Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia - The Edge of Europe
Europe’s wild frontier, the Caucasus region occupies an unusual geographical and cultural position. It interweaves elements of Russia, Persia, the Ottoman Empire and Central Asia. This comprehensive tour visits Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, formerly tucked away within the Soviet Union but now easily accessible to the curious traveller.
The highlights here are diverse. We start in Azerbaijan and explore its unique geological phenomena, the flaming mountains and bubbling mud volcanoes, which have given rise to the nickname ‘land of fire’. We explore unique communities and historic towns packed full of ancient mosques and mausoleums, where the past never seems too far away. Then we head into the mountains where villagers welcome us into their homes with traditional Azeri hospitality.
Moving into Georgia we head into the High Caucasus Mountains, visiting the mythical Mount Kazbek, reputedly the site of the Greek fable to Prometheus. We then move on to Mtskheta, the spiritual heart of the country with some stunning UNESCO listed monuments.
Heading west we stop at Kutaisi renowned for its striking religious buildings. We then return once again to the mountains and the wild and untamed land of Svaneti, one of Europe’s most isolated and traditional areas with unique villages and towering summits. Here we meet the Svan people to learn about their unique way of life and enjoy some of Europe’s finest scenery.
Armenia offers ancient monasteries that date back to the emergence of Christendom. In Dilijan we wander around the old centre and meet the Molokan people, one of Europe’s smallest, but most traditional ethnic groups. We discover the stunning churches of Echmiadzin and visit Kurdish and Yazidi villages. Here lifestyles have changed little for centuries and we uncover the rich cultural heritage of this complex but fascinating part of the world.
At the dramatically located monastery of Geghard we see ancient religious treasures. And in the area around Garni we spend time in a local village as guests of a family, where we are treated to a typical Armenian meal in a traditional setting.
Adventurous travellers can extend their trip with a visit to the independent republic of Nagorno Karabakh, a country unrecognised by most of the world. Uncover the secrets of a truly enchanting corner of Europe.