8 days Tour to North-eastern Anatolia by train and Georgia by bus.
This spectacular two countries combination of Turkey and Georgia starts in Kayseri in Central Anatolia in Turkey.
Following arrival, dinner and visit to Kayseri’s historical remains, embark on the Doğu express train, also called Doğu ekspresi running from Ankara to Kars. It is the longest train journey in Turkey and among the world most epic train rides. The train finds its way through the rocky wilds of North-eastern Anatolia and stops in İlica, Erzincan and Erzurum for excursions to the hinterland. The train journey ends at the imposing Russian station in Kars where we will stay for two nights, before setting off to neighbouring country Georgia.
Barely discovered by the average traveller, Georgia is a country with a very strong national character, visible in many aspects, from having their own Christian branch to a unique architectural style, a very elaborate cuisine considered the best in the former Soviet Union and a deeply rooted wine culture.
From Georgia we cross the border with Turkey again. The tour ends in Trabzon.
Historical heart of Kayseri
- Silk road village of Kemaliye
- Amazing Girvelek waterfall and Erzincan
- Remains of the Seljuk and Ottoman era in Erzurum
- Archeological – and Unesco World heritage site Ani and other remains of the Armenian Kingdom.
- The Russian houses of Kars
- Local food specialities
- Citadel of Akhaltsikhe
- Borjomi-Kharagauli national park
- Mtskheta, the ancient capital of the Eastern Georgian Kingdom and World heritage site of Jvari Monastery and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral
- Stalin museum in Gori
- Highlights of Batumi
- Wine and chacha (liquor)
Day1. Arrival in Kayseri.
After arrival in Kayseri in the late afternoon visit to it’s historical centre. The covered market, beautifully decorated DönerKümbet, HuantHatun Mosque and Medrese and clocktower are among the sights. After dinner, we recommend the mantı( Turkish ravioli) or local speciality ÇentikKebap(grilled meat served atop potatoes with yogurt and tomatoes) we head to the station to catch up the train.
At 23.28 hrs embark the touristic Doğu express train with sleeper cabin for two and crisp clean bedding. There is a sink and mini fridge.
Night in de train (Bed)
Day 2.Kemaliye- Girvelek waterfalls-Erzurum-Kars.
Following arrival of the train inIlıç at 06.50, bus ride to Silk route town of Kemaliye, situated on the banks of the Firat river andknown for itsold wooden houses, metal work and decorateddoorknobs. Visit toametal workshop and short walk.Break at Lökhane to taste the local speciality, amix of mulberry and walnut, then explorethe historical hamam, mosque and small museum, before we take our seats in the train again and continue the journey to Erzincan. In Erzincan we will stop for visit to the amazing Girvelek waterfalls before continuing to Erzurum.
Erzurum is Turkey’s highest and most exposed city and has a long history. The Seljuk buildings in the town are remarkable. The Ulu (Grand) Mosque built in 1179 is interesting with its many columns and seven wide naves. Next door to Ulu Mosque is the Cifte Minareli (DoubleMinaret) Medrese (theologicalschool), which isthe most famous feature of the city. It is a perfect example of Seljuk architecture, the carved portal being particularly fine.After visiting Taşhan, old shopping centre where we hear all about the black Oltu stone used to make rosary beads, it is time to eat famousCağkebap, a traditional meat dish before we continue our journey on the Doğu express.
On arrival in Kars at ca. 01.00 hrs. Transfer to hotel in Kars.
Night at hotel in Kars (Bed and Breakfast)
Day 3.Ani- Bagnairmonasteries- Kızıl Kilise (Red Church) – Kars.
Kars, standing at an altitude of 1,750 meters in Eastern Anatolia, has played an important role in Turkish history and was at the centre of the Turkish-Russian War during 1877-1878 after which it remained under the Russian rule for about 40 years. The Russian legacy can still be seen in much of the town’s architecture.
After breakfast set off for Ani, the capital of Bagratid Armenia bounded on one side by the gorge of the Arpaçay/ Akhurian river, which forms Turkey’s border with the Armenian Republic.Impressive fortified walls still encircle the ruins of numerous churches, mosques and caravansaries. After a visit to the site continue to neighbouring villages to exploreBagnair Armenian Monastery ruins and cave, probably used as a Zoroastrian fire temple,and Kızıl church (Kamir Vank). The outstanding features of this red church include a conical roof, V- shaped niches on the exterior,slender windows, and inscription in Armenian above the Windows. After lunch visit to the cheese museum,located in a former dairy farm. It exhibits traditional tools used in cheese production for the past 140 years. Then head back to Kars to explore the Russian buildings,iron bridge and castle.
