Backroads of the Caucasus

A journey through Azerbaijan, Georgia & Armenia

Amidst the rugged terrain and swirling mists of the Caucasus, where the winds whisper secrets and the rocks hold ancient memories, lies a land of both strife and beauty, where towering mountains guard hidden valleys and diverse cultures collide in a dance of enigmatic complexity.

On this Caucasus tour, experience a land of mud-volcanoes, mountain vistas and cave villages. Wander the spectacular mountain village of Khinaliq in Azerbaijan, ride the ‘Wings of Tatev’ the world longest aerial tramway in Armenia and savour long lunches and taste traditional wines in Georgia.

Explore the enigmatic sight of Karahunge, a group of standing stones 3500 years older than England’s Stonehenge. Journey to Khor Virap, a monastery built on the site of the imprisonment of St Gregory the Illuminator in the shadow of Mt Ararat. Clamber around the cave village of Vardzia and explore the Black Sea Coast in the city of Batumi.

From the Caspian to the Black Sea on this Caucasus tour, know where you are from the moment you wake up by staying in locally run hotels, chalets and even a castle as well as unique and off-the-beaten path experiences in the backroads of this amazing region.

22 Days


$10 320 AUD*

Departure dates: 18 May 2024 / 28 September 2025

OR CONTACT US for more information

Trip code: BCBY *from


  • Cruise the Caspian Sea, wander ancient mountain villages and experience the phenomenon of mud-volcanoes in Azerbaijan
  • Learn about traditional ‘kvevri’ wine making (and taste it of course!), explore cave villages, view spectacular vistas and explore the Black Sea Coast in Georgia
  • Ride the world’s longest reversable aerial tramway, marvel at standing stones older than Stonehenge, view Mt Ararat from picturesque Khor Virap and explore the deserted village of Ani in Armenia
  • Stay in local family run hotels, chalets and even a castle and enjoy unique and immersive experiences found nowhere else in the world.

The Basics

Start: Baku

Finish: Yerevan

Trip style: Signature

Max group size: 15

What's this?

Reasons you’ll love this tour

  • You want to visit the three countries in the Caucasus region with out feeling rushed
  • You enjoy learning about local crafts and industry
  • You have an interest in the Cold War and former Soviet Union
  • You’re happy to visit places that are different from home but don’t sit too far outside your comfort zone
  • You like trying new foods and enjoy a glass of wine
  • You’re looking forward to spectacular mountain vistas, despite the twists and turns of the roads enroute
  • Authenticity is important to you when travelling


Arrive in the cosmopolitan city of Baku make your own way to the hotel. Meet your trip leader and travel companions for a welcome meeting and introduction to your Caucasus tour at 17.00. After the meeting, we will take a short cruise on the Caspian Sea (weather permitting) before heading into Baku to a local restaurant for dinner.

This morning, we journey to the remote mountain village of Khinaliq. The houses in Khinaliq are made of stone and have flat roofs, which are used to store food during the winter months. The locals speak their own language, which is believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Khinaliq is also known for its stunning natural beauty and mountain scenery.

Our next stop will be the ‘Red Village’ so named for the colour of its soil and its unique red houses. The Red Village is known for its rich cultural heritage, which includes traditional handicrafts such as carpet weaving and pottery making. The locals are also famous for their hospitality, and visitors are often welcomed with open arms.

We finish the second day of our Caucasus tour in Guba where we will check into our hotel for the evening.

Today we depart early and drive south to Gobustan where we will view the phenomenon that is mud-volcanoes. Mud Volcanoes occur when pressurized mud and gases are forced up to the surface of the earth through fissures or vents. Despite their name, mud volcanoes do not actually involve molten lava or magma like conventional volcanoes.

After a stop for lunch en route we will arrive in Shirvan National Park for an afternoon safari. Keep an eye out for Caucasian lynx and leopard, Wild Boar, Brown bears and Roe deer, you may also spot the occasional Golden Eagle flying overhead.

At the conclusion of our safari, we will transfer to the town of Ganja for a two-night stay.

We will head out of Ganja this morning to the 19th century Russian village of Ivanovka. The village has a population of approximately 4000 people and is known for its agricultural activities including the production of fruits, vegetables and tobacco.

After some free time for lunch, we will head to Goygol Lake. This lake, one of the deepest in Azerbaijan is crystal clear and fed by a network of underground springs.

In the afternoon we will return to Ganja to visit some of the attractions in what is known as the ‘second city of Azerbaijan’. We will embark on a walking tour on arrival to visit Shah Abbas Square, the Imamzadeh Complex and the ‘bottle house’ an unusual private residence built by using glass bottles.

