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Go deep into the ancient heart of fascinating Turkey, then continue to verdant the hillsides and majestic snow-capped mountains of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. Explore lands where the walls hold the weight of centuries of rich history and where ancient traditions mingles with modern influences. Journey through forests and past tall mountain peaks to find medieval mosques and villages. Wander through cosmopolitan Baku and Tbilisi and make friends with the locals along the way over tea or a glass of qvevri wine. This 29-day Caucasus adventure is sure to be unforgettable.
Day 1: Istanbul
Welcome to Istanbul, the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans have all called home at various points throughout history. Enjoy a complimentary transfer to the accommodation from the airport. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 1 pm. After the meeting, head out with your Peregrine local leader to explore the Old City of Istanbul. Your leader will introduce you to some of the historical treasures of the city, including the Blue Mosque (so named for its classic tiles), the ancient Hippodrome (once the setting of chariot races) and the Million (a stone road marker in use since the fourth century). This evening choose whether to join your fellow travellers during an optional dinner.
Day 2: Canakkale
Rise and shine for an early breakfast, then begin the drive to Çanakkale. located on the shores of the Dardanelles (the strait that connects Europe and Asia via the Gelibolu Peninsula and the Biga Peninsula). Arrive in time for an included lunch, then head to the Gallipoli Peninsula. Visit the cemeteries of Anzac Cove, then head up the hill toward the poignant memorials of Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair. Look down upon the rough hills and gullies that became the graveyard for so many thousands of young men on both sides. Tour the former battlefields and find remnants of trenches used by the Turkish soldiers. After a day that will no doubt be full of sombre reflection, the evening is free for you to do as you wish in Canakkale.
Day 3: Selcuk
Drive to Selcuk with a stop en route in Troy. Here legend and history fuse together, and you can see both ancient city walls as well as a replica Trojan Horse. Learn how the site has confounded historians and archaeologists, then continue to Selcuk. On arrival, pay a visit to the famously adorable village of Sirince and enjoy a tasting of local fruit wine.
Day 4: Selcuk
This morning enjoy an orientation walk around Selcuk, a sprawling town lying at the base of the ancient Aysoluk Hill fortress. Visit the last remaining column of the Temple of Artemis, the ancient aqueducts and the 14th-century Isabey Mosque during this fascinating tour. In the afternoon, visit one of the best-preserved classical cities in the eastern Mediterranean and arguably the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world – Ephesus. Tour the amphitheatre, stroll the marble streets once walked by Cleopatra and Mark Antony and marvel at the gymnasium, baths and restored Library of Celsus. Make a stop at Sultankoy. This small village is dedicated to carpet weaving, and here you can discover all about this traditional art form, from dying the wool to traditional weaving on wooden looms.
Day 5: Pamukkale
After breakfast this morning, travel to Pamukkale, also known as 'Cotton Castle' and a truly unique sight. This magical and spectacular natural phenomenon was created by deposits from thermal waters that cascaded down the mountainside over hundreds of years, forming myriad pools and terraces. As the water overflows, dazzling cream-coloured stalactites are formed that – from afar – resemble cotton or snow. The pools are filled with waters that many believe have healing properties for circulation and the digestive system. Close to Pamukkale are the ruins of Hierapolis, an important Roman bath centre founded by the King of Pergamon in 190 BC. Explore the extensive ruins of Hierapolis, which include a theatre, temple, holy area, monumental fountain, bath, basilica and necropolis.
Day 6: Kas
Make the journey to the coast, with a stop en route at the ghost village of Kayakoy. Abandoned after WWI and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, this once-thriving village now lies as a poignant reminder of the human cost of war and politics. Spend some time on the eerie streets, then continue to Kas (which means eyebrow in Turkish) and begin exploring on a walking tour. Now primarily a holiday town, Kas is strewn with the remains of Lycian tombs, iconic white-washed walls covered with climbing bougainvillea and an ancient theatre where you can watch a spectacular sunset.