Night at hotel in Kars (Bed and Breakfast)
Day 4.Posof – Türkgözü-Borjomi-KaragauliNationalPark- Bakuriani
Early breakfast and head to Türkgözü for border crossing with Georgia. Step over theborder and into the area where a Turkish population, Ahishka(in Turkish) or (English) Meskhetian Turks used to live. During the Stalinist repression Turkish was banned from schools. Almost the entire Turkish intelligentsia – teachers, doctors, writers was exiled from Georgia; many were thrown into labour camps. In the small city of Akhaltsike situated on both banks of the Potskhovi river we change our Turkish Lira into Georgian Lari explore the rebuilt castle and mosque built by Turkish Hacı Ahmed Paşa in 1749. The mosque was changed into a church and is now a museum. We then continue to Borjomi-Karagauli National Park, a beautiful protected area with a variety of natural landscapes , small settlements and historical and architectural monuments. The park is famous for its naturally carbonated mineral water which has a volcanic origin, giving it a distinctive sulphuric taste, with many attesting to its benefits to health. Following a visit toBorjomi recreation centre continue to Bakuriani ski – and spa Resort. Enjoy the Spa centre of the hotel or join the group for a hike in the beautiful mountains.
Night at a Spa hotel in Bakuriani( Bed, breakfast and dinner)
Day 5.Kukushka historical train- Tbilisi
After breakfast we take the Kukushka ‘’little cuckoo train’’. Since January 1902, thefirst “Kukushka” trainpassedBorjomi-Bakurianinarrow-gaugeline.ThejourneytoBorjomi is slow, throughgreenvalleysandgorges, alongthebreathtakingsteepsidesand on oldbridges. It takes 2,5hrs to cover the railway (37 km) but it’s worth it. We then head to Tbilisi(Tiflis) a nice panoramic route along the Kura (Mtkvari) river.Tbilisi is the capital of the country of Georgia. The cobblestoned old town reflects a long complicated history with periods under Persian and Russian rule. Its diverse architecture encompasses Eastern Orthodox churches, ornate art nouveau buildings and Soviet Modernist structures. Looming over it all are Narikala, a reconstructed 4th-century fortress, and Kartlis Deda, an iconic statue of the “Mother of Georgia.”
The founding of Tbilisi
According to the legend, the king of ancient Iberia, Vakhtang I Gorgasali, once hunted in the forests near the first capital of Georgia – Mtskheta. After some time, he saw a pheasant, thenhe shot and killed the bird. The king sent his falcon to find the prey. The falcon flew away, and after a while, the king lost sight of him. In search of the bird, Vakhtang Gorgasali with his hunters came upon the source and saw that both the falcon and the pheasant got into its waters. The source turned to be hot. And amazed with this find Vakhtang I decided to found here the city realizing a great advantage of that location.In addition, to the hot sources, the location had many important for the city construction factors: a protected position between the mountains, location on a trade route, strategically favourable factors. Thus, according to legend, the city of Tbilisi was founded. The word «Tbilisi» is translated from Georgian as «warm». Tbilisi is a city of warm sources.
Day 6. Tbilisi City tour
Tbilisi city tour is the best way of discovering this cosy city and our first stop is Tsminda Sameba –the highest temple in Georgia. Then, the trip continues to the historical district of Metekhi to explore the Assumption Church located on the picturesque hill. We reach the fortress Narikala by the cable car to enjoy a breath-taking panoramic view of Tbilisi and have some great walking around the Old Town.Then visit Meydan Square and sulphur baths (XVII-XIX centuries). No trip in Tbilisi is complete without strolling around Rustavelli Avenue andcosy Shardeni Street with cafes, boutiques and fashionable galleries.Visit to National museum, Callygraphy museum and waterfalls areamong the excursions.
After dinner;optional visit to dance Show or Opera in the historical Opera house,or other night amusement.
Night at a hotel in Tbilisi (Bed and Breakfast)
Day 7.MTSCHETA–GORİ- STALİNMUSEUM -KUTAİSİ – BATUM
After breakfast, set off to Mtsheta, only 13 km from Tbilisi and old capital of Georgia for visit to Jvarimonastery and Svetitskhoveli cathedral. The Georgians who were among the first to accept Christianity started initially to build their churches in caves. Then, when the population grew and their fears disappeared they started to build wooden churches and finally churches out of stone. In Mtscheta we will see nice examples of this development.
From Mtscheta continue to Gori for a visit to the castle, a 13thcentury fortified castle complex and the Stalin museum. This museum is dedicated to the life of Joseph Stalin who was born here and became a key figure of 20th-century history.Then continue towards the Black Sea coast and hold in Kutaisi, the second largest city of Georgia for a visit to the Bagrati cathedralon Ukimerioni Hill overlooking the city. The cathedral is a masterpiece of the medieval Georgian architecture, suffered heavy damage throughout centuries and was reconstructed to its present state through a gradual process starting in the 1950s, with major conservation works concluding in 2012.
