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Armenia, Georgia - 14 days
Georgia and Armenia – Caucasus Discoverer
Prices from £1,949
Georgia and Armenia – Caucasus Discoverer
Prices from £1,949
Europe’s wild frontier, the Caucasus region occupies an unusual position both geographically and culturally, intertwining elements of Russia, Persia, the Ottoman Empire and Central Asia. This two week tour visits Georgia and Armenia, formerly tucked away within the Soviet Union but now easily accessible to the curious traveller. The highlights here are diverse; we head into the High Caucasus Mountains, visiting the mythical Mount Kazbek, reputedly the site of the Greek fable to Prometheus, then move on to Mtskhehta, the spiritual heart of the country with some stunning UNESCO listed monuments. Heading west we stop at Kutaisi with its striking religious buildings, 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, and 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 where lifestyles have changed little for centuries, uncovering 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. The adventurous can extend their trip with a visit to the independent republic of Nagorno Karabakh, a country unrecognised by most of the world. Our Armenia and Georgia holidays uncover the secrets of a truly enchanting corner of Europe.
Day 1 – Tbilisi
Arrive in Tbilisi.
Day 2 – Mtskehta – Gudauri
Drive to Mtskhehta, Georgia’s ancient capital. We then head north along the Georgian Military Highway to Kazbegi, surrounded by the High Caucasus Mountains. Walk to the picturesque Sameba Church with views of Mt Kazbek in the background.
Day 3 – Gori – Uplistiskhe – Kutaisi
Visit Gori, the birthplace of Stalin, the cave city of Uplistsikhe, dating back to the 7th century BC, and in Kutaisi the Gelati Monastery and Bagrati Cathedral.
Day 4 – Svaneti
Drive to Svaneti, high in the Caucasus Mountains and head to the town of Mestia, known for its typical architecture.
Day 5 – Svaneti
A full day exploring this stunning region, with its medieval buildings, watchtowers and a backdrop of Mt Shkhara, Georgia’s highest mountain.
Day 6 – Tbilisi
Return to Tbilisi, arriving early evening.
Day 7 – Tbilisi
Explore this interesting city and learn about its long and fascinating history. Visit the old town, the Metekhi Temple and the fortress of Narikala, as well as the National Museum and the 11th century Sioni Cathedral.
Day 8 – Yerevan
Transfer to the border with Armenia, and from here continue to Yerevan.
Day 9 – Yerevan
Spend today exploring the charming city of Yerevan. We visit some of its key sites including Republic Square, the Matenadaran museum of ancient manuscripts, one of Yerevan’s most interesting and unique sights, and the Genocide Museum.
Day 10 – Khor Virap – Noravank
Head to the monastery of Khor Virap, then Norovank monastery, situated at the edge of the red rocks of Gnishik Gorge.
Day 11 – Sevan – Dilijan – Haghpat
This morning drive to the stunning Lake Sevan, then continue to the town of Dilijan with its well preserved historic centre. Visit a Molokan village and Haghpat monastery, dating back to the 10th century.
Day 12 – Echmiadzin – Zvartnots – Yerevan
We head back to Yerevan, stopping en route to visit communities of Kurdish and Yazidi people. This afternoon we visit the complex of churches at Echmiadzin, and the ruins of the temple of Zvartnots.
Day 13 – Geghard – Garni – Yerevan
Drive to the monastery of Geghard, and the pagan temple of Garni, very different from other monuments here and perched on the edge of a gorge. Have lunch at a local village house before returning to Yerevan.
Day 14 – Yerevan
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
Day 1 – Tbilisi
Arrive in Tbilisi and transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore. Overnight Sharden Hotel or similar. (B)
Georgia’s rather charming capital is a bewildering combination of cultural influences, from Soviet Russia to ancient Persia and Ottoman Turkey, but despite being located between these three giants it has managed to carve out a unique identity for itself. Straddling the Mtkvari River Tbilisi – formerly known as Tiflis by the Russians – has a rather easy going air, with wide boulevards and public squares where old men play board games under the shade of trees, and is a very pleasant place to explore on foot. Georgia’s Christian heritage is evident here and the city is home to a number of fine churches and cathedrals, one of the most impressive of which is the Sioni cathedral dating back to the 13th century. As well as these, a stroll around central Tbilisi willl bring you to old caravanserais and bathhouses, synagogues and mosques – Tbilisi is more cosmopolitan than one might think. The city is also home to some excellent museums – the National Museum in particular holds some exquisite examples of early gold jewellery which give credence to the theory that Georgia was the original ‘Land of the Golden Fleece’.
