Trip to Azerbaijan and Georgia

Trip to Azerbaijan and Georgia

October 18 – 31, 2017

~ Days/Nights

This will be a great trip.  I have lived in Baku and traveled throughout Azerbaijan and Georgia.  I have personally visited most of the places on the itinerary except a few that I missed and of course the new hotels.  In recent years, hotels in the region have become much more affordable due to new hotel construction and fewer business travelers corresponding to the lower oil prices.  I personally recommend this trip for anyone who would like to tour the Caucasus region.”  Art McHaffie, CIR President Emeritus and Honorary Consul for the Republic of Azerbaijan

TRIP DETAILS:

$3,595 per person ($700 single supplement) which includes: 

  • English guides in both countries 
  • All breakfasts and dinners
  • Entrance to multiple parks
  • All hotels

Deposit deadline: May 31, 2017. Must send a $1,000 non-refundable deposit to CIR to secure your spot on the trip.

Contact Katy Anderson at 303-446-4903 or Katy@WorldDenver.org for more information.

TOUR ITINERARY

DAY 1:

  • Arrival
  • Meet and greet at the airport. Transfer to the hotel.
  • Check in at hotel.

The hotel in Baku will be either the modern Holiday Inn  or the brand new Winter Park Hotel. We are waiting for feedback about this hotel since it is so new. These are both very nice places and a choice will be made in the near future.

DAY 2:

08:00 – 10:00. Breakfast at the hotel.

After breakfast, the first full day of the tour will be devoted to an overview of Baku. Among the places to be visited are the Martyrs Lane, the National Flag Square, the Heydar Aliyev Center and the Seaside Park. Other stops can be made at the Carpet Museum (if there is sufficient interest) and the area known as Little Venice, an area of man-made water channels built in the 1960s.

In the evening there will be a welcome dinner, to be held at the exotic Caravanserai Restaurant inside the walls of the old city. The sturgeon steak is highly recommended. And caviar is available.

DAY 3:

08:00 – 10:00. Breakfast in the hotel.

After breakfast  a walking tour in the Old Town. Icheri Sheher “Old Town” or “Inner City” is the heart of Baku, surrounded by ancient castle walls. The famous Maiden Tower is located in the Old town. Inside the old city are dozens of historical monuments – Market Square, mosques, caravanserais, baths, houses and Shirvanshah Palace Complex – a pearl of Azerbaijani architecture. The mansions of wealthy oil merchants can also be seen there.

The palace complex was built in the period from the XIII to XVI centuries.

The most magnificent and most mysterious monument of Baku is Giz Galasi – Maiden Tower, rising in the south-eastern part of the fortress of Icheri Sheher. In 1964 the Maiden Tower became a museum, and since 2000 has been included in the UNESCO World heritage list.

In the afternoon there will be an excursion to the Apsheron Peninsula.

Temple Ateshgah

Atashgah Fire Temple – Is located 30 km from the center of Baku, on the outskirts of the village of Surakhani. This area is known for such unique natural phenomena as burning natural gas outlets bursting outward and light up in contact with oxygen. The modern form of the temple was built in the XVII-XVIII centuries. However, the history of the Temple Ateshgah is much older. Since ancient times this territory was a sanctuary of the Zoroastrians who were fire-worshipers. They gave the inextinguishable fire a mystical significance and came here to worship the shrine.

Then a visit to the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum Complex Gala which

dates back to the III millennium BC and includes burial mounds, tombs, houses, 4 buildings for storage of water, the ruins of an ancient castle, 5 mosques, 3 baths, and more.

Yanardag – Yanar Dag or “burning mountain” is one of the most amazing natural attractions of the Apsheron Peninsula.

It is a natural gas fire that burns continuously on a mountainside.

Return to Baku and overnight.

DAY 4:

Breakfast in the hotel. After breakfast departure for a tour of Quba.

Quba is one of the largest cities in Azerbaijan and is located 170 km to the north of Baku on picturesque hillsides. In the past it was the capital of the Quba khanate which was founded in the mid 18th century.

Architectural landmarks include the Dzhuma Mosque, the Sakina-Khanum Mosque, Zoroastrian Temple in Khinalug village, the octagonal mausoleum in Agbil village (16th century), Tengialtyn fortress. The symbols of Quba are apple orchards and beautiful Quba carpets which are popular far outside Azerbaijan.

Overnight Baku

DAY 5:

Breakfast in the hotel. After breakfast departure from the hotel to Qabala. Qabala is in a mountainous region  in the north of the country, up near the Russian region of Dagestan.

On the way to Qabala stops at Shamakhi and Lahich.

Shamakhi is an ancient Azerbaijan city dating from the 5th century BC. In the 9th -16th centuries it was the capital of the Shirvan Empire. It is considered one of the most beautiful cities of the East.

The village of Lagich was built in the 5th century B.C. on the canyon of the river Girdimanchai.

The village is small, but very picturesque. The territory is recognized as a cultural reserve and is a popular tourist destination on the Great Silk Road. Lagich has preserved its trade and craft center up to now. Copper, leather and carpet crafts are still flourishing.

