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This gourmet discovery tour focuses on flavorful traditional and modern Armenian recipes and is designed for food lovers and cooking adventure enthusiasts. You will travel to Southern and Northern Armenia where your hands-on cooking classes will combine regional gastronomic specialties with excursions to local sites of interest. You will savor Armenia's food and wine and make traditional dishes with locals in an exclusive group with accommodation in tourist hotels, nature park lodge, and a farmhouse.
Armenia culinary adventure starts in Yerevan and in the morning we visit Yerevan History Museum housed by City Hall. This is an excellent introduction to the history of Yerevan, reputedly one of the oldest cities in the world to have been continuously inhabited.
A walking tour of Yerevan center to explore layers of its history - medieval shrines hidden behind imposing Soviet-style faades, narrow streets of the old center with sunlight playing on its pink walls, Railway Station with an impressive monument of David of Sasun, national hero, Republic Square, Cascade and Mother Armenia, Opera House and Northern Avenue.
Time to learn about Armenian food during a visit to Gum Market, wander among the stalls piled with fresh, dried and marinated fruits and vegetables, say hello to the spices and herbs you will use during the days to come.
No visit to Yerevan will be complete without the Brandy Factory. Wander in the cellars and among the oak barrels, see every step of the process from fresh grapes to the delicious, internationally acclaimed beverage; the visit concludes with brandy tasting.
Meal plan: Breakfast
We leave the frantic pace of Yerevan and drive east to the magnificent Temple of the Sun in Garni and the legendary Monastery of Spear in Geghard. Explore the mosaic ancient baths and ruins of the royal palace, immerse yourself in the atmosphere of this mythical place and examine remarkable cross stones carved into sheer rock.
We head to Khosrov Nature Park, one of Armenias best kept secrets and a true wilderness with a rich variety of plant and animal life. This is a prime hiking area where we enjoy a relaxing afternoon on foot actively experiencing nature and feasting our eyes on abundant birdlife in beautiful undisturbed forests.
At the Park Lodge we are greeted by our host, Sergei and have our first cooking class starting with the basics - lavash, Armenian flat bread and tonri khorovats, Armenian traditional barbeque in wood burning oven in the ground. Learn about the techniques used in lavash making, roll up your sleeves and proceed to your first task of making your own bread; then marinate meat for the barbeque.
Time for leisurely nature walks (guided by park team) before starting the barbeque-making: meat, fresh tomatoes, shiny eggplants and peppers take turns to become crusty, mouth-watering components of the finest barbeque you will ever have. Enjoy the dinner in the balmy and relaxed evening atmosphere of the reserve.
Meal plan: Breakfast and dinner
We start our culinary adventures in Southern Armenia with the visit to the royal prison of Khor Virap at the border with Turkey. Proceed to explore Noravank Monastery in majestic Gorge of Bamboos.
We are in the agricultural heart of Armenia and do not miss the chance to sample some of the fantastic produce during a private wine touring in maran cellars of a small winery in Aghavnadzor along with an organic lunch with fresh honey, butter, cheese and matsun yogurt secrets behind Armenian longevity.
Continue to meet Shirak, the owner of our hotel, where we start our hands-on cooking session focusing on traditional Southern Armenian cuisine characterized by extensive use of wild herbs and nuts in savory dishes. Begin preparing the evening meal, karshim, vegetarian soup made up form lentil and wild herbs along with some freshly prepared salads where the prominent ingredient is goat cheese.
Dinner in the garden of the hotel will consist of the dishes you have prepared accompanied by excellent local wine.
Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
We set off for the Pearl of Armenia, Lake Sevan through rugged Selim Pass.
Climbing steep paths, enjoying the wild Caucasian landscapes and ever-changing views of unspoilt nature and Lake Sevan below, reach the amazingly intact Selim Caravanserai, an important trading post on historic Silk Road. Check-in at your chalet-style hotel at the beach perfect for rest and relaxation. With water-skiing, swimming and boat trips on offer, you may find it hard to just lie on these paradise beaches.
Historical and architectural gems are never far away - the ancient Sevanavank monastery on the peninsula, the Stone Garden with unique carved cross-stones and much more.
Meal plan: Breakfast
In the morning, you will be expected at a cheese farm in the midst of beautiful rolling hills of Tavush. You will tour the farm and see the making of Armenian string cheese typical to the region; thereafter tasting of cheeses at various stages of maturation will be offered.
