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South Caucasus: A Caspian–Black Sea Adventure

9-Day Private Train Journey Between Azerbaijan and Georgia

South Caucasus: A Caspian–Black Sea AdventureIn 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.

from4,340 $per person

What Makes Your Journey Unique

  • Journey on exclusively chartered private train on a route filled with cultural and scenic diversity
  • A unique route from Baku on the Caspian Sea, through the Caucasus mountains, to Batumi on the Black Sea (or vice versa), including the Georgian capital, Tbilisi
  • First-class service from English-speaking tour manager and local guides throughout journey
  • 1 night in a hotel in the Caucasus mountains with view of 16,000-foot/5,000-meter Mount Kazbek
  • Visit historic cities like Vardzia, Georgia, a gigantic cave city that once housed up to 50,000 people; and Goygol, a former German settlement in Azerbaijan
  • Insight into local life with visits to a Georgian religious service, vineyard, bazaar and artisanal handicraft center

Dates

  • 04 Oct 19 - 12 Oct 19 (9 days)
  • 11 Oct 19 - 19 Oct 19 (9 days)
  • 18 Oct 19 - 26 Oct 19 (9 days)

Info & Booking

Anke Pelz
a.pelz@lernidee.de

Day 1. Baku: Skyline on the Caspian Sea

On your first day, you arrive in Baku, the capital of Azerbeijan, known as the City of Winds. In the evening, you take in views of the city’s breathtaking skyline on the Caspian Sea, which includes the spectacular Flame Towers, a symbol of the city’s modernity.

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

Day 2. Baku: The Old City and Welcome on Board!

In the morning, you set out to explore the historical center of Baku, where you see gorgeous mosques, the Maiden 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 join an excursion on the Absheron Peninsula where you see a Zoroastrian fire temple and Yanar Dag, a flame that burns continuously due to a seepage of natural gas. In the evening, the friendly crew of your private train gives you a hearty welcome at the station, where your train sets off westward by starlight through the Azerbaijani steppes.

Overnight: On board (BLD)

Day 3. Shaki and Goygol: From the Khan’s Palace to the Georgian Border

The city of Shaki lies at foot of the forest-covered Caucasus Mountains and doubles as a unique open-air museum. You see the city’s many caravanserai, trading posts that served as stops along historic trade routes, like the Silk Road. Later, you visit the Khan’s Palace, where brilliant decorative carvings, stained glass and frescoes take you back to a fantastic medieval world. Look for bargains at an artisanal handicrafts center and at a local bazaar.

On the train route south from Sheki, the Azerbaijani landscape begins to turn green. In the afternoon, you reach the city of Ganja, from which you travel to the nearby city of 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. Later you head to the Azerbaijan–Georgia border, where the ochre, earthy steppes gradually transform into green hills. Next stop: Georgia’s vibrant metropolis Tbilisi.

Overnight: On board (BLD)

Day 4. Tbilisi: From the Capital to Stepantsminda

Sturdy churches, colorful wooden houses on the banks of the Kura River, classical villas—this is Tbilisi, capital of Georgia and straight out of a fairy tale. From here, you take a ride along the historic Georgian Military Road, which reaches an altitude of approximately 7,800 feet/2,300 meters. The view of the Ananuri Castle complex from such heights just takes your breath away. In the horizon, snow-capped mountain peaks come into view, each one higher than the last. However, the view of the 16,000-foot/5,000-meter Mount Kazbek from your hotel terrace in Stepantsminda 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)

Day 5. Tbilisi: The Jvari Monastery and Mount Mtatsminda

On the way back to Tbilisi, you stop at the Jvari monastery high above the Aragvi River and marvel at the former capital of Georgia, Mzcheta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Tbilisi, you have free time in the afternoon for a shopping spree on the famous Rustaveli Avenue. Alternatively, you can take a cable car to the top of Mount Mtatsminda for more spectactular views.

Overnight: Hotel Builtmore (or similar) (BLD)

Day 6. Gori: In Vino Veritas, a Taste of Georgia’s Wine Regions

Today your train takes you from Tbilisi through the country’s fertile lowlands. You soon arrive In Gori, birthplace of Joseph Stalin, the once General Secretary of the Soviet Union, whose personal railroad car is displayed in a museum. In nearby Uplistsikhe, once a Silk Road trading post, you discover a sixth-century town built into a cave complex. Later a historic wine house opens its cellar just for you. Kartli, Imereti, 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 Borjomi, 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.