In Sataplia visit to thegrotto, where dinosaur footprints were found.In the late afternoon continue to Batumi, on the Black Sea coast and port city.
After dinner, walk on the waterfront promenade and enjoy gardens and waterpark.
Night at a hotel in Batumi (Bed and Breakfast)
Day 8.Batumi city tour- HOPA- TRABZON (airport)
Batumi—the “Pearl of the Black Sea,” as it is often called—is located in the autonomous republic of Adjara. It’s history date back to the 4thcentury BC and was it was ruled by the Ottoman approximately 300 years. European architects undertook numerous projects in Batumi at the beginning of the 20th century, and today it remains a hub of architectural innovation. In summer it’s populated by tourists from many countries which gives colour to the city.
Among its highlights are the old town, boulevard, its lush botanical garden, cable car, Baroque Architecture Buildings, Middle Mosque, Churches, synagogues, Interesting modern architectural works and the Ali and Nino moving statue. After a guided walk, explore the city on your own. We then continue to Sarpi border for border crossing to Turkey.En route stop atGonia castleto explore the fortressandmuseum.
The name Gonia, is connected to the character in the Greek Myth of Argonauts (Apsaros is a brother of Medea). The Fortress was built in the Hellenistic period. The earliest archaeological layers date to 8th and 7th century BC. A number of historians claim that Gonio fortress used to be the strategic, political, economic and cultural centre of the Eastern Roman frontier. A theatre and hippodrome functioned here in I-III cc. AD. One of the twelve apostles of Christ St. Mathias is buried in Apsaros
After passing the Sarpi border we will meet withour Turkishbus and drive to Trabzon directly to catch up with our evening flight home.
Story of Ali and Nino, the moving statue of love in Batumi
The story, first told in the 1937 Austrian novel, Ali and Nino, is a familiar tale of lovers who end up in tragic circumstances that keep them apart. As opposed to warring families, in Ali and Nino’s case, it was the First World War Ali, an Azerbaijani Muslim, falls in love with Georgian princess, Nino, but sadly, after they are finally able to get together, the war hits home and Ali is killed. The author of the novel is unknown, credited to the alias Kurban Said. But despite the unknown origins, the title has become a literary classic in the area and is considered to be the national novel of Azerbaijan and inspired
Georgian artist Tamara Kvesitadze to create her monumental moving sculpture in 2010.
- 1 night in 2 persons sleeper cabin ( bed only)
- 7nights accommodation in good middle class hotels ( 3-4 stars)
- 7 x breakfast in hotels
- 1 x dinner in hotel
- Bus transfers
- Full day bus & driver for 7 days ( 17 + 1 or 26 + 1 pax mini-midibusses)
- English speaking Turkish guide
- Türsab compulsory health insurance
- Mentioned excursions
- Admissions fees for museums and sites
- Admissions fees for National Parks
- Flight tickets***
- Lunches and 6 x dinners
Busses:The busses that will accompany us on our tour is D2 registered to the ministry of transport
Passport & Visa for Turkey.
In order to enter Turkey having a visa with 90 days “duration of stay”, foreigners should hold a passport/travel document valid at least for an additional 60 days which totals to 150 days (90 days + 60 days/5 months) of validity at the time of entrance.
EU nationals may enter with a national ID card.
For tourism or commercial travel of up to 90 days within a 180 day period, obtain a Turkish visa from Turkish missions abroad or from the e-Visa application system prior to arrival.
Passport & Visa for Georgia.
To enter Georgia, a passport valid for the duration of the stay is required. EU nationals may enter with a national ID card.Visas are not required.
Luggage:Since we will travelling by bus we have a limited luggage space. Everyone has a 15 KG luggage limit
- Even in summeryoumayneedsomewarmclothesandraincoat.
- Swimwear and extra towel
- Good sportshoes
- Camera or/and smartphone,charger,extrabatteries
- Our Professional guides can change the program due to local conditions and weather.
Incase of changes we will inform a.s.a.p or at least before start of the tour when possible.
Our 7-Night-8-Day Tour was prepared according the Laws of Consumers Association No. 4077 and Travel Agencies Association No.1618.
Compulsory Travel insurance.
According to Article 12 of Law no 1618 this package tour is financially quaranteed when not partly delivered.
The insurance covers the costs of the tour.
The tour goes ahead with minimum 12 persons-Maximum 22 persons.
Payment:The balance of all monies due, including surcharges, must be paid
By credit card or to the bankaccount of the company 7 days before departure.
CancellationPolicy:Until 7 days before departure you have the right to cancel the tour and will receive all your money back.