Welcome to Azerbaijan! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm this evening. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you’re going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We’ll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Get to know Baku with a tour of the city, taking in a visit to the Old City, including the Shemakha gate, Shirvanshakhs` Palace, Maiden Tower, Old Market Square and the Carpet Museum. Don’t forget your camera as you’ll also see panoramic views of Baku’s skyline. Afterwards head out on a tour of the Absheron Peninsula, visiting the Ateshgah fire temple, Mardakan medieval fortress and Yanardagh Fire Mountain (literally on fire!). Return to Baku in the evening.
Qobustan – Baku
Drive to Qobustan and visit the open-air rock paintings museum, a UNESCO heritage site with its own archaeological museum. Enjoy a free afternoon to wander Qobustan National Park before returning to Baku.
Shamakhi – Lahic
Have breakfast at the hotel before leaving Baku today. Drive to the Caucasus Mountains in the northwest of Azerbaijan through a dry landscape that gives way to a densely forested mountain area. Take part in yoghurt-making in a local home in Shamakhi. Afterwards, head to Lahic, where you’ll visit a copper workshop and get to know some locals over a cup of tea. Tonight, enjoy dinner with your group and stay overnight at a guesthouse or homestay in Lahic.
Nidj – Sheki
After breakfast, head to Nidj village and meet the native Udin people, the direct descendants of ancient Caucasian Albanians. Continue on to Sheki and visit Sheki Khans Palace. Walk across rainbow-coloured floors created by the colourful frescoes and stained glass. Spend the night at a hotel in Sheki.
Kis – Sheki
Visit nearby Kis village and its old pointy spired Christian church this morning. Return to Sheki and visit a workshop, where famous ‘Shebeke’, intricate handmade vitrages, are produced. The rest of the afternoon is free.
Azerbaijan/Georgia Border Crossing – Sighnaghi
After breakfast at the hotel, drive to Lagodekhi on the Azerbaijan-Georgia border. Visit a traditional bazaar and change leader and transportation. From Lagodekhi, travel to the Kakheti region, famous for its wine making and welcoming hospitality. From here, both the snowy Caucasus mountains and bountiful green valleys are visible. Visit a local family, explore the gardens and vineyards and then enjoy a lunch of delicious homemade food, wine and Georgian ‘Chacha’. Later, visit a 300-year-old Georgian wine cellar and taste Georgian wine produced using Qvevri, large earthenware pots. This method of wine making is protected on UNESCO’s heritage list and Georgian farmers have used this method for centuries. Continue to the beautiful 18th-century town of Sighnaghi, known for its quaint stone walls, small houses with terracotta roofs and decorated balconies. Admire the picturesque views of the Alazani Valley and Great Caucasus mountains. Stay overnight at a hotel in Sighnaghi.
David Gareja – Tbilisi
In the morning drive to the David Gareja caves, a rock-hewn monastery carved into the stark semi-desert landscape in the sixth century. After seeing the Lavra Monastery, walk for about 50 minutes up a steep hill to the Udabno Monastery. This monastery features wonderful painted caves and dramatic views across to Azerbaijan.
Today, explore the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi. Wander the old districts of the city, which are structured like terraces, and walk through the narrow streets to appreciate the colourful houses, patterned balconies and revamped modern architecture. Start the tour from the 13th-century Metekhi church, with its magnificent views over old Tbilisi. A stroll along winding little streets takes us to the main sights of the city. Afterwards enjoy the panoramic views of the whole town and climb the battlements at the ancient Narikala fortress. Later explore the historical domed sulphur bath area and learn how this precinct is connected to the name of the city. Take the afternoon to continue exploring, perhaps visit the Museum of History and see the treasury as an optional extra, or why not try a spa for yourself. Spend the night at a hotel in Tbilisi.
Your trip finishes today after breakfast and you are free to depart at any time.