Vardzia Caves | Georgia
FROM: R30,900

Cross the Caucasus from Georgia to Azerbaijan on this 16 day overland adventure which starts in Tbilisi and ends in Baku. Discover the incredible Vardzia Cave Monastery, the lush scenery of Stepantsminda and the bubbling mud volcanoes of Gobustan. Stay in a Silk Road caravanserai in Sheki and take in the highlights of Armenia including Lake Sevan and ancient Yerevan.

Inclusions
Itinerary
Prices & Dates

Trip Highlights

Stepantsminda - hike to the Tsminda Sameba Church which is nestled in rolling hills and stunning scenery
Vardzia - marvel at the stunning subterranean cave city and the monastery which remains inhabited by a handful of dedicated monks
Lake Sevan - relax on the shore of this shimmering Armenian lake, home to the only beaches in the landlocked country
Sheki - spend the night in a converted caravanserai, where traders on the Silk Road used to rest and resupply their caravans
Tbilisi - take in the sights of Georgia's charming capital including the Sioni Cathedral and impressive Metekhi Temple
Telavi - taste delicious local wines and watch aspects of the wine production process then enjoy some famous Georgian hospitality
Yerevan - enjoy two nights in one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world
Baku - see the mud volcanoes of Gobustan and end your adventure in bustling Baku which is an amazing contrast of ancient and modern

Included

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

Not Included

International flights and visas
Tipping - an entirely personal gesture
Local Payment: $510pp, paid in USD
Items of a personal nature, additional meals and drinks
Sleeping bag and roll mat - please bring your own for camping

Itinerary

Day 1

Welcome to Tbilisi!

Welcome to Georgia and its charming capital of Tbilisi! Make your own way to our joining hotel where there’s a pre-departure Welcome Meeting at 6pm. The evening is free to explore the city as you please.
Overnight: Tbilisi

Day 2

Terrific Tbilisi

Today we explore Tbilisi. Wander through the charming Old Town and visit sites including the fascinating National Museum, the Sioni Cathedral and the 12th century Metekhi Temple. The temple once served as a fortress and residence for the Georgian Tsars and has been destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout its history. There’s free time later today if you wish to explore the hilltop Narikala Fortress or join an optional visit to the Museum of Soviet Occupation.
Overnight: Tbilisi   |  Breakfast

Day 3

Dilijan National Park & Lake Sevan

Tbilisi - Lake Sevan (Armenia). Boarding our overland truck for the first time, we leave Tbilisi behind and drive to the border with Armenia. Pass through the picturesque scenery of Dilijan National Park to shimmering Lake Sevan. Landlocked Armenia’s only beaches are found at the lake, making it a popular summer retreat for Armenians. We’ll spend the night camping on the shore of the lake.
Overnight: Lake Sevan  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 4-5

Ancient Yerevan

Lake Sevan - Yerevan. Setting off from Lake Sevan on day 4, our first stop is the UNESCO-listed Geghard Monastery, which has been carved out of the rock face of the Azat River Gorge. We continue to the impressive Graeco-Roman Garni Temple before arriving in ancient Yerevan, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

There’s free time to relax or explore Yerevan at leisure during our two night stay here. Perhaps join an optional excursion to the Ararat Brandy Museum.
Overnight: Yerevan

Day 6

Armenian Highlands

Yerevan - Armenian Highlands. This morning we set off from Yerevan into the stunning scenery of the Armenian Highlands. There’s a stop at the Khor Virap Monastery, near the Turkish border. This important pilgrimage site is set in the shadow of Mt Ararat and on a clear day there will be incredible views of the snow-capped peak. After our visit we’ll continue driving and will find a suitable spot to wild camp tonight.
Overnight: Armenian Highlands  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7

Vardzia Cave Monastery

Armenian Highlands - Vardzia (Georgia). Today we cross back into Georgia and arrive at the incredible Vardzia cave city. First inhabited during the Bronze Age, the network of caves is one of the highlights of the Caucasus. Though the site was mostly abandoned in the 16th century, a handful of monks still reside in the Vardzia Cave Monastery and they ring the bells at 07:00 every morning.

