We just completed 5 days touring Armenia with Arara Tours. It was absolutely the best way to visit the highlights scattered around this beautiful country. Prior to Armenia, we had also used Arara’s services in Georgia which is different but just as stunning. Both in Armenia and Georgia the organization was phenomenal. The itinerary was always varied, with a mix of natural, historic, and culinary stops. A few of the highlights included the mountains on the Georgia/Russia border (the scenery at Gergeti Trinity Church is incredible), Noravank and Geghard monasteries in Armenia, and some of the museums in Yerevan. A special mention has to be made to Arthur who is the best tour guide we have ever had. His breadth of knowledge is incredible and went way past recounting Armenian history. He educated us on the whole region and its complex history. His passion is infectious as is his warmth in dealing with the group.
I would recommend Arara for anyone visiting Georgia and Armenia. Arthur is also a hiker and does hiking tours. With all our Armenia’s stunning mountain geography it is something that I would come back for!
Hello dear Ms. Sati,
Thank you for your e-mail! Yes, my wife and I are back in Texas now for almost a week, after we had spent a couple of days in Munich since returning from Tblisi on May 22. In just one sentence: The tour with ARARA through Armenia and Georgia, which you have put together for us, was 100 % success, pleasure and enjoyment!!! My wife and I thank you so much for all your suggestions, planning, and organizing!!
Each one of our three drivers and guides we had (Mr, Avet, Mr. Gevorg, and Mr. Tazo) was a friendly and sympathetic person, always knowledgeable, helpful and flexible, and a reliable and safe driver. We enjoyed each one of them!
Each one of the cars was comfortable, air conditioned, and running smoothly; we had no car or traffic trouble. We had good luck with the weather, and the spring season was simply delightful everywhere.
The hotels were friendly and comfortable, and we cherished the local food and drinks.
And I had plenty of opportunity to photograph historical monuments and churches, and to soak up unforgettable scenery.
Armenia part of Armenia & Georgia Hiking Tour.
I am separating the two countries because we had different guides/ drivers
The guide Hasmik was very enthusiastic and accommodating in Yerevan where we had already seen the places included in the day trip. No assistance with lunch though. Not a problem for us.
The ecstatic comments on the culture and nature of Armenia wore a little thin at the end of the five days when the number of monasteries and churches started to overwhelm us.
On day 4 she suggested a substitute walk which we believed was a swap with a visit to yet another monastery . The walk was enjoyable but it turned out it was a swap for day five’s walk which would see us missing out on the Lastiver Caves. In the end we did both day 4 and day 5 program on day 5., Because of the extra driving we were asked to pay 15000 Drahms(31$) . No idea if it was appropriate but we agreed to it.
We did tend to start out a little late in the mornings. 10 a.m. or later, but maybe that is usual in Armenia. It did result in a couple of very late finishes and very little food left at the guesthouse on day 2. The host was very helpful though and did open the nice pool for us early next morning.
The last day was also very late because we packed more in than originally planned However the hostess at the guesthouse was to be commended for the meal she unexpectantly prepared for us.
Day 4 guesthouse was pleasant with a lovely verandah and garden. However the room would have been fine for one person, but really too small for two. We could barely open our suit cases.
All together the accommodations were fine given we were out in the country.
The tour was good but a little too many churches and monasteries. Maybe the tour name should be changed to: Armenia & Georgia, Churches, Monasteries and aHiking Tour.
The guide was very knowledgeable but could be clearer in the explanation of options.
In summary the Armenian part was good and the Georgian part great. Thank you for organising it. I am happy to recommend the tour
Georgian part of Armenia and Georgia Hiking trip.
The second part of this trip was fabulous. Although Sandro from "My Geo" did both the driving and guiding he carried out both jobs very well, anticipating and fulfilling any wish we might have. A very professional and well informed guide, whom I cannot recommend enough.
Breakfast at the Bonjormi Old Hotel was without much choice, but adequate.
Would love to return to Georgia
Dear Sati, How are you? I hope you are all well.
I would like to thank you for the educative and interesting tour through your beutifful country Armenia. We have found amaizing landscapes, ancient history, modern city and warm and kind people. We want especialy to note hotel Apricot for very warm and homey treatment. They did above and beyond to make our stay very pleasant.
And last but not least - As you said in the office he is the best.
Please send a special thanks and very warm wishes to our faithful guide Avet.
He was always attentive to our needs and wishes, full of knowledgr and facts which he was glad to share with us and a lot of good mood and humor to make our long driv interesting and joyfull.
Thank you again and all the best
Batia and Ruth
I would like to to thank Arara tour for this amazing hiking trip. I couldn’t imagine that Armenia is so beautiful. You made us to feel the spirit of Armenia, I have traveled almost whole Europe but the beauty of Armenia is different, its architecture, hidden churches in forests are just amazing, I can’t really explain what just had happened to me when I entered Tatev Monastery, I was cracked. The places we visited are unimaginably beautiful, I still remember Likani River Gorge, the architecture of Sighnaghi and Kakheti cities. Baku is also a very beautiful city. Hotel service, guides, drivers, food, people everything was just perfect. I will defiantly recommend Arara Tour to all of my friends. You made me to feel special by your service.
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!