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please help plan a possible trip to the South Caucasus

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please help plan a possible trip to the South Caucasus

Old Sep 4th, 2018, 01:30 PM
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please help plan a possible trip to the South Caucasus

I'm currently in the early stages of planning a possible trip to the South Caucasian countries of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan for May of next week, and am looking for your thoughts and advice. I know it's a corner of the world in which there is not a lot of information.

To date, I've consulted a couple of guidebooks - the most useful being Lonely Planet - Thursdaysd's blog about her travels to the region, articles in a few travel magazines and newspapers, the official websites of the said countries, and the websites of a few tour operators that offer programs to the three countries.

We are considering 2.5 to 3 weeks on the ground, starting in Yerevan and ending in Baku. Our initial itinerary includes 3-4 nights in each of the three capital cities, along with time in the Kazbegi and Kahketi regions of Georgia.

My questions:
1. It is unlikely that we will be able to allocate 4 nights to each of Yerevan, Tbilisi, and Baku. From the cities, we hope to do lots of walking; visit museums; enjoy parks, gardens, and other open spaces; sample the cuisine; partake in cultural activities such as performances; and take day trips. From your perspective and based upon our interests, would you allocate more time in one of these cities versus another and if so which deserves more time?
2. There are four of us, so we are thinking about travelling by private taxi rather than the shared marshrutkas for the added comfort. Is it possible to hire private taxis across national borders from Armenia into Georgia and from Georgia into Azerbaijan?
3. Between Yerevan and Tbilisi, we are looking at an overnight in either Dilijan or in the Debed Canyon. Is one significantly more interesting than the other in terms of sightseeing. From Debed, I understand it is easier to reach Haghpat and Sanahin Monasteries. We would most likely have already visited Echmiatsin, Geghard, and Khor Virap from Yerevan - would these be different?
4. In Kahketi, the two easiest choices for a base seem to be Telavi and Sighnaghi. Is one preferable to the other if we're interested in visiting a couple of wineries and possibly Davit Gareja?
5. Depending on time, we may travel overland from Kahketi to Baku, with an overnight in Sheki. Is Sheki unique and different to the other places we would visit to merit the longer overland journey or would we be better off flying from Tbilisi to Baku?

Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old Sep 4th, 2018, 09:04 PM
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Good to see someone else planning to travel to that region. I was going to suggest my blog, so am so pleased to see you already found it. I'll have to think about some of your questions, but on the private taxi issue, it definitely seemed that I could have taken a private taxi from Georgia to Armenia. I preferred Georgia to Armenia and Tbilisi to Yerevan, but I believe both have changed a good bit since I was there.

Besides Lonely Planet I would suggest the Bradt guides if you haven't already found them.
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Old Sep 4th, 2018, 10:57 PM
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Hi tripplanner001! I can only offer a little perspective on Armenia. Time constraints and familial obligations left with me just 48 hours to explore Yerevan, and I departed wishing I'd had another day. Yerevan. Regrets.

Hopefully there's something useful in there for you.
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Old Sep 5th, 2018, 03:59 AM
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Thursdaysd, appreciate your feedback. I haven't come across a Bradt edition of the Caucasus but will keep looking.

Fourfortravel, just reread your report on Yerevan. The kompot sounds very refreshing.
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Old Sep 5th, 2018, 04:29 AM
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Bradt has a guide to Armenia (new one due in December) and Georgia (latest published in June), but none for Azerbaijan. Odyssey also has a guide to Georgia, although not to the other two.
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Old Sep 5th, 2018, 03:51 PM
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Thanks again Thursdaysd. I'll check them out. Hope you're doing well.
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Old Sep 5th, 2018, 07:33 PM
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Thanks. I've had a bad year or so, but the expensive magic pills I'm now taking are working well enough I'm doing a test trip to the UK in a couple of weeks.
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Old Sep 6th, 2018, 02:52 AM
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Sorry for a difficult year,Thursdayd. Good luck on your trip; fingers crossed.
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