We’ll either explore the site today or tomorrow, depending on how long it takes to cross the border from Armenia to Georgia. Tonight, we wild camp near to Vardzia.
Overnight: Vardzia  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8

Mtskheta

Vardzia - Mtskheta. We’ll explore Vardzia if we didn’t get the chance yesterday, before continuing to the lush Borjomi National Park. Enjoy a short hike in the ancient forest and opt to ride a cable car up the mountain. Later, we’ll arrive in Mtskheta and visit the 11th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.
Overnight: Mtskheta   |  Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9

Stepantsminda

Mtskheta - Stepantsminda. Today we drive to the town of Stepantsminda, nestled in beautiful scenery. During our stay here we’ll enjoy a trek up to the tiny Tsminda Sameba Church, which is hidden away in the rolling hills and mountains of the Georgian Caucasus. There’s an optional cooking class where you can learn how to make delicious Georgian kinkhalis (meatballs).
Overnight: Stepantsminda   |  Breakfast, Dinner

Days 10-11

Telavi & Wine tasting

Stepantsminda - Telavi. On day 10 we drive to the wine producing region of Telavi. During our stay in the town there’s plenty of time to explore and visit some of the local vineyards. Watch traditions such as grape harvesting in action and enjoy some Georgian hospitality with lunch and wine tasting at a local winery on day 11.
Overnight: Telavi   |  Breakfast x 2, Dinner x 2

Day 12

Lagodekhi National Park

Telavi - Lagodekhi National Park. Leaving Telavi, we head towards the border with Azerbaijan. Stop at the impressive Gremi Citadel before we spend our final night in Georgia wild camping in Lagodekhi National Park.
Overnight: Lagodekhi NP  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13

Sheki & Caravanserai stay

Lagodekhi National Park - Sheki (Azerbaijan). Today we enter Azerbaijan and drive to the old town of Sheki. Explore the exquisite Khan’s Palace before we arrive at our accommodation for the night. You’re in for a treat as we are staying in a hotel which has been built inside an ancient caravanserai, once an important stopover for weary travellers on the Silk Road.
Overnight: Sheki (Caravanserai)

Day 14

Lahij Village

Sheki - Lahij. Today we drive to Lahij, an ancient mountain settlement which is famous for its copper and arms production. Explore the site at leisure and camp with facilities tonight.
Overnight: Lahij  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15

Gobustan & Baku

Lahij - Baku. Today we drive to Gobustan, the region known for its bubbling mud volcanoes and ancient petroglyphs. After exploring this site, we complete the final leg of our overland adventure to Baku, the bustling capital of Azerbaijan. This emerging metropolis is an incredible contrast of the old and new. The discovery of oil has led to huge economic growth and as a result, Baku is an emerging city on the world scene. Take time to explore historic architecture such as the Maiden Tower and admire the glistening skyscrapers which dot the skyline.
Overnight: Baku

Day 16

Baku

Today our Caucasus adventure comes to an end. If you wish to extend your stay in Baku then speak to our sales team. A number of optional activities are available if you have the time including a guided tour of the Old City.

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 wild camping in the wilderness 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 and at high altitude. 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 - $510pp, paid in USD

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

Guaranteed Departure
Available
Contact us to book
Sold out
2020
Price /
Person
Single
Supp.
R30,900
-
R30,900
-
R30,900
-
2021
Price /
Person
Single
Supp.
R31,900
-
R31,900
-
R31,900
-

In Brief

Range
Trip Type
Starts
Tbilisi
Ends
Baku
Departs
March to July
Group Size
Min 4 / Max 22
Hotel Rating
Simple hotels, guesthouses & camping
Local Payment
$510pp, paid in USD
Tour Guide
Escorted by a tour leader
Meals
Breakfast: 10, Lunch: 5, Dinner: 9
Countries
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