We leave Azerbaijan behind us this morning making one final stop in the town of Sheki to visit the ‘Palace of the Sheki Khans’ before heading into Georgia. The palace was built in the 18th century by the Sheki Khanate, a semi-independent state within the Persian Empire.

After some free time for lunch in Sheki, we will head to the border, complete formalities and cross into Georgia.

Our first stop in Georgia is in the village of Vardisubani, famous for its wine making in traditional ‘kvevri.’ Kvevri are huge terracotta vessels, usually set into the floor of a winery that allow grapes to ferment. On our visit we will meet the Kvevri Master who will explain how these vessels are made.

This evening we will continue our journey to Telavi, sure to be a highlight of your Caucasus tour, Georgia’s premier wine region where we will spend the night.

This morning we will take a stroll through a local farmers market in Telavi. Inspect the local produce and treat yourself to all the yummy delights the town has to offer, before moving onto Kondoi to visit a local wine cellar. At this cellar we will taste ‘Zhghia’ wine which is made from the rarest and most high quality Kakhetian grapes.

Next, we will visit the town of Tsinandali home to the estate of Duke Alexander Chavchavadze a popular poet, writer and public figure in Georgia in 19th century. The estate includes a palace, a park, and a winery, and was once a gathering place for local artists.

Just before lunch we will visit Bodbe Nunnery, famous for its association with the patron saint of Georgia, Saint Nino. The nunnery was founded in 4th century and over the years has been extended and repaired, now reflecting architecture from Georgia, Persia and Russia.

We will have lunch today with a local Georgian family which will include a tasting of Georgian sweets as well as learning how to make Churchkhela, a traditional candle shaped candy.

Later in the day we will transfer to Georgia’s capital Tbilisi and check in to our hotel for the next 3-nights.

Depending on time, your trip leader may organise for a visit to a local bath house to relax after a long day on your Caucasus tour.

Today we will familiarise ourselves with Georgia’s capital Tbilisi by taking an orientation tour of this city which is a melting pot of cultures. We will stop at the ‘crooked’ puppet theatre, a traditional Georgian bakery and residential apartments which were once an old Silk Road caravanserai.

We will stop for lunch today in a restaurant serving Khachapuri. Khachapuri is made up of molten cheese served up in a shallow bread pot, sometimes with a raw egg (which the cheese cooks) or other ingredients spread through the cheese. Khachapuri is a staple of Georgian cuisine.

After our lunch (and before a food coma sets in) we will visit Tbilisi’s centre piece – Narikala Fortress. The fortress was originally built in the 4th century by the Persians and was destroyed and rebuilt several times with the most significant construction taking place during the Arab period in 7th century and was then strengthened by the Georgian monarchs who followed.

Tonight, dinner will be served in a traditional restaurant and after we will enjoy a crawl of Tbilisi’s wine bars (for which the city is famed) with our guide (drinks not included).

We will continue our exploration of Tbilisi today with a wander through the Dry Bridge Flea Market for a spot of shopping. We will visit the golden rooved Holy Trinity church, another of Tbilisi’s central features before a wander through the charming old town.

This afternoon is free for you to explore Tbilisi on your own. You may wish to check out more of the sights of this amazing city, check out one of Tbilisi’s many wine bars or just relax and rest before your Caucasus tour continues tomorrow.

We leave Tbilisi this morning and head into the mountains. Along the way we will stop at the old capital of Georgia, Mtskheta. On the way, we will stop at the Jvari monastery, which is built in a hill overlooking the town and a bend in the river making for a spectacular vista. Heading into Mtskheta we will stop to visit Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, the centrepiece of the town and where the Robe of Christ is buried.

Our next stop will be the Ananuri Fortress which is perched on a rock outcrop overlooking a reservoir on the Aragvi River. The fortress was once home to a feudal ruling class in the 13th century and was the site of numerous battles.

In the afternoon we will arrive in the townlet of Stephantsminda where we will have some free time for lunch before boarding four-wheel drives and heading up the mountain to Georgia’s premier attraction, the Gergeti Trinity Church. The church was built by an unknown architect in the 14th century on top of a steep mountain, surrounded by jaw-dropping scenery. The church’s colourful history as well is its location have made it a symbol of Georgia.

After we have come down from the mountain, we will head to Gudauri where we will overnight in a chalet in picturesque surrounds.

Dinner tonight will be served at the chalet.