Day 2 – Mtskehta – Kazbegi
Drive to Mtskhehta, Georgia’s ancient capital where we visit the UNESCO listed Jvari Monastery and the striking Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. From here we head north along the Georgian Military Highway, crossing the Jvari Pass en route to Kazbegi, surrounded by the High Caucasus Mountains. Walk to the picturesque Sameba Church with views of Mt Kazbek in the background.
Day 3 – Gori – Uplistiskhe – Kutaisi
Returning to the lowlands we visit Gori, the birthplace of Stalin, and the cave city of Uplistsikhe, dating back to the 7th century BC. Arriving in Kutaisi we visit the UNESCO listed Gelati Monastery, founded in the 12th century, and the Bagrati Cathedral. We stay tonight in a family run guesthouse where you can expect to be treated to some typical Georgian hospitality. (BD)
Day 4 – Svaneti
Drive to the almost mythical region of Svaneti, high in the Caucasus Mountains and home to the Svans, perhaps Georgia’s most traditional ethnic group. We head to the town of Mestia, known for its typical architecture and dominated by defensive stone towers. Overnight local guesthouse. (BD)
The remote region of Svaneti, high up in the Caucasus mountains, is a throwback to a bygone age when this was a truly wild frontier of Europe. Populated by the Svan people, the medieval style villages here consist of stone built houses clustered around imposing watchtowers, most of which are between 800 to 1000 years old and served as a look out post to warn of potential invaders. The Svan people make up a distinct ethnic group and have always been fiercely protective of their independence, functioning as a de facto autonomous state in the days before Soviet rule. They have their own complex set of traditions and customs, and in the past have been known as an aggressive and hostile group, suspicious of outsiders and renowned as warriors. Many of the churches in the region hold fine frescoes but the Svan are more traditional than the Georgians of the lowlands, and in places you can still find evidence of earlier, non-Christian beliefs. As Svaneti was never conquered by the Mongols during their rampage through this region, Svaneti became a repository for many of Georgia’s religious artefacts.
The scenery here is truly stunning, as you might expect from Europe’s highest mountain range, with snow capped peaks ranging up to 5000 metres, forests and gushing rivers, and offers excellent opportunities for hiking. Both the landscape and the cultural traditions have led to Svaneti being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Svaneti is also home to Europe’s highest permanently inhabited village Ushguli, situated at 1800m and with great views of the mighty Mt Shkhara, at 5201 metres the highest peak in Georgia. This is a rather magical place, full of the traditions of yesteryear and the hospitable ways of the Svans make this an experience you are unlikely to forget.
Day 5 – Svaneti
A full day exploring this stunning region. Drive to the village of Ushguli with its medeival buildings, watchtowers and the Lamaria church, and with a backdrop of Mt Shkhara, Georgia’s highest mountain. We explore the landscape on foot, taking easy walks nearby and also visit a local house to learn more about the unique customs of the Svan people. Overnight local guesthouse. (BD)
Day 6 – Tbilisi
Return to Tbilisi, arriving early evening. Overnight Sharden Hotel or similar. (B)
Day 7 – Tbilisi
Explore this interesting city and learn about its long and fascinating history. Visit the old town, the Metekhi Temple and the fortress of Narikala before heading to the impressive National Museum with its rich collection of cultural artefacts. We also explore the 11th century Sioni Cathedral and take in the sights of Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi’s main thoroughfare. Overnight Sharden Hotel or similar. (B)
Day 8 – Yerevan
Transfer to the border with Armenia, and from here continue to Yerevan. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore. Overnight Hotel Imperial Plaza or similar.
Yerevan is one of the most attractive cities of the former Soviet Union, with a wide array of interesting monuments and an easy going air that rewards casual exploration. There has been a settlement here since the 8th century BC, but it only became the capital of Armenia in the early twentieth century, when the country itself was subsumed into the Soviet Union. Yerevan is characterised by broad avenues and some of the best Soviet architecture to be found anywhere, as well as old mansions, enormous public squares and numerous statues of locally famous figures. It’s difficult to miss the enormous sculpture of ‘Mother Armenia’ reaching 34 metres into the sky, which replaces the previous statue of Stalin. The cathedral of St Gregory the Illuminator was built with money from the enormous Armenian diaspora to celebrate 1,700 years of Christianity in Armenia. It’s a surprisingly cosmopolitan city as well, perhaps a result of the large Armenian diaspora who return to the motherland to visit relatives, and the area around the Opera House is particularly lively. Yerevan is home to a number of good museums, including the Matendaran, devoted to ancient manuscripts and far more interesting than it may sound. The Genocide Museum gives the visitor an opportunity to understand the difficult and turbulent recent history of the Armenian people – not always an easy place to visit it is crucial in gaining an insight into current Armenian culture.
