Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $7395  
Length: 25 days
Arrive: Yerevan,Armenia
Depart: Baku, Azerbaijan
Lodging: 23 nights hotels, 1 night guesthouse
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Overland travel with walking tours, cultural explorations
3

Highlights

  • Armenia’s dramatically perched monasteries and churches, turquoise-blue Lake Sevan
  • The ancient walled towns of Karabagh, medieval architecture, nature reserves
  • Georgia: green foothills of the Caucasus, wine country, ancient cathedrals
  • Exotic Azerbaijan, with its traditional mountain villages and Stone Age petroglyphs

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Combine this adventure with our Land of the Golden Fleece departure and receive $700 off the cost!

Our epic overland journey through the fascinating trans-Caucasus region with veteran Trip Leader Roger Williams begins in Armenia, whose rich human heritage dates back thousands of years and whose landscape is dotted with stone-carved monasteries and frescoed churches perched in dramatic locations. In the 3rd century AD, Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as its state religion, and many of its churches predate famous religious buildings in Europe. After exploring Armenia’s distinctive cultural treasures, we head to the mountainous and the rarely visited republic of Karabagh, once an ancient province of Armenia, then cross the border into the Republic of Georgia. Here, we visit the charming riverside capital, Tbilisi, explore the rugged, green foothills of the Caucasus below Mt. Kazbek, visit ancient wine country, then head to the city of Batumi, with its 19th century architecture along the shores of the Black Sea. Finally we cross the border into exotic Azerbaijan, ancient home to Zoroastrianism, and conclude our journey by savoring its Central Asian atmosphere, rugged mountain scenery, and utter lack of outside visitors! We enjoy wonderful hospitality everywhere we go in these welcoming lands.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-4
Yerevan, Armenia

Set in the beautiful Ararat Valley and surrounded by rolling hills, Yerevan, Armenia’s capital, is a vibrant blend of commerce and culture and one of the oldest cities in the world, with a history dating to the 8th century BC. Our explorations here include the Matenadaran, an ancient repository that holds one of the world’s richest collections of illuminated books, manuscripts, and historical documents, the World Heritage Sites of 4th century Geghard Monastery and Echmiadzin Cathedral, and the remains of ancient temples and early Bronze Age settlements.

Days 5-6
Sisian / Goris

We head to Khor Virap Monastery, a pilgrimage site set on a plateau facing Mt. Ararat, snow-capped symbol of Armenia and the biblical resting place of Noah’s Ark. After visiting cliff-perched Noravank, a 13th century church that’s a pearl of Armenian medieval architecture, we explore a crater lake on Mt. Tsghuk featuring impressive petroglyphs inscribed on the rocks around the lakeshore and Tatev Monastery, once home to 1,000 monks.

Days 7-9
Karabagh

Crossing into the green rolling hills of Karabagh, we visit Shushi, an ancient walled town set in the Karabagh mountains, and Dadivank, a sprawling monastery set in a forested gorge whose interiors are richly decorated with frescoes. Heading southeast, we visit 7,500-year-old Karahunj, the Armenian equivalent of Stonehenge, and the mountain town of Muradsar (10,545'), set on a plateau of rock fields that are the source of hundreds of petroglyphs.

Days 10-12
Lake Sevan

A day’s drive brings us to turquoise-hued Lake Sevan, where we explore Sevan Monastery, the alpine retreat of Dilijan, and Debet Canyon, with its two World Heritage listed monasteries.

Days 13-15
Tbilisi, Georgia / Kazbegi

We explore Tbilisi, with its domed churches and tree-lined boulevards, and Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia that boasts an 11th century cathedral and Eastern Orthodox churches including the 6th century Jvari Church. Continuing north, we cross Jvari Pass and descend to Kazbegi, set below snow-capped Mt. Kazbek (16,558').

Days 16-17
Sno Valley / Kutaisi

We head deeper into the mountains, where we discover spectacular isolated valleys and villages that retain their ancient way of life. Leaving the Caucasus Mountains, we explore a first millennium BC cave town that was one of the main stops along the Silk Route, and the Gelati Monastery near Kutaisi.

Days 18-20
Batumi / Tbilisi / Kakheti

After a visit to Batumi, a popular seaside resort, we return to Tblisi. Heading east, we visit the ancient site of Davit Gareja and its 19 limestone cave monasteries, then head to Kakheti, Georgia’s wine country.

Days 21-25
Sheki, Azerbaijan / Lahic / Baku

We cross the border into Azerbaijan, where we explore the traditional mountain village of Lahic, famous for its coppersmiths and carpet weavers. We end our travels in Baku, the ancient yet cosmopolitan Azeri capital. After touring Baku’s Old Town and its ancient walled city and the Stone Age petroglyphs in nearby Qobustan, we depart on flights home.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

The trip is Level 3, Moderate, according to our trip rating system. While this trip is not expected to be physically demanding, there are long travel days due to road conditions and a lot of time spent exploring sites on foot (although this is not a hiking trip). Overland travel is in minivans and small buses, depending upon the size of the group. Road conditions can be very basic, and trip members should be prepared for narrow mountain roads and some bumpy drives due to remote locations. Accommodations in the main cites are 4-star hotels and are very good. In the countryside, we stay in special hotels in Sheki and Tzapatagh. The rest of the countryside hotels will be basic but clean. Sometimes there will be shared bathrooms rather than private bathrooms. The most important requirement for this journey is a spirit of adventure. For your own enjoyment, we recommend you make a special effort to be in good physical condition for the trip.

