Luxury Tailor Made Journeys depart on the dates that work for you and feature expert local guides throughout your journey. The itinerary below can be customized to your interests.
Arrive Baku, Azerbaijan
Arrive in Baku, the political, economic and cultural hub of Azerbaijan, where you are met and transferred to your hotel. This evening, stroll the city with a guide to get the first impression of the city. Have a look at the buildings constructed during first oil boom, such as Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall, the Palace of Happiness and Isamailiyya Palace, and then walk on Fountain Square, Nizami Street and Boulevard of Baku.
Baku | Gobuston & Icheri Sheher
This morning, leave Baku for Gobustan Historical Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its perfectly preserved petroglyphs, which reflect nearly 15,000 years of the history of this region. Visit the Gobustan Museum, where special programs and multimedia touch screens offer an interactive way to learn about the flora and fauna on the reserve. Next, view some of the reserve’s hundreds of mud volcanoes, which bubble and exude a muddy slurry instead of magma. After time for lunch at leisure, join your guide for a walk of Baku that includes the medieval walled Old City, Icheri Sheher, with it is narrow alleyways and historic caravanserais, mosques as well as a visit to the Palace of the Shirvan Shahs, a UNESCO Heritage site. Also explore the Maiden's Tower, another UNESCO Heritage Site that features the imposing mansions of the oil barons, built in the oil boom of 1870-1914 and Martyr's, with its superb views over the Bay of Baku. Enjoy this evening at your leisure.
Baku | Lunar-Like Landscapes
Begin your day with a guided exploration of ancient sites and temples dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries on the Absheron Peninsula. View the Ateshgyah, also called the Temple of Fire, a castle-like religious structure in the mountains outside Baku, and see its eternal flame, which was fueled by naturally occurring natural gas for centuries. After time for lunch at your leisure, visit the colossal Haydar Aliyev Center in Baku, a building complex covering 619,000 square feet. Created by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, it is noted for the smooth, curving contours of its design. View its meeting rooms, galleries and museums to appreciate how the role the center plays in the intellectual life of the city.
Kazbegi, Georgia | Works of Faith & Wine Tasting
Today, fly to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Founded in the fifth century on the banks of the Mtkvari River, Tbilisi was destroyed and rebuilt many times throughout its turbulent history. Upon arrival, journey overland to Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia, where you visit several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Explore Jvari, the sixth century cross-shaped monastery built on the top of a cliff, overlooking the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers. It was here Saint Nino, a female evangelist, erected a large wooden cross on the site of a pagan temple. Also visit the 11th-century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, where it is claimed the robe of Christ is buried, to view its carefully restored medieval frescoes. Next, savor a wine tasting at historic Château Mukhrani, and see its surrounding gardens designed by a gardener from Versailles. The castle is also renowned for its Italian gilded furniture and its European parquet, the first in Georgia. Before leaving, explore the château’s cellars, which hold 60,000 barrels of wine. Continue your journey along Georgian Military Highway to explore Khevi province, noted for its austere mountain landscapes as well as numerous architectural monuments and archaeological sites. Arrive in Kazbegi — a small town with the views of Mount Kazbek — the seventh highest peak in the Caucasus Mountains. This mountain is associated with myth of Prometheus, the titan who according to the legend was chained on the mountain in punishment for having stolen fire from the gods and given it to mortals. Walk up or drive up by 4x4 to the 14th-century Gergeti Holy Trinity Church, located over 7,000 feet above sea level on looming Mount Kazbek. Then, settle into your hotel in Kazbegi for an evening at leisure.