Heading west this morning, on our Caucasus tour, our first stop is at a small local winery where we will pause to taste the local wine of this region before heading to Gori, the town of Joseph Stalin’s birth. We will visit the Stalin Museum which is also home to Stalin’s personal train carriage and have some free time for lunch in this small, charming town.

After lunch we will transfer to the town of Chiatura. Chiatura is an old soviet mining town located in a deep gorge, the town is known for its network of dangerous and derelict cable cars that hang precariously in the gorge’s void. In the area of Chiatura is the enigmatic Katskhi Column, a 40-meter-tall limestone monolith topped by a small church, which we will also stop to view.

At the end of the day, we will arrive in Kutaisi and check into our hotel for the next 2-nights of our Caucasus tour.

Today we start our exploration Kutaisi with a visit to the Green Bazaar, Kutaisi’s central local produce market. We will admire the intricate Colchis Fountain, which is located in the centre of a traffic island. The fountain is unusually elaborate, considering its location, and features golden statues of animals and replicas of ancient Georgian figures. Our final stop in Kutaisi with be the blue topped Bagrati Cathedral, also known at the Cathedral of the Dormition, it is a distinct landmark in the landscape of Kutaisi.

We will travel to the outskirts of the town to visit the Gelati and Motsameta monasteries, both masterpieces of the Golden Age of medieval Georgia.

In the afternoon we will return to Kutaisi where you will be free to explore on your own for the remainder of the day.

We check out of our hotel in Kutaisi and head for Batumi on the shores of the Black Sea. On arrival we will visit the Batumi Botanical Gardens before lunch in a restaurant on the waterfront.

Later we will view the Batumi Towers, Ferris wheel and visit the Ali and Nino statues, a symbol of impertinence made for the Venice Biennial. We will conclude todays exploring with a stroll through the old town and then check into our hotel.

Take the time to sleep in this morning or arise early to explore Batumi on your own before we depart for the town of Borjomi.

On arrival we will have some free time for lunch before a walking tour of the city including the city park which contains the famous Borjomi spring, providing the city with naturally carbonated water.

This evening we will check into our hotel which is set in a castle – a real highlight of our Caucasus tour.

All aboard! Today we will take the historic ‘Kukushka’ train to Bakuriani (train may be substituted for a coach if not operating). Bakuriani is a small village of about 2000 people and is a popular ski resort in winter. There are several hiking trails for you to explore or you can just explore the town.

In the afternoon we will take the train back to Borjomi and dine in the hotel’s restaurant.

This morning we will drive to the town of Akhaltsikhe to explore the Rabath fortress and museum. The fortress covers an area of approximately 7 hectares and is situated on a hill overlooking the Mtkvari River. It consists of several buildings and structures, including a mosque, a church, a citadel, and a palace.

We will have some free time for lunch in Akhaltsikhe before heading to the impressive cave city of Vardzia. The city was excavated from the slopes of the Erusheti Mountain in the 12th century, the caves stretch along the cliffs for five hundred metres and up to nineteen tiers in height. The Church of the Dormition contains an important series of wall paintings and is still active today even though the city has been abandoned.

This evening we will overnight in the resort hotel at Vardzia, where dinner will also be served.

We continue our Caucasus tour this morning and say goodbye to Georgia and cross into Armenia. Once border formalities have been completed we will head to Gymuri to see the so-called ‘Black Fortress’. Built in 1829-9, the fortress was constructed 8km from the Turkish border in response to the Russo-Turkish War. The strange circular structure sits atop a mound and is one of Armenia’s national heritage monuments.

We will also make a stop at the ‘Ani overlook’ a view point from which we will observe the ghost town of Ani. The former capital of Armenia, Ani was once a thriving metropolis of 100 000 people before it was attacked by the Mongols in 1236 and further destroyed by an Earthquake in 1319.

At lunch time we will visit a traditional Armenian fish farm, where we will have some of their delicious fish for lunch.

In the afternoon we will visit the monastic complex of Haghpat which is considered a shining example of Armenian medieval architecture. The complex contains several churches, a bell tower, refectory and a library. We will spend this evening in the quaint town of Dilijan in the mountains of Armenia.

This morning we will explore the Haghartsin Monastic Complex. Another of Armenia’s medieval monasteries, it contains several churches as well as a refectory. In the complex is a two-story building that was built in the 13th century and is decorated with beautiful carvings and sculptures.

We are in for a special treat for lunch in the town of Fioletovo, home to an ethic minority call the Molokans. We are invited to lunch and for samovar tea.

After lunch we will transfer to Lake Sevan where we will check into our hotel, in the evening we will watch the sunset over the lake.

