Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh: September 14 - September 24, 2019
Yerevan (2 nights) - Jermuk (1 night) - Goris (1 night) - Stepanakert (2 nights) - Dilijan (1 night) - Alaverdi (1 night) - Gyumri (1 night) - Yerevan (1 night)
Day 1, September 14, Saturday
Welcome to Armenia! On your way from airport to city we will bring you to the Tsitsernakaberd monument, overlooking the city, with Mount Ararat in the distance. We will check in at our super comfortable Alexander hotel in the centre of the city. Some time to rest. For those with energy after their flights, we can go and explore the History Museum and the Carpet museum, both within an easy walk of our hotel. In the late afternoon we will have a walk along the new hip northern Avenue, the Opera House (let’s check if there’s a performance tonight!) and the Cascade. We will have dinner in a lovely local restaurant.
Day 2, September 15, Sunday
Let’s go and explore Yerevan’s many faces and sights today! We will start with a walk to the Yerevan modern art museum - the first modern art museum to open doors in the Soviet Union. It’s still the hub of everything twentieth and twentieth-first century to happen in Armenia. Then we will take a peek at the historic Iranian mosque in town, and the curious Sergey Paradjanov museum - dedicated to the most famous Armenian film director. We will continue our walk to nearby Kand, Yerevan’s oldest area, with houses tightly packed next to each other. We will be led by a local resident who will show us how people in Kand live in a changing modern city. We will have a home cooked lunch. After lunch we will venture to Matenadaran, the stunning manuscripts museum and depository, one of the largest in the world, standing imposingly over Mashtots Avenue. Free time in the afternoon. Dinner in one of the Armenia’s best traditional/hip restaurants.
Day 3, July 16, Tuesday
After breakfast we wave goodbye to Yerevan, and start our drive south, along the Turkish and Azeri borders. Our first stop will be at the pretty Khor Virap monastery, located right at the border - and with stunning views to Mount Ararat, on the Turkish side. Let’s soak in the views, and explore some of the secret chambers and chapels of the monastery. Then we head to Areni. We will quickly stop at a local winery to have a look, and to get some wines for later on during our tour. We will stop for lunch with a local family at the pretty Yeghegis valley. This is one of the most interesting old villages in Armenia. Let’s explore its old houses and old churches - with amazing views of the southern Caucasus! In the afternoon we head to nearby Jermuk, Armenia’s famous spa resort town. We will check in at our modern and comfortable Hyatt hotel, right in the centre of town. Some free time to rest or take a dip in the mineral pool. For those who want, we will take the nearby cable car with stunning views of the area around. The others will join us for an evening walk of the mineral water gallery, and some crumbling Soviet sanatoriums, before we head for a good dinner.
Day 4, September 17, Tuesday
After breakfast we will depart east. We will search for the ruins of a Persian-Armenian caravanserai, and take the new cable car - longest in the world - to the stunningly beautiful Tatev monastery. On the way back we will search for another set of old ruins, and have our picnic lunch there. In the afternoon we will arrive at the nearby town of Goris. We are staying at an amazing little hotel, with great food and hosts. Afternoon is free - let’s explore the pretty stone-house-lined streets of Goris. A traditional dinner at our hotel.
Day 5, September 18, Wednesday
After a hearty breakfast we will depart towards Nagorno Karabakh. On the way we will explore Old Khndzoresk, with its hundreds of caves that were inhabited until not long ago. We will enter Na- gorno Karabakh. The road will wind up and down some amazing scenery. We will stop at the pretty town of Shusha, just above Stepanakert. It was a prosperous town - until war striked. We will have lunch in the home of a curious man who has collected a treasure throve of things from old Shusha. In the afternoon we continue to Stepanakert, Karabakh’s capital. It’s a surprisingly green, calm and well-organised city. We will check in at our cosy central hotel, have some time to rest, and then have a walk through downtown and the market - sampling local delicacies. We will go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Karabakh to issue our visas, before heading back and taking a beautiful dinner at an equally beautiful place - with some very interesting local people! Let’s see what art events they have tonight in town. And let’s take a drink at the only pub/bar in Nagorno Karabakh!
Day 6, September 19, Thursday
We head for a very interesting and thought-provoking drive. First we will stop at the Tatik u Papik (also known as ‘We are Our Mountains’) monument in the outskirts of Stepanakert. We will then drive close to the Karabakh-Azeri border, witnessing the destruction and desolation war has brought to this region. We will drive back through some of the most isolated villages in the Caucasus, having a picnic lunch on the way. In the afternoon we will return to Stepanakert. Some free time to explore or rest. For dinner we will go to a lovely local restaurant.
