Day 1: Depart U.S. for Yerevan, Armenia
Day 2: Arrive Yerevan Upon arrival in the Armenian capital late tonight, we transfer directly to our hotel.
Day 3: Yerevan After time to rest this morning and have lunch on our own, we meet our Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director and fellow travelers at a welcome briefing about the journey ahead. Then this afternoon, we set out to discover this modern city, once the crossroads of ancient caravan routes. We visit central Republic Square, and see the Yerevan Cascade complex of terraced fountains and the Armenian Opera Theatre. Tonight, we enjoy a welcome dinner at our hotel. B,D
Day 4: Yerevan/Garni/Geghard This morning we visit two Armenian icons: the citadel and pagan temple of Garni, dating to the Hellenistic era; and medieval Geghard Monastery, a UNESCO site. We have lunch in Garni village, where we see the Armenian bread lavash baked in a traditional oven. After returning to Yerevan, we visit the poignant Armenian Genocide Memorial, then are free for dinner on our own. B,L
Day 5: Yerevan/Ararat Region On today’s excursion to the Ararat plain, we visit the fortified monastery of Khor-Virap, pilgrimage site of the Armenian Apostolic Church with stunning views of Mt. Ararat in eastern Turkey. Next: 4th-century Etchmiadzin Cathedral, center of the Armenian church and the country’s spiritual capital, followed by the 7th-century ruins of Zvartnots temple, a UNESCO site. Then we attend a cooking demonstration of traditional pasta and sweets, which we enjoy for lunch. B,L,D
Day 6: Yerevan/Lake Sevan/Dilijan Traveling east today, we stop to see cerulean Lake Sevan then continue on to the spa town of Dilijan, the “Armenian Switzerland.” We visit the 13th-century Monastery of Haghartsin, beautifully set in a river canyon surrounded by dense forest. After lunch together here, we reach our hotel then enjoy time at leisure. B,L,D
Day 7: Dilijan/Tbilisi, Georgia En route to Tbilisi, we visit the 10th-century monastic complex of Haghpat, a UNESCO site known as a masterpiece of religious architecture. Early afternoon we reach the border with Georgia then continue on to Tbilisi, the country’s capital and largest city, arriving late afternoon. B,L,D
Day 8: Tbilisi Founded in the 4th century on the site of warm mineral springs, Tbilisi boasts a long and storied history as a key stop on the Silk Road and a center of commerce and arts in the Middle Ages. We get a taste of these cultural riches on today’s tour that begins in the fortified old town. We see the Georgian Orthodox Metekhi Temple, Abanotubani thermal baths (ca. 12th century), Narikala fortress, 5th-century Sioni Cathedral, Georgia’s oldest; and the pedestrian Bridge of Peace. This afternoon: the Georgian National Museum, pride of the country; stately Freedom Square; and busy Rustaveli Avenue. Then we ride a funicular up 2,330 feet for panoramic views over the city. B,L
Day 9: Tbilisi/Kakheti Today we tour Georgia’s wine country, one of the world’s oldest, a pastoral region of mountain scenery, picturesque villages, and vineyard after vineyard. We visit the hill town of Sighnaghi then a winery for lunch and a tasting. Next: Tsinandali Estate, residence of a 19th-century noble family; the town of Telavi in the Alazani Valley; and 11th-century Alaverdi Cathedral, a UNESCO site. We return to Tbilisi early evening. B,L,D
Day 10: Tbilisi/Mtskheta/Stepantsminda (Kazbegi) Breathtaking Caucasus views await as we travel toward Stepantsminda today. En route, we visit the ancient capital of Mtskheta, where Georgians accepted Christianity in the early 4th century and now a UNESCO site. We continue through the mountains, stopping for photos and at the Ananuri castle complex, then cross the Greater Caucasus at Jvari Pass (alt. 7,858 ft). Late afternoon, we reach Stepantsminda and our hotel, where we dine tonight. B,D
Day 11: Stepantsminda More stunning Caucasus scenery is in store today as we tour the city and its surroundings. We’re at the foot of Mount Kazbek, one of six 5,000-meter plus (16,404 ft) peaks in the Caucasus range. We visit beautifully situated Gergeti Sameba Church then enjoy lunch in the home of a local family. This afternoon we visit the Darial Gorge, a scenic and historically significant mountain pass near the Russian border once known as the Caucasian Gates. We also call on the Archangel Monastery Complex, a handsome collection of stone churches, monasteries, and courtyards. B,L
Day 12: Stepantsminda/Gori/Borjomi We cross back through Jvari Pass as we travel to the resort town of Borjomi, stopping for lunch on our own in the historic town of Gori, birthplace of Joseph Stalin. Then we continue our journey through the Lesser Caucasus to Borjomi, where we dine tonight at our hotel. B,D
Day 13: Borjomi On this morning’s walking tour of this town known for its mineral water, we visit the local park then take a cable car up the Borjomi Plateau for views of the town and its surroundings. The rest of the day is free before dinner together tonight. B,D
Day 14: Borjomi/Vardzia Today’s excursion features two UNESCO sites: the medieval fortress of Khertvisi and the cave palace/monastery of Vardzia, built in the 12th century to protect Queen Tamara from attacking Mongols. Time permitting, we’ll visit 9th-century Rabati Castle in the town of Akhaltsikhe before returning to Borjomi late afternoon. B,D
Day 15: Borjomi/Uplistsikhe/Tbilisi Returning to Tbilisi today, we stop in the 7th-century cave town of Uplistsikhe then continue on to Chateau Mukhrani, with gardens designed by a Versailles gardener and where our lunch is accompanied by fine Georgian wine from the chateau’s wine cellar. Then we return to Tbilisi, where tonight we celebrate our Caucasus adventure with a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. B,L,D
Day 16: Tbilisi/Depart for U.S. With our rooms reserved for late checkout, today is free to enjoy Tbilisi as we wish. This evening we transfer to the airport for our return flight to the U.S. B
Day 17: Arrive U.S. We arrive in the U.S. and connect with our flights home.
Please note: This trip involves considerable walking on uneven terrain in a natural environment. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to the fullest. While the elevations on this tour are not severe, the relatively high altitude reached at Jvari Pass on Day 10 (approximately 7,858 feet) and at the hotel in Stepantsminda on Days 10-11 (approximately 5,577 feet) could pose problems for guests with certain health conditions. You should consult with your personal physician if you have concerns.
B = Breakfast included L = Lunch included D = Dinner included