As some of you may know, many of our photo tours have been centered on tribal festivals, celebrations and remote destinations. Although there will be plenty of opportunities to meet and photograph the very hospitable local people, our main focus on this photo tour will be the sweeping landscapes and multitude of monasteries, churches and temples that are perched on dramatic cliffs and mountains, or nestled in beautiful scenic valleys.
Travel companies dub many destinations in the world “where east meets west” but the Caucasus truly IS where east meets west. Etched between Turkey and Russia, it stands at the crossroads of the two continents and thus provides a compelling blend of European and Asian cultures and heritage, packed full of stunning, natural landscapes that can rival that of neighboring Central Asia’s “Stans”.
The monasteries, churches and cathedrals of Georgia and Armenia are amongst the oldest in the world. Many are built in stunning locations, surrounded by gardens and forests, perched on top of dramatic gorges or silhouetted before snowcapped mountains. The range of scenery is immense, from Mount Ararat towering majestically over the skyline of Yerevan, to the lush valleys of ancient vineyards across the lowlands of Georgia. Here, wine has been produced for almost 10,000 years and there is the opportunity to visit one of its most famous wine cellars.
We start our photo tour in Armenia’s capital city Yerevan. For the duration for the photo tour we visit monasteries, cathedrals, temples driving through dramatic valleys and over mountain ranges. Some Armenian highlights include: Kutaisi, Georgia’s third largest city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vardzia, Khertvisi fortress, Akhaltsikhe, Rabati castle, Sapara monastery, Borjomi, Bagrati monastery, Sataplia, Gelati monastery, Svetitskhoveli, David Gareja and Kakheti. We also visit the ancient capital of Mtskheta, home to a vast 11th century cathedral as well as the stunning 6th century Jvari church, perched on a hill overlooking the town and valley. The 14th century Ananuri fortress, overlooks the Aragvi river and is back dropped by the Great Caucasus Mountain Range. Religious sites we visit include Khor Virap with its breathtaking view to Mount Ararat, Geghard known for its amazing rock architecture, Tatev, which is a wonderful example of medieval architecture, Haghpat and Sanahin included into UNESCO world heritage list, Echmiadzin cathedral – the religious center of all Armenians. Armenia amazes not only by its architecture masterpieces but also by the beauty of its unique nature. The azure Lake Sevan, is one of the highest fresh water lakes in the world and the largest in the Caucasus.
Georgia also offers a large variety of landscapes. As a mountainous country, it’s got the pristine, dramatic and rugged slopes of The Great Caucasus Mountain Range. The drives through the winding valleys and steep slopes are stunning. Georgia also has a bounty of interesting architecture and Orthodox churches and amazing food and wineries for those who like to indulge. Georgian food is another main draw of the country, with very rich flavors and lots of variety to choose from. Traditional staples such as khachapuri (baked bread with cheese and egg on top) and khinkali (meat dumpling) are cheap and easy to get everywhere.
Lunches and dinners will be at local or hotel restaurants depending on the location.
This photo tour will appeal to all enthusiastic photographers no matter what the skill level. As always I will be coaching everyone and suggesting camera settings and various photo techniques.
There are too many photogenic locations to list completely, this photo tour promises to be memorable.