7 independent reviews for Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan small group tour

Reviews for Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan small group tour

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review 22 May 2022

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

That's an extremely difficult question; there were so many things! 1) The quality of the guide, Elvin, in Azerbaijan' 2) In Georia, the harrowing drive from Mestia to Ushguli, which we couldn't accomplish due to a landslide 3) The magical encounter with a local woman in Armenia who sang to us and showed us some old rituals and traditions

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Pack more warm clothes than you think you might need. It rained and snowed for a good part of this trip

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

No, unfortunately I don't. All three of these countries are like those in the general geographical area (Iran, the Stans) who don't recycle or seem to have any concept whatsoever of keeping a clean environment. Even in the highest passes in the Causasus there was abundant trash on the roads and in the streams.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Overall it was a good trip. There were a couple of disappointments (aside from the weather, over which there was no control, obviously). The hotel in Baku could have been better: we all had issues with our rooms, and as I emailed earlier, I was given erroneous information upon my arrival about access to cash, by the sales manager of the hotel no less. I had no hot water in my room upon my arrival, and they left me to move all my things to another room. The guesthouse in Kutaisi was awful, way below the quality of everywhere else we stayed, and the three of us all felt unwelcomed, to boot.

Read the operator's response here:

Hi Rebecca, Thanks very much for taking the time to write a review about the recent tour you joined, to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. Weíre so glad you enjoyed your time exploring the Caucasus region. We will be sure to pass on your kind feedback about the guide, Elvin, to our local team as we know heíll be very pleased to read this. We do pride ourselves on our knowledgeable, local guides who are very passionate about sharing their knowledge of their own country. It sounds like the drive to Ushguli was quite an adventure. Iím sorry that the weather conditions prevented you from reaching Usghuli but hope you were able to appreciate some of the scenery on the drive and also in Mestia, where you did stay and have time to explore. Itís always the little touches, such as interactions with local people, that can make a trip that little bit more special. The rituals and traditions you learnt about from the local Armenian lady sound fascinating and weíre glad you enjoyed this part of the trip. Iím sorry if you didnít have quite enough warm items of clothing for the trip. One of our staff accompanied this trip back in 2019 and the weather was generally very good - dry, warm and sunny. Itís very unusual for it to snow at this time of year in these countries and itís just unfortunate that your group experienced some adverse weather conditions. I hope this didnít detract too much from your enjoyment of the tour. With regards to the conservation and environmental issues in these countries, in some areas they may be a bit behind with this but our local team know how passionate we are about protecting the environment and we always brief our groups and local teams about not contributing to the litter problem and taking any rubbish items back to the hotels where they can be disposed of properly. We are also in talks with them about how we can reduce plastic usage on tour i.e. the water that is provided. This may take a little time to get right, and the options and facilities may not be as developed as they are at home, but it is something we are presently working on. I do hope you saw the ways in which the tour benefits local people, though, through the employment of local guides and drivers, and the use of local guesthouses (rather than big chain hotels) and local restaurants and so on. Weíre very sorry that there was no hot water in your room in Baku and are glad that the hotel were able to move you to another room where you did have hot water. Weíre also sorry if you felt they could have been more attentive and assisted you in moving. This is something we will address with our local team so that we can avoid these issues occurring with future groups. We assess the hotels we use, regularly, and if we feel there has been a drop in standards, we will always make a switch to another hotel of a better standard and will always aim for this to be as centrally located as possible. Weíll be sure to reassess the hotel used in Baku and also the guesthouse in Kutaisi. There are other accommodation options in Kutaisi but generally these are much more expensive than the guesthouse we use and not of a higher standard. They also tend to lack authenticity and only provide breakfast, whereas the guesthouse in Kutaisi has always been known to put on a good spread for dinner that past groups have enjoyed. We always try to keep our tours at reasonable prices whilst still offering clean and comfortable accommodations, that are well located, and are as authentic as possible. We completely appreciate you bringing this to our attention however, and please rest assured we will be discussing this with our local team to see if there is another option we can consider for the night in Kutaisi. Overall, we are pleased you enjoyed the tour and want to thank you again for taking the time to write to us. We hope to hear from you again in the near future and would love to assist with any future travel plans you may have in the future.

review 1 Jun 2019

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

We enjoyed getting familiar with the capital cities in all three countries: Baku, Azerbaijan; Tbilisi, Georgia; and Yerevan, Armenia. Our hotels were very well located. We could walk around to areas of interest in our free time very easily. Local people were welcoming. We were impressed with the progress made in these countries since the break up of the Soviet Union.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

May was a good time to travel to these countries. The weather was great for sightseeing. Glad that we did some reading before we went so we had some background about the places we would be visiting.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We visited small villages and areas in the mountains. When we stayed in guest houses and ate in local retaurants, we think the local people benefited.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Outstanding trip. We had a guide for each country. Their knowledge added to the total experience. The itinerary was very complete. We learned a lot about the culture and political situation as well.

review 29 May 2019

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

There were so many highlights, the scenery, the food, the experiences!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Fitness is pretty important as there's lots of walking and climbing stairs and some rough ground. The weather was really hot too, hotter than I expected!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I think so. We used a lot of plastic water bottles but that was because there were very few places to refill reusable bottles, but hopefully in time this will change.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