Overnight: On board (BLD)

Day 7. Akhaltsikhe and Vardzia: Land of Castles

From the small city of Akhaltsikhe, over which the Rabati Castle looms, you go on a unforgettable excursion and guided 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 brilliance of the frescoes of legendary Queen Tamar in the cave cathedral has not lost its intensity. The train route from Akhaltsikhe through the lesser Caucasus mountains puts everyday Georgia right outside your window—vineyards, idyllic towns, imposing castle towers. From the top of the Bagrati Cathedral, you enjoy the view over the historic city of Kutaisi, just a stone’s throw away from the picturesque Gelati monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Overnight: On board (BLD)

Day 8. Batumi: On the Black Sea

The last stop on your journey is Batumi, Georgia’s second largest city, on the spectacular Black Sea coast. To your left, palm trees. To your right, the sea. In Batumi, it’s a bittersweet goodbye to your private train and its crew. This Georgian port and seaside resort is quaintly situated on a bay against the backdrop of green mountains. The sparkling skyline of the palm-lined promenade is astounding—thanks to recent developments by international investors. Later you enjoy a city tour of Batumi’s historic center, 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. The Batumi Botanical Garden is a subtropical paradise whose terraces on the steep coast provide an amazing view of the seashore. That evening at a delicious farewell dinner, you reminisce with fellow travelers about your journey.

Overnight: Hotel Radisson (or similar) (BLD)

Day 9. Goodbye South Caucasus!

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

(B) = Breakfast, (L) = Lunch, (D) = Dinner

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 Khachapuri and Khinkali dumplings; sturgeon with pomegranate; chicken with green walnuts; and of course—Georgian wine! Experience it all on this unforgettable journey.

Rates Include

  • 4 nights on board your private train in booked category
  • 4 nights in first-class 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 from Baku to Batumi

Not Included

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

Entry Requirements

  • You may require a visa, depending on your nationality. Please check with your local embassy
  • No vaccinations required. Please check with your physician

Cat. IV - Bolshoi

Number and Size of Beds

  • Sleeps up to 2 guests
  • 1 large lower bed
    (43.3 × 72.4 in/110 × 184 cm)
  • 1 large upper bed
    (31.5 × 68.5 in/80 × 174 cm)

Features

  • Large compartment
    60 sq ft/5.57 sq m
  • Large window
  • Small sofa
  • Table
  • Small closet
  • Private bathroom with sink, toilet and integrated shower
  • 6 compartments per car

Cat. II - Superior

Number and Size of Beds

  • Sleeps up to 2 guests
  • 2 lower beds
  • 26.7 × 73.6 in/68 × 185 cm

Features

  • Large window
  • Table
  • 2 shared bathrooms with sink and toilet per car
  • 9 compartments per car
  • Shower shared between 1 to 3 cars

Cat. I - Standard

Number and Size of Beds

  • Sleeps up to 4 guests
  • 2 lower beds
  • 2 upper beds
  • 26.7 × 73.6 in/68 × 187 cm

Features

  • Large window
  • Table
  • 2 shared bathrooms with sink and toilet per car
  • 9 compartments per car
  • 3-person occupancy is available for a supplemental charge

  • Guaranteed
  • Available
  • Limited
  • Waiting List
  • Excursions and lectures conducted in: EN=English

Dates

Dates StandardSuperiorBolshoi
Price $
04 Oct 19 - 12 Oct 19Baku–Batumi
Single supplement hotel
Supplement for use of the compartment by 3 persons
Single use supplement in compartment + hotel
11 Oct 19 - 19 Oct 19ENExcursions and lectures conducted in: English | Batumi–Baku*
Single supplement hotel
Supplement for use of the compartment by 3 persons
Single use supplement in compartment + hotel
18 Oct 19 - 26 Oct 19ENExcursions and lectures conducted in: English | Baku–Batumi
Single supplement hotel
Supplement for use of the compartment by 3 persons
Single use supplement in compartment + hotel
Total price $
*French-speaking tour guide for groups of six or more