Trans-Caucasus Adventure

Armenia, Karabagh, Georgia, & Azerbaijan
with Roger Williams
Repertory Trip: Next Offered May 2016

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.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Repertory Trip

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered every two to five years.  The exact dates have not been finalized but we expect they will be in May 2016. The “Itinerary at a Glance” and the “Full Detailed Itinerary” are available below. Please note there may be slight changes to the itinerary for future departures. Contact us to receive early notification of the trip dates. These special trips fill very quickly once the exact dates are set!

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an ancient repository that holds one of the world’s richest collections of illuminated books, manuscripts, and historical documents, the World Heritage Sites of 4th century Geghard Monastery and Echmiadzin Cathedral, and the remains of ancient temples and early Bronze Age settlements.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

Roger Williams

In 1986, Roger Williams led his first Wilderness Travel trip. Nearly 30 years later, he shows no sign of stopping, with added trips filling up quicker than the one before. If it isn’t the surplus of knowledge Roger brings when he leads a trip that makes it so unique, including his cultural insight to places like Nepal (where he spent eight years studying Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhist iconographics, Himalayan languages, and woodblock art) and Japan (where he spent another two years studying Japanese woodblock art, Japanese language, and Shingon Shu, an esoteric sect of Japanese Buddhism), then it may be his awareness for cultural preservation that keep clients coming back. In July 2014, he returned from The Great Game journey, a special Wilderness Travel Expedition that included visits to the Wakhan Valley as well as Mazar i-Sharif and Balk (formally Bactria) in northern Afghanistan. Roger has also been working as a technical advisor with USAID consulting in tourism development projects in Mongolia, Armenia and Croatia. 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. “There should be a rating higher than excellent for Roger,” one client wrote after her Central Asia Explorer trip with Roger. “His knowledge, energy planning, and attentiveness are superlative.”

Upcoming Trips:

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 23-September 15, 2015
Iran: The Land of Cyrus the Great, September 15-28, 2015
China's Wild Southwest, October 13-November 4, 2015
India's Malabar Coast, January 27-February 20, 2016
Iran, March 10-April 2, 2016
Trans-Caucasus Adventure, May 2016
The Great Game, September 2016
Wonders of Nepal, October 2016
Eastern Bhutan and India’s Wild Northeast Frontier, November 2016

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
I'm struck again with the magnitude of the incredible adventure you led us on. I have pretty much traveled the world since that trip, with adventures galore...but nothing has, or ever will, compare to it. Aleen S., Cedar Mountain, NC
The Great Silk Road
Roger is an exceptional trip leader with an historian's grasp of the influences shaping this part of the world. Kathe W., Pittsburgh, PA
The Best of Southeast Asia
Roger was nothing short of outstanding as a trip leader...managing people as well as logistics of a 25+ day intensive trip. He has a clear desire to share his knowledge, interest, and excitement about Southeast Asia. We've had a lot of good Trip Leaders and I'd rate Roger as #1 on my list. Greg W., Pittsburgh, PA
The Best of Southeast Asia
Roger was well organized, with careful planning and terrific knowledge of the culture and religion. His interaction with the group was unlike anything we have experienced on prior trips. He is a real treasure for WT, one of your best. Donald H., Farmington, CT
The Best of Southeast Asia