- Treasures of Georgia and Armenia
Explore the spectacular highland countries of Georgia and Armenia on a trip to the crossroads of Europe and Asia. This region of the Caucasus hosts the world's oldest Christian nations and is a cultural treasure-trove of ancient cultures. Discover the vineyards of Georgia, snow-capped mountains and welcoming people on this unique tour.
Depart London on your scheduled overnight flight to Tbilisi via Istanbul.
Upon arrival into Tbilisi, spend an afternoon at leisure, followed by a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
Beginning in the old district, take a walking tour of this picturesque capital city; weave through narrow streets of cobbled stone, marvelling at an array of striking buildings that decorate the skyline, an eclectic mix of Byzantine, Persian and Soviet architecture. Observe the splendid Metekhi Church - a symbol of the country's Orthodox Christian heritage, whose excellent hilltop vantage point offers incredible views of the Mtkvari river and Old Tbilisi. A host of incredible sights which epitomise the charm of this city follows: take a cable car ride to the imposing Narikala Fortress, delve into Georgia's historical past at the National Museum, discover The Leaning Clock Tower's fairytale-like facade, and walk along the Bridge of Peace.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Journey to Sadakhlo and upon arrival into Armenia, a scenic drive leads to the UNESCO Heritage Site, Haghpat monastery; dating back to the 10th century, this bold landmark is one of the major masterpieces of medieval Armenian architecture, nestled amongst mountains strewn with lush green vegetation. Before arriving at Dilijan, stopover at the potter's house and get acquainted with his stylish works. Next, learn about the customs and traditions of the Molokan people - the 'milk drinkers' of the Spiritual Christianity faith that emerged from the Russian Empire, and savour delicious pancakes, whilst sipping a refreshing cup of tea, traditionally brewed in a Russian samovar teapot.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
This morning, drive along the winding roads of the mountainous paradise that is Dilijan. Step back in time with a trip to the old town, admiring traditional Armenian architecture that decorates the renowned Sharambayen street. Next, be at one with nature at the enchanting Lake Sevan, affectionately known as the 'blue eyed beauty', making sure to climb the stairs of Monastery Sevanavank for breath-taking views of the lake and surrounding alpine mountains. From here, continue onto Kotayk to explore the astonishing Geghard Monastery, a 12th century solid stone construction, partially carved out of a mountain, before travelling to the Garni Pagan Temple, a rare example of Greco-Roman architecture. Later, try your hand at a Lavash bread-making master class, not missing the chance to take lunch in a local house, revelling in a tasting of this traditional dish.
Breakfast & Lunch
Set off on a tour of Armenia's incredible capital city, Yerevan, firstly experiencing a lively ambience from the cultural hub of the city at the remarkable Republic Square. Next, stroll down Abovyan Street to feel a part of local life, before a poignant class at the Armenian Genocide Museum which pays homage to the several victims of the 1915 genocide. Make your way to the Cafesjian Centre of Art complex and witness a fantastic collection of contemporary art from acrossthe world within the Yerevan Cascade, and later, head to the striking Matenadaran Museum and Scientific Institute, the home of a staggering 20,000 manuscripts and numerous scientific Armenian treasures. Observe a wonderful array of traditional carpet designs as you replenish with lunch at the tremendous Megerian carpet factory, before your final excursion of today leads to the exceptional History Museum of Armenia.
Breakfast & Lunch
Travel to the southern part of the capital to revel in the unparalleled beauty of the Khor Virap monastery. Located near the stunning snow-peaked Mount Ararat, Khor Virap is Armenia's most sacred monastery and the perennial place of pilgrimage for Armenians. Return to Yerevan to discover another emphatic cultural landmark, the alluring Etchmiadzin Cathedral - the 'mother church' of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Considered the oldest cathedral in the world, it was originally built in the early 4th century and to this day, it remains a hugely significant part of Armenia's Catholic history. Go on to visit the Yerevan Brandy Factory to sample Winston Churchill's favourite tipple and learn about the history of this enticing beverage.
Breakfast & Lunch
Before heading back to Georgia, make a stopover at the picturesque highlands north of Yerevan, where the ancient ruins of Amberd Fortress are located. At an altitude of 2300m above sea level, marvel at the incredible views of the surrounding mountains that further encapsulates the charm of this iconic landmark. Next, enjoy lunch at the quaint Perch Proshian House Museum before arriving back at your hotel in Tbilisi.