Day 9 – Yerevan
Spend today exploring the charming city of Yerevan. We visit some of its key sites including Republic Square – the city’s most striking public space flanked by impressive buildings, the Matenadaran museum of ancient manuscripts, one of Yerevan’s most interesting and unique sights, and the Genocide Museum for an insight into Armenia’s recent history. Overnight Hotel Imperial Plaza or similar. (BLD)
Day 10 – Khor Virap – Noravank
After breakfast drive to the monastery of Khor Virap, in a dramatic location with Mt Ararat in Turkey in the background. We explore the monastery, where it is claimed St Gregory was imprisoned for 13 years, then head to Norovank monastery, situated at the edge of the red rocks of Gnishik Gorge. We take lunch in a local café then head to a winery, located in a cave, to sample local wines. Later return to Yerevan on a scenic route through mountains and gorges. Overnight Hotel Imperial Plaza or similar. (BL)
Day 11 – Sevan – Dilijan – Haghpat
This morning drive to the stunning Lake Sevan, a beautiful spot with the pretty Sevenavank monastery on its shores. From here continue to the town of Dilijan with its well preserved historic centre. Nearby live one of Armenia’s ethnic minorities, the Molokans, and we explore their villages for an insight into a rather unique culture. Later in the day continue to Haghpat monastery, dating back to the 10th century and a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site. We spend the night in either Dilijan or nearby Dzoraget. Overnight Hotel Avan or similar. (BLD)
Dilijan is a charming little town, in Soviet times a health resort and surrounded by woods in the Dilijan National Park. It is known for its well preserved old houses, with elaborate wooden carved balconies overhanging the streets. Part of the town has been preserved and maintained as a historic centre, giving a great glimpse of what much of the region used to look like.
Molokans (in russian they are called ‘Milk drinkers’) are Christian sectarians, the descendants of Russian peasants who refused to obey the rules of the Russian Orthodox church at the end of the 17th century. They call themselves ‘true spiritual Christians’ and were exiled to Armenia in the 19th century, basing themselves here from that point. Keeping more or less the same lifestyle since then they live in harmony with Armenian people, and there are just a small number of Molokan villages in Armenia – and not many more elsewhere in the world.
The monastery of Haghpat was constructed around the 10th century and is a delightful place to explore – a collection of buildings including a library, mausoleums and separate chapels complement the main church as well as an impressive belltower. Overgrown with grass, the grounds surrounding it contain numerous examples of khachkars, a unique Armenian carving of a cross with intricate patterns.
Day 12 – Echmiadzin – Zvartnots – Yerevan
We head back to Yerevan, stopping en route to visit communities of Kurdish and Yazidi people with their distinct customs and culture – another hidden side to Armenia. This afternoon we visit the complex of churches at Echmiadzin, a rather stunning ensemble, then head to the ruins of the temple of Zvartnots before ending up in Yerevan for the night. Overnight Hotel Imperial Plaza or similar. (BL)
Often described as Armenia’s answer to the Vatican, the collection of churches and monasteries at Echmiadzin are the centre of Armenian Christianity. With some dating back as far as the 5th century this cluster of buildings have immense significance for the culture and heritage of the country and hold a number of relics, including the spear that reputedly pierced Christ on the cross. The area surrounding them contains some excellent examples of khachkars, the uniquely Armenian carved stone crosses. They are still used today for worship and ceremonies and you may be lucky enough to witness a wedding or christening taking place.
Day 13 – Geghard – Garni – Yerevan
Drive to the monastery of Geghard, another of Armenia’s UNESCO sites and a fascinating place to explore. We then continue to the pagan temple of Garni, very different from other monuments here and perched on the edge of a gorge. We descend by 4wd into the gorge to explore then drive to a local village, where we have lunch in a village house and can learn about Armenian cuisine as we watch and help (if you choose) the meal preparation – a great insight into typical local life and a highlight of the trip. Before arriving back in Yerevan we stop at a brandy distillery to taste one of Armenia’s most famous products. Overnight Hotel Imperial Plaza or similar. (BLD)
Geghard means ‘spear’, and this church set in a narrow gorge is reputed to have once contained the spear which pierced the side of Christ on the cross; the spear now lies in the treasury at Echmiadzin. Built up against a cliff face, the main cathedral was constructed in 1215, but the first monastery on the site is thought to date from the 4th century AD. The monastery is decorated with reliefs depicting animals, crosses and geometrical shapes.
