South Caucasus: Batumi to Baku

An exclusively chartered special train from Batumi to Baku with the option of a pre/post-tour Armenia extension. This tour is also offered in the opposite direction.

In the South Caucasus, from the sunny plains of the Caspian Sea to the subtropical Black Sea coast, an historic adventure awaits. It’s where the snow-covered peaks of the Caucasus mountains touch the vast blue skies of the Transcaucasian steppes and where Eastern and Western traditions mingle to
create a unique culture. And the food! Almost nothing compares to khatchapuri and khinkali dumplings; stuffed pomegranates; chicken with green walnuts; and of course – Georgian wine! Experience it all on this unforgettable journey.

Complement your South Caucasus private train journey with a visit to Armenia, the oldest Christian country in the world.

On a pre-tour extension between Yerevan and Batumi, you can relive the varied history of a nation that has been shaped by distinct cultures and great powers.

You arrive in Yerevan in the early morning. Your hotel room will be ready when you arrive. After a late breakfast you see the Yerevan Cathedral, the Radio Yerevan building, and the monumental Cascade with its dramatic views. In the afternoon, you travel to the heart of the Armenian Church in Vagharshapat (Echmiadzin) – the Echmiadzin Cathedral is thought to be the oldest Christian cathedral in the world. Later you’ll visit a children’s art centre. On the way back to Yerevan, you witness the impressive ruins of the seventh-century Zvartnots Cathedral.

Overnight: Hotel Imperial (or similar)

After a guided tour of the Matenadaran, the impressive manuscript repository, you visit Garni Gorge, the Greco-Roman Temple of Garni, and the medieval Geghard cave monastery, one of the most beautiful monasteries in the Caucasus. Before lunch you view a bread-making demonstration of lavash, the traditional unleavened Armenian flatbread.

Overnight: Hotel Imperial (or similar) (BL)

Today you travel to 2,000-metre-high Lake Sevan, known as the Pearl of Armenia: a highlight of your journey. After a visit to the Sevan Monastery, you head to the idyllic spa town of Dilijan. Later you travel on to Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city.
Overnight: Hotel Villa Kars (or similar) (BLD)

You cross the Armenia–Georgia border and continue through the mountain landscapes of the Lesser Caucasus to reach Batumi on the spectacular Black Sea coast. (BL)

Main route:
If you would like to start your journey in Georgia, your first day will be here in Batumi, Georgia’s second largest city.

This port city and seaside resort is quaintly situated on a bay against a verdant backdrop of green mountains. The sparkling skyline of the palm-lined promenade is astounding – thanks to recent developments by international investors.

Overnight: Hotel World Palace (or similar) (D)

Today you enjoy a city tour of Batumi’s historic centre, where merchants from all over the world have left their footprints. Orthodox churches, synagogues, and mosques: the city’s stunning architecture is a testament to its diversity. In the afternoon you have free time for individual activities.

Overnight: Hotel World Palace (BLD)

The Batumi Botanical Garden is a subtropical paradise whose terraces on the steep coast provide an amazing view of the seashore and the city skyline. Later that day, the friendly crew of your special train gives you a hearty welcome at the station, where your train sets off towards Kutaisi. From the top of the Bagrati Cathedral, you enjoy the view over historic Kutaisi, just a stone’s throw away from the picturesque Gelati monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Overnight: On board (BLD)

The train route from Kutaisi through the Lesser Caucasus mountains puts everyday Georgia right outside your window: vineyards, idyllic towns, imposing castle towers. Borjomi is a famous deep valley resort town that once provided the entire Russian Empire with mineral water. Its beautiful villas, boutique hotels and its curative health spas draw visitors from near and far. From the small city of Akhaltsikhe, dominated by the Rabati Castle, you make an unforgettable excursion and tour of Vardzia, a twelfth-century cave monastery. Reminiscient of a honeycomb, there are more than 3,000 cave dwellings for up to 50,000 people built into the rockface. The brilliant frescoes of legendary Queen Tamar in the cave cathedral have not lost their intensity. Overnight: On board (BLD)

Today your train takes you from Akhaltsikhe through the country’s fertile lowlands. You soon arrive In Gori, birthplace of Joseph Stalin, the Georgian revolutionary who eventually ruled the entire Soviet Union. His personal railway carriage is displayed in a local museum. In nearby Uplistsikhe, once a Silk Road trading post, you discover a sixth-century town built into a cave complex. Later, an historic wine house will open its cellar just for you. Kartli, Imereti and Kakheti: Georgia’s wine regions are more than 7,000 years old, placing then among the world’s oldest. In the afternoon, your train reaches Tbilisi.

