Deluxe Kosher Tours 2020, Summer Vacations in Baku, Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia
July 5th -20th 2020
This comprehensive journey introduces you to the awe-inspiring natural wonders, arts, monuments and vibrant cities of the ancient Silk Road.
The Caucasus is a region at the border of Europe and Asia. Its position has created a remarkable fusion of cultural styles, as we see in the art and architecture of major sites in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. Everything from the clothing people wear, the food they eat, and the language they speak is testament to the long history of movement and trade between these regions along the famous Silk Road – a network of routes stretching from China to the Levant. Join us as we embark on an epic voyage through three remarkable countries, exploring their ancient roots and experiencing their modern character. Whether you are a seasoned explorer or a first-time visitor, the memories and experiences gathered from this trip will be life changing.
We invite you to a tour that raises the bar of the educational experience, taking you far beyond anything that you have imagined of Central Asia. Our innovative excursions and exclusive cultural events help you get a hands-on experience of each country’s history, art, gastronomy and religion. The 100% kosher tour permits you to travel comfortably and confidently alongside our expertly chosen local tour guide available at all times to provide information or suggestions.
The Silk Road is waiting – discover it with Deluxe Kosher Tours.
Day 1, Sunday July 5 Baku
We depart on our overnight flight to Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan. Enjoy kosher meals and in-flight entertainment during your journey, or read some of our suggested books about the Silk Road (see below).
Day 2, Monday July 6 Baku
Meet and greet, Orientation,
Upon arrival in Heydar Aliyev International Airport we are welcomed to Azerbaijan by our carefully selected personal Deluxe Kosher Tours tour director. They will bring us to our deluxe hotel, the Hilton, and offer an introduction to Azerbaijan and Baku. Located on the shores of the Caspian Sea, Baku is one of the largest and most cosmopolitan metropolises in the Caucasus. As well as a meeting point between East and West, Baku is a city where Azerbaijan’s past and future sit side by side. The remainder of the day can be leisurely spent resting and relaxing in the hotel, or take a walk around the local neighbourhood to immerse in some of the sights and sounds.
Day 3, Tuesday July 7 Baku
Gabustan rock carvings, Museum of Art, Caspian Sea Cruise, Cultural Performance
After breakfast we set off for Gobustan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its outstanding collection of more than 6,000 rock engravings. These carvings are over 40,000 years old, testament of human activity in the region after the last Ice Age. We take a look around the museum here before returning to Baku for lunch and to visit the Museum of Modern Art, where we can delight in the works of avant-garde Azerbaijani painters and sculptors. In the afternoon we embark on a short cruise of the Caspian Sea, the largest enclosed inland body of water in the world. After dinner we invite you to enjoy a traditional Azerbaijani performance.
Day 4, Wednesday July 8 Baku
Baku city tour, Shirvan Shah Palace, Maiden Tower, Caravanserai,
Absheron peninsula, Surakhany Zoroastrian Temple, Yanar Dag
In the morning we bring you on a tour of Baku. Follow our expert guide as we bring you to the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, situated on the highest hill of the historical core of Baku. Enjoy panoramic views of the city and learn about the shahs of Shirvan, the biggest feudal state in the northern-eastern part of Azerbaijan during the 8th – 17th centuries. We then climb Maiden Tower, an ancient building that is as beautiful as the history behind it. On our way to lunch we visit the Multani and Bukhara caravanserais, ancient hotels used to accommodate travellers of the Silk Road. In the afternoon we visit Absheron peninsula, where oil, gas and fire have ancient historical importance as well as a modern role. Today the peninsula is heavily engaged in the oil industry, but our tour is more concerned with the area’s archaeology and geology. We visit the Ateshgah (Fire Temple), where Zoroastrians engaged in rituals worshipping fire. Our next stop is Yanar Dag (Burning Mountain), where a natural gas fire burns continuously on the mountainside.
Day 5, Thursday July 9 Baku – Sheki
Mud volcanos, Diri Baba mausoleum, Shamakha mosques
After checking out of the hotel we transfer to Sheki, stopping off at a number of must-see attractions on the way. We visit mud volcanoes at Gobustan, which exude extremely hot mud from deep underground, and the nearby Diri Baba Mausoleum, a masterpiece of Shirvan architecture. We stop at the hauntingly beautiful Yeddi Gumbaz mausoleum and the Juma Mosque of Shamakhi, first established in the 8th century. Upon arrival to Sheki we check in to the Saray Hotel, and after dinner you are free to spend the evening relaxing or exploring the town.