Day 7: Kas
Embark on a boat cruise around the local islands with two local guides, Mehmet and Sebahat. Hailing from the small village of Ucagiz, bought a boat and went fishing after they married and never stopped. While the fishing industry has shifted due to modern catchment methods, Mehmet and Sebahat decided to use their knowledge and love of the local waters to share a distinctly traditional way of cruising and eating with travellers. Cruise to their home village of Ucagiz and also to the village of Simena, sailing from large bays to protected inlets where you can cool off with a swim in turquoise waters. Enjoy lunch cooked on board in Tersane Bay, where the water is so clear you can see the bottom and the shore is lined with the ruins of an ancient city. Look out for ruins submerged under the clear water. After a day on the water, return to Kas for an evening at your leisure.
Day 8: Antalya
Take a scenic drive to the jewel in the Mediterranean crown – Antalya. Your accommodation is located in the Kaleici (Old City), so settle in on arrival and then head out on an afternoon walk to see Hadrians Gate, the Old Roman Harbour and more stunning views of the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. Spend the night in the ancient Kaleci. While dinner this evening is not included, it would be a crime not to try some of the fresh, local seafood served in one of the many restaurants.
Day 9: Antalya
This morning take a guided visit though the Antalya Museum. The province of Antalya includes dozens of important ancient Hellenistic and Roman cities, and some of the best artefacts are on display in the museum’s 13 exhibition halls and open-air gallery. Your afternoon is free to spend as you wish. Maybe relax in the Kaleici, beat the heat with a swim or take an optional visit to the ancient cities of Side, Perge or Apsendos. Be sure to speak to your leader for details on these optional activities.
Day 10: Konya
Make a 2-hour morning drive in Burdur province to the city of Sagalassos. The ruins of the city are dramatically sited in the Taurus Mountains, offering magnificent views as well as impressive ancient monuments. Continue on to Konya, an ancient city important in the Roman era where the Sufi practice of 'whirling' was born.
Day 11: Cappadocia
This morning discover the mystic resting place of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi, the 13th-century mystic, poet and theologian whose teachings continue to inspire and influence Muslims around the world. Visit the small museum dedicated to his life and work before continuing Cappadocia. Arrive by late afternoon, with time to see the main village and perhaps take a short valley walk with your leader. Your evening is free. One optional activity that may be of interest after what you learned this morning is a performance of whirling by local Dervishes in a restored han (caravansary).
Day 12: Cappadocia
Early birds have the option of taking a hot air balloon over the otherworldly Cappadocian landscape. The scene at sunrise is sure to take your breath away. After a relaxing breakfast on a terrace overlooking the valley, visit the Goreme Open Air Museum. See the many incredible houses, churches and monasteries carved out of the soft cliff face. The Christian sanctuaries contain many examples of Byzantine art, cave chapels and colourful biblical frescoes from the 10th–12th centuries. Later in the afternoon, go on a short walk through 'Love Valley' which is famous for its phallic rock formations. Then head back to your hotel in Goreme. Perhaps take an optional Turkish bath to unwind at the end of the day.
Day 13: Cappadocia
Head on a morning walk to what is arguably the most beautiful valley in Cappadocia, Kizilcukur. You'll see fascinating rock formations such as cones, peaks and fairy chimneys, as well as man-made cave chapels. After lunch, head toward the red river of Avanos and descend to Ozkonak, an underground city hollowed out of tufa rock that dates back to 400 BC. Explore this unique city, including the crude communication system that allowed signals to be sent between all ten levels. Return to the surface and visit a local potter. Discover the rich clay from the red river and watch how it is moulded into exquisite pieces, then return to your hotel via Devrent Valley.
Day 14: Istanbul
This morning say goodbye to Cappadocia and return to Istanbul. On arrival in Istanbul, transfer to your hotel. The afternoon is yours to explore some of the charms of Istanbul. This evening consider joining your group and leader for an optional dinner.