The food in Armenia, basically Mediterranean with Arabic, Russian, Greek, and Persian influence, is considered by some to be a “national treasure.” Lightly spiced meat shish kabob, fresh organic vegetables, lots of chewy lavash bread, and some of the best melons in the world are staples of the cuisine. One of the best reasons to visit Georgia is for its food. Azeri cuisine is rich in variety and very tasty, with lots of lamb kebab.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures & Leaders

2014
Sep 6-30, 2014  Roger Williams

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2014
$7395 (13-15 members)
$7895 (10-12 members)
$8795 (7-9 members)
Single supplement: $1295
more on pricing

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations in hotels and guesthouse
  • All meals included
  • Land transportation, airport transfers, and sightseeing as noted

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, transfers for independent arrival or departure, any meals not specified after each itinerary day, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessitated by airline schedule changes or other factors, expenses such as medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas, and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20%
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $250 per person
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Roger Williams

Roger Williams has led Wilderness Travel trips for over 25 years. He is a Tibetologist who lived in Nepal for eight years, studying Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhist iconographics, Himalayan languages, and woodblock art. He lived in Kyoto for two years studying Japanese woodblock art, Japanese language, and Shingon Shu, an esoteric sect of Japanese Buddhism. Roger has led many trips for us through India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, along the Silk Road, in Southeast Asia, to Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Central Asia, Iran, Mongolia, and into remote corners of the Russian Far East. Since 2002, Roger has been working as a technical advisor with USAID consulting in tourism development projects in Mongolia, Armenia and Croatia. In July, 2010, he returned from his third The Great Game journey, a special WT Expedition that included visits to the Wakhan Valley as well as Mazar i-Sharif and Balk (formally Bactria) in northern Afghanistan. When not leading trips, Roger is the director of Snow Lion Graphics/SLG Books in Berkeley, California, a publishing house specializing in books and calendars relating to Asian cultures.

Upcoming Trips:

Trans-Caucasus Adventure, September 6-30, 2014
Land of the Golden Fleece, September 30-October 9, 2014
The Burma Road: Kunming to Rangoon, November 3-30, 2014
Journey to the Heart of China, April 5-30, 2015
Adventures in Shangri-La, June 3-24, 2015
Journey to the Roof of the World, June 24-July 4, 2015
Central Asia Explorer, August 24-September 15, 2015
Iran: The Land of Cyrus the Great, September 15-28, 2015
China's Wild Southwest, October 13-November 4, 2015

Client Testimonials:


Tibet is a place like no other on the planet! Roger’s language skills and knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism opened many doors. Connie D., Alamo CA
Heart of Tibet
Exceedingly knowledgeable, very caring. Priscilla and Franklin O., Malvern PA
Mystical Bhutan
Roger knows how to run a trip. He’s very organized and clearly communicates the daily plan. Also, he's a lot of fun and I was impressed with his expertise on Buddhist iconography. Fran M., Mill Valley, CA
Hidden Himalayas
Roger is remarkable. This trip showed him at his best. We could never have traveled across the roof of the world without his preparation and energy. Thanks for a grand experience! Ruth and Frank H., Edmonds WA
In the Footsteps of the Great Game
Roger takes good care of his travelers and we learned a lot about the people, their culture, and history. His love for this part of the world is infectious. Ruth G., Del Mar CA
In the Footsteps of the Great Game
Roger is great! Hard working, knowledgeable, personable. He really makes a difference. Bill R., Walnut Creek, CA
Passage to India
I can understand why Roger has such a big following. He worked all the time to make the trip the best it could be. Marsha S., New York, NY
The Great Game
Roger is clearly a well-seasoned professional. He is passionate about India and it shows everyday, whether it is interacting with the locals or talking about the iconographics and sites. Grace L., Boston, MA
Passage to India
Exceptional dedication, passion, and professionalism. Roger has the right personality and attitude for this. Jonathan T., Boston, MA
Passage to India
Roger is a wealth of knowledge and very well traveled. He takes his duties as trip leader extremely seriously and goes out of his way to please each client. Terri H., Berkeley, CA
Armenia and Beyond
Roger provided a unique and enjoyable travel experience. His knowledge and familiarity with the sites visited and enthusiasm for these countries and peoples made this a great travel experience. Judy A., Davis, CA
The Burma Road: Kunming to Rangoon
Roger's extensive travel experience and knowledge of Asian culture and Buddhism greatly enhanced the trip. And all the planning he did before and during the trip ensured an excellent itinerary and made everything run smoothly. Nancy R., Walnut Creek, CA
Tribal China
There should be a rating higher than excellent for Roger. His knowledge, energy planning, and attentiveness are superlative. Debra B., Jackson, WY
Central Asia Explorer
Roger is the best tour leader with lots of experiece and profound knowledge of the subject area. Kudos to him and WT. Tan Kiet T., Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tribal China
Roger has tremendous skills as a trip leader. He has a real gift with people and his relationship with local guides enriches the areas we visit. Joan L., Baltimore, MD
Journey to the Heart of China
Roger is simply a brilliant organizer and always finds the very best services available. He also brings a wealth of knowledge and insights to anything Asian. Elizabeth M., Providence, RI
The Burma Road: Kunming to Rangoon