Day 6, Friday July 10 Sheki – Tbilisi
Khan’s Palace and Museum, Gremi complex, Local Cuisine Demonstration
After breakfast we bring you on a brief tour of Sheki, considered one of the most architecturally-rich areas of Azerbaijan. We bring you to the Palace of Sheki Khans, an absolutely stunning building that was constructed without using a single nail. Admire the stained glass windows, which were brought from Venice, and the magnificent battle scene on the wall. Other sites include the fortress, caravanserais and bath house.
After lunch we transfer across the border to Georgia. This beautiful country is inhabited by proud, welcoming people, and features some of the most spectacular natural and manmade sites in the world. Our first stop is the Gremi royal citadel and the Church of the Archangels. This was the capital of the 16th-17th centuries Kingdom of Kakheti, a busy stopover on the Silk Road. You are invited to a demonstration of how to make a local speciality, shoti bread with homemade cheese with coffee. In the evening we arrive at Tbilisi and check in to the Radisson Blu Hotel before preparing for the Shabbat.
Day 7, Shabbat July 11 Tbilisi
Shabbat services, Seudat Shabbat
After the Shabbat services and lunch with the local community, you are free to spend the rest of the day freely. Those who wish are invited to have a peaceful afternoon walking through the Dedaena or Vake parks, gorgeous green spaces perfect to relax in.
Day 8, Sunday July 12 Tbilisi
Kakheti, Alaverdi Monastery, Tsinandali Garden and Museum, Sighnaghi tour
We embark on our exploration of the Kakheti region after breakfast. This area is where the mountains and valleys of the Great Caucasus meet, creating a wild and undulating region perfect for vine growing. We visit the 11th century Alaverdi monastery, where the monks make their own famous wine. Then delight in the sumptuous gardens and fascinating museum of the Tsinandali Palace which once belonged to the 19th-century aristocratic poet Alexander Chavchavadze – the “father of Georgian romanticism”. During the trip we learn about Georgian’s historic winemaking traditions, visiting a unique 300-year old wine cellar.
In the afternoon we transfer to Sighnaghi, the loveliest town in the area. We visit the Sighnaghi Museum, and walk around the streets of the town – known as the “Love City” of Georgia for its attractive atmosphere and setting. We visit the studios of American painter John Henry Wurdeman, who has lived and worked in Sighnaghi and owns his own winery. We return to Tbilisi in the evening for dinner.
Day 9, Monday July 13 Tbilisi – Gudaury
Mtskheta, Jvari church, Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Gori Stalin museum, Uplistsikhe Cave Town,
After breakfast we set off for the ancient capital and religious centre of Georgia – Mtskheta. This unpronounceable UNESCO World Heritage town is over three thousand years old, and features a number of buildings dating from the 6th century. We visit the Jvari monastery with stunning views of the landscape below, and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral with beautiful frescoes on its stone walls. It is claimed that the robe of Jesus Christ is buried below the tower-like column within the cathedral.
We then transfer to the village of Gori, the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. We visit the Stalin Museum, which details his life through film, pictures and actual objects that he used during his lifetime, and see the humble abode in which Stalin was born and grew up. Our next destination is the Uplistsikhe Cave Town-Fortress, a site famous for its rock-cut structures. The ‘architectural’ styles of these structures is testament of Uplistsikhe’s location on the Silk Road, as they display various combinations of eastern, western, Christian and pagan forms. Later we drive along the Georgian military highway to Ananuri fort, which boasts terrific views of the Jinvali water reservoir. In the evening we check in to the Marco Polo Hotel in Gudaury, where we spend the night.
Day 10, Tuesday July 14 Gudaury – Tbilisi
Kazbegi tour, Gergeti Trinity Church, Cultural Performance
In the morning we go on a stunning drive along the banks of the Tergi River to the town of Stepantsiminda (formerly Kazbegi), a town famous for its scenic location in the Greater Caucasus mountains. Join us on a leisurely hike through beautiful valleys and woodlands to the Gergeti Trinity Church, which has magnificent views of Mt Kazbegi. After lunch we transfer to Tbilisi, where we check in to the hotel to rest after our long day. After dinner we invite you to a local performance, showing off the best of Georgian ethnic culture.