Day 15: Baku
This morning transfer to Istanbul International Airport for your flight to Baku. Your leader in Turkey will provide all flight details for you. Salam eleykim! Welcome to Azerbaijan. Baku certainly is a city where old meets new – ancient fortified buildings standing next to Russian imperial-style squares and ultra-modern architectural wonders. Meet your new leader and group today at a welcome meeting at 6pm.
Day 16: Baku
Get to know Baku with a tour of the city, taking in a visit to the Old City, including time at Shemakha Gate, the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, Maiden Tower and Old Market Square. Be sure to bring your camera as there will be some panoramic views of Baku's varied skyline to enjoy. Afterwards, embark on a tour of the Absheron Peninsula, visiting the Ateshgah Fire Temple, Mardakan Medieval Fortress and the eternally burning Yanar Dag (Fire Mountain). Return to Baku in the evening and enjoy a local dinner with your leader and small group.
Day 17: Baku
This morning, head out of the city on a day trip to Qobustan, located around 60 kilometres south of Baku. Visit one of the world's largest open-air archaeological museums and wander past ancient rock art dating back some 40,000 years. The prehistoric carvings depict scenes of hunting, fishing and gathering. Return to Baku in the afternoon and finish your day with a visit to the much-loved Carpet Museum located on the waterfront. Afterwards, perhaps continue to walk along the waterfront to find a restaurant for dinner, keeping an eye out for the Baku Eye and Flame Towers that light up the city skyline at night.
Day 18: Baku – Sheki
Leave Baku and head for the Caucasus Mountains in the northwest of Azerbaijan. Watch arid landscapes slowly give way to densely forested mountains. En route to Sheki, there will be stops at an active mud volcano, Diri Baba Mausoleum in Maraza, the Yeddi Gumbaz Mausoleum, and the Juma Mosque in Shemakha. Also, stop in to visit a family to learn traditional yoghurt making methods and enjoy some local snacks. On arrival in Sheki, stop at a local craft workshop where the famous shebeke – stained-glass windows with intricately carved frames – are made by hand. You will also visit the acclaimed Palace of Shaki Khans to see its magnificent frescoes and stained glass. After a long day of driving and activities, enjoy a relaxing night in Sheki.
Day 19: Sheki – Kvareli (Azerbaijan–Georgia border)
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and visit the local Sheki bazaar before driving to Lagodeckhi – a town at the Azerbaijan–Georgia border – to meet your Georgian leader and change transportation. From here travel to Georgia's Kakheti region, known for its winemaking. There will be a visit to the Gremi Architectural Complex and its museum, followed by lunch with a local family, which includes delicious homemade cuisine and wine. Discover the importance of bread in the Georgian diet and discover how they bake this staple before continuing to a winery to sample different kinds of the Georgian varietals. There will also be time to listen to unique Georgian polyphonic songs – a traditional style of music prevalent in the Kakheti region. Afterwards, travel to your Feature Stay accommodation in Kvareli – Royal Batoni castle – located in a picturesque area on the banks of Ilia Lake, between the Kvareli Mountains and the Duruji River. Spend time relaxing by the outdoor swimming pool overlooking the lake, or in your elegant room with lake or mountain views.
Day 20: Sighnaghi – Tbilisi
Following breakfast, journey to the beautiful 18th-century town of Sighnaghi, known for its quaint stone walls, small houses with terracotta roofs and decorated balconies. After some time to admire the picturesque views of Alazani Valley and Great Caucasus Mountains, drive to Tbilisi. Once arrived, wander the old districts of Georgia’s capital, which are structured like terraces, and walk through the narrow streets to appreciate the colourful houses, patterned balconies and revamped modern architecture. Get to know the city on a walk beginning from the 13th-century Metekhi Church, with its magnificent views over old Tbilisi, before visiting the main sights of the city. In the afternoon enjoy some free time.