Day 14 – Yerevan
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (B)
Nagorno Karabakh Extension
Day 1 – Tatev – Stepanakert
Depart from Yerevan to the republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. We stop first at the ancient site of Karahunj, also known as ‘Armenia’s Stonehenge’. Shrouded in mystery, it is thought that this may have been an observatory, but the truth will never be known. From here continue to Tatev, the site of an impressive 9th century monastery. Continue driving through a landscape of mountains and valleys to reach Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh. Overnight Armenia Hotel or similar.
Nagorno Karabakh is one of those curious political oddities thrown up by the demise of the Soviet Union, unrecognised by most of the rest of the world but with its own government, army and currency. It has long been a source of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan – a war fought here in the 1990s saw most of the Azeri population leaving, and now its population is predominantly Armenian. The scenery here is stunning, with striking mountains and beautiful valleys, and the name itself means ‘mountainous black garden’, a mixture of Persian and Turkish words reflecting its geographical location between two great powers. It is also home to some fine monasteries, but perhaps the biggest drawcard is the fact that you’ll be travelling to a country that doesn’t officially exist, and will be something of a novelty to local people.
Day 2 – Stepanakert – Gandsazar
Spend the morning exploring Stepanakert and its surrounds, an interesting area but rarely visited by foreigners. We visit the fortress of Mayrabad, mostly dating back to the 18th century and of Persian design. We then visit the monastery of Gandsazar, known for its impressive carved stonework – it is perhaps one of the best examples of Armenian architecture. Overnight Armenia Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Day 3 – Shushi – Yerevan
Leave Karabakh behind and return to Armenia. En route we visit the town of Shushi and stop at its striking Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, as well as the mosque – a reminder that this area was once home to both Armenians and Azeris. Continue to Yerevan for the night. Overnight Imperial Plaza or similar. (BLD)
Day 4 – Yerevan
Transfer to the airport for departure. (B)
Airport transfers – We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers.
Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.
Accommodation – Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.
Guides – In most cases you will be accompanied by one guide from start to finish. However there may be occasions when this is not practical, for example if your trip covers a number of different countries. In these cases it often makes more sense to include different guides for each place, to take advantage of their specific knowledge of the destination.
Meals – As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip – in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again.
Entrance fees – Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.
What’s not included:
Visas – We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively a visa agency such as Travcour (www.travcour.com) can assist.
Airport taxes – If there are any departure taxes to pay that are not included within the cost of your ticket, you’ll need to pay these yourself.
International flights – Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If however you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.
Travel Insurance – If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.
Americans, Australians and most European nationalities, including British citizens, no longer require a visa to enter Georgia.
Most European nationalities, including British citizens, no longer require a visa to enter Armenia. For Americans and Australians, the visa is currently obtainable upon arrival and costs 3,000 AMD (about £5).
Visa regulations can change however and so we recommend that you contact your nearest embassy for the most up to date information.
Health and vaccinations
We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. However, there are no compulsory vaccinations needed to enter either country. For more advice on vaccinations you can also visit www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk.
It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum you need medical and health cover which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.
Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company.
Arrival and departure taxes
No arrival or departure taxes are applicable for entry into or exit from Georgia or Armenia.
Georgia’s currency is the lari, and in Armenia it’s the dram. It’s unlikely you will be able to obtain these from your local exchange bureau. We recommend taking either US dollars or Euros to exchange – British pounds will be much harder to change.
Changing money is fairly simple – many hotels will offer this service and there are also banks and exchange bureaus in larger towns. Your guide will be able to advise of the best option. In the capital cities there are also ATMs which accept foreign cards, although don’t count on these always working. Credit cards are not used as widely here as they are in other European countries, so you should only think of this as a back up rather than the main source of obtaining money.
When to go
The best time to visit the region is between May and October, but bear in mind that in high summer (July and August) it can get very hot in the lowlands.
Culture – language and religion
Georgia and Armenia are deeply Christian countries – Christianity here is of the Orthodox variety but with a slightly different twist, and differs between both countries. There are numerous churches and monasteries throughout the country and Armenia is the first country to have adopted Christianity as a state religion, with Armenia being the second.