A short drive to Odzun village well away from regular tourist trails. Welcome drinks on the terrace of the farmhouse and half day dedicated to Armenian cooking home-style. Today we prepare tolma, stuffed vegetable dish, the most famous of traditional Armenian food. In addition to grape leaves (winter tolma), we also stuff cabbage leaves, eggplants, tomatoes and peppers (summer tolma). Armine, the village headmans wife, demonstrates techniques passed down through generations.
Later traditional feast keff at the open terrace of the farm with breathtaking views. The head of the family will be your tamada (toastmaster) governing the event with age-old rules of Caucasian hospitality.
Meal plan: Breakfast and dinner
Welcome to Gyumri, a vivid town with a distinct urban fabric and friendly locals, famous for their indelible sense of humor. Walk at Kumayri historic district and feel the atmosphere of the 19th century Gyumri, the outpost of the Russian Empire in the Southern Caucasus.
Visit the ethnography museum with its remarkable collection and continue to Marmashen Monastery, the impressive monastic complex on a picturesque shelf above Akhurian River.
Late afternoon we drive to the house of Arthush, our host today, to enjoy our diner in a warm family circle. Are you ready for another culinary experience? Trout in clay pot, Gyumri style, is on the menu today. Help your host marinade the fish and gradually uncover the secrets of the preparation of this fascinating dish. Even in the oven, it smells fantastic!
Enjoy your dinner with white wine, prepare to laugh a lot as Artush shares anecdotes about his town and its inhabitants, favorite characters of Armenian jokes.
Meal plan: Breakfast and dinner
Today we have a free day in Yerevan, visit to Sunday Vernisage market, the largest souvenir market in the Caucasus is a recommended option. Back to hotel to unwind.
Your gala cooking class with a focus on contemporary Armenian cuisine begins at 17.00 following by a farewell dinner at trendy Ararat Hall Restaurant. Your guide will be Sedrak Mamulyan, a well-known chef from Armenian Cuisine Revival Association. He has won a number of awards, wrote cookery books and featured on television programs, all of which has added to his fame and that of the restaurant. Dinner with matching wines.
Meal plan: Breakfast and dinner
We at AdvenTour Travel have gone a long way, over 10 years now. Gone with travelers to virtually all secret corners and seen virtually all marvelous bits of Armenia and Georgia now. A lot of exploration and adventure outstripped. Yet new things each time, new things with each traveler; nothing repeating, people are different, so are we with each and every one of them.
Since ten years back, we've seen and hosted people enjoying encounters with and experience of what they looked for in their holiday journeys. Each person is packed with her own catalog of badly-want-to-see/to-do. The trick is that they hardly ever see or do what they initially planned. That's the beauty of adventure travel planned for but not planned, anticipated but not expected.
The word adventure is not a joke we really mean it. Taking an adventure journey is like graduating from the college/university you never know what's the job you will take up eventually, what you know for sure is that you will take up something decent, and it just takes your best effort to take up the best job possible. Doesn't it go like that?
Now, we at AdvenTour decided to get things rougher but nicer and simpler at the same time. We've become Adventourer now. We are now doing some redesign (and will complete it before new year) of our house products hallmarked #adventourer with the view to focus solely on the core experiential content of an activity, adventure and exploratory holiday. So as you see we've gone into new times times to reverb it up. Join us in our experience of adventuring!
Principal focus on core adventure travel experience: be it hiking, trekking, cycling, biking, jeep, multi, cultural, food, skiing, etc. (i.e. leaving the provisions aside, while they are still handled in the most supreme manner as ever before)
More, deeper and broader experience by the given type of activity and region: e.g. if it is trekking we offer really the best of trekking experience on the given spot or region covered
The state of real adventurer or as we call it adventourer experience (i.e. adventurer in touring settings): you do not plan more detail than you are allowed to, the real details materialize when you are on the ground and feel as a real adventurer. This cannot be talked out, but felt only when you've dared to take it up.
AdvenTour is the pioneer of experiential travel in the Caucasus, Iran, Central Asia, as well as Altai and Baikal, a region we now call "Caucaseastan". We create original travel experiences that provide real-life interaction with our colorful region and its people. We have carefully chosen and now present to your attention activity and adventure tours designed by locals in each of the countries we work in.
They feature the best of experience in a given destination in your preferred mode of activity be it cycling, walking, 4x4, skiing or cultural exploration. Moreover, these are tour configurations that while suiting your desires, interests and fitness level, are rich in core experiential content and offer the right chain of activities. We know that happenings are important in space and in time alike.
We now proudly present our new line of products hallmarked Adventourer. These are the tours that traditionally used to be high profile not affordable for "normal and sane" adventure travelers. However, we have decided to make these exceptional travel experience available, accessible and affordable for our tourists.
