Georgia & Armenia cultural vacation
Description of Georgia & Armenia cultural vacation
Do more than just skim the surface of two of Europe’s least known countries on this full-on, two-week tour of Georgia and Armenia. Dwarfed by their huge neighbours, Russia, Turkey and Iran, few people even realise these countries are, in fact, in Europe – and fewer still could pinpoint them on a map. But this Georgia and Armenia cultural vacation encompasses this region, following the trails left by the Ottoman Empire, Imperial Russia and beyond. The adventure begins in Tbilisi, traveling up into the High Caucasus where mountain trails take you to an ancient church in a dramatic location. In the remote and mysterious Svaneti region, rural villages are overlooked by stone watchtowers, where traditional cultures thrive.
Crossing into Armenia, the abundant ancient monasteries and churches betray the fact that this is the oldest Christian country in the world. Encounter modern and traditional Armenia in the capital, Yerevan, complete with lively contemporary culture, and some striking, utilitarian Soviet architecture. As If that wasn’t enough, this Georgia and Armenia vacation even ventures into a country that doesn’t exist: Nagorno-Karabakh, an as yet unrecognized state. Rest assured that when you return home, you’ll be able to do more than just point these fascinating countries out on a map.
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6 Reviews of Georgia & Armenia cultural vacation
Reviewed on 19 Jun 2019 by Ruth GirdhamThe walk up to the church at Kazbegi was the most memorable part of our vacation. Read full review
Reviewed on 02 Jul 2019 by Jay PikeYerevan was the most memorable part of the tour. Read full review
Reviewed on 24 Jun 2018 by G PhillipsThe walks, especially Kasbegi, Ushguli and the Molokan village. But there were too few opportunities for walking. Read full review
Reviewed on 19 Oct 2017 by Maddy BallWaking up in the morning in Gudauri and opening the window to see fresh snow on the Higher Caucasus mountains - spectacular. Read full review
Reviewed on 25 Jun 2017 by Judy SchneiderI would definitely recommend this trip (with extension to Azerbaijan), to people who want to see more than the well trodden tourist routes in Western Europe. Read full review
Reviewed on 16 Oct 2017 by Rachel McgavinTraveling into the mountains of Georgia was memorable. We enjoyed our group and the guides were good. We felt the itinerary was unrealistic and not enough time was available to enjoy Yerevan and some of the other places we stayed in. Read full review
PlanetOn this tour we spend time in the Caucasus Mountains, a stunning area of incredible scenery and unusual wildlife. We ensure that we stick to the trails at all times; the flora here can easily be damaged by going off track. By employing local guides here we contribute to the local economies of the villages in the region, thus helping to reinforce the idea that Georgia's natural heritage has value and is worth preserving.
Our guides will brief travelers on appropriate behaviour, both cultural and environmental, and when in the mountains we make a point of ensuring that we leave no permanent traces of our stay behind, taking all rubbish with us. We work with our local suppliers to highlight best practice in terms of environmental issues. This is an area that is perhaps not as fully appreciated in Georgia and Armenia as it is in other European countries, with environmental thinking a relatively new concept, however we endeavour to work with out local partners to ensure that hotels and other service providers adopt more environmentally friendly ways of operating.
PeopleWe visit a number of important historical sites on this tour. The entrance fees that we pay at these sites helps fund their preservation and ensure that this aspect of the region’s cultural heritage remains for others to enjoy in years to come – particularly important in a country where finding resources for this can be difficult. In addition to this some of these sites contain ancient and fragile religious frescoes that are very susceptible to damage. We make a point of advising our travelers not to touch these valuable paintings to ensure that they remain as they are.
While in Georgia we spend a couple of nights in homestay accommodation, in the remote region of Svaneti. This enables us to ensure that local people are able to benefit directly from our stay here - both the owners of the accommodation and local producers who grow and supply the food. This is a real highlight of the tour and allows travelers to interact with local people far more than would otherwise be possible.
Travelers also have the opportunity to support local communities by purchasing local handicrafts.
Our philosophy is to only use small and locally owned suppliers, meaning that the income remains within the country and creates a real economic contribution. We also feel that the passion inherent within such suppliers means that your experience will be enhanced. We also try to engage with our suppliers on an equal basis – getting the lowest possible price usually isn’t the best outcome for local communities and is ultimately unsustainable. We aim to always treat our suppliers fairly and with respect; they are after all part of the key to our success and to us working together is much more than just a business arrangement, but an ongoing relationship that we aim to ensure truly benefits everyone involved.
We believe that tourism is a double edged sword that needs to be wielded very carefully. Our philosophy is to have a limited amount of departures – usually between one and three a year - for each of our itineraries. By limiting our presence in areas where local culture can be quite fragile, we hope to avoid as much as possible the phenomenon whereby an area changes in character due to repeated and prolonged exposure to tourism. We want to visit an area as friends, not intruders and to ensure that what we see will also be there for others to enjoy for many years to come.
We only employ local staff and unlike many operators we believe that to send a foreign Tour Leader along to accompany your trip is an unnecessary burden on your wallet and our carbon footprint. We believe that locals know best. Our local operators only use locally owned accommodation. This means your money stays in the area to benefit the local community. When possible we use local transport, (i.e. rail or bus) and we always use local restaurants, markets and shops and encourage our clients to interact both financially and socially with the communities that they are passing through. In doing this your travels are supporting and encouraging the development of local services. As well as our local guides and tour leaders, we employ guides from the communities and regions that we visit, ensuring that the benefits from tourism are more fairly shared and do not end up always being funnelled towards the capital cities.
We only work with operators who are as committed as we are to putting something back into the communities we visit. This may include giving a percentage of the profits from each tour to a foundation to help street children or local conservation projects.
Our groups average only six clients, and many tours operate on a private basis with just two travelers. This has much less impact when traveling through rural areas, reducing our environmental and social affects. Finally to emphasise our commitment to Responsible Tourism all clients will receive a copy of our Travelers Code of Conduct with their travel documents.