Day 21: Tbilisi
Enjoy panoramic views of the whole town from the ancient Narikala Fortress, then head to the historic domed sulphur bath area. Visit the stunning treasury of the Golden Fund at the Natural History Museum (closed on Mondays), which will prove that Georgia is truly the land of the Golden Fleece. From here, visit a local art studio and become acquainted with Georgian cloisonne enamel – also known as Minanqari – and see how it is made. This afternoon is free for you to continue your independent exploration, so why not treat yourself to a spa treatment at one of the thermal bathhouses around the city? This is a traditional experience, and there are many bathhouses to check out around back in the the Abanotubani area of the city.
Day 22: Mtsheta – Borjomi – Akhaltsikhe
Today visit Mtskheta – the ancient capital and religious centre of Georgia. Visit World Heritage-listed sites such as the sixth-century Jvari Monastery and the impressive Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, where the Robe of Christ is purported to be buried. Afterwards, visit a wine cellar in the village of Chardakhi and taste unique BIO wines, produced using traditional Georgian methods. Meet the owners of the wine cellar over a delicious lunch and Qvevri wines. In the afternoon, drive to the south-western part of Georgia and visit Borjomi Spa Town, famous for its mineral water Borjomi. Spend the night in Akhaltsikhe, with dinner included at your hotel.
Day 23: Vardzia – Akhaltsikhe
Today, drive to the magnificent cave town of Vardzia, which stretches over half a kilometre along the river Mtkvari and has 19 tiers of winding cobbled streets. There is a church hewn out in rock with amazing 12th-century frescos, and the complex also includes dwellings quarters, small hall-type churches, refectories and wine cellars. En route to Vardzia, you'll also visit the 10th-century Khertvisi Fortress. In the afternoon return to Akhaltsikhe and visit the multicultural complex of Rabat (closed on Mondays). Spend the evening with your group at an included dinner at your hotel.
Day 24: Uplistsikhe – Gudauri
In the morning visit the town of Gori, home to the Stalin Museum, and historic Uplistsikhe Cave Town. Uplistsikhe was a stop on the Great Silk Road, and is a fascinating complex with dwelling quarters, wine cellars, bakeries, a three-nave basilica church hewn out in rock and even a theatre! Afterwards, drive up the renowned Georgian Military Highway, which eventually leads to the Georgia–Russia border. On the way, you'll visit the Ananuri architectural complex – two churches and a fortress that overlook the Zhinvali water reservoir. The carvings on the churches are one of the best surviving examples of Georgian art. Enjoy a scenic drive through the Caucasus Mountains, and arrive at your hotel in Gudauri. Dinner is included at your hotel this evening.
Day 25: Gudauri
Enjoy a stunning drive from Gudauri along the Tergi River before arriving in Kazbegi. From here, take the mountain road to Gergeti Trinity Church, located at 2170 metres above sea level. Weather depending, you may catch a glimpse of Mt Kazbegi – one of the highest glaciers in the Caucasus. Better yet, it may be possible to return part of the way by cable car – your driver can you drop you at the station in Kobi and you can travel the 7.5 kilometres to Gudauri in a gondola for a bird’s eye view of this landscape. Return to Gudauri this afternoon for time to relax in your hotel. This is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the mountain air and views. Your hotel has many facilities including a bowling alley and a wellness centre, and dinner this evening is included at the hotel.
Day 26: Dilijan (Georgia–Armenia Border)
Enjoy a final breakfast in Gudauri before driving to Sadakhlo – a village at the Georgia–Armenia border. Here, your group will change leaders and transportation. Begin the Armenian leg of your adventure with a visit to Haghpat Monastery, listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site. Haghpat stands as an example of one of the most outstanding works of medieval Armenian architecture. Continue on to the picturesque resort town of Dilijan, often referred to as the ‘Little Switzerland of Armenia’. Dilijan's central Sharambeyan Street has been preserved and maintained as a charming old town, complete with craftsman’s workshops, a gallery and a museum. Stay overnight at a hotel in Dilijan.