Day 11, Wednesday July 15 Tbilisi – Dilijan
Tbilisi Old Town, Georgian History Museum, Rustaveli Avenue, Haghpat Monastic Complex
Today we bring you on a guided tour of Tbilisi’s old town. We first visit the Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia to discover more about the country’s history. We make our way down the iconic Rustaveli Avenue, admiring its stunning facades and multi-coloured balconies.
After lunch we transfer over the border to Armenia to the Haghpat monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This 10th century complex is full of atmosphere, the dark buildings emerging out of the summer woodland and is one of the most outstanding examples of Armenian religious architecture. There is plenty of time to explore the many structures of this complex before we return to the bus and continue driving to Dilijan, a spa town in the lush Tavush Province, where we check in to the Best Western Paradise hotel.
Day 12, Thursday July 16 Dilijan – Yerevan
Lake Sevan, Sevan Monastery, Selim Caravanserai, Noravank Monastery, wine factory,
Khor-Virap Monastery, Ararat Mountain
We spend the morning sightseeing, starting with a leisurely walk around Lake Sevan, the largest lake in Armenia and the second largest alpine freshwater lake in the world. We visit Sevanavank, a monastery complex that offers a real treat to the eyes. Afterwards we drive to the 14th century Selim caravanserai, an important stopover on the Silk Road. We visit Noravank monastery on the Amaghu River gorge, a major cultural and religious centre in the medieval period. Next comes an exclusive visit to an Armenian wine factory, where we are guided through the process of winemaking using the special grapes of Armenia.
After lunch we check out Khor Virap monastery. Nestled in the picturesque Ararat valley, this church complex boasts breathtaking views of Mount Ararat – famous for being the mountain where Noah’s Ark moored. In the evening we check into the Hotel Metropol in Yerevan, and after dinner enjoy an Armenian cultural performance.
Day 13, Friday July 17 Yerevan
Geghard Monastery, Local Cuisine Demonstration, Matenadaran
After breakfast we drive to Geghard monastery, UNESCO World Heritage site listed for its magnificent medieval architecture and location in a landscape of great natural beauty, surrounded by towering cliffs at the entrance to the Azat Valley. Partly carved out of the cliffs, this 13th century monastic complex has a fascinating history and unique decorative artwork. We continue on to Garni Temple, the only “Greco-Roman colonnaded building” in Armenia and the former Soviet Union. For mythology lovers the place is remarkable. In the local town we are invited to a demonstration on how to make “lavash”, the Armenian national bread.
After lunch we’ll return to Yerevan. Here we receive a guided tour of the town, visiting the Matenadaran Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, where historical documents from Europe and Asia are stored in the world’s richest depository of medieval manuscripts and books. You have the rest of the evening free to explore the local neighbourhood, before returning to the hotel to prepare for the Shabbat.
Day 14, Shabbat July 18 Yerevan
Shabbat services, Seudat Shabbat
After the Shabbat services and lunch with the local community, you are free to spend the rest of the day freely. Those who wish are invited to have a relaxing afternoon walking through the Lovers Park, or exploring the sights and sounds of the local neighbourhood.
Day 15, Sunday July 19 Yerevan
St Hripsime church, Etchmiadzin Cathedral, Zvartnots Temple, History Museum of Armenia,
Tsitsernakaberd Memorial and Museum
After breakfast we embark for Saint Hripsimé Church, one of the oldest surviving churches in Armenia. This church together with other nearby sites is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, protected for its unique Armenian architecture and setting. We then continue to Etchmiadzin Cathedral, considered the oldest cathedral in the world. In the afternoon we return to Yerevan via the 7th century Zvartnots temple, a magnificent ruin of crumbling stones making the perfect setting for a range of Armenian myths and legends.
In Yerevan we visit the History Museum of Armenia, where we can learn more about the fascinating past of this enigmatic country. Our next destination is Armenian Genocide Museum, which featurs the unique Tsitsernakaberd memorial pointing up to the sky. We enjoy our final meal together before resting in the hotel.
Day 16, Monday July 20 Yerevan
After breakfast we transfer to Zvartnots International Airport for our return flights home.