime climate and in summer the average temperature is 22°C, dropping to 5°C in
winter.

Language

Armenia

Hello - barev
How are you? - Inch'pes yes?
Pleased to meet you - urakh e handipel dzez
Good morning - bari arravot
Goodnight - bari gisher
​Goodbye - ts'tesut'yun
yes - ayo
no - voch'
How much is this? - t'ye vork'an e sa?
Sorry - neroghut'yun
Thank you - shnorhakalut'yun
Where's the toilet - vortegh e zugarany

Azerbaijan

Hello - Salam
Thank you - Təşəkkür edirəm
Yes - bəli
No - yox
My name is (David) - Mənim adım (David)
Good morning - Sabahınız xeyir
Good Evening - Axşamınız xeyir
Goodbye - Sağol/Xudahafiz
How much is this? - Bu neçəyədir?
Sorry - Bağışlayın
Please - Zəhmət olmasa
Thank you - Təşəkkür edirəm
Where's the toilet? - Ayaq yolu haradadır?

Georgia

Hello - gamarjoba
How are you? - rogora khar?
Pleased to meet you - sasiamovnoa tkveni gatsnoba
Good morning - dila mshvidobisa
Goodnight - dzili nebisa
Goodbye - nakhvamdis
yes - diakh
no - ara
How much is this? - ra ghirs?
Sorry - bodishi
Thank you - gmadlobt
Where's the toilet - t’ualet’i sad aris

Checklist

This is a generic checklist of things to remember before travelling. Not all may apply to you:
- Tell your bank you are travelling, so that they do not block your transactions when you are abroad
- Ensure you have the relevant visas and a valid passport
- Ensure you have any required vaccinations and medications for the trip
- Ensure you have adequate travel insurance and that you have sent the relevant details of your policy to Travel The Unknown
- Make a note of your passport number, take a photocopy with you and email a scanned version to yourself
- Email a copy of your itinerary and trip contacts to any family members who may want to contact you
- Bring some money to cover emergency situations
- Check with your mobile service provider to make sure your phone works abroad (enable roaming if required)
- Check the What To Bring section of these Trip Notes to see if there are any particular items you require

While travelling, please bear in mind the following:
- Think about what you are doing at all times and trust your instincts - don’t take risks that you wouldn’t at home
- Don’t openly display valuables such as mobile phones or digital cameras and consider using a padlock on suitcases or backpacks
- Find out about local customs and dress, behave accordingly and obey local laws - there may be serious penalties for breaking a law that might seem trivial at home
- Respect the environment – don’t buy wildlife souvenirs, conserve resources (like water) and don’t drop litter

Fitness

Please note that some of our tours can be physically demanding. A basic level of fitness, mobility and decent health is assumed. Please contact us if you are unsure about your suitability for this trip.

Check the activity rating of your tour on our website and consult the chart below.

ACTIVITY RATINGS
*     Relaxation. There are no activities scheduled.

**    This will typically include some short walking tours and some medium-length car/minibus journeys.

***   This is the standard for most of our cultural tours. It involves city walking, short walks in rural areas and some medium-to-long drives.

****  This typically involves some short hikes or the equivalent, as well as some long-ish drives and city walking.

***** This is typically a hiking or activity itinerary and can be quite strenuous. A good level of fitness is expected.

NOTE: Ratings are inherently subjective and are made using our best judgement. Also, different parts of an itinerary may merit different ratings, so the ratings assigned are an assumed average for the whole trip. In any case, please contact us if you are unsure of the level of fitness required for any given trip.

What to bring

Below is a recommended list of items to bring. It does not claim to be exhaustive. 

•    Any required medicines
•    Basic first aid kit, insect repellent and sunscreen (min. factor 15)
•    Day pack (useful for carrying basic items)
•    Basic toiletries and tissues
•    Clothing for both hot and cold conditions (practical clothing is strongly advised, especially long-sleeved tops, long trousers and a sun hat)
•    Sandals and walking shoes
•    Binoculars, torch, sunglasses, small towel and electricity adapter
•    Waterproof bag for documents and electronics
•    Notepad, pen and book
•    Watch (strict time-keeping is required at times)
•    Money for meals, souvenirs and contingencies
•    Drinking bottle
•    Travel plug (for sinks without plugs)
•    Travel pillow (can come in handy for longer journeys)

Most importantly, come with an open mind!

Electronic Items

•    Camera – don't forget your accessories: memory cards, battery and charger
•    If you use a film camera, bring film, lenses, batteries, etc.
•    Mobile phone and charger
•    Plug adaptors 
•    Music player and charger
•    Laptop or tablet and charger (useful if you want to keep a blog and upload photos)

Recommended Reading

Please see below a list of recommended reading for the Caucausus: 

The Crossing Place by Philip Marsden,
An Armenian Sketchbook by Vasily Grossman,
The Caucasus: an Introduction by Thomas de Waal,
Visions of Ararat, Writings on Armenia by Christopher Walker, 
Armenia with Nagorno Karabagh by Deirdre Holding, 
Bread and Ashes – A Walk through the Mountains of Georgia by Tony Anderson,
From the Holy Mountain: A journey in the shadow of Byzantium by William Dalrymple,
Georgia: In the mountains of poetry by Peter Nasmyth, 
The Oil Road: Journeys from the Caspian Sea to the City of London by James Marriott and Mika Minio-Paluello







 

Responsible Travel

Responsible Travel

As regular travellers, one thing that never ceases to amaze and inspire us is the kindness and generosity of people, often people who have very little to their name. We firmly believe that the people who make these places special should also benefit from our visit. Therefore, as first preference, we use local guides and locally-owned lodges, shops and eateries. We do our best to ensure that the benefits of our tours reach as widely as possible into the communities where they operate. We also support a small portfolio of charities and local grassroots organisations which you can see on our website at www.traveltheunknown.com/responsible

The Environment

Please be mindful of the environment in which you travel. We ask you to be vigilant about disposing of your waste.  Dispose of all rubbish correctly and do not leave litter or cigarette butts in natural environments. 