Day 27: Yerevan
After breakfast, drive to the reflective waters of Lake Sevan, nicknamed ‘The Pearl of Armenia’. Sevan is one of the largest fresh-water high-altitude lakes in the world. Visit Sevanavank Monastery, which overlooks the water on the Peninsula. Move on to the village of Garni to visit the first century Garni Temple, built by the Armenian King Tiridates and dedicated to Mithra, the God of the Sun. Be treated to a local performance in the temple the magnificent sounds of the Duduk – a flute-like instrument originating to Armenia, and currently listed on the UNESCO in-tangible Cultural Heritage List. Travel northeast of Garni, higher up the gorge of the Azat River, to the magnificent Geghard Monastery. This World Heritage-listed site is partly carved out of a mountain and surrounded by cliffs. In the afternoon, drive to Armenia’s capital – Yerevan. Stay overnight at a hotel in Yerevan.
Day 28: Yerevan
After breakfast, become familiar with the streets of Yerevan on a leader-led city tour. Established in 782 BC, Armenia’s capital is one of the oldest cities in the world. Nowadays, the city’s liveliness comes from its ancient culture mixed with a modern lifestyle. Visit the Matenadaran – home to ancient manuscripts that contain historical documents from all over Europe and Asia. The building also holds the first copy of the Bible in Armenian. In the afternoon, depart for Zvartnots Temple – a stunning example of seventh-century Armenian architecture. Return to the capital in the afternoon to discover Armenian Carpet Making and learn about the weaving process and to swing past the local fruit market before returning to your hotel for the night.
Day 29: Yerevan
Today your adventure comes to an end after breakfast. There are no activities included on this day and you are free to leave at any time.
- Istanbul - City Tour
- Istanbul - Blue Mosque
- Gallipoli - guided visit
- Troy - Archeological Guided Site Visit
- Sirince - Wine Tasting
- Seluck - Orientation Walk
- Ephesus - archaeological site
- Selcuk - Isa Bey Camii
- Pamukkale - Hierapolis & Travertines National Park
- Kayakoy- Ghost Village
- Kas - Boat Cruise and lunch
- Antalya - Kaleici visit
- Antalya - Antalya Museum
- Antalya - Sagalassos
- Konya - Mevlana Museum
- Cappadocia - Valley Walk
- Goreme - Open Air Museum
- Cappadocia - Pottery Demonstration
- Cappadocia - Ozkonak Underground City
- Baku - Maiden's Tower
- Baku - Shirvan Shah Palace
- Baku - Carpet Museum
- Baku - Caravanserai
- Baku - Absheron Peninsula Tour
- Qobustan - Petroglyphs
- Sheki - Mud volcano
- Sheki - Khan's Palace
- Sheki - Craft Workshop Visit
- Sheki - Bazaar
- Gremi - Architectural Complex (Closed Mondays)
- Kvareli - Lunch with a Local Family
- Kvareli - Winery Visit
- Tbilisi - Old Town Walking Tour
- Sighnaghi - Town Stopover
- Tbilisi - National History Museum
- Tbilisi - Narikala Fortress
- Tbilisi - Enamel Workshop
- Mtskheta - Svetitskhoveli Cathedral
- Akhaltsikhe - Rabat Fortress
- Meskheti - Khertvisi Fortress
- Vardzia - Cave Town
- Gori - Stalin Museum
- Uplistsikhe - Cave Complex
- Ananuri - Architectural Complex
- Haghpat - Haghpat Monastery
- Armenia - Geghard Monastery - UNESCO World Heritage site
- Lake Sevan - Sevanavank Monastery
- Yerevan - City Tour
- Armenia - Zvartnots Temple
27 Breakfast(s) Included
3 Lunch(es) Included
6 Dinner(s) Included
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