Iran & Caucasus Unrecognised Countries Combo

  • Start Date: April 7, 2020
  • End Date: April 28, 2020
  • Price: €1845 - €2495
  • Duration: 20 nights, 21 days
  • Description
  • Itinerary

Join our Iranian Revolutionary Tour and head onwards to frozen conflict zones and unrecognised breakaway republics.

In Iran, this tour takes us to all of the major sites in Tehran as well as the ancient capitals of Shiraz and Esfahan. On top of the rich history of the region, this tour also offers lots of opportunities to interact with locals, and witness the visual reality of what is the Iranian Revolution. On the trip itself and through our local guides, we will be doing lots of hidden extras (not published on the itinerary!) and where possible we will show you every side of this unique and majestic country.

We will then cross the border overland as we head into Armenia to begin exploring the unrecognised countries. This part of the tour takes you to Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and the place they call “Europe’s Hiroshima” before finishing in Tbilisi, Georgia. The extended group moves on to Stalin’s hometown of Gori, before entering the war-torn republic of Abkhazia, formerly the pearl in the Soviet summer calendar.

YPT has truly pioneered travel to the Caucasus and the “other NK”; the frozen conflict zone that is Nagorno-Karabakh. This region suffered a horrific war after the fall of the Soviet Union, and despite being de jure part of Azerbaijan, is in fact a de facto unrecognised independent nation state (1 of 4 in post-Soviet Europe).


The second part of this combo tour is split into two parts. Group A will cover Armenia and Group B, Georgia. You can choose to do both groups or only one. Get in touch about pricing for either individual group.

Group
Price 
A: Iran – Armenia €1845
B: Iran – Armenia – Georgia €2495

This tour comes right after our Saudi Arabia and Kuwait Tours which means they can be easily combined!

Please Note:

We offer Iran visa support for people of all nationalities (except for Israel). Since US/British/Canadian nationals need to get a visa in advance and pre-clearance takes a long time, we would advise them to book the tour at least 3 months before its starting date. Most countries do not require a visa into Georgia or Armenia.  If they do it is, for most, an easy to get eVisa.

This trip takes us not only to two frozen conflict zones, but also certain areas that are at times heavily affected by the situation on the ground. If a certain activity, or even country cannot be visited due to the situation on the ground, YPT Group will arrange an acceptable alternative activity, but will not be held in any way liable or responsible. A full copy of our terms and conditions is available on request.  *YPT terms and conditions apply to this trip.

Tuesday April 7th – Tehran

  • Morning and afternoon arrival by flight.
  • Those coming from our Kuwait Tour arrive at 14:30 where we are picked up and taken to our hotel.
  • Free afternoon to walk around Tehran, get to know your group.
  • Visit National Jewellery museum – the contents of this place actually back up the Iranian currency, a truly amazing experience and certainly one of the highlights of the trip regardless of if you are a jewellery fiend or not!
  • Visit to the heart of Old Tehran to soak up the night time atmosphere, drink some local tea and people watch.
  • Overnight in Parastoo Hotel.

Wednesday April 8th – Tehran

  • Drive through Tehran past anti-US propaganda and the US embassy (possibility of actually seeing inside the embassy, something which was considered impossible only a couple of years ago!).
  • Visit Saad Abad & Niavaran palaces, the last Palaces of the last Shah of Iran.  Lunch at Darband hills.
  • One hour free time or tea by the river.
  • Shopping in the Tajrish Bazaar of Tehran and visit a nearby mosque.  One hour free time.
  • Traditional Iranian dinner of kebabs at famous restaurant Ayaran restaurant, near Ferdosi square.
  • Evening walk around the city, with us taking the opportunity to try some shisha, fresh juice bar, and mingle with locals.
  • Overnight in overnight in Parastoo hotel.

Thursday April 9th – Tehran/ Shiraz

  • Check out of hotel for morning flight Shiraz.
  • Visit the citadel in the centre of the city and mingle with locals.
  • Visit Grand Bazaar for some shopping and photos.  Chance to buy old anti-American stamps from a local shop owner and collector.
  • Lunch in Saray E Mehr restaurant in the middle of bazaar for traditional Di Zi dish.
  • Free walk around the bazaar or relax with tea and shisha at poets house/tea house.  Great chance to mingle with local students.
  • Dinner at hotel or out to a fast food joint for burgers, falafel, and sambusas.
  • Overnight at Parsian hotel.