The official languages here are Georgian and Armenian, which each has its own alphabet.
Eating and drinking
Georgia’s cuisine takes its influences from its neighbours with Turkish and Persian styles dominating. Food is a huge part of Georgian culture, and you can expect a typical meal to be a real feast with numerous dishes being presented. Meat plays a large part of the diet here, with lamb and chicken stews being quite popular, and walnuts are used often in cooking; a typical dish is chakhokhbili, chicken with tomatoes, garlic and onion, and kebabs are quite popular. Vegetarians need not fear though – Georgia has some excellent vegetable dishes, with aubergines and beans featuring heavily. Cheeses are often served and a favourite Georgian snack is khachapuri, a cheese filled bread.
Georgia is famous for its wines; Kakheti is the main wine producing region and you can find some excellent examples here, usually for very reasonable prices.
In Armenia a typical meal would start with soup – a favourite would be jajik, made from yoghurt and cucumber. Main courses usually consist of fish or meat, fried or served as some sort of stew, accompanied by fruit or vegetables – always fresh and seasonal, ranging from aubergines to quince to apricots to carrots. Often this will be served with rice or bulghar wheat. The traditional bread in Armenia is lavash, a flatbread which is traditionally unleavened.
Armenia is known for its brandies and cognacs and you can find some excellent examples here, as well as some fairly decent wines.
You should advise us when you book if you have any special dietary requirements. We will try to accommodate you as much as possible, but we cannot always guarantee this.
Luggage and packing
The first rule of packing is not to bring too much. There will be plenty of occasions where you’ll need to carry your luggage yourself and so you should be able to do this without help. Most people are surprised at how little they actually need to bring, and it’s normally possible to get laundry done along the way. It doesn’t matter whether you bring a suitcase, rucksack or holdall, but please don’t bring more than 20kg of luggage as this may be difficult to accommodate in the vehicles we use. You’ll also need a day pack.
There are no special dress requirements for this region, but bear in mind that if you’re travelling in the mountains it can get quite cool in the evening, so at least one piece of warm clothing is a good idea.
You’ll be walking around a number of sites on this tour as well as walking in the mountains, so do consider this when selecting shoes or boots.
You don’t need to be especially fit to join our trips here, but there will be stairs to climb, hills to walk and sites to explore, so you’ll enjoy it more if you have a reasonable level of fitness.
In these countries, like many of the destinations we offer, environmental thinking is not at the forefront of everyday life and you are likely to see a fair amount of litter in places. However, we ask that you don’t contribute to this and to please take all litter back to the hotel where it can be disposed of properly, including cigarette butts.
Especially in the larger cities, you may come across beggars. There’s no hard and fast answer on this and everyone has a different view – some feel that giving simply encourages begging while others see it as helping someone in need. Some guidebooks will tell you that you should only give if you see a local person also giving, to determine whether the beggar is genuine. The issue is particularly difficult when it comes to children, but we’d ask that you don’t give to children as in poor communities this can often act as a discouragement to going to school. If you feel that you’d like to contribute then speak with your guide who will be able to make appropriate suggestions.
Most people like to take photos, and it’s sometimes easy to forget that the photogenic person in front of you may not want their picture taken. Always ask if it’s okay, and respect their wishes if they say no. You’ll often find that in remote villages or among more traditional communities the older generation, and women in particular, are not comfortable with having their picture taken.
On the subject of photography, it’s often forbidden to take photos of ‘sensitive’ areas such as military buildings or border posts, and doing so can land you in trouble with the authorities. If you’re not sure, ask your guide.
If you’re happy with the services of your guide and driver then we would recommend leaving a tip for them at the end of your trip. The amount is entirely up to you, but a reasonable amount for a group to tip would be around €10-15 per day to the guide and €5-7 a day for the driver – however it is not obligatory and if you do not wish to tip then this is up to you.
When travelling in countries such as these, which are comparatively underdeveloped in places, it’s important to understand that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and thank you for your patience.
We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing there are no warnings against travel to the parts of Georgia or Armenia that we visit.
This relates to advice from the British government – other nationalities need to check the stance of their own governments.
