Frozen conflict zones and unrecognised breakaway republics. This amazing trip takes you to Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and the place they call “Europe’s Hiroshima” before finishing in Tbilisi, Georgia. The extended group moves on to Stalin’s hometown of Gori, before entering the war-torn republic of Abkhazia, formerly the pearl in the Soviet summer calendar.
This is our fourth year of visiting the Caucasus and the “other NK”; the frozen conflict zone that is Nagorno-Karabakh. This region suffered a horrific war after the fall of the Soviet Union, and despite being de jure part of Azerbaijan, is in fact a de facto unrecognised independent nation state (1 of 4 in post-Soviet Europe).
Both trips can be combined with our Iran Revolutionary Tour, or done as standalone tours, with prices being amended depending on where you join the trip. If we wish to join, or leave the trip at a different destination, please get in touch for a quote.
This tour will be split into two parts. Group A will cover Armenia and Group B, Georgia. You can choose to do both groups or only one. Get in touch about pricing for either individual group.
The group arriving in Armenia from the preceding Iran tour will arrive in the town of Agarak, a day before the rest of the group. The Iran group will stay this night in Agarak and depart for Goris early the next morning.
The non-Iran tour group (Group one) will arrive by their own means to Yerevan on the 2nd of May.
Cross-country drive to the Armenian border with stop in Tabriz UNESCO world heritage site, a 13 century historic bazaar
Cross Armenian/Iranian border, formerly one of the tensest points of the Cold War era.
Transfer to Agarak and to our hotel for some R&R.
Sightseeing, drinking and looking at local talent, a real treat after the week spent dry in Islamic Republic.
Overnight in Agarak
Group A – Armenia
Tuesday 1st MayNon-Iran Group arrival in Yerevan
Arrival and transfer to the town of Goris along a very scenic highway. Meet with the Iran group members at the Mirha hotel.
Morning departure to Goris via scenic route crossing mountains.
Lunch at an Armenian Borat house for home brewed coffee, roast chicken, and for those brave enough… vodka.
Arrive at Mirha hotel.
Meet other group members.
Visit the “old village” cave city on the outskirts of Goris, Capadocia of Armenia.
Dinner in an all-Soviet collectors house for traditional Armenian dishes and wine. Chance to buy Soviet memorabilia
Overnight in Goris.
Wednesday 2nd May
Breakfast in the hotel.
Visit Tatev Monastery using the longest cable car in the world, 5,700 meters!
Traditional Armenian lunch in Goris.
Met by our trusty fleet of vans for the highlight of this trip, the transfer to Nagorno-Karabakh, one of 4 unrecognized breakaway frozen conflict zones in the former Soviet Union.
Check into Jazz Club Hotel
Visit the foreign affairs department and get our Nagorno-Karabakh visas. It is optional to have it in your passport, as this stamp means you cannot enter Azerbaijan.
Leisurely walk into town for a Walking tour of Stepankert, one of the smallest and slightly quirkier capital cities of the region.
We also take the time to visit the fabulous Soviet-era amusement park and drive the dodgems!
Visit to the national stadium for a look around.
Pub crawl throughout the town.
Overnight in hotel.
Thursday 3rd May
Visit extremely disturbing museum to fallen soldiers in battles during war with Azerbaijan. Museum contains a variety of objects and photographs and tells of horror stories about the war
A stop for a private tour of a brand new but never properly used Stepanokert airport
Drive by military base with chance to see tanks on a training course
No visit without a photo op near the Tank monument, a first captured tank in the war
#TRIP HIGHLIGHT# picked up by the Lada fleet to visit the “DMZ” abandoned town, Agdam AKA “The Hiroshima of the Caucuses”, situated at the front line of this frozen conflict zone – very off the beaten track.
#NOTE# Technically it is not allowed to visit here, so the situation will be judged when we arrive. People will have to strictly follow instructions here.
Quick lunch stop along the way to Gandzasar.
Visit to the Gandzasar monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in the world, tracing its roots to 600 AD, it survived multiple bombing attempts by Azerbaijan during the conflict.
Explore ancient cemetery around the monastery.
Drive to a wacky village of Vank to see Titanic and Seastone hotels, strange places built by a local eccentric billionaire, and a real weird treat of the trip.
Return to Stepanokert to have dinner at Ureni – a traditional Karabakhi restaurant.
Overnight in Stepanakert.
Friday 4th May
Departure to Yerevan.
Visit to a Papik and Tatik monument
Stop at the Armenian Stone hedge, twice as old as the English one.
Roadside lunch on way to Yerevan.
Visit Khor Virap, an ancient monastery overlooking Mount Ararat.
Check into Envoy Hostel.
Chance for R&R in the hostel. 4 person, twin, and triple rooms are available for little extra costs. Please let us know if advance.
Dinner in a traditional Armenian Restaurant.
Night on the town in Yerevan. Yerevan is a very young party town and will provide for a great night out!
Overnight at the hostel.
Saturday 5th May
Visit the Gerhard monastery, one of the oldest churches in Armenia, carved entirely out of the mountain!
Visit town of Garni and site of 2000-year-old pagan temple
Visit to Armenian Genocide monument and museum.
