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, on the way we will stop at various places of interest for pictures, as well as lunch.
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 at the only hotel in town.
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.
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, conveniently located above the country’s only nightclub!
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.
Night out at the only nightclub/karaoke in town.
Overnight in hotel.
Thursday 3rd May
#TRIP HIGHLIGHT# Again 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.
Explanation by the only monk living there.
Explore ancient cemetery around the monastery.
Drive to Vank to visit the 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.
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.
Visit to the museum dedicated to the life of assassinated Prime minister Vazgen Sargsyan.
Check into Envoy Hostel.
Chance for R&R in the hostel.
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 to Armenian Genocide monument and museum.
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.
Lunch at one of the outdoor restaurants in the hills of Yerevan.
Soviet Market!!!! Chance to buy USSR branded jackets and all kinds of USSR kitsch.
Ararat cognac factory (one of the most famous USSR Cognacs).
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, parliament, and soviet memorabilia bazaar.
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 Tiblisi.
Walk around Tbilisi, cable car to Tbilisi castle for a great overview of the city. Visit to “Baraholka”, an all-Soviet memorabilia market to buy military hats, medals, pins, stamps, and caucuses-style swords and knives!
Relaxing time in traditional Georgian baths with local beer and dumplings.
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.
Walking tour of Gori, including THE Stalin Museum and Stalin Statue, the only one left on the planet and one that was previously taken down and resurrected. The museum includes his former train and the house he was born in.
Visit the Ahaltsihe cave city, a 3000-year-old settlement.
Transfer back to Tbilisi.
Wednesday 9th May
Up early to drive towards the Russian border near Mount Kazbek (5035 meters).
Visit the beautiful Trinity monastery.
We transfer back to Tiblisi 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. As the capital of the “country” and due to its recent war this a real treat and a somewhat bizarre experience. During Soviet times Abkhazia was the pearl of Russian tourism, and whilst many Russians still come here its glory days have passed.
Dinner at a traditional Abkhazian restaurant.
Bowling at a local night club.
Overnight in kitsch old Soviet hotel.
Friday 11th May
Breakfast at the hotel.
Visit the burned out Abkhaz parliament.
Visit the monkey sanctuary and botanic gardens.
Stroll through the old military sanatorium.
Hit the beach before a night out in Sukhum, coupled with traditional food and drinks on the promenade.
Overnight in the city.
Saturday 12th May
40-minute ride to New Athos by bus.
We jump on the New Athos cave metro to visit one of the largest and most spectacular caves in the world!
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.
Relax after a long day at the Morskie Vodi baths (optional extra charge).
Return to Sukhum for dinner and a few sundowners overlooking the Black Sea.
Overnight in Sukhum.
Sunday 13th May
Early morning departure back to Georgia via Zugdidi.
Transport arranged to Kutaisi/Batumi/Tblisi.
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.