Trans-Caucasus Adventure

Azerbaijan, Georgia, Svaneti, & Armenia

Repertory Trip: Next Offered May 19-June 13, 2023


Our epic journey through the dramatic Trans-Caucasus region with veteran Trip Leader Roger Williams brings us to lands with a fascinating ancient history, deep religious roots, and incredible people from a variety of cultures. We begin in Azerbaijan, ancient home to Zoroastrianism, and kick off our adventure by savoring its Central Asian atmosphere, craggy mountain scenery, and utter lack of outside visitors. After exploring its mountainous landscapes, we’ll 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, and then head to the city of Batumi, with its 19th century architecture, set along the shores of the Black Sea. With its innate beauty and fascinating cultural legacy, Svaneti has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status. We’ll explore this remote region of northwestern Georgia—celebrated in myth as the home of the fabled Golden Fleece (Svaneti belonged to the ancient state of Colchis, from where Jason stole the Golden Fleece)—and end our grand journey in Armenia, whose rich human heritage dates back thousands of years and whose landscape is dotted with stone-carved monasteries and frescoed churches set in dramatic locations. Each day, we enjoy wonderful interactions with hospitable people, visit nine different World Heritage Sites, and spend comfortable overnights in lovely hotels and inns.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-4, May 19-22, 2023
Baku, Azerbaijan / Qobustan / Guba

Welcome to Baku, the largest city in the Caucasus! We’ll get acquainted with this ancient yet cosmopolitan Azeri capital, walking the intriguing cobble-stone back streets, with stops at the fascinating Palace of the Shirvanshahs (World Heritage Site), the Maiden’s Tower (World Heritage Site), Heydar Aliyev Center, the Nobel House, and the superb carpet museum. We’ll also visit Qobustan (World Heritage Site), site of thousands of Stone Age petroglyphs, and explore other important historical sites including the Ateshgah Fire Temple and Yanar Dag (Burning Mountain). On Day 4, we’ll head to mountainous Guba, a land steeped in Jewish heritage, and visit the famous Red Town and a local carpet weaving workshop.

Days 5-9, May 23-27, 2023
Lahic / Sheki / Telavi, Georgia / Tbilisi

We leave Baku for the traditional mountain village of Lahic, famous for its carpet weavers and coppersmiths. We’ll visit some of these workshops and watch the masters and their apprentices create elaborate and complex designs before continuing west to Sheki, situated in a serene mountain setting. Highlights include visiting an impressive Shebeke stain-glass workshop and touring the Kish Albania Church, built in the 1st century. On Day 7, cross the border from Azerbaijan to Telavi, Georgia, in the Kakheti province of Georgia, one of the oldest wine regions in the world. We’ll visit a 300-year-old wine cellar, learn traditional Georgian wine-making techniques, tast home-made wines straight from quervi, visit the Lavra Monastery, and walk to ancient painted caves of Udabno in the semi-desert area of David Gareji. Heading to Tbilisi, we visit the 4th century Narikala Fortress, with views of the mighty snow-capped peak of Mt. Kazbegi (16,508') in the distance, and spend time at the 16th-17th century brick-domed Sulphur Baths.

Days 10-12, May 28-30, 2023
Gori / Uplistsikhe / Akhaltsikhe / Vardzia / Kutaisi

After arriving in Gori, the heart of the Kartli region and the birthplace of Stalin, we’ll visit Uplistsikhe, a first millennium BC cave town that was one of the main stops along the Silk Route, and continue on to Borjomi, famous for its mineral water, then head to Akhaltsikhe. We’ll enjoy a visit to an incredible church building carved out of rock revealing beautiful frescoes in Vardzia, then head to Kutaisi, the second largest city in Georgia, where we’ll visit Gelati Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Days 13-15, May 31-Jun 2, 2023
Svaneti / Mestia / Mulakhi / Ushguli

We drive to Mestia, the tiny capital of Svaneti. Our excursions include a hike through the Svanetian villages of Mulakhi, bringing us past bright wildflowers and stunning views of the Greater Caucasus. In Ushguli, the highest permanently inhabited village in Europe and part of a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, we’ll explore incredible scenery and fascinating culture. We’ll also spend time with a local family to see how they make cheese.

Days 16-19, Jun 3- 6, 2023
Mtskheta / Akhtala, Armenia

After overnights in the Black Sea port of Batumi and in Tbilisi, we head to Mtskheta and visit its many historical sites including the the 6th century Jvari Church and 11th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (also World Heritage Sites!) After crossing the border into Armenia, we drive to 10th century Akhtala Monastery to examine its breathtaking frescoes, and continue to beautiful Debet Canyon, with its two World Heritage–listed monasteries, Hagpat and Sananhin.

Days 20-26, Jun 7-13, 2023
Dilijan / Sevan / Sisan / Goris / Yerevan

In the alpine town of Dilijan, we’ll stroll beside the century-old wood framed houses and craftsmen’s workshops of the old town. We stop at turquoise-blue Lake Sevan, the largest lake in the Caucasus region, en route to the Syunik Province and the archaeological sites of Sisian. We continue to Goris and nearby Tatev Monastery, set on a fairytale outcrop of rock on the edge of Voroton Canyon. Making our way to Yerevan, we’ll explore this wonderful city, including its 7th century St. Hripsime Church, the Main Cathedral of Echmiadzin, and the open-air Zvartnots Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will also visit its surrounding sites and villages, including the 1st century pagan temple of Garni, as well as the fascinating 4th century Geghard Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Transfer to airport for international flights on Day 26.



Exotic Azerbaijan, with its traditional mountain villages and Stone Age petroglyphs
Georgia: green foothills of the Caucasus, wine country, ancient cathedrals
Armenia’s dramatically perched monasteries and churches, turquoise-blue Lake Sevan
Visit a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites


Length: 26 days
Cost From: $8595  
Arrive: Baku, Azerbaijan
Depart: Yerevan, Armenia
Lodging: 24 nights hotels, 1 night guesthouse
Meals: All meals included as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

Overland travel with walking tours, cultural explorations