Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan small group tour

“Remarkable small group tour of the Caucasus including centrally located city hotels and rural guesthouses in between traveling overland in search of UNESCO sites and lesser-known cultural and natural highlights.”

Highlights

Baku | Absheron Peninsula | Gobustan | Guba | Krasnaya Sloboda | Shamakha | Lahic | Qabala | Shekhi | Kish | Tbilisi | Mtskehta | Gudauri | Gori | Uplistiskhe | Kutaisi | Svaneti | Ushguli | Tbilisi | Yerevan | Khor Virap | Noravank | Sevan | Dilijan | Haghpat | Echmiadzin | Zvartnots | Geghard | Garni |
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Check dates

2019: 8 Sep, 15 Sep, 22 Sep
2020: 3 May, 6 Sep
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan small group tour

Environment

A lot of the time on this tour is spent in towns and cities, but we do spend a significant proportion of the trip exploring the countryside and wilder areas of the region. We also visit the extraordinary landscapes of Gobustan, where mud volcanoes belch from the earth to create a very unusual phenomenon. We brief our travelers to stick to the trails so as not to disturb this unique landscape and leave it for others to enjoy. Elsewhere at Gobustan are a remarkable collection of petroglyphs and prehistoric rock art, which are particularly susceptible to damage, and again we ensure our travelers do not damage these. These countries were part of the Soviet Union and as such western European norms regarding the environment are not so well entrenched, therefore it is quite common for local people to dispose of rubbish simply by throwing it out of the window. We operate a strict no litter policy on our tours, and work to educate our drivers and other service providers so as to avoid contributing to this problem.


Similarly, in conjunction with our local team we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters – in some places this is far behind what we might be used to in other parts of the world. This includes basic things like not replacing towels - small things but the Caucasus especially outside of the capital cities is not as used to tourism as countries in western Europe.

In Svaneti we stay in small guesthouses which make a point of using local produce for the meals it provides – local in the sense of being from the village and surrounding area, not from elsewhere. Not only is this a great introduction to the culinary culture of Georgia but it helps in a small way to cut down on food miles.

Community

On all of tours we strive to include a strong focus on local communities and we are firm believers that tourism should have a positive impact on the places visited. On this tour we try to allow our travelers to gain a real insight into the traditional customs of the region; a good example of this is when we stop in a small village near Garni, where we have lunch in a village house and can help to prepare the food. Not only is this a great experience for travelers but it means that small scale community based tourism projects, often ignored by mainstream tourism, are able to benefit from our visit.

On this tour we spend time in the remote province of Svaneti, tucked away in the High Caucasus mountains. We stay at locally owned guesthouses and hotels and where appropriate employ the services of local people in order not only to gain a greater insight into the complex traditions here but to ensure that they gain financial benefit from our visit, rather than just being ‘exhibits’. The communities here do not have a wealth of opportunities to earn money, and tourism helps to bring vital income to the region. It also helps to ensure that there is employment for young people – a key problem with many of the more isolated communities in this part of the world is that younger generations migrate to the cities due to a lack of employment opportunities, and this has a negative impact upon such places, meaning that traditions start to die out. The presence of tourism helps, in a small way, to keep the traditional ways alive.

These are very traditional areas with certain codes of behaviour, and the people here are not that accustomed to outsiders. We ensure that our travelers are appropriately briefed in order so as not to offend local sensibilities. This can include appropriate behaviour in front of local shrines, and the customs of Georgian hospitality. This also applies to the numerous churches and monasteries that we visit on this trip; all three are deeply religious countries and it is important that we respect these traditions.

We also stop to visit communities of Armenia’s ethnic minorities including the Molokans, Kurds and Yazidis. We only visit villages that are pleased to receive us – it is important that we do not treat such communities just as ‘exhibits’, and we recognise that some traditional groups prefer to be left alone.

We visit a number of sites and monuments on this tour that do not necessarily receive much funding from other sources; the entrance fees that we include help to maintain the heritage of this country for future generations – not just western travelers but more importantly to local people to whom they have far more cultural and historical significance. We use locally owned suppliers and our partners here are deeply involved with the preservation of the culture and heritage of the country. Many of the region’s sites have been poorly maintained in the past and entrance fees play an important part in their restoration and conservation.

3 Reviews of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan small group tour

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 01 Jun 2019 by

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.

Reviewed on 29 May 2019 by

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!

Reviewed on 26 May 2018 by

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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