Khor Virap Monastery and Mt Ararat | Armenia
FROM: £2,680 pp

Explore the highlights of Turkey and the Caucasus on this 30-day overland adventure which starts in cultural Istanbul and ends in bustling Baku. Admire the breathtaking landscape of Cappadocia, the legendary ruins of Ephesus and the striking Sumela Monastery. Take in Tbilisi and the Vardzia Caves in Georgia, explore ancient Yerevan in Armenia and stay in a Silk Road caravanserai in Azerbaijan.

Prices & Dates

Trip Highlights

Istanbul - Begin your adventure in the cultural Turkish city and discover highlights including the Blue Mosque independently
Sumela Monastery - Gaze out over the green forests and swirling mists of the valley from this ancient monastery which clings to a rock face
Vardzia - Venture into the incredible subterranean cave city and visit the Vardzia Monastery where a handful of monks still reside
Stepantsminda - Hike into the hills and visit the tiny Tsminda Sameba Church which is surrounded by the towering Caucasus Mountains
Sheki - Stay in an ancient Silk Road Caravanserai which has been converted into a comfortable hotel
Ephesus - Explore the ancient marble ruins including the Library of Celsus and the Temple of Serapis
Cappadocia - Discover the enchanting and unique landscape of subterranean churches and cities then opt for a hot air balloon ride over this magical region
Tbilisi - Take in highlights of the Georgian Capital including the National Museum, Sioni Cathedral and Metekhi Temple
Yerevan - Opt to relax or independently explore one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on Earth
Baku - See the bubbling mud volcanoes and ancient petroglyphs at Gobustan and end your tour in the emerging Azerbaijani Capital


17 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 14 dinners
9 nights camping (including 3 nights on campsites, 5 nights wild camping and 1 night camping without facilities)
All necessary camping equipment (excluding sleeping bags)
Guided tour of Gallipoli, Troy, Ephesus and Cappadocia
A stay in the ancient Sheki caravanserai in Azerbaijan
Services of two crew (drivers/tour leaders) and local guides along the way
20 nights in hotels and guesthouses
Transportation in an overland expedition vehicle
Sightseeing as per itinerary
Visits to the Garni Temple, Geghard Monastery and Khor Virap Monastery in Armenia
Visit to Gobustan to see the petroglyphs and mud volcanoes

Not Included

International flights and visas
Tipping - an entirely personal gesture
Sleeping bag and roll mat - please bring your own for camping
Local Payment: $930pp, paid in USD


Day 1

Welcome to Istanbul!

Welcome to Turkey! On arrival in Istanbul there’s a 10:00am pre-departure meeting at our joining hotel. The rest of the day is then free to explore the city at leisure. Alternatively, you could join a cruise on the Bosphorus which separates Asia and Europe.
Overnight: Istanbul

Day 2

Battlefields of Gallipoli

Istanbul - Gallipoli. Leaving Istanbul, we board our overland truck for the first time and drive to the Gallipoli peninsula. Here we’ll take a guided tour of the region and can pay our respects at some of the WW1 battlefields and memorials. We’ll also visit ANZAC Cove, the site of some of the fiercest fighting during the war.
Overnight: Eceabat

Days 3-4

Troy, Selcuk & Ephesus

Gallipoli - Selcuk. On day 3 we cross the Dardenelles by ferry and drive to the ruins of the fabled city of Troy. See the replica Trojan Horse before we arrive at our hostel in Selcuk. The evening is free to relax in one of the many tea bars in the area.

The next day sees us exploring the legendary marble ruins of Ephesus, including the Terraced Houses. Ephesus is considered one of the world’s best-preserved classical cities and highlights include the Library of Celsus and the Temple of Serapis.
Overnight: Selcuk

Day 5


Selcuk - Pamukkale. Driving inland, we reach the small village of Pamukkale, which is famous for its mineral rich hot springs and white terraced travertines. Take a walk along these beautiful terraces and opt for a dip in the thermal springs. Tonight, we will either camp near Pamukkale or stay in a local hotel.
Overnight: Pamukkale  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 6-7

Olympos & Chimera Fire Mountain

Pamukkale - Olympos. On day 6 we drive to the popular beach town of Olympos, where there’s free time to relax on the beach or explore the local area. The next day you may wish to join an optional sea kayaking adventure and at nightfall we take a short hike up to the mystical Chimera Fire Mountain. Here natural gas rises from underground and bursts into flame when reaching the outside air. We can toast some marshmallows on the never-ending fires.
Overnight: Olympos

