Diego, Maria and Emma, Bruno
Barev Rima jan,
Thank you for this awesome trip we reached home safely, I remember only this two words in Armenian. We are satisfied with everything; hotels you picked for us were very good. The drivers and guides were excellent they took a great care of us, knew what they were doing, and the most important: they know their history. We enjoyed being in Khakheti, drinking lots of wine, eating Georgian khinkali and khachapuri. Many thanks to ARARA and the team which worked so hard, everything worked out great, we will defiantly come back next year.
Roberto and Marcia
We are finally home and I would like to state that we really enjoyed our trip, Armenia is much more beautiful than I expected. It’s nature, architecture, churches are amazing, our guide has been telling us that Armenia is a museum in the open air and for the first 2 days I could not really understand what he wanted to say until we reached to Tatev Monastery. Armenian cuisine is very delicious, their Xash, Spas are something that you need to try, I even took some of Lavash with me back to Brazile. Hotels in Armenia and Georgia have been very comfortable not like in Azerbaijan which hotel service I did not really like. I am in love with Tbilisi, the hotel called Old City & New City was gorgeous with full of old Georgian architecture. We had a free day in Yerevan and got lost there but people are so polite and ready to help you, that a man called Armen take us to our hotel by his car. Guides in 3 countries were well organized and knew their job thanks to Anahit and Tazo for their amazing tours. Thanks to ARARA tour agency for their amazing work, for being tolerant and very organized.
Hi Tatev! I just wanted to let you know that I had an amazing time in Armenia. Thank you for providing me with the best guide that I’ve ever had! Gevorg made my experience of Armenia something very special. I appreciated the way he tailored the tour to my interests and he really looked after me. He is so much fun as well. Thanks again, Tatev! And please send my best wishes and thanks once again to Gevorg.
Lenie de Boer
Dear Sati, Due to circumstances Lars is not in the office yet. I’ve taken a closer
look at the reviews and I made a small selection. I will let Lars know about the feedback as well so you can both have a
look at it for next year
* Special country with lot’s of great and new species.
* Highlights were; jeep expeditions, Amrash fishing ponds.
* Lunch with a view of a Bearded Vulture nest
* Great guides
* Comfortable and spacious bus
* Hotels closer to national parks or nature reserves, so you can take
a morning walk or pre-breakfast excursion.
* The hotel at the lake was the least comfortable.
* The driver was driving fast, also in the villages.
* Local guide was a little bit shy.
* Go south for the See see Partridge
Also some feedback from our guide: All restaurants were good! Great food was served.
Program: An extra jeep excursion to see the red tailed wheatear and perhaps
add a morning excursion to see the Syrian Brown bear.
Visited areas: A hotel is built in the area we’ve visited to see the
Bimaculated Lark, which is a shame. Perhaps, it’s good to look for another
Guide/driver: Good driver, with a relaxing way of driving. Guide was good,
but sometimes difficult to understand. His English was not that good. Our
guide knew a few nice spots, where he had seen a lot before. However, the
initiative to stop at those places was low. Our guide knew of a Bubo Bubo
location, luckily they made a stop there.
Hotels: He recommends to pick another hotel instead of Nov Land, as their
is no atmosphere and the area around the hotel was not safe due to working
Dear Lucine, we reached home safely.
The group was very happy this time, as usual;
Thank to you and your Agency’s effort, everything was well made.
Hope can see you soon!
Hi Sati! Thank you very much indeed for organising such a great holiday, which Fiona and I enjoyed immensely. Please find below our feedback, as requested, and I hope you don’t mind the what I hope are constructive suggestions I have included. Please feel free to quote any bits you like on your website. I should be pleased to think that others will have as enjoyable a time as we did.
This was an extremely enjoyable, fascinating and instructive tour, largely well organised and excellent value for money. We recommend it to anyone interested in this fascinating area. However, there are a few simple changes that could make it even better – less rushed and more relaxing – and an even more appealing holiday.
All the hotels were more than satisfactory, comfortable and well appointed. We particularly enjoyed Cascade in Yerevan for the helpfulness of the staff and the view of Mt Ararat from our room. We also liked the spectacular Brigitte in Sighnaghi and the large swimming pool at the hotel in Sheki, although we had disappointingly little time to enjoy them (more later). The Nobel hotel in Baku was the best all round as a hotel. The breakfasts provided by all the hotels were good, although those at the Cascade were perhaps the least generous.
COUNTRIES AND SIGHTS
We felt we obtained a pretty good tourist view of all three countries. Lots of magnificent mountains, spectacular scenery, especially after the cable-car rides, and beautiful, secluded monasteries. We were especially impressed by the architecture in Baku; the museum designed by Zaha Hadid was amazing.