Georgia – The Bradt Guide
Armenia – The Bradt Guide
Let Our Fame Be Great
Bread and Ashes
Please note that the information contained above is highly susceptible to change, and while we endeavour to keep up to date we recommend that you use this as a guide only. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Updated 10 March 2016
Georgia completely amazed me – such a beautiful place, lovely people and a history which I knew very little about. Svaneti and Tusheti were without doubt the highlights and it was a real privilege to be invited into local homes here, although the hospitality at times became almost embarrassing. In one village (I forget the name now) we were treated to an impromptu feast when a local family beckoned us into their home. It was a great way to see how local people live away from the cities. The guide Nina was good at adapting to our needs and anticipating when we were tired, or were still keen to do more, and we’ve kept in touch since returning to England. There are a lot of places I’d still like to visit, but I can see myself returning to Georgia one day.
Our guide was Giorgi Zangaladze and our driver was Zurab Kalandadze, and I must say, what a wonderfully excellent team they were. They attended to our every need and looked after us superbly throughout the whole trip and were not only kind, thoughtful and very considerate, but also hugely informative, very humorous and an absolute joy to be with. As my wife put it, ‘after only a short time with them it was like sharing the trip with a couple of old friends’. Please pass on our sincere thanks and appreciation to both of them as they really made the visit a fantastic experience for us and gave us memories that we will remember and cherish for many years to come. They were a credit to themselves and their country.
We both look forward to visiting Georgia again but until then our very best wishes to you and your staff.
Derek and Anne Rowlands
The group size of only 4 was a pleasant surprise and added value to the trip as the experience was
less ‘group’ in its feel. Larger numbers of people can lead to interactive issues, and we had plenty of
personal time to explore outside the group. The guide Sopo and the driver were very professional and informative. The vehicle was fine for 4 guests.
The itinerary was followed meticulously and is good as it is with more remote areas at the start
and end of the trip. There are some long driving days but this is compensated for by 2 nights in many places. The coverage of the country was good in terms of major sights covered, and I returned with a good
idea of the nature of the country and its complex history/ people.
On this our first visit to Georgia, and not having read very much about the country, we were impressed by Sopo’s knowledge and passion for her homeland. She was enthusiastic and extremely helpful, nothing being too much trouble for her.
Gobat impressed us also with his careful driving along hours of difficult steep ,winding and very rough tracks. He kept the 4wd Mitsubishi Delica clean by washing and shaking out inside mats after each day’s long drive. He was patient and helped all of us with our bags.
As a result of doing this tour wth Sopo and Gobat, we have learned a lot, and been inspired to learn more. We have been keen to share some of this new knowledge with our son who has met us here for a few days. Of particular interest to us had been going back to the Soviet Occupation Museum and Prospero’s bookshop and buying books about Georgia’s sad and violent history.
So well done Sopo and Gobat you were both fantastic, we enjoyed your company and thank you for being our guides!
Jacky and Ross Vonow
Firstly, may I repeat that it was one of the best trips we have ever had which was for many reasons.
Plus points include: Excellent food – locally produced, organic, beautifully presented, varied etc. Great hygiene standards! No suggestion that anything would give us a tummy bug. A plentiful supply of bottled water everywhere.
Accommodation that suited us – the hotel suite on our night away from the capitol cities was luxury at its best. Knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide (Siranush Piloyan). Gentleman driver who knew the roads well and how to cope safely with the challenges (Hovhannes) and had some great ideas to fill odd minutes of time between appointments.
Small size of party which enabled us to have in depth conversations with the guide and driver about a huge range of topics both from their point of view and ours. We built lasting friendships with Helen and Siranush. And only the language barrier stopped us doing so with Hovian.
The wide range of experiences – we didn’t get tired of monasteries! As musicians ourselves we delighted in the opportunities to hear singers and instrumentalists of such high standards. Few experiences can surpass the singers at Geghard.
We are looking forward to travelling with your company again in a year or two.
Jane and Paul Cox
I really enjoyed the trip to Georgia and Armenia. The guides were both really informative and engaging and, needless to say, the two countries are both extremely rewarding destinations. I thought the itinerary in Georgia was more varied and, for me, Svaneti was the highlight of the whole trip. However, I felt overall that we were better looked after in Armenia. The food was definitely of a much higher standard there and more plentiful. The hotels were generally more than good enough. I especially liked the guesthouse in Mestia and the hotels in Armenia were all superb.
The itinerary was followed meticulously and I have been left with many great memories. I would be more than happy to travel with Native Eye again and have already been browsing through other trips you offer.
|12 May 2018||£1,949||£280||Guaranteed||
|15 September 2018||£1,949||£280||Guaranteed||
|11 May 2019||£1,949||£280||Available||
|14 September 2019||£1,949||£280||Available||