Day 8

Termessos & Egirdir

Olympos - Egirdir. We leave Olympos behind and drive to the impressive Pisidian ruins of Termessos, which sit at an altitude of more than 1,000m. After exploring the site, we continue towards Egirdir, finding a suitable spot for our first night of wild camping en route.
Overnight: Egirdir  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 9-10

Enchanting Cappadocia

Egirdir - Goreme. On day 9 we drive to the small town of Goreme, nestled in the heart of the magical Cappadocia Mountains. During our two days here we’ll enjoy guided sightseeing in this enchanting subterranean landscape. Explore the underground city of Kaymakli and the ancient valley of Ihlara, strewn with rock-hewn churches. There’s also the opportunity to take an optional hot air balloon ride over the valley if you wish.
Overnight: Goreme

Day 11


Goreme - Zara. Today we have a long drive towards the incredible Sumela Monastery, stopping en route to wild camp near the villages of Zara or Alucra.
Overnight: Zara / Alucra  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12

The Sumela Monastery

Zara - Sumela. Today we reach the incredible Sumela Monastery, which clings to rugged cliffs 1,200m up. The monastery was founded in the year 368CE during the reign of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I. We get to explore this amazing site and gaze out at the green forests and mystical swirling mists in the valley below. We spend the night at a campsite near the monastery (weather permitting).
Overnight: Sumela  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13


Sumela - Batumi (Georgia). Today we say goodbye to Turkey and cross into Georgia. Our first stop is the hospitable port city of Batumi. Sitting on the Black Sea coast, Batumi is a popular summer getaway destination for Georgians and travellers alike. There’s free time to explore the city and an optional visit to the Batumi Archaeological Museum.
Overnight: Batumi  |  Breakfast

Day 14


Batumi - Kutaisi. We leave Batumi and head to the ancient city of Kutaisi. Later today we’ll explore the stunning Bagrati Cathedral, which has recently been restored by the Georgian authorities. We also pay a visit to the Gelati Monastery and the giant Prometheus Cave, located just outside the city.
Overnight: Kutaisi  |  Breakfast, Dinner

Days 15-16

Exploring Tbilisi

Kutaisi - Tbilisi. On day 15 we drive to the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. The city was once a major superpower on the Silk Road due to its geographical position. During our two day stay in the city we’ll explore the charming old town and visit the fascinating National Museum, Sioni Cathedral and the Metekhi Temple. There’s an optional excursion available to the Museum of Soviet Occupation and free time to walk up to the hilltop Narikala Fortress where you can enjoy amazing views of the city below.
Overnight: Tbilisi   |  Breakfast x 2

Day 17

Dilijan National Park & Lake Sevan

Tbilisi - Lake Sevan (Armenia). Saying goodbye to Georgia for now, we cross the border into neighbouring Armenia. Today’s drive takes us through the lush forests of Dilijan National Park. We either camp in the park or continue to Lake Sevan. The pebble beaches on this shimmering lake are the only beaches in the whole of landlocked Armenia and make Lake Sevan a popular getaway destination for Armenians. We camp on the shores of the lake.
Overnight: Dilijan NP or Lake Sevan  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 18-19


Lake Sevan - Yerevan. On day 18 we drive to the ancient city of Yerevan, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. En route we visit the UNESCO-listed Geghard Monastery, which has been carved out of the rock face of the Azat River Gorge. We also stop at the beautiful Graeco-Roman Garni Temple before arriving in Yerevan. There’s free time to explore the city and an optional visit to the Ararat Brandy Museum.
Overnight: Yerevan

Day 20

Armenian Highlands

Yerevan - Armenian Highlands. Today we drive into the pristine Armenian Highlands. A stop is made at the Khor Virap Monastery, close to the Turkish border. This important pilgrimage site sits in the shadow of imposing Mt Ararat and on a clear day there are magnificent views of the snow-capped peak. We wild camp in the highlands tonight.
Overnight: Armenian Highlands  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 21

Vardzia Cave Monastery

Armenian Highlands - Vardzia (Georgia). Today we cross back into Georgia and journey to Vardzia, home to the sprawling Vardzia Caves. This ancient cave city is carved into the side of a mountain and was once a sprawling underground community. Abandoned mostly in the 16th century, the Vardzia Monastery continues to be inhabited by a handful of monks who ring the bells at 07:00 every morning. We’ll either visit the incredible site today or tomorrow morning and will wild camp tonight in the surrounding area.
Overnight: Vardzia  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 22


Vardzia - Mtskheta. If we haven’t already then we’ll visit the Vardzia Caves this morning before we drive into Borjomi National Park. Here we have time for a short hike, and you can opt to ride the cable car up the mountain. We then drive to Mtskheta where we visit the pretty Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.
Overnight: Mtskheta   |  Breakfast, Dinner