Tbilisi | Views from the Citadel
After breakfast, return to Tbilisi. Upon arrival, explore the Old City with an expert local guide to experience its unique blend of cultures, where people from different nations meet on street corners and adherents to different faiths share the same courtyards. Visit Metekhi Church of Assumption, a prime example of cross-domed Georgian orthodox architecture. Also see the Georgian Synagogue, a Jewish prayer house dating to the 19th century. Next, arrive at Narikhala Fortress, the city’s primary citadel where you take in wonderful views of Tbilisi. Also explore Rustaveli Avenue, the city’s main artery, named for a beloved medieval Georgian poet. Finish at the National Museum of Georgia, where you view a permanent exhibition aptly named “The Archaeological Treasury.” Along the way, learn how Tbilisi, a city that has been dominated by traders, warriors, tyrants and dictators in turn, has become a modern community featuring renowned museums, theaters, sulfur bathhouses and art galleries. Tonight, dine at the local restaurant while being entertained by a folk performance. You may also wish to enjoy a Tbilisi Sulphur Baths experience, at an additional cost, during which you are treated to a rigorous scrub and offered tea and jam. High in sulfur and other minerals, Tbilisi’s baths are touted as a therapeutic aid for a range of ailments.
Tbilisi | Kekheti Wine & Sighnaghi
Today, explore Kakheti, a picturesque and fertile part of Georgia that borders the Great Caucasus range, with peaks that as high as 9,800 feet. Learn why this region is known as a birthplace of viticulture and wine-making, where rich land, burning sun and hard work have developed about 500 varieties of wine. The history, culture and lifestyle of Georgians are embodied in their wines, the symbols of Georgian hospitality, friendship and tolerance, and a key to the mystery of Georgian longevity. Explore Sighnaghi, a fortified town famous for its wine-making culture. Admire breathtaking views of the Kizikhi area and get a feel for the unusual charm of the Sighnaghi Royal Town. Walk through narrow streets of the town in the shadow of wooden balconies richly decorated with the lace of carved ornaments. Visit the Tsinandali Family Estate, which once belonged to the 19th-century aristocratic poet Alexander Chavchavadze and consists of a summer home, garden and winery; its cellars featuring several vintages of fine white wine. Indulge in a wine tasting at a local winery, before returning to Tbilisi.
Yerevan, Armenia | Medieval Monastery
Cross the border into Armenia today en route to Yerevan. Along the way, view high-altitude, freshwater Lake Sevan and visit the picturesque Haghpat Monastery. Founded by a 10th-century queen, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was a significant center of learning in the Middle Ages. In forest-swathed Dilijan, observe traditional craft workshops on Sharambeyan Street. Then, check in to your hotel in Yerevan, a city marked by grand, Soviet-era architecture.
Yerevan | Ancient Manuscripts & Cognac
Explore Yerevan’s rich cultural heritage, starting with a visit to the Mother Armenia monument in Victory park. Positioned on a hill overlooking the city, this 72-foot-high statue symbolizes peace through strength and is a prominent reminder of female figures in Armenian history. Continue to the Armenian History Museum and see the remarkable collection of archaeological artifacts dating back to the third millennium BC, followed by a tour of the Ancient Manuscript Museum; one of the world's richest depositories of medieval manuscripts and books. After time for lunch at leisure, visit the Genocide Museum and memorial; a poignant reminder of those who lost their lives in the genocide committed against the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915. Finish your day with a tour of the Cognac Factory; sampling this Armenian drink, including DVIN, one of Winston Churchill’s favorite drinks.
Vagharshapat | Insights into Ancient Armenia
Set out to visit Cave Monastery Geghard, a medieval monastery in the Kotayk province of Armenia that is partially carved out of the adjacent mountain and surrounded by cliffs. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the monastery complex was founded in the fourth century by Gregory the Illuminator at the site of a sacred spring inside a cave. Enjoy an uplifting spiritual vocal concert while on this revered site. Next, continue to Rustic House in Garni village for a class in Armenian bread making led by a master baker and complemented by a tasting of home-made Armenian vodka. Then, explore Garni Gorge by 4x4 vehicle to see the geological marvel known as the Symphony of Stones, formed from hexagonal columns of basalt. Then, proceed to the village of Garni to visit the pagan Temple of Garni — the only building still standing in Armenia that exhibits colonnaded Greco-Roman design. Built in the first century AD to honor the sun god Mihr, it is an enduring symbol of pre-Christian Armenia. Return to Yerevan for an early evening visit to the Cascade Monument, a massive limestone stairway surrounded by gardens and sculptures.
This morning after breakfast, transfer to the airport for your international departing flight.