Day 7, September 20, Friday
This morning we start early, even before sunrise. We will meet the sunrise over the spectacular mountains and monastery of Gandzasar, where we will also take our packed breakfast - and tea in the monastery. At the nearby village of Vank we will have a look at some local oddities - a local millionaire has built a Titan- ic-like hotel, Lion statues, and more kitsch. Then we continue our drive out of Karabakh. We have the options to visit another monastery or go to some wild mineral springs - where we can take a dip. Or do both. We will have picnic lunch at the high pass out of Karabakh. Then the roads will straighten - we are on the shores of lake Sevan! We will stop at a beautiful field of historic Khachkars, or grave stones. We will then descend to beautiful Dilijan, one of the most curious little towns of the Caucasus - and one of the most bustling, due to the fine arts university in town, which attracts a lot of young and creative minds. We will check in at this gorgeous little hotel owned by Armenia’s carpet king. Let’s take some free time, then walk around town - there is a lot of see and learn. Let’s try some of the famous Armenian steamed corn. We will have dinner at the beautiful hotel restaurant.
Day 8, September 21, Saturday
After breakfast we will have a tour of the curious fine arts academy of Dilijan. Armenia is not just ruined churches and monasteries! Then we will drive to the Molokan (Russian old believer) village of Fi- oletovo, taking lunch there with a local family. Then we continue to Alaverdi, near the Georgian border. Alaverdi has a huge, almost ruined, copper smelter. Let’s have a look, it looks straight out of Mordor. We will visit the stunning Sanahin monastery, a World Heritage Site, and the nearby Mikoyan museum, dedicated to the Mikoy- an brothers - Bolshevik leader Anastas Mikoyan, and aircraft designer Artem Mikoyan. We will sleep at another cosy Tufenkian hotel, located in the pretty Debed canyon, and boasting hundreds of amazing old carpets inside.
Day 9, September 22, Sunday
We will head west: towards Gyumri. On the way we will stop at Spitak, entirely destroyed in the 1988 earthquake, and rebuilt completely with joint Soviet and UN efforts. The new town is a curious mix of modernist and functionalist architecture. We will have a tour around it led by a local architect. Then we continue to Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city. It’s a quiet, charming place, which also received much damage from the Spitak earthquake. We will check in at the cosy Villa Kars, where our host will be the Italian consul in town. We will enjoy a beautiful light lunch at the Villa. In the afternoon we will explore Gyumri’s art and culture. Dinner at a local tavern.
Day 10, September 23, Monday
After a late breakfast we will head south, driving on back roads along the Turkish border. We will stop at a curious monastery just off the border fence. Then continue to Yerevan, taking lunch at home at Metsamor, an economically depressed town which also hosts the only nuclear power plant in the Caucasus. From there it’s a short drive to Yerevan. We will check in at the Marriott hotel on Republic Square - right at the heart of the city. Afternoon to rest. Those curious can join me for a tour to the central Yerevan market - where you can buy many tasty foodstuffs. And then a tour of the Yerevan Cognac Factory, where the famous Ararat cognac is produced. We will have our farewell dinner at a splendid local restaurant, just off our hotel.
Day 11, October 24, Wednesday
End of tour after breakfast. We really recommend catching a flight or the night train (for the adventurous!) to Tbilisi, Georgia’s colourful and bustling old capital. We don’t do tours to Georgia, but you can easily spend a day or two or three wandering the streets of this pretty city.
- Accommodation in carefully selected hotels in Yerevan, Jermuk, Goris, Stepanakert, Dilijan, Alaverdi and Gyumri. Yes, we’ve stayed at all these hotels, and we love them.
- All meals according to program: 10 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 6 dinners (tips for the waiters included, alcohol most- ly not included).
- Transportation with an air-conditioned minibus, with all border and toll taxes and bribes, parking fees, daily allowance and accommodation for the driver.
- English speaking guide throughout the tour, including guide-accommodation and daily allowance.
- Local tour guides in (tips included) Yerevan, Stepanakert, Dilijan and Gyumri, and possibly Goris, too.
- Tickets for all museums and sights according to the itinerary.
- Mineral water on the bus.
- A welcome pack including maps, brochures, gifts, etc.
Price does not include:
- Tips for driver and guide.
- Any other additional personal costs: laundry, phone calls, etc.
- Independent meals according
to the itinerary.
- Flights in and out of the region.
€2540 per person, €430 single supplement.
The cost is per person sharing double or twin room.
The number of participants is limited to ten. We accept payment by bank wire and credit card.