Gallantly, the warrior and his steed charge forward, moving together with a familiarity gifted to them from battles past. Valiantly, they protect their city with a resolve as hard as the rock from which they are carved.
Having previously travelled extensively within Australia and overseas both with tour groups and independently we were absolutely blown away with the quality and service provided on this tour, our very first “Captains Choice Tour”.
R & R Stephenson, Back of Beyond by Private Plane
Prepare to discover why Azerbaijan is known as the ‘Land of Fire’ as we are whisked away on our Qatar Airways flight via Doha to Baku.
We soar into Baku and take time to relax and recuperate at the lavish Four Seasons Hotel, our decadent home for the next three nights.
Baku is a city of contrasts, made rich by the black gold of surrounding oilfields, but still nurturing an earthy heritage. We snub the skyscrapers this morning, instead seeking out the bathhouses and merchant inns of the Old Town. After a light lunch, we enjoy a private tasting of black caviar and champagne at the Noble Brothers mansion.
As the sun sets over the Caspian Sea, we sail around the bay aboard a private yacht, before dining at the Mugham Club Restaurant, where musicians and dancers present a feast for the eyes.
In Gobustan National Park, a family of sleeping volcanoes awaits. Gazing over the boulders and bubbling mudpools, we see the ancient graffiti dancing on rockfaces, a reminder of the tribe that lived here some 10,000 years ago.
There is more to see on the journey back to civilisation, as we stop by the Bibi-Heyba mosque as well as a rug museum shaped like a gigantic roll of carpet.
Dusk approaches and we head to the glow of the Ateshgah temple before dinner.
Leaving Baku behind us, our journey takes us through arid landscapes on the way to Shamakhi. Here, we are welcomed into a local home, where we find ourselves churning butter and tasting yoghurt.
Our cultural escapades continue with a trip to the Seven Domes, and to the Sheki Khan Palace, an incredible palace that flaunts some of the most intricate stained glass work in the world.
Bringing a close to our day adventure, we settle in for the evening at the elegant Sheki Saray Hotel.
We cross into Georgia today, a country brimming with natural beauty as well as cheerful, spirited people.
Sheltering beneath the Great Caucasus range, Kakheti is celebrated as the birthplace of viticulture. It is said that wine is the key to Georgian longevity, and we discover this delicious elixir of youth over lunch at a local village winery.
Locals school us on the creation of traditional bread, sweets, meat, wine and vodka, before we travel on to Tbilisi, where the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel awaits, our elegant retreat for the next two nights.
A throng of sights, sounds and smells linger today as we take to the streets of post Soviet Tbilisi. We visit a divine selection of churches, and amble through the District of Sulfur, passing ancient mineral bathhouses.
The extraordinary collection of gold filigree work at Janashia Museum inspires feelings of awe. At Vino Underground, a glass of wine brings together the blazing sun, toiling hands and rich soil of the country.
Live it up Georgia style tonight with a folk show and dinner at a local restaurant.
The rugged borderlands of Georgia summon us to their craggy peaks and icy bluffs today. Poetic in nature but not in name, the Georgian Military Highway leads us to Mtskheta, the Christian heart of the nation.
Many think that the highest range in Europe is the Swiss Alps - not so. The Caucasus mountains stretch from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea, peaking at more than 5,600 metres. In their fold sits Gudauri, a ski resort in winter and a perfect viewing point for the volcano Kazbek in summer. We slumber in the comfort of Gudauri Monte Carlo tonight.
Leaving Gudauri, we discover Georgia’s turbulent past. First up, Uplistsikhe is an abandoned city of caves that highlights the ingenuity of the ancient Georgians.
As you pull up in Gori, it is hard to imagine that tyrant Joseph Stalin was once a baby living here. His old house sits in front of the museum, where we trace his life from humble beginnings to his time as a brutal dictator. After lunch in Gori, our return to Tbilisi is warmly welcomed at the Marriott.
Behind the facade of hawkers peddling Soviet medallions and Lenin posters, you’ll find Tbilisi traditions are alive and well today.
Begin your exploration with a trip to one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world, before it’s on to a kooky outdoor ethnographic museum.
A concert plays out for us at the Elene Akhvlediani Museum after lunch. With the sound of violins still in our mind, we enjoy an evening jaunt exploring the streets.
Tonight, treat your tastebuds to their own excursion with a dine-around dinner.
Today enter Armenia and visit the Haghpat Monastery before lunch in a village orchard.
Then we drop into a secluded village of the Molokan people, devout Christians who were exiled from Russia long ago.
In mountainous Dilijan, we meet celebrated local artists then descend to Sevanavank. This evening, a voyage on Lake Sevan aboard a replica merchant ship will conjure images of turbaned seafarers from days long past, before we settle in to our comfortable hotel.
Despite the brutality of the Ottoman empire, and its persecution by the Soviet Union, Armenia has emerged with a warmth you may not expect from a nation so oppressed. Today, we journey to Yerevan and experience this spirit for ourselves.
After touring the Cascade, Centre of Arts and Republic Square, we’ll relish a night of music, dance and dinner at a traditional restaurant.
The luxurious Marriott Yerevan will be our sanctuary for the next four nights.
We travel to the holy city of Echmiadzin, a place of pilgrimage for the millions of Catholic Armenians around the world. A family from the Cross of Armenian Unity are our hosts for lunch, treating us to a locally sourced meal.
En route back to Yerevan, we stop at the ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral and the Megerian Carpet Museum. Tonight, a chef will host a special class, teaching us how to master cooking (and tasting!) Armenian food.
Our journey takes us to a cave monastery this morning, where the sacred baritones of monks reverberate within.
Arriving in Garni village, we go off road, darting along rocky tracks on the way to Garni Canyon. Finding a degustation platter of homemade vodkas, lavash, pickles and cheese, we sit down to a picnic, serenaded by the pretty sounds of an Armenian flute.
After a photo stop at a Pagan temple, we return to Garni for an Armenian barbecue, before a free evening back in Yerevan.
At ArmAs wine estate, 360 degree views of the mountains before we are wined and dined at the vineyard. Your next steps are then up to you.
Visit Amberd - Armenia’s ‘Fortress in the Clouds’, or unearth the legends of Saghmosavank Monastery.
This evening, at a jazz club in Yerevan, we toast the three countries that have touched us so deeply before dancing the night away.
A montage of memories surges through our heads as we make an early morning exit. Travel to the airport and fly to Doha, where day use of a comfortable hotel allows us the chance to refresh and relax before boarding our Qatar Airways flight home.
Prepare to regale family and friends with our adventures through the Caucasus as we touch down in Australia.
Imagine a trip where you won’t have to lift a finger, or worry about bringing your wallet.
Sightseeing in each destination is included. Select Options even allow you to tailor aspects of the touring to your individual tastes when there are multiple touring options.
With the Caspian Sea lapping at its doorstep, Four Season Baku offer the highest level of luxury only a short stroll from the Old Town, Bayraq foreshore reserve and Seaside Boulevard
The century old Tbilisi Marriott hotel is a stunningly beautiful hotel located in the heart of the capital of the Republic of Georgia
Overlooking the famous Republic Square, Marriott Yerevan is a faultless balance of opulent comfort and amenity
Based on per person, twin share - from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane flying with Qatar Airways. Prices from other cities are available on request.
There are limited amount of Business Class seats from Dubai to Baku, All regional flights are in Economy Class.
Land only guests join in Baku for dinner on Day 2 and depart Yerevan after breakfast on Day 16.