This morning on our Caucasus tour we will transfer to Lake Sevan and climb up to the church which sits at the highest point of the town. The base of the hill on which the church sits is a small market with vendors selling a special type of moonstone that is only found in Lake Sevan and nowhere else in the world, take some time to browse and see it for yourself.

Our next stop today is the Noratus cross stone field, a medieval graveyard containing Armenian cross stones. Wander this ancient and rather macabre place before moving onto Selim Pass. In the Selim Pass we will explore the Orbelian Caravanserai, an original Silk Road lodge built to house travellers, beasts of burden and cargo in the days of this ancient trade route.

We arrive in Jermuk in the afternoon for some free time for lunch, as well as a visit to the quirky Mineral Water Gallery, before a stop at Shaki Waterfall on our way to Goris our home for the next two nights.

This evening a barbeque will be served at our traditional family guesthouse.

This morning, on our Caucasus tour we head out to explore the troglodyte cave village of Khndzoresk which overlooks the town of Goris. The village is still inhabited today with a population of 4500 people, all Armenia Apostolics.

After we have visited the cave village we will have some free time in Goris for lunch, before transferring to the ‘Wings of Tatev.’ The Wings of Tatev is the world longest non-stop double track cable car built in a single section. The cable car traverses the amazing countryside passing over medieval ruins and abandoned villages. At the end of the cable car is the spectacular Tatev Monastery and Great Hermitage which we will take some time to visit before returning to Goris.

Today we head for Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Along the way we will stop at Karahunge, a group of standing stones that pre-date England’s Stonehenge by 3500 years. The site has 223 stone which have been identified and 80 of these stones feature a circular hole, which have been of interest to archeo-astronomers, who have suggested the stones were used for astronomical observation.

After observing the standing stones, we will head to a local winery for a tasting and lunch.

In the afternoon we will visit one of Armenia’s premier attractions, Khor Virap a monastery built in the imposing shadow of Mt Ararat. The monastery is home to the pit in which Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years by the king. After emerging from the pit Gregory became the kings religious mentor which directly led to Armenia becoming the first country in the world to be declared a Christian nation in 301.

We will arrive in Yerevan and check into our hotel in the late afternoon.

On our last day of our Caucasus tour, we will head out into the city for a morning tour of Yerevan. We will stop at Republic Square, where we might be lucky enough to catch the dancing fountains, take a stroll through Victory Park, see the Mother of Armenia statue that watches over the city and visit the quirky ‘Cascade Complex’. The Cascade Complex is an interesting installation in the city and contains green spaces as well as the work of local artists.

In the afternoon we will leave Yerevan and head for the ancient temple of Garni. This temple is the only Greaco-Roman structure still standing in what was the former Soviet Union. The temple was built around 77 CE and its use as a temple is still debated, others have proposed such uses as a royal tomb or cenotaph.

Today we will have lunch with a local family and a demonstration of the making of Armenian ‘levash’ bread.

This afternoon we will visit another of Armenia’s spectacular monasteries, Geghard. Geghard is located in beautiful mountain scenery, partially carved out of the rock and is also home to an apiary.

We head back into Yerevan for our final dinner tonight as a group. Reminisce about your Caucuses tour and say goodbye to your travel companions and trip leader.

Your Caucuses tour comes to an end after breakfast this morning.

Still not convinced? Check out this great post about traveling in the Caucasus.

Trip map - Caucasus Tour
Trip Map – Backroads of the Caucasus

Details – Caucasus tour

Duration: 22 Days

Trip style: Signature

Group size: Minimum 6 / Maximum 15

Trip code: BCBY

Cost: $9528.00 AUD twin share

Single supplement: $1445.00 AUD


  • 21-nights accommodation in locally owned hotels, castle, chalet & guest houses
  • Transport by airconditioned coach
  • Services of your Inverted Atlas trip leader and local guides
  • Meals as specified in itinerary (B = Breakfast / L = Lunch / D = Dinner)
  • Entrance fees to sites mentioned in itinerary

Trip price does not include

  • International or domestic airfares
  • Arrival or departure transfers
  • Visa for Azerbaijan, Georgia or Armenia (if required)
  • Meals not included as per trip itinerary including drinks and mini bar
  • Additional accommodation before or after the trip
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to laundry, souvenirs, porterage etc.
  • Travel insurance – please note comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas

Journey Rating – Quest

This Caucasus tour travels through Azerbaijan, Georgia & Armenia. These countries are somewhat accustomed to tourism and our presence here should go unnoticed by the locals. Armenia can be somewhat rural in areas and some areas visited in Azerbaijan are remote in nature and you should be prepared for the occasional eastern style squat toilet. Georgia is heavily westernised, and you can expect the same kind of infrastructure as you would at home.