Although Yerevan is possibly the least intrinsically interesting city we visited from the point of view of the tourist sights, I think we enjoyed it the most. The atmosphere is fun and lively and the people helpful and welcoming. The people of Tbilisi appear more reserved and there seemed to be a more sombre atmosphere. Baku may be the most interesting to visit of the three capitals but we left with the impression that Azerbaijan is a highly regulated country that reminded us a bit of other authoritarian states we have visited.
Our guide in Armenia, Lucine, was particularly good. We felt her knowledge was excellent and she imparted it freely and well in understandable English. She was also the most sensitive to the needs of the group. I think she was the most experienced of the three. Alex, who conducted us around Georgia, was also helpful and informative with a good knowledge level, particularly about folk history. He was, however, a bit inexperienced and found it more difficult to take control of the group, which by this point had built stronger internal relationships. This was even more the case for Amin in Azerbaijan, whose language skill, country knowledge and leadership qualities seemed more limited. In view of the politics of the country involved, I did wonder whether he had more than a tourist guide role.
All the buses used were comfortable and the drivers helpful and committed. (The buses may have been rather more cramped if they had been more than two-thirds full.)
We were fortunate to join a very pleasant group of people, with whom (with one possible exception) we got on well throughout, perhaps making some long-term friends in the process. However a very brief, minor argument I had with a member of another Arara tour paralleling us made us realise how critical it is for such a small group in the confines of a small bus to get on together.
We suspect that the majority of people taking this tour will be older and relatively well-off. It is therefore important that their requirements are taken into account. The programme was in fact too rushed and intensive. A holiday should be more relaxed and we recommend that the following minor changes are made to the
1. The itinerary should be more strictly maintained. Having spent more time than allocated on some activities, we missed one or two scheduled stops and had insufficient time in some of the places we did visit, even in Armenia.
2. The schedule should be spaced out more consistently. We started with what were essentially two half-days in Yerevan, only to have the itinerary squeezed later.
3. The tour should be extended by a day or so to make it a full two weeks (with allowance for flights to and from the Caucasus), which is more in line with standard holiday periods, at least in the UK. This will clearly impact the cost but the price is currently quite low for what you get and I believe a higher price would be acceptable, provided it is kept below €2,000.
4. Consideration should be given to staying at more hotels. Although staying in one base for a few days has advantages, these are outweighed by the pain of a three-hour drive home in the evening, arriving too late for a leisurely dinner.
5. A lot of time was wasted over lunches (up to two hours at a time). I am aware that Fiona and I like light lunches and a proper evening meal; at least one of our group preferred to have a good lunch and skip dinner. Nevertheless, consideration should be given to asking the hotels to provide packed lunches for the group and picnic stops organised. I should have thought that the cost of such lunches could be built into Arara’s overall price without impacting too heavily on it.
6. People of our age – and I’m sure this view was shared by other members of the group – prefer an orderly day. We believe that morning hotel pick-ups should be 9-9:30am, lunch 12:30-1:30pm and arrival at the night’s accommodation about 6pm, allowing for a relaxing free evening. Lunching at 4pm and arriving at the hotel at 9:30pm is not really acceptable, not least because it results in frayed tempers all round!
What a trip you had organised for me! It was just amazing!! I haven’t had a chance to write anything for the pages you mentioned but I shall eventually. I would like to share privately that Armenia was one of the best tours I have ever taken!
The sites I saw and experienced were truly fascinating and my guide, while he cursed the roads a lot, was exceptional with his knowledge and keen desire to show me as much as he could - even sites that were not included in the itinerary but he knew of personally. We even explored sites that he had heard about but not yet explored personally. Unfortunately, the site was up a very, very steep mountain gorge and his estimate of just a few metres was not quite accurate. For me it was an exhausting 10-kilometre climb (Well I exaggerate, but it felt like it to me :-) ) It was probably only a kilometre climb.
He even helped me to purchase some local tomato seeds at a market which I have now planted in my garden and am hoping they grow well here in Australia.
He wasn’t keen though at hosting me back to Armenia to see the Pagan festival in August conducted by a local Pagan and Arts teacher where people dance naked around a fire near the monolith site. He laughed at the idea. :-)
My time in Armenia has left me with many vivid and wonderful memories. It was the perfect tour for me the only disappointment was not seeing the petroglyphs but I understand the reason this was cancelled. I shall just have to come back during Summer to see them.
Georgia was nice but I found too many sites had been reconstructed and served as marriage venues and rebuilt more for this purpose than for a historical one. There was nothing in Georgia that fascinated me as much as the sites I explored in Armenia. I even cancelled many of the places we were to visit because they were just too touristy for my liking and interests. The guide was excellent though and I highly recommend her for all that she did for me.
Armenia - Beautiful scenery, and wonderful, mystical and even mysterious sites, with an excellent guide, made a tour I shall always remember.