Breakfast & Lunch
Enjoy the famed hospitality of the Kakheti region, a natural haven renowned for its incredible wine production, whose landscapes are decorated with lush vineyards; travel to the easternmost part of Kakheti for a trip to Sighnaghi, taking in the stunning views of Alazani Valley and Caucasus Mountains. Later, sit down to a lunch hosted by a local family and enjoy a masterclass in the production of the delicious Churchkhela Georgian sweets - a traditional candle-shaped fruit candy, and a trip to Sighnaghi would not be complete without some wine-tasting to sample Georgia's finest wines. Head to the Gremi complex, the once lively trading town on the Silk Road and conclude today by taking an enchanting stroll through the stunning gardens of the Duke Alexandre Chavchavadze Palace.
Breakfast & Dinner
Drive north of Tbilisi for an unmissable tour of Mtskheta - the ancient capital of Georgia, to see two of its most prominent UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Bask at the majestic splendour of Svetitskhoveli Cathedral - an 11th century construction where the Robe of Christ is buried, before ascending to the 6th century Jvari Monastery to absorb the breath-taking backdrop of the Mtkvari and Argavi rivers that curl around the base of the neighbouring mountains. From here, visit the Stalin Museum in the town of Gori and drive up the famous Georgian military highway that connects Georgia with Russia. Make a stop at the Ananuri architectural complex to view the 'conjoined castles', before a wonderful scenic drive leads to the high Caucasus mountains.
Breakfast & Dinner
A morning trip to the secluded swathe of rolling verdant hills in Gergetis Sameba follows breakfast. The visual feast of exquisite natural beauty continues with a winding drive through spectacular snow valleys on the way to the village of Juta - one of the highest in the region. End the day in Stepantsminda.
After breakfast drive to Tbilisi for your airport transfer and return flight.
We strongly recommend that you and all members of your party are suitably insured as soon as you book your holiday. It is a condition of booking that you must have suitable travel insurance. It is important that you purchase travel insurance that suitably covers your participation in whatever activities you may undertake at the time that you make your booking. To assist you with this, we have arranged travel insurance in partnership with Holiday Extras. To arrange your travel insurance with Holiday Extras, please call 0800 781 4237 and quote 'WK830' for preferential rates. Please ensure you provide us with the name of your insurer, policy number and their 24-hour emergency contact number as soon as possible. Mercury Holidays will not be liable for any costs incurred by you due to your failure to take out suitable travel insurance from the date of booking.
If booking more than 10 weeks before departure a deposit of £250pp will need to be paid at the time of booking with the full amount payable at 10 weeks prior to departure. The deposit applies to adults and children. If you are within 10 weeks of travel then the full balance of the holiday will be payable.
Your initial flight is to Tbilisi Airport via Istabul with Turkish Airlines, departing from London Heathrow, Terminal 2. Each passenger is entitled to 30KG of hold luggage plus 1 item of hand luggage not exceeding (Max 8kg - 55cm/40cm/23cm) in size and 1 accessory item no larger than a camera, telephone etc. Weight restrictions will be finalized on your final documentation. Should you wish to take additional luggage you will need to pay extra at check-in. Check-in should be at least 3 hours before departure. IMPORTANT: Please note that final flight details will be confirmed on your final documentation which will be sent to you approximately 10 days before departure. A printed E-ticket is no longer required at check-in, all you need to do is present your passport to the staff at the desk and your boarding pass will be given to you.
It is your responsibility to check any health and vaccination requirements applicable to your booked arrangements. We can only provide general information about this. Health and hygiene facilities and disease risks vary from country to country. You should take health advice about your own needs as early as possible and in good time before your departure. Sources of information include; www.fco.gov.uk, http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/, www.hpa.org.uk, your General Practitioner or a specialist clinic.
This tour is accessible to most people with an average level of fitness. It involves some climbing of steep steps, and getting on and off boats. This tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties.
The minimum number of travellers in your group will be 10, and the maximum will be 40. If in the unlikely event there are less than 10 people booked on your tour date, we will endeavour to reduce any disruption to your holiday and try to operate your tour with lower passenger numbers. If we are not able to operate your departure date then you may be asked to change to a different date and a full refund will be made available to you should this alternative not be suitable.