Lunch at one of the outdoor restaurants in the hills of Yerevan.
Dinner in a famous traditional Armenian restaurant in downtown Yerevan.
Pub-crawl and overnight in Yerevan.
Sunday 6th May
Walking tour of Yerevan
Visit the cascades waterfall art installation as well as the opera house and parliament
Soviet Market!!!! Chance to buy USSR branded jackets and all kinds of USSR kitsch.
Free afternoon for last minute shopping or some rest.
Overnight train to Tbilisi departing at 21:30 pm.
Monday 7th May
At 3.30am we pass through the Georgian Border, and the guards come onto the train to stamp passports.
7:00 am arrival in Tbilisi.
End of Group A.
Group B – Georgia
Arrival in Tbilisi
ADD – check into Envoy Tbilisi Hostel. 4 person, twin, and triple rooms are available for little extra costs. Please let us know if advance.
Breakfast at a traditional Georgian restaurant
Walk around Tbilisi, Independence Square, parliament, “dry bridge”
Visit to “Baraholka”, an all-Soviet memorabilia market with chance to buy military hats, medals, pins, stamps, and caucuses-style swords and knives!
Lunch in the most hard to find local gem called Sofia Melnikova café for a variety of Georgian specialties, like best hand made khinkali in the city
Visit Narikala fortress overlooking Tbilisi using a cable car
See Kartlis Deda (Mother Georgia) monument above Tbilisi
Relaxing time in traditional Georgian/ Turkish baths with local beer
Overnight in Tbilisi.
Tuesday 8th May
Departure to Gori – The hometown of the infamous Joseph Stalin! Journey takes only a few hours. Stalin is still very heavily regarded here, which makes for some interesting conversations with the locals.
Visit THE Stalin Museum and Stalin Statue. The museum tour includes his former train and the house he was born in.
Visit the Akhaltsihe cave city, a 3000-year-old settlement overlooking Potshovi river.
Transfer back to Tbilisi.
Free evening or a visit to one of the first Irish pubs in the Soviet Union called The Hangar and / or visit to a local hangout called Dive Bar
Wednesday 9th May
Up early to drive towards Stepansminda, near the Russian border
Stop at Ananuri fortress overlooking Zhinvali reservoir
Visit a massive, Soviet “Georgia – Russia Friendship” monument overlooking Jvari pass
Visit the beautiful Trinity monastery with views of beautiful Mount Kazbegi (5,035m)
Lunch at the house of eccentric “Mother Georgia” local grandma for variety of traditional dishes including hand made (by you) Khinkali
Transfer back to Tbilisi before taking the overnight train to Zugdidi in Western Georgia.
Thursday 10th May
Zugdidi → Abkhazia border crossing. This is a very tense border, where very few tourists cross, and is one of the most heavily militarized places in Europe.
Transfer to Sukhum, the capital of the breakaway republic, and until recently war-torn city.
Walking tour of Sukhum. During Soviet times Abkhazia was the pearl of Soviet tourism, and whilst many Russians still come here its glory days have passed.
Dinner at Naartaa, a traditional Abkhazian restaurant specializing in shashlik and wine
Bowling at a local nightclub.
Overnight in Private hotel
Friday 11th May – I have switched days, it works better
Drive to New Athos.
Visit beautiful New Athos monastery built in the 1880s by Tsar Alexander III of Russia
Visit to the wonderfully quaint and beautiful Psyrtskha Train Station and a small Soviet hydro electric station hidden in the cliffs.
We jump on the New Athos cave metro to visit one of the largest and most spectacular caves in the world!
Continue to an amazing lake Ritsa with stops in Iupshara canyon bound by massive limestone cliffs
See beautiful Lake Ritsa, home of one of Stalin’s favorite dachas
Late lunch in a traditional Abkhaz house restaurants for a choice of fresh lake trout, smoked meet and cheese
Return to Sukhum for dinner and a few sundowners overlooking the Black Sea.
Overnight in Sukhum.
Saturday 12th May
Breakfast at the hotel.
Visit the burned out Abkhaz parliament for some urban exploration.
Stroll through the old, half abandoned military sanatorium and botanical garden full of Lenin mosaics, old cinemas
Hit the beach before a night out in Sukhum, coupled with traditional food and drinks on the promenade.
Depart towards the border with a stop at “Istochnik”, a hot spring resort for a chance to get a water massage and a relaxing swim in many pools
Stop to see the “flaming” spring
Cross into Georgia proper and board an overnight train to Tbilisi or Kutaisi or continue to Batumi
Sunday 13th May
Early morning arrival.
End of tour.
Disclaimer: This trip takes us not only to two frozen conflict zones, but also certain areas that are at times heavily affected by the situation on the ground. If a certain activity, or even country cannot be visited due to the situation on the ground, YPT Group will arrange an acceptable alternative activity, but will not be held in any way liable or responsible. A full copy of our terms and conditions is available on request. *YPT terms and conditions apply to this trip.
Customers are responsible for their own visas, but YPT can help if you require assistance. Most countries do not require a visa into Georgia or Armenia. If they do it is a 1-2 day eVisa.