Land of Volcanic Stones (9 nights/ 10 days)

    Arrive in Yerevan. Transfer to hotel. Overnight in Yerevan.
    Meals: -/-/D

    In the morning meet other group participants and tour leader, brief pre-tour orientation meeting. The day starts with a visit to History Museum housed by Yerevan City Hall. Providing an excellent introduction to the history of the city, the museum is an ideal place to start your exploration of Yerevan, new and old. Continue with a walking tour of Yerevan exploring various layers of its history – medieval shrines hidden behind imposing Soviet-style façades, narrow streets of the old center with sunlight playing on its pink walls, Closed Market and Blue Mosque on Mashtots Avenue, Republic Square, Cascade and Mother Armenia, Opera House and ambitious projects of independent Armenia – North Avenue and spacious Grigor Lusavorich Cathedral consecrated by His Holiness the Patriarch of All Armenians in the presence of His Holiness Pope John Paul 11. A cultural showcase not to be missed is Matenadaran, one of the world’s oldest repositories of Greek, Persian and Arabic manuscripts. Our next stop is Genocide Memorial situated on the hills overlooking the city, a solemn reminder of the first genocide of the 20th c. On a lighter note we can make an optional excursion to Ararat Brandy factory.
    Overnight: Hotel in Yerevan

    Meal plan: B/L /D

    Breakfast at hotel. Today we continue our exploration of the treasures of Armenia with a visit to the Vatican city of Armenia, Holy Echmiadzin. Experience a fascinating journey through time, descend to the ruins of the pagan sanctuary beneath the altar and pay tribute to the Treasury of Mother Cathedral with striking collection of relics of Christianity. On to Zvartnots, a temple consecrated in the presence of Emperor Constantine of Byzantium, it stands out as one of the most prominent creations of medieval architecture. Drive east to the magnificent Temple of the Sun at Garni and the legendary Monastery of Spear at Geghard. Explore the mosaic ancient baths and ruins of the royal palace, immerse yourself in the atmosphere of this mythical place and examine remarkable cross stones carved into sheer rock. Back to Yerevan.
    Overnight: Hotel in Yerevan

    Meal plan: B/ L / D

    Early start today with a trip to the highest peak of Transcaucasia, Mount Aragats (4,090m), an extinct volcano. The first stop of our trip is Saghmosavank (Monastery of Psalms) perched on the edge of picturesque Kasakh gorge. Acclimatizing gradually as we ascend the beautiful countryside, we reach Amberd Fortress on the southern slope of Aragats. Breathtaking views of the fortress and citadel, snow covered peaks of Aragats, sun scorched grasslands dressed in wildflowers combine to provide an unforgettable experience this morning. If we come here during summer months we can visit high-mountain camps of friendly Yezidi tribes who tend their sheep under the towering peaks of Aragats. We will discover the traditional way of life of these people of the mountains, visiting their tents, trying fresh cheese and yogurt. A unique option this evening is a guided visit to Byurakan Observatory founded in 1946; star observations using 2.6 meter telescope, the second largest in Europe, explanations by the team working at the observatory. Back to Yerevan.
    Overnight: Hotel in Yerevan

    Meal plan: B /L /D

    In the morning visit the Grigor Lusavorich Cathedral .
    Afternoon drive through the picturesque pass to come to the shores of Lake Sevan, one of the highest freshwater lakes in the world, The Pearl of Armenia. Relaxing time at the Lake, enjoy the scenery, take a 20-minute walk to the top of Akhtamar Trail for the best photographic views of the Lake, explore romantic Sevanavank Monastery. You stay at a chalet-style hotel right on the beach.
    Overnight: Hotel at Lake Sevan

    Meal plan: B / L / D

    After breakfast proceed to visit the Stone Garden at Noraduz with unique collection of exquisite khachkars, Armenian cross-stones and Hayravank Monastery.
    Then a heart-pumping southward trip through the rugged Selim Pass. Climbing steep paths and enjoying the views of Lake Sevan below, we reach the amazingly intact Selim Caravanserai, an important trading post on the Great Silk Road where little has changed since the fourteenth century.
    Before arriving in Goris, we will also visit Karahunj site.
    Overnight: Hotel in Goris

    Meal plan: B / L / D

    DAY 7: GORIS
    The first visit is to Tatev Monastery, an architectural masterpiece dating from the 10th century. Drive through a narrow ravine so deep that the sun hardly reaches the bottom, later ascend to a high-mountain plateau with striking views of jagged mountains and gorges. On the way back soar above the gorges in the world’s longest aerial tramway, a must-see attraction opened in 2010. The whole journey to Tatev takes 4 hours and is a totally absorbing and unique experience. Off to Khndzoresk cave town. Walk down the gorge to explore the mysterious caverns cut in the face of the rocks by people seeking refuge from persecution in the natural protection of high cliffs. Back to Goris, take a stroll in the narrow tree-lined streets and charming old town.
    Overnight: Hotel in Goris

    Meal plan: B / L / D

    In our tour in October, the cheese was out of the question; and personally I did not like the vinery very much. It will be better if we can find another place where they actually show the vinery (like Ararat brandy factory for example.)

    After a hearty breakfast consisting of so many fresh and home-made products we leave Goris. Driving back to Yerevan we have the last chance to experience the untamed beauty of Southern Armenia – surreal red rocks providing an eerie echo, honey-coloured villages sandwiched between them. We are in the agricultural heart of Armenia and do not miss the chance to sample some of the fantastic produce: private wine touring in maran (cellars) of a small winery in Aghavnadzor. Visit to Noravank, the masterpiece of medieval architect Momik situated above an awesome gorge. The next stop of our trip is Khor Virap, the site of royal prison where St. Gregory the Illuminator was held for thirteen years before converting Armenia into the first Christian nation in 301. Guided by the remote majesty of biblical mount Ararat, we explore the site, its underground chambers, elegant chapels and are captivated by the ascetic atmosphere of the site. Back to Yerevan.
    Overnight: Hotel in Yerevan

    Meal plan: B / L / D

    In the morning visit the National Museum of History Afternon on your own for a last chance to enjoy Yerevan. Visit Vernisage, the huge arts & crafts market, the best place in Caucasus to buy souvenirs. Open only on weekends it is a lot of fun to wonder in. Explore the treasures of the cultural life of Yerevan, ramble in the oldest part of the city or just relax in shady parks or busy outdoor cafes, enjoying the young and lively atmosphere of this ancient city, the contemporary of Babylon and Rome.
    Overnight: Hotel in Yerevan

    Meal plan: B/ L / D


    Meal: B-/-/

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