Again, thank you and all involved in making my tour such a memorable one!
All aspects of the trip were great. I enjoyed having Lusine as my guide for Armenia as I felt she was well informed and offered great insight to old and modern Armenia. The tour guide for Georgia was well informed as well and I felt we had a good thorough experience in seeing the vast areas of Georgia. Azerbaijan was eventful in that the tour guide did show us the difference between east and west Azerbaijan. I felt socially he was inappropriate at times. I'm not sure if he had bad intentions or it was a case of a culture clash. Overall I would recommend this tour to others.
Dear Tatev, yes, we enjoyed our trip very much and are full of interesting, nice and friendly impressions and encounters, in particular your invitation to your office and your friendly greeting. It was important for me, to get to know you personally after all the writing, planing, your advices and organisation, findig a good guide in person of Ani Avunts and Robert, the driver. We all enjoyed your and their accompaniment every day during our trip and while visiting all the interesting places and are very grateful for all the support. Ani allways was informed or tryed to find out what should interest us too during our dayly trips. We all together had a lot of laughing during all the days and a warm community. Robert impressed me with his professional driving; driving around the holes in the road, driving fast where possible, driving carefully where it was necessary and his never ending service during our getting in and out of the car. Hope, it's possible to come to Armenia again. In this case i wouldn't hesitate, to contact you again. It would be a pleasure for me to organise such a trip with your support again. Hopefully we will have Ani and Robert again too
All well organized, excellent and knowledgeable guides. Only bad thing was Tbilisi hotel location, near football stadium. Hotel itself was fine but location is poor, Few restaurants and a long way from old Tiblisi. You should not put tourists in this location. Hotel Yerevan excellent hotel and location. And thank you for organizing everything I appreciated your excellent communications.
Sorry so late in responding, but when on vacation I don’t access my email from my phone, so just saw this. I got home late last evening. The trip was fantastic and one I’ll remember forever. Both guides were incredible and I’m now Facebook friends with both Arthur and Tazo. I would be happy to provide a review or feedback if you wish on the trip. I cannot say enough nice things about Arara and the guides and of course both countries, which were phenomenal and hopefully more people from the USA will also discover the wonders of Armenia and Georgia. I think the time you suggested and booked in both countries was about right percentage wise with more to Georgia. I of course loved the mountains particularly in Georgia with the Caucuses the most impressive. But seeing Mt. Ararat was a thrill and I could not believe how beautiful Armenia was as well. I think the time of year was perfect, although around Mestia it was a bit snowy and one suggested drive in the itinerary was not available due to snow, but Tazo had another great alternative. I think 15 days was the bare minimum and of course I didn’t see close to everything, but I think I now have a good perspective of both countries. I think you did a great job of balancing, cultural, religious, city and landscape scenery so I had a good mix of all that. I took 1,330 pictures, which I will begin editing and hopefully will complete in the next 3 weeks and have about 400-500 uploaded to my SmugMug photo web site – URL below my signature line below.
I hope to be able to come back at some point and spend a little more time and relax a bit. I was really on the go, which was by plan. I did one incredible thing in Yerevan I wanted to mention, that was not planned at all nor could it have been. On the plane from Paris to Yerevan, I sat next to the Director of the Opera – Constantin Orbfilian. You may know of him. He is obviously well know in Armenia at high levels of the political world in Armenia, and throughout the Opera world including in the USA – he’s a dual citizen. He invited me to the April 25 showing of the opera Annoush and to sit in the Directors box with him. Also the US Ambassador Chief of Public Affairs was there as well as the Armenian Cultural Minister (may not have his title correct), so we all sat together, enjoyed wine and cheese in Constantin’s office during intermissions and talked about many cultural topics impacting Armenia and I was fascinated. A great evening. BTW, the opera was incredible, and if you haven’t seen it, please do at the next showing if there is one.
Better go now, since I’m busy getting caught up after being gone so long. Feel free to drop me a line anytime if you have any questions or want any details about my perspective of the trip or a review.
Thanks again for everything, and I hope we will be in touch again for another trip in the future.
All the best,
Gary's travels - https://garygoodnow.smugmug.com
Thank you for the great experience in Armenia, and the help in arranging tours! Rima, the tour coordinator was extremely responsive, and flexible regarding all the requests. The only misunderstanding was regarding the bus tours - I thought they would be small group tours, but they turned out to be big groups. But everything was very well organized, both on Arara's side and on the partner tour operator's side.
As for the individual tours: the driver (Raffi) and the guide (Eva) were just amazing, most reliable, kind and attentive. Those days were just perfect!
The hotel was OK, perfectly clean, with very polite and nice hotel staff, but the rooms are not soundproof, so it is difficult to sleep as you hear almost everything from the neighboring rooms and corridors. But the location was perfect!
Overall - very good experience, thanks a lot!