Friday April 10th – Shiraz/Persepolis

  • Up bright and early to visit the colour stained mosque when the morning light shines through spectacularly.
  • Late morning drive to Persepolis.
  • Lunch at traditional restaurant called “Paradise” on the way to Necropolis tombs.
  • Visit the botanic gardens of Shiraz.
  • Stop for traditional Shiraz ice cream at a famous local shop.
  • Visit a famous Hafeizieh Iranian poet’s park and tomb.  Great opportunity to mingle with locals and take photos.
  • Dinner at hotel.
  • Exploring the streets.  Shopping for military hats and patches.
  • Overnight in Parsian hotel.

Saturday April 11th – Shiraz/Esfahan

  • Drive to Esfahan with stop at Cirus’s tomb, an old fortress on the way.  Tea time break.
  • Lunch in a restaurant in one of the smaller cities on the way.
  • Go to the famous old Khaju bridge.
  • Walk across bridge and mingle with locals.  Short rest at hotel.
  • Walk for a dinner at local restaurants.
  • Visit one of the oldest carpet shops.  Explanation on a variety of Persian carpets and opportunity for a purchase.  The presentation involves a show how carpets are made and explanation of 30 different styles of carpets.
  • Evening visit to the 300 year old Abbasi Hotel for traditional Iranian tea.
  • Overnight at the centrally located Esfahan tourist Hotel.

Sunday April 12th  – Esfahan

  • Visit the beautiful Safavid Chehelsetoon Palace.
  • Sheikh Lotfollah mosque and Ali-qapoo palace.
  • Lunch in a traditional restaurant at the square.
  • Visit to Shah Mosque.
  • Free time to see square and shop for gifts at surrounding bazaar.
  • Chance to change money for small crisp rial denominations. There is an official change place with good rates but they also have a stack of small denominations that they hold. (They remembered us from last time and changed some money for the group).
  • Optional visit to Iran/Iraq war museum.
  • Visit Zurkhane gym to watch an ancient Persian sport workout, a strength building exercises done with traditional drum and bell music.
  • Overnight at the Tourist Hotel.

Monday April 13th – Esfahan/Tehran

  • Morning flight to Tehran.
  • Visit Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini.
  • Visit the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetary.
  • Stop at the Shah’s Monument AKA Revolution Monument for photos on the way from the airport.
  • Farewell meal at the Armenian Club.  Armenians are the main ethnic Christian minority in Iran.
  • Overnight in Parastoo hotel.

Tuesday April 14th – Tehran/Agarak (Armenia)

  • Cross-country drive to the Armenian border with stop in Tabriz UNESCO world heritage site, a 13-century historic bazaar
  • Cross Armenian/Iranian border, formerly one of the tensest points of the Cold War era.
  • Transfer to Agarak and to our hotel for some R&R.
  • Sightseeing, drinking and looking at local talent, a real treat after the week spent dry in the Islamic Republic.
  • Overnight in Agarak

Wednesday 15th April – Goris 

  • Morning departure to Goris via scenic route crossing mountains.
  • Lunch at an Armenian Borat house for home brewed coffee, roast chicken, and for those brave enough… vodka.
  • Arrive at Mirha hotel.
  • Visit the “old village” cave city on the outskirts of Goris, Capadocia of Armenia.
  • Dinner in an all-Soviet collectors house for traditional Armenian dishes and wine.  Chance to buy Soviet memorabilia
  • Overnight in Goris.

Thursday 16th April – Goris/Stepanakert

  • Breakfast in the hotel.
  • Visit Tatev Monastery using the longest cable car in the world, 5,700 meters!
  • Traditional Armenian lunch in Goris.
  • Met by our trusty fleet of vans for the highlight of this trip, the transfer to Nagorno-Karabakh, one of 4 unrecognized breakaway frozen conflict zones in the former Soviet Union.
  • Check into Jazz Club Hotel
  • Visit the foreign affairs department and get our Nagorno-Karabakh visas. It is optional to have it in your passport, as this stamp means you cannot enter Azerbaijan.
  • Leisurely walk into town for a walking tour of Stepankert, one of the smallest and slightly quirkier capital cities of the region.
  • We also take the time to visit the fabulous Soviet-era amusement park and drive the dodgems!
  • Visit to the national stadium for a look around.
  • Pub crawl throughout the town.
  • Overnight in hotel.