Visit www.traveltheunknown.com/responsible for further information.

Cultural Sensitivity

We go to great lengths to ensure our tours have minimal impact on the environment and the people who live there. We ask you to respect the culture of the people and to familiarise yourself with local laws and customs prior to travelling with us. If you would like to photograph someone, ask their permission first to avoid causing offence. In some countries, photographing officials, the army, police, government buildings and borders may be illegal and may result in having your equipment confiscated. 

Armenia

Armenia is a Christian country and women can usually dress in normal western-style clothing. Outside the capital people are more conservative and inappropriate dress will attract attention. Homosexuality was decriminalised in 2003 but is still viewed with disapproval by many Armenians. Local LGBT groups occasionally suffer from verbal and physical harassment. Although same sex couples are often seen holding hands and kissing in public, this is common in Armenian culture, and is not necessarily an indicator of sexual orientation. You should be discreet.

Azerbaijan

Most of the population of Azerbaijan is Muslim. Azerbaijan is a largely secular society, and religion is usually considered a private matter. Local and foreign women usually dress in western-style clothing. It is frowned upon for men (and to some extent women) to
wear shorts, even in summer. While homosexuality is not illegal, LGBT people in Azerbaijan tend to keep a low profile as it is not acceptable to a large part of society. This is particularly true outside Baku and among the older generation. Public displays of affection are frowned upon, especially outside of Baku. Physical contact between men (holding hands, embracing etc) is usually a sign of friendship. 

Georgia 

Homosexuality is legal in Georgia, but not widely accepted in society. Tbilisi is a cosmopolitan city, but more conservative attitudes exist in rural areas. You should dress and behave modestly in these areas and avoid open displays of affection. Visitors should not be surprised if offered drinks by complete strangers while dining at a restaurant or sitting at a bar. If visiting a church, suitable clothing should be worn - shorts are inappropriate and women should cover their heads.

Stay in touch

Newsletter

If you would like to find out about new tours and all that is happening with Travel The Unknown, please sign up to our newsletter on our website, www.traveltheunknown.com, send us an email at enquiries@traveltheunknown.com or call us on 020 7183 6371 (UK) or 1 347 329 5524 (US).

Feedback

We have spent much time and effort to make your trip a memorable experience for all the right reasons. However, we are constantly looking to improve our tours and any feedback you can give us or suggestions you may have would be very much appreciated. Visit www.traveltheunknown.com/feedback to share your thoughts with us. 

Tour photos

We prefer to use real photos taken on our tours on our website and in our print material, so we actively encourage you to send us your photos. Happy snapping! 

If we use your pictures we will be happy to credit you as the photographer - just let us know you would like us to do so when you send in your photos. You can also share your photos on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/traveltheunknown

Stay in Touch

You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and our blog by visiting our pages shown below:

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/traveltheunknown
Twitter:      www.twitter.com/travel_unknown
Pinterest:   www.pinterest.com/TTUnknown
YouTube:   www.youtube.com/traveltheunknown
Blog:         www.traveltheunknown​.com/blog
 

Extensions

Six Days in Georgia (6 days)

Visit Tbilisi and the Khaketi wine region.

Churches of Ethiopia & The Caucasus (21 days)

A journey through ancient, traditional and diverse Christian cultures

Three Days in Georgia (3 days)

Visit Tbilisi and the Khaketi wine region.

Armenia & Georgia Explorer (12 days)

Journey through the rich history of Armenia & Georgia

Best of the Caucasus (15 days)

Charms & contradictions of Azerbaijan, Georgia & Armenia

Georgia Explorer (12 days)

Medieval fortresses, ancient wine culture & charming locals

Reviews

We had a fantastic time on our Best of the Caucasus tour. We loved eating with the families in Georgia and visiting the Molovan family in Armenia, definitely highlights of the trip. Our Georgian guide in particular was the best you could possibly have, giving a true insight into the country. He should be recommended for an award!

Pam Bowers & John Simpson , Best of the Caucasus

We asked Travel the Unknown to come up with an unusual trip to 6 counties of the Caucasus and the ex-Soviet Union countries. They did so in a tour that flowed seamlessly the whole 38 days. The most impressive part was when Ukrainian Airlines cancelled our connecting flights from Kiev to Minsk, for 2 consecutive days. We contacted Unknown that morning and asked them to arrange an overnight train with a sleeping compartment. When arrived in Kiev, we were met at the airport, driven to the train station where tickets where waiting for us. They arranged for our pickup at the station in Minsk, as we left the train, and we went on our planned tours without losing a minute. That is what I call a great service agency

Irwin Drangel & Linda Schain , Tailor-made Caucasus and Soviet Fringes
More reviews