Overnight: Hotel Builtmore (or similar) (BLD)

Sturdy churches, colourful wooden houses on the banks of the Kura River and classical villas: this is Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, a city straight out of a fairy tale. From here, you ride the historic Georgian Military Road, which reaches an altitude of some 2,300 metres. The view of the Ananuri Castle complex from such heights will take your breath away. On the horizon, snow-capped mountain peaks come into view, each one higher than the last. However, the view of the 5,000-metre Mount Kazbek from your hotel terrace in Stepantsminda (Kazbegi) tops them all! On a green ridge just in front of this immense peak sits the comparatively small Gergeti Trinity Church, which you can visit via Jeep excursion.

Overnight: Hotel Porta Caucaisa (or similar) (BLD)

On the way back to Tbilisi, you pause at the Jvari Monastery, high above the Aragvi River, and gaze down at Mtskheta, the former capital of Georgia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Tbilisi you board your train bound for the Georgia-Azerbaijan border, where green hills bradually transform into ochre, earthy steppes.

Overnight: on board (BLD)

In the morning, you reach the city of Ganja, from which you travel to nearby Goygol, known for its nineteeth-century German settlements. Here you see carefully restored villas, the Lutheran church of St. John and the home of the last German settler, Viktor Klein, who passed away in 2007. On the train route towards Sheki, the Azerbaijani landscape begins to turn green. The city of Sheki lies at the foot of the forest-covered Caucasus Mountains and doubles as a unique open-air museum. You see the city’s many caravanserai, trading posts and halts along historic trade routes like the Silk Road. Later, you visit the Khan’s Palace, where brilliant decorative carvings, stained glass and frescoes transport you back to a fantastic medieval world. Hunt for bargains at an artisanal handicraft centre and at a local bazaar. In the evening, you head towards the Caspian Sea.

Overnight: On board (BLD)

In Baku, it’s a bittersweet goodbye to your special train and its crew. From Martyrs’ Lane, formerly known as Kirov Park, you enjoy the spectacular view of the city’s breathtaking skyline, which includes the Flame Towers, a trio of modern skyscrapers. Later, you set out to explore the historic centre of Baku, where you see gorgeous mosques, the Maiden’s Tower, and the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You marvel at the city’s ornate Art Nouveau buildings and its futuristic architecture. In the afternoon, you have free time to spend as you wish. You might enjoy a swim in the Caspian Sea, or a shopping spree in Baku’s charming pedestrian zone.

Overnight: Hotel Sapphire Inn (or similar) (BL)

In the morning, you head toward Gobustan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you can admire the thousand-year-old rock carvings situated near the country’s famous mud volcanoes. In the afternoon, you can enjoy free time in Baku, or join an excursion to the Absheron Peninsula, where you witness a Zoroastrian fire temple and Yanar Dag, a flame that burns continuously due to a seepage of natural gas. In the evening, you enjoy a farewell dinner amid Baku’s glittering nightscape.

Overnight: Hotel Sapphire Inn (or similar) (BD)

On your final day in the South Caucasus, you head to the airport for your flight home, reflecting on the fulfilling and unforgettable adventure you have just completed. (B)

Price

STANDARD: US$ 3,300 pp
Supplement for use of the compartment with 3 guests only – US $650.

SUPERIOR: US$ 4,330 pp
Single supplement (train & hotel) – US$ 1,830

BOLSHOI: US$ 7,390 pp
Single supplement (train & hotel) – US$ 4,640
Single supplement (hotel only) – US$ 390

ARMENIA EXTENSION (3 days): US$ 850
Single supplement (hotel): US$130

DEPARTURE DATES:

Baku to Batumi ( Yerevan post tour end date)
08 Oct 2020 – 18  (22) Oct 2020

Batumi to Baku ( Yerevan pre-tour commencement date)
(11) 14 Oct 2020 – 24 Oct 2020

Inclusions

  • 4 nights on board your special train in the category booked
  • 6 nights/9 nights (Armenia Extension) in high-end hotels with double bed, and bath or shower
  • All meals as per itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • All transport and excursions in modern tour buses with air-conditioning as per itinerary
  • Airport transfers on the first and last day of the itinerary
  • Entrance fees for all sights as per itinerary
  • English-speaking tour manager and guides during train journey between Batumi and Bak

NOT INCLUDED:

  • International flights
  • Visa invitation letters (if required)
  • Visa fees (if required)
  • Gratuities
  • Personal expenses