Friday 17th April– Stepanakert surroundings

  • Visit the extremely disturbing museum to fallen soldiers in battles during war with Azerbaijan.  Museum contains a variety of objects and photographs and tells of horror stories about the war.
  • A stop for a private tour of a brand new but never properly used Stepanokert airport
  • Drive by military base with chance to see tanks on a training course
  • No visit without a photo op near the Tank monument, a first captured tank in the war
  • #TRIP HIGHLIGHT# picked up by the Lada fleet to visit the “DMZ” abandoned town, Agdam AKA “The Hiroshima of the Caucuses”, situated at the front line of this frozen conflict zone – very off the beaten track.
  • #NOTE# Technically it is not allowed to visit here, so the situation will be judged when we arrive. People will have to strictly follow instructions here.
  • Quick lunch stop along the way to Gandzasar.
  • Visit to the Gandzasar monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in the world, tracing its roots to 600 AD, it survived multiple bombing attempts by Azerbaijan during the conflict.
  • Explore ancient cemetery around the monastery.
  • Drive to a wacky village of Vank to see Titanic and Seastone hotels, strange places built by a local eccentric billionaire, and a real weird treat of the trip.
  • Return to Stepanokert to have dinner at Ureni – a traditional Karabakhi restaurant.
  • Overnight in Stepanakert.

Saturday 18th April – Yerevan

  • Departure to Yerevan.
  • Visit to a Papik and Tatik monument
  • Stop at the Armenian Stone hedge, twice as old as the English one.
  • Roadside lunch on way to Yerevan.
  • Visit Khor Virap, an ancient monastery overlooking Mount Ararat.
  • Check into Envoy Hostel.
  • Chance for R&R in the hostel. 4 person, twin, and triple rooms are available for little extra costs. Please let us know if advance.
  • Dinner in a traditional Armenian Restaurant.
  • Night on the town in Yerevan. Yerevan is a very young party town and will provide for a great night out!
  • Overnight at the hostel.

Sunday 19th April – Yerevan

  • Visit the Gerhard monastery, one of the oldest churches in Armenia, carved entirely out of the mountain!
  • Visit town of Garni and site of 2000-year-old pagan temple
  • Visit to Armenian Genocide monument and museum.
  • Lunch at one of the outdoor restaurants in the hills of Yerevan.
  • Dinner in a famous traditional Armenian restaurant in downtown Yerevan.
  • Pub-crawl and overnight in Yerevan.

Monday 20th April – Yerevan

  • Walking tour of Yerevan
  • Visit the cascades waterfall art installation as well as the opera house and parliament
  • Soviet Market!!!! Chance to buy USSR branded jackets and all kinds of USSR kitsch.
  • Free afternoon for last minute shopping or some rest.
  • Overnight train to Tbilisi departing at 21:30 pm.

Tuesday 21st April – Tbilisi

  • At 3.30am we pass through the Georgian Border, and the guards come onto the train to stamp passports.
  • 7:00 am arrival in Tbilisi.
  • End of Group A.

Group B – Georgia

  • Arrival in Tbilisi
  • Check into Envoy Tbilisi Hostel.  4 person, twin, and triple rooms are available for little extra costs. Please let us know in advance.
  • Breakfast at a traditional Georgian restaurant
  • Walk around Tbilisi, Independence Square, parliament, “dry bridge”
  • Visit to “Baraholka”, an all-Soviet memorabilia market with the chance to buy military hats, medals, pins, stamps, and caucuses-style swords and knives!
  • Lunch in the most hard to find local gem called Sofia Melnikova café for a variety of Georgian specialties, like best hand made khinkali in the city
  • Visit Narikala fortress overlooking Tbilisi using a cable car
  • See Kartlis Deda (Mother Georgia) monument above Tbilisi
  • Relaxing time in traditional Georgian/ Turkish baths with local beer
  • Overnight in Tbilisi.