Azerbaijan is an Islamic country and modesty may be required at some locations and when entering mosques. Armenia is a Christian country and modesty should be observed in rural areas. In both Armenia and Georgia women should bring a scarf for church visits.

A note about fitness

To get the most enjoyment out of your Caucasus tour, at minimum you should be able to walk up to 2.5km during scheduled sightseeing and be able to carry your own luggage to and from the coach. You should also be able to use an eastern style ‘squat’ toilet (beware if you have knee issues). The countries in this itinerary are very mountainous and you can expect long and winding mountain roads for at least 50% of your time on the coach, so beware if you get motion sickness.

In addition, you should be in good health, with no major chronic conditions requiring frequent medical attention. This trip occasionally travels to remote areas where the ability to find a doctor or call an ambulance will be somewhat limited. While all our trip leaders are required to have a valid first aid certificate, they are far from doctors and any assistance they are able to provide will be limited to basic first aid. For more information please see our booking conditions.

Single supplement

Traveling by yourself? No problem, we love single travellers and don’t believe in penalising them by charging half the trip price again for our single supplement. With us you are only paying the actual cost to have a room all to yourself. If you’re up for making a new friend, you can elect to share with another single traveller of the same sex and only pay the twin-share price. The choice is yours!

Trip leader description

Accompanying you on your Caucasus tour will be your Inverted Atlas trip leader. Your trip leader is a logistics extraordinaire, keeps the trip running smoothly and ensures you have the best time possible on your trip. It is important to know that while your trip leader has the best job in the world, they aren’t actually on holidays, but rather they are there to make sure you have the best time while you are on your holiday! Your trip leader may at times need some time out so that they can complete back of house tasks that ensure everyone continues to enjoy the trip. It is also your trip leaders’ job to handle any issues (heaven forbid!) that come up while you’re on your trip like:

  • If you lose your passport or other travel documents
  • If there is a problem with your room at the booked accommodation – seriously please tell your trip leader don’t wait until you leave
  • If you become unwell and need to find a pharmacy
  • Assisting with restaurant recommendations or additional sightseeing during free time
  • Questions regarding the itinerary

Your trip leader on your Caucasus tour will have some good local knowledge about the destination in which you are traveling, however they are not a ‘local guide’. You’re welcome to ask your trip leader anything about the trip and if they don’t know they will find out and get back to you. Other people you will meet along the way are ‘local guides’ who are generally available to the group in specific towns or at specific sites like national parks, temples or archaeological sites. These people are the local experts and will be able to answer any questions you may have about the history and culture of a specific site.

Itinerary disclaimer

The itinerary for this Caucasus tour is correct at the time of upload to our website and we have composed it in good faith. From time to time we may elect to make changes before departure, if we are making a big change we will of course notify you, however if it is a small change this will be reflected in the final trip notes. So, make sure you download these prior to departure. Small changes prior to departure are usually made with the groups best interests in mind and come about due to liaising with our best resources – our past travelers and of course our trip leaders! The ability to change and evolve depending on what our travelers enjoy is what makes us such a great trip operator.

While we strive to operate our trips exactly to the letter of the itinerary, sometimes we may need to make changes on the ground while the group is on the road. This is all part of the adventure of traveling and we would ask that you come on your trip with an open mind and a good sense of humour because as much as we want it to, everything doesn’t always go to plan. In fact, these impromptu situations often make the best stories that you can have a laugh with your friends about later.

Age requirements

Minimum Age: 14 years

On this Caucasus tour we are happy to accept teenage children, there is no shared accommodation and the destinations visited on this Caucasus tour should provide only a small amount of ‘culture shock’ to younger travellers. If you wish to bring younger children, please give us a call.

There is no upper age limit for this trip, but you should consider the above fitness requirements prior to booking. If you are 65 years or over, you will be asked to complete our Health Check Form and have your medical practitioner sign it to confirm you are in good health and able to participate safely on this trip.

Travel insurance

Please note that comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas on this Caucasus tour. Insurance must include provision for medical situations, emergency medical repatriation to your home country and personal liability at a minimum. Proof of valid travel insurance will be requested by your trip leader on arrival at the pre-departure meeting. Please have this paperwork available for them. If you are unable to provide proof of comprehensive travel insurance, you may not be allowed to join the trip and no refund will be payable.

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