Day 1 Tuesday 10 March. Arrive Yerevan
Arrive at Zvartnots International Airport in Yerevan. Transfer to hotel. It is likely that your flight will arrive in the early hours of the following morning (Wed 11 March) but your hotel is booked for the night of Tue 10 March.
Overnight in Ani Grand hotel, Yerevan.
Day 3. Thursday 12 March. Visit Khor Virap, Arpa Protected Landscape, Noravank Monastery, Areni Cave and Vernissage Market
We’ll start the day with a visit to the stunning site of Khor Virap, the closest point in Armenia to Mount Ararat and one of the country’s most iconic landmarks. Now a monastery, Khor Virap was built as a prison and once served to imprison one of the most famous figures in Armenian history - Gregory the Illuminator, who tried to spread the word about Christianity in pagan Armenia. After 14 years of imprisonment, he was freed and Armenia then become the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion.
You’ll continue to the village of Amaghu, from where we will take 4x4 cars and drive in the Arpa Protected Landscape seeing the stunning nature and wildlife of the Vayots Dzor region. Reaching the first viewpoint we will admire not only breathtaking views of nature, but also see the unique species of bezoar goats (registered in the Red Book). As Arpa is renowned for its untouched natural beauty, it is considered to be one of the most important walking areas of Armenia.
Next we’ll visit Noravank Monastery – a complex with a two-floor church, which stands between red cliffs.The complex dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries.
We’ll enjoy lunch in Noravank and begin to appreciate the amazing variety of types of food and the seemingly amplified tastes of organically grown Armenian produce - a feast for the senses.
In the afternoon you’ll visit Areni Cave to see the oldest winery (6100 years old) and the oldest leather shoe in the world. This puts us in mind of the beginnings of agriculture and the spread of early man through this region.
We’ll drive back to Yerevan and visit Vernissage Market, an open-air market (mainly operating at weekends) offering traditional Armenian handicrafts, jewellery, souvenirs and many other wares.
Dinner in a local restaurant accompanied by folk music.
Overnight: Ani Grand Hotel, Yerevan
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch Dinner
Day 4. Friday 13 March. Geghard monastery, Garni Temple, the Symphony of Stones, Lake Sevan and Dilijan
After breakfast, we’ll visit one of the most spiritual of places in all of Armenia – Geghard Monastery, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also known as Ayrivank, which means ‘church carved from the rock’ (similar in many ways to the famous rock-cut churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia). There is a legend about a healing source inside the church here, according to which the water can cure any sickness when you drink a sip. Geghard Monastery is the best place to hear spiritual songs, because of its excellent acoustics. Hopefully, we’ll hear some wonderful chorus singing during our visit.
Next we’ll head to Garni Temple, the only remaining Hellenistic temple in the Caucasus region. It has Parthenon-type structure with 24 pillars signifying the 24 hours of the day.
After visiting the temple, we’ll drive to the stunning ‘Symphony of Stones’ by 4WD vehicle to enjoy views of this natural formation - also the setting for walks in the area.
During our lunch in Garni we’ll see another master-class of making lavash, a unique and delicious type of Armenian bread which is still made traditionally (also recognised by UNESCO).
After lunch we’ll drive north through the mountains to Dilijan, making a short stop at Lake Sevan, the blue pearl of Armenia. We’ll visit a local house for a coffee break and the chance of tasting gata - one of the famous sweets of Armenia - and to witness its preparation process.
We’ll also have time for local hotel inspections in Dilijan.
Evening meal and presentation
This evening, we’ll have a short presentation by the directors of Caucasus Holidays, Arsen and Ruben, to provide a better insight into the company and the various niche products offered.
Overnight: Hotel BW Paradise in Dilijan
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 5. Saturday 14 March. Dilijan, Goshavank, Gosh Lake, Sanahin & Haghpat
Leaving Dilijan, we start our day with a visit to Goshavank monastery, situated on a verdant hillside in the village of Gosh. It was founded in the 12th century and was used as an educational center. Here, under the wall of the church, is a unique khachkar (the famous stone crosses of Armenia) which was created long ago using only simple instruments.
Next we’ll use 4WD vehicles to reach the impressive Gosh Lake for a taste of one of the walking trails of the wooded Tavush region. Then, depending on weather conditions, a short but impressive walk will take us through breathtaking landscapes back to Saint Gevorg Church (part of the Goshavank complex).
Then we drive to Haghpat in the Lori region for lunch and in the afternoon visit Haghpat and Sanahin monasteries, two of the most emblematic monasteries of Armenia, dating back to the 10th century and listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Important note: At this point in the Fam Trip, those who are not taking any of the extensions will return to Yerevan for the night.
If taking extensions, please see further below.
Overnight: Ani Grand Hotel, Yerevan Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Details available below
Day 2. Wednesday 11 March. Explore Yerevan & Etchmiadzin
A full day to explore this vibrant old city which has a fascinating mix of chic modern and traditional styles. On your city tour you’ll see the Republic Square, the Opera and Ballet Theatre reflecting both the early Russian and Soviet eras of occupation of Armenia. Yerevan experiences an extraordinarily high number of days of sunshine so you should catch a glimpse of Mount Ararat towering above the city - perhaps from the top of Cascade Monument. You’ll also visit the Cafesjian Museum of Modern Art and the Mother Armenia monument presiding over the city.
Anyone interested in the fascinating early history of this region - the ‘crossroads of civilisation’ - will enjoy our visit to Matenadaran, the depository of one of the oldest and richest manuscript collections in the world (about 17,000 manuscripts and approximately 3,000,000 other archived documents).
No visit to Yerevan is complete without a visit to Tsitsernakaberd, the Genocide Memorial, a sombre reminder of a very sad part of Armenia’s history (barely recognised by the outside world).
Then we’ll enjoy a lunch and have take part in a master-class to make tolma (one of the traditional dishes of Armenia, made of ground beef and spices wrapped in vine leaves). Following lunch we’ll head to the important pilgrimage site of Etchmiadzin, the religious centre for all Armenians in the world.
A day is rounded off with a visit to the famous Ararat Brandy factory, which offers exclusive degustation of Armenian brandy (said to be Churchill's favorite brandy). It is strong, smooth and absolutely delicious!
We’ll also have time for hotel inspections to see the range of accommodation options available in Yerevan.
Overnight: Ani Grand Hotel, Yerevan
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 6 Sunday 15 March. Depart Yerevan for return flight home
If not taking any of our extensions, you will be transferred to Yerevan airport for your flight back to the UK.
Transportation and accommodation as stated in each itinerary
Transfers from the airport to hotel and back to the airport
Professional English-speaking guide throughout the programme
All breakfasts, lunches and dinners
Master classes of preparing lavash, tolma and gata
Entrance tickets to sights listed in itinerary
International flight costs
Services not mentioned as included
The flight cost to Armenia is based on the Ukraine Airlines flights as follows (price estimated at £315 on 23 Dec 2019):
Tue 10 March 2020 London Gatwick/Kiev 1220/1740
Tue 10 March 2020 Kiev/Yerevan 2010/0055*
Sun 15 March 2020 Yerevan/Kiev 0640/0750
Sun 15 March 2020 Kiev/London Gatwick 0950/1125
Other flight options are available if taking the Georgia Extension.