I loved it! It was really amazing! Unfortunately the guide in Azerbaijan was very disorganised and this was highlighted even more as the other two guides were sensational! Such fantastic countries, well worth the trip!

review 12 Oct 2019

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Gobustan, Sheiki palace, Tbilisi, Svaneti and the mountains and Yerevan for its arts, outdoor areas, sculptures and music

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Lots of steps and steep inclines - be prepared. Good food, great local experiences very knowledgeable guides proud of their countries. Driver in Georgia was sensational

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Engagement with local experiences and community people was great. Very busy days left little time for browsing, conversations with local artists and spending money. Enjoying supporting artists but little time to check out their work

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Very good and felt most at ease as a solo traveler in Georgia and Armenia

review 29 Sep 2019

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Experiencing 3 very different cultures.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Clarify everything with the travel agency before travel starts. Information was somewhat spotty.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Good experience.

review 28 Sep 2019

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The drive to Ushguli as the sun shone brilliantly lighting up the snow-capped mountains.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared for a lot of "minibus miles" and large numbers of tourists at all the major sites. "Guesthouse" means a hotel run by a family, rather than by a company. Some of us were expecting to stay in a family house as a guest, which was not the case.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Difficult to tell. We were transported and guided by local staff so a few were supported directly by employment. Difficult to see how traveling so many minibus miles reduces environmental impact, We saw no evidence of any activities supporting conservation.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It was worth visiting because of the splendid scenery: snowy mountains, wide open high grasslands, steep-sided wooded valleys and gorges. However it was very disappointing in many respects. None of us were prepared for the volume of tourists visiting the major sites, which was very frustrating. Our minibus had to queue to get into Mestia, where we were expecting to see a little-known region. We did not "meet the Svan people and get to know their unique way of life" . What we did learn about them came mainly from watching a film drama being shown in Mestia about people in Ushguli.

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Will, Thank you for taking the time to send your feedback to Responsible Travel about your recent trip to the Caucasus region. I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed the tour overall and that the beautiful mountainous scenery of Ushguli was a real highlight for you as it is for many of our travelers. With regards to the guesthouse in Svaneti, Georgia, this is a family-run guesthouse. There are several of these in Svaneti and the family not only live in the same property but also prepare the meals. These guesthouses are often larger than the typical family home and this is so that they can cater for groups, such as the one you were part of. It would be extremely difficult to find a home that doesnít operate as a guesthouse, yet would open their doors to visitors and be able to accommodate a group of 12. The other guesthouse is in Kutaisi and again, we donít list this as a homestay either and so Iím really sorry if it was interpreted in this way. Georgia in general is becoming increasingly popular as a destination and so whichever hotel you stay in - and there are few to choose from - you will inevitably come across other tourists and nationalities. We have revised our trip dossiers to say 'family-run guest-housesí where appropriate, in hope that this will avoid any further confusion for our travelers. The same applies to Svaneti as a region, with regards to increasing numbers of tourists - Mestia in particular - and so we are working with our local team on the ground to try and make some changes here to enhance the experience in this region. We have recently looked into whether we could stay in Ushguli - as opposed to Mestia - but it doesnít look as though this could be an option without increasing the duration of a tour that is already 20 days long. The drive to Mestia is quite long as Iím sure youíre aware, and the drive back to Tbilisi even longer and so to travel to Ushguli and then back to Tbilisi from here, would add an extra 2 hours to both journeys - there and back. There are also fewer accommodation options in Ushguli and the few options that there are, are of a lower standard than those in Mestia which we donít necessarily feel that our travelers would be happy with. We will be extending the amount of walking we do in Ushguli for 2020 though, and will also be including a visit to a family home to gain a more in-depth insight into Svan life. Iím really sorry if you found this aspect of the trip to be unfulfilling and we have taken all of your feedback on board with the aim to make this better for future travelers. I do understand that there are a lot of miles involved on this trip but unfortunately there is no way to cover the highlights of these countries without covering some long distances. We have considered flying between countries but this wouldnít reduce environmental impact unfortunately. The other reason we havenít included flights from country to country is because we would usually have to be at the airport 2 hours before a flight, then we have the flight itself and getting out of the airport on the other side and so it doesnít necessarily mean that time would be saved either. With regards to flying to Georgia from Azerbaijan, we finish the trip in Sheki which doesn't have an operating airport and so for the moment it makes more sense to drive to the Lagodekhi border and then onwards to Tbilisi, with the option of visiting the Sighnaghi hill town en route. We work with local teams on the ground in all three countries that you visited, who employ local guides and drivers, therefore directly contributing to local people and the local economy. We also avoid large hotel and restaurant chains, therefore contributing to smaller local businesses. We are extremely grateful that you have taken the time to share your constructive feedback and would like to assure you that we have taken all of your points on board. This kind of feedback really does go a long way when improving our tours for future travelers and so weíre pleased that youíve taken the time to share your views with us and Responsible Travel. Kind Regards, Jim

review 26 May 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The part of the trip in Svaneti.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Its a good trips and they should book it

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

It benefitted local people in The Svaneti region because it creates work.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

I will give it 4 stars because the guide in Azerbaijan didn't speak English very well. He didn't understand our questions and could answer something completly wrong which proved that he hadn't understood the question.

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