Wednesday 22nd April – Gori

  • Departure to Gori – The hometown of the infamous Joseph Stalin! Journey takes only a few hours. Stalin is still very heavily regarded here, which makes for some interesting conversations with the locals.
  • Visit THE Stalin Museum and Stalin Statue. The museum tour includes his former train and the house he was born in.
  • Visit the Akhaltsihe cave city, a 3000-year-old settlement overlooking Potshovi river.
  • Transfer back to Tbilisi.
  • Free evening or a visit to one of the first Irish pubs in the Soviet Union called The Hangar and / or visit to a local hangout called Dive Bar
  • Stay overnight.

Thursday 23rd April– Tbilisi/Train

  • Up early to drive towards Stepansminda, near the Russian border
  • Stop at Ananuri fortress overlooking Zhinvali reservoir
  • Visit a massive, Soviet “Georgia – Russia Friendship” monument overlooking Jvari pass
  • Visit the beautiful Trinity monastery with views of beautiful Mount Kazbegi (5,035m)
  • Lunch at the house of eccentric “Mother Georgia” local grandma for variety of traditional dishes including hand made (by you) Khinkali
  • Transfer back to Tbilisi before taking the overnight train to Zugdidi in Western Georgia.

Friday 24th April– Sukhum

  • Zugdidi → Abkhazia border crossing. This is a very tense border, where very few tourists cross, and is one of the most heavily militarized places in Europe.
  • Transfer to Sukhum, the capital of the breakaway republic, and until recently war-torn city.
  • Walking tour of Sukhum. During Soviet times Abkhazia was the pearl of Soviet tourism, and whilst many Russians still come here its glory days have passed.
  • Dinner at Naartaa, a traditional Abkhazian restaurant specializing in shashlik and wine
  • Bowling at a local nightclub.
  • Overnight in Private hotel

Saturday 26th April – Sukhum

  • Drive to New Athos.
  • Visit beautiful New Athos monastery built in the 1880s by Tsar Alexander III of Russia
  • Visit to the wonderfully quaint and beautiful Psyrtskha Train Station and a small Soviet hydro electric station hidden in the cliffs.
  • We jump on the New Athos cave metro to visit one of the largest and most spectacular caves in the world!
  • Continue to an amazing lake Ritsa with stops in Iupshara canyon bound by massive limestone cliffs
  • See beautiful Lake Ritsa, home of one of Stalin’s favorite dachas
  • Late lunch in a traditional Abkhaz house restaurants for a choice of fresh lake trout, smoked meet and cheese
  • Return to Sukhum for dinner and a few sundowners overlooking the Black Sea.
  • Overnight in Sukhum.

Sunday 27th April– Sukhum

  • Breakfast at the hotel.
  • Visit the burned out Abkhaz parliament for some urban exploration.
  • Stroll through the old, half abandoned military sanatorium and botanical garden full of Lenin mosaics, old cinemas
  • Hit the beach before a night out in Sukhum, coupled with traditional food and drinks on the promenade.
  • Depart towards the border with a stop at “Istochnik”, a hot spring resort for a chance to get a water massage and a relaxing swim in many pools
  • Stop to see the “flaming” spring
  • Cross into Georgia proper and board an overnight train to Tbilisi.

Monday 28th April 

  • Early morning arrival in Tbilisi.
  • End of tour.

Tour Highlights

  • Visit Persepolis, a UNESCO heritage site where the earliest archaeological and architectural remains date back more than 2500 years.
  • See the Ayatollah Khomeini’s mausoleum and the Revolutionary monuments of Tehran
  • Visit the unrecognized countries of Nagorno-Karabakh and Abkhazia
  • Check out Soviet kitsch on sale in the markets in Armenia and Georgia for a full on Soviet adventure

Inclusions and Exclusions

Tour price inclusion:

  • Nagorno-Karabakh/Abkhazia Visa
  • Accommodation in mentioned hotel/hostels on sharing basis with breakfast
  • All transport
  • Local guides and entrance fees for all mentioned monuments

Tour price exclusion:

  • Visa Code
  • 7 Nights Accommodation in mentioned hotel on TWIN sharing basis B/B
  • A/C comfortable coach with professional driver throughout trip
  • Iranian and Western English Speaking Guides
  • Entrance fees for all mentioned monuments
  • Portage at hotels and airport
  • Tehran/Shiraz domestic flights
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