Day 23


Mtskheta - Stepantsminda. Today we drive to the town of Stepantsminda, nestled in picturesque scenery. During our stay we’ll hike up to the tiny Tsminda Sameba Church, which is hidden in the towering Caucasus Mountains. There’s also an optional cooking class to learn how to create delicious Georgian kinkhalis (meatballs).
Overnight: Stepantsminda   |  Breakfast, Dinner

Days 24-25

Telavi & wine tasting

Stepantsminda - Telavi. On day 24 we head into the Alazani Valley and arrive in the wine-making region of Telavi. Hundreds of varieties of grape are grown here and we’ll visit some local vineyards on day 25. Watch local traditions in action including grape harvesting and enjoy some famous Georgian hospitality with lunch and wine tasting at a family-run winery.
Overnight: Telavi   |  Breakfast x 2, Dinner x 2

Day 26

Lagodekhi National Park

Telavi - Lagodekhi National Park. Leave the wine region behind as we visit the impressive Gremi Citadel and drive into the lush Lagodekhi National Park. Tonight we’ll wild camp in the park, somewhere close to the border with Azerbaijan.
Overnight: Lagodekhi NP  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 27

Sheki & caravanserai stay

Lagodekhi National Park - Sheki (Azerbaijan). Today we begin the final stretch of our journey as we cross into the resource-rich country of Azerbaijan. Driving to the ancient city of Sheki, we visit the exquisite Khan’s Palace before continuing to our accommodation - tonight’s hotel is built inside an old Silk Road caravanserai. You’ll feel like a weary silk merchant as we take in our surroundings and enjoy a relaxing evening.
Overnight: Sheki

Day 28

Lahij village

Sheki - Lahij. We drive to Lahij today, an ancient mountain village that is known for its copper and arms production. Explore the site at leisure and camp with facilities tonight.
Overnight: Lahij  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 29

Gobustan & Baku

Lahij - Baku. Today we drive to Gobustan, near the Caspian Sea coast. See the ancient petroglyphs and bubbling mud volcanoes that the area is famous for. After our visit we climb aboard our overland truck for the final time and drive to the emerging world city of Baku. There’s free time to explore the Azerbaijani capital, an incredible contrast between the old and new. See the ancient Maiden Tower and admire the glistening skyscrapers that reflect the emerging economy of Azerbaijan.
Overnight: Baku

Day 30


Our adventure comes to an end today. If you wish to stay in Baku for a few extra days to partake in some of our optional activities, then please contact our sales team.

Is Overlanding Right For Me?

Overlanding is not a style of travel that will suit everyone so please carefully read the Trip Notes before selecting this tour and be realistic about your ability and desire to join such a trip. If you’re the adventurous type who’d rather spend a night roughing it in a rainforest than luxuriating in a boutique hotel, then overlanding is for you. You just need the right attitude, an open mind, and a desire to participate fully in the trip.

Overland travelling can be demanding and challenging. On your trip you’ll travel in a purpose-built expedition vehicle on an off-the-beaten-track adventure along rugged roads, sometimes across vast distances. You will find the drive times noted on the Trip Notes.

On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger, these are full participation trips and everyone gets involved and pitches in! You will also be expected to erect your own tent and help with camp chores including cooking meals for the group on a rota basis. Like all great adventures, the more you put in the more you'll get out!

The type, variety and standard of accommodation can vary greatly from very basic rooms without electricity or running water to comfortable hotels with good facilities. Generally in hotels most rooms will be twin-share, but some may be triple/quad-share. Hostels and yurts are nearly always multi-share and may be mixed sex.

The campsites we use range from basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and a bar. On occasions we wild camp with no facilities, which means there are no toilets - just the vast expanse of the great outdoors and a shovel!

Our overland journeys are designed to offer freedom, and many of our routes have a large degree of flexibility rather than a strict hour-by-hour or even day-by-day itinerary. We intend to follow the planned route but exact night stops and inclusions cannot be guaranteed and it sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our planned itinerary.

Prices & Dates

Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 4 persons. Prices shown are per person travelling.

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Local payment - $930pp, paid in USD

Please note that this is payable locally on day 1 of your trip in the currency specified.

In Brief

March to June
Hotel Rating
Simple hotels, guesthouses & camping
Local Payment
$930pp, paid in USD
Tour Guide
Escorted by a tour leader
Breakfast: 17, Lunch: 9, Dinner: 14
Sunset painting the sky orange in Istanbul
OTG002234Istanbul To Azerbaijan - 30 DaysEuropeOverlanding2680 GBPfalse0Turkey