Around 17:00 Arrive in Qabala and check in to your hotel. Overnight at Riverside Hotel.

 

DAY 6:

Breakfast at the hotel followed by an excursion to Qabala.

There are many mineral water springs and fountains in forests around the city. which is in an area rich with walnut and chestnut. Chestnut trees at the foot of the mountains at a height of 1000 m above sea level are the region’s wealth. The average age of the trees here is more than 500 years. Qabala is an ancient city with many historical and cultural monuments and several will be visited as time allows.

Here is a link to a Wikipedia article about Qabala.

At around 13:00 Departure from Qabala to Sheki. Sheki is another ancient Silk Road city, rich in history and culture. The Khan’s palace is of particular interest and it has been proposed as a Unesco World Heritage site.

After check in at the hotel in Sheki there will be time for a tour of the town.

Overnight in Sheki at Sheki Palace Hotel.

DAY 7:

08:00 – 10:00. Breakfast at the hotel.
11:00 Departure from the hotel to Balaken (Georgian border).
13:00 Arrive at the Azerbaijan-Georgia border.
Departure from Azerbaijan


GEORGIAN PART of ITINERARY: DAY 7 continued:

Meet at Georgia-Azerbaijan border, change vehicles and continue your tour into Georgia.

The first stop is a visit to the fortified town of Sighnaghi. Notice the porches or balconies on many of the old houses. You will see this typically Georgian feature in the old part of Tbilisi when you get there.

Sighnaghi is in the heart of Georgia’s wine-growing region of Kakheti. You will get a chance to visit several vineyards and have some wine-tastings, including the Marani wine cellar where wine is still made in clay vessels in accordance with old Georgian traditions. Then drive on to the town of Telavi, where you will spend the night.

Here is a link to some photos of the hotel. Overnight Telavi

Day 8:

TELAVI-AKHMETA –TBILISIAfter breakfast at the hotel, depart to visit the XI-Century Alaverdi Cathedral, a Unesco World Heritage site.

This is followed by a visit to a local wine cellar and wine museum and more wine tasting.

Then it is time to depart for Tbilisi.

There will be time for an evening city tour including a cable car visit to the Narikala Citadel. A view from the walls of the ancient fortress offers a splendid panorama of the gorge of the River Mtkvari and picturesque the Trialeti range.

Then continue to the other side of the river and visit Metekhi – a beautiful church dating from the XIII century.

Overnight at Rooms Hotel in Tbilisi.

Day 9:

TBILISI –MTSKHETA – GORI-KUTAISI

After breakfast at the hotel depart to Mtskheta, which was the old capital of Georgia. Mtskheta is approximately 2,500 years-old and is included in the Unesco World  Heritage list. You will see one of the masterpieces of world architecture, Jvari Church built in the end of VI century.

You will also visit the XI-Century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.

Then continue to the town of Gori, the birthplace of Stalin and a visit to the local Stalin museum. (You may find that Stalin is still surprisingly popular in Georgia).

Then on to Uplistsikhe – one of the oldest cities in the country. It is a city with ancient cave dwellings dating back to the Iron Age.

Overnight at the Argo Boutique Hotel in Kutaisi.

 

 

Day 10:

KUTAISI-MESTIA

After breakfast sightseeing in the old part of Kutaisi, visiting the Bagrati Cathedral and the Gelati Monastery. Depart for Mestia and a walking tour of the town. The town is dominated by stone defensive towers of a type seen in Ushguli (“Svan towers”). A typical Svan fortified dwelling consisted of a tower, an adjacent house (machub) and some other household structures encircled by a defensive wall.

Overnight at Banguriani Hotel in Mestia.

Day 11:

MESTIA-USHGULI-MESTIA

Drive to Ushguli village situated 2200 m above sea level and famous for its watch towers and beautiful view of Mt. Shkhara. Ushguli is a community of four villages located at the head of the Enguri gorge in SvanetiGeorgia. Recognized as the Upper Svaneti UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ushguli is one of the highest continuously inhabited settlements in Europe. Compared to somewhat more developed towns like Mestia, Ushguli has been “saved” by its particularly inaccessible location, which helped preserve the villages’ timeless feel.

Visit the Ethnographic Museum and the 12th-Century Church of the Virgin Mary.

In the evening return to Mestia.

Overnight Mestia.

Day 12:

MESTIA – MARTVILI CANYION –KUTAISI

After breakfast at the hotel drive up to Hatsvali mountain, where you can enjoy good views of the surrounding peaks.

Then start back to Kutaisi. En route visit the village Martvili and Martvili canyon, with a boat ride inside the canyon.

Overnight in Kutaisi.

 

Day 13:

KUTAISI-TBILISI

Now After breakfast depart for Tbilisi. After arrival in Tbilisi  there will be time for a funicular ride up to Mtsatminda Mountain and a visit to the open air ethnographic museum. In the evening there will be a farewell dinner and folk show.

Overnight Tbilisi.

Day 14:

After breakfast (depending on what time your flight leaves) go the Tbilisi airport for your flight home.