Meet Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan
Off the beaten track travel doesn’t have to involve backpacking to the far reaches of the planet, and it can simply be going somewhere a little different, somewhere not so developed in terms of regular tourism. A region which is packed with things to see and do, yet not quite on the mainstream tourism radar, is the Caucasus.
The Caucasus region lies between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and is hugely mountainous and scenic. Sitting between Europe and Asia, this is a perfect East meets West kind of deal, although in terms of culture it is much more Asian and Russian than anything else.
Getting into this region is where the difficulty lies, as due to former troubles, some land crossing borders are still closed. Basically, if you want to go then you need to fly or look at what borders and ferry options are open to you at the time – this is where good research and preparation comes in handy. At the current time, Georgia’s borders with Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan are currently open, so this could be an option.
So, let’s meet three of the countries you should be visiting in this beautiful area of the world.
If you’re wanting a heady mix of ancient and new, with amazing, remote landscapes thrown in, then Armenia is for you. The capital, Yerevan, is bustling and vibrant, and offers some great places to try local cuisine. The natural scenery lends itself to several World Heritage Sites, and Khor Virap is simply stunning – a huge monastery which sits on a huge rock, right at the foot of the imposing Mount Ararat. Echmiadzin is also packed with history, architecture, a beautiful cathedral, and many churches.
This is the richest state within the region, thanks to oil production. Baku is the largest city in the Caucasus region, and you will find old palaces here, as well as in Sheki. On top of the city life in Azerbaijan, this is a place you can appreciate space, because there is plenty of it, and a lot of it is barren. Zoroastrian fire temples, stunning hiking trails in the north and south, with huge mountains to explore – Azerbaijan is not at all what you might have thought it to be. Be sure to check out the Petroglyphs at Qobustan too.
Probably the most touristic out of the three choices in the Caucasus, Georgia has two beautiful ski resorts within it – Bakuriani and Gudauri, as well as Black Sea beach resorts, including Batumi and Ureki. Tbilisi is the country’s vibrant capital, and the rest of the country is natural in abundance, with diverse landscapes. Be sure to visit Davit Gareja Monastery, which is a beautiful old cave monastery in the desert.
The Caucasus is a region which is filled with nature, culture, history, and traditions, and these three countries encompass everything you need to see.
Photo Credit: Ronan Shenhav