These trips feature absolutely high density and intensity of unique, highly refreshing and at the same time challenging adventure activities intermingled with amazing explorations of culture, nature and live interaction with both. These trips are highly recommended to travelers who seek experience that goes beyond the traditional boundaries of adventure travel and gets lost, though safely, into real hardships and challenges and the benefits and privilege of being an adventurer.
The flavor and the privilege of traveling as an Adventourer resides in your chance to immerse fully into how real life flows in the places, spots and neighborhoods you visit. We believe that no journey is true if you have not lived the life that flourishes differently for at least a couple of days during your trip. But for that you need to face and embrace contingencies and not be too sorry for the initial plan. That's the secret behind the most rewarding, let alone the most refreshing trips.
This is the very idea we have put as a foundation of the travel experiences that we craft. No more revelations here, go to our trips, each of which (especially those marked #Adventourer) entails individual interpretations and realizations of how, when, where and in what ways the Adventourer is expected to face the challenges of the road, come across all kinds of unforeseen but scripted, unexpected but anticipated weird experiences, be part of something amazing, those luscious moments that we know you'll remember.
We believe in small group travel. Our cultural tours average just 7 travelers per trip and our adventure trips have no more than 5 participants. Travelling in a small group makes it feel more like travelling with friends than on an organized tour.
And this is light on the environment as well, we do not use big buses, we work with local guides, we stay in beautiful spots with only a handful of cabins, we eat food produced where we are, in a small village at the foot of the mountains, the horsemen on our trekking trip come from that same village.
This means that you get to experience more of the local culture too. One more thing, because of the small group sizes we are almost always able to guarantee a departure so even if you see a departure that is noted as "available", be sure to contact us as it may well happen that another Adventourer booked into the same date just 5 minutes before you.
Where you stay is part of the experience and something we put a lot of thought into. Whether it's a centrally-located city hotel or a home-stay in a remote village, staying close to a region's people and culture is key. Our choice of accommodation is based on character as well as facilities, great cuisine and friendliness.
It is a well-known fact that a holiday is certainly no time to go on a diet. AdvenTour trips are no exception, we have some meals included, while at other times you are free to choose when, where and with whom you would like to eat. The food is always locally prepared, fresh and diverse.
It may be different from what you are used to at home and sometimes it may just feel a little strange but that is precisely why we travel, to see and experience things differently. So, courage! Try that pilaff using your hands just like your hosts, their smiling faces will be a great encouragement and this may turn out to be one of the funniest moments to remember!
We have developed several trip styles from cultural tours that offer destinations and cultures up close with comfort levels of three to four star hotels, travel in air-conditioned cars and company of a great cultural guide.
You may choose activity tours, where in addition to the core activity you have a chance to experience more authentic accommodation like home-stay or sleeping in a national park lodge on a multi-share basis.
Or you may be using local transport ranging from Russian military jeeps to mountain bus in Pamir and your leader facilitating lots of opportunities to interact with locals. This may mean for example buying your food for the day in a small village bazaar or sharing a cup of tea with friendly nomads in a yurt.
We also have rough adventures; travelling to remote locations where part of the experience is meeting and overcoming the challenges that may be as diverse as travel itself, from bureaucratic hurdles when crossing borders to roads flooding and 4x4 vehicles breaking down to local support team arriving late or acting unreliably (in our eyes).
These are all external events that help in the becoming of a team. Like all teams you have a leader (or two depending on the type of trip) who's responsible for everything and everyone. But it is at this moment that you, the team member is to step in.
Team members help out with aspect of the trip from fetching water, preparing and cooking food and carrying some group kit and equipment, if necessary and/or appropriate. This is how the aim of the team, the success of the trip is realized.
One of the great things about being an Adventourer is that it's like travelling independently. We have put robust structures and solid plans in place so the tour runs as smooth as possible but that's our side of the story. For you, it's totally flexible, you're free to do as you choose, pursue your own interests one day and take part in planned activities or sightseeing the next.
Our leaders have years of experience and understand the need for balance between being with others and on your own. It's nice to know someone is taking care of your luggage, talking to the border authorities, etc. so it's independent travel, but without the drawbacks. Over the years we have converted many a solo traveler because of this flexibility, so the formula seems to work.
AdvenTour trips are designed to be diverse but one thing they have in common is the real life that you get a chance to explore while on your holiday. We really know the best of what there is to see and do in our countries and you won't waste any of your precious time getting from one tourist "must-see" to the other.
Exploring the spirit of the place, getting in touch with the people that live there, not just at a local market where they try to sell you a couple of clay items, but really connecting to them by doing something useful for the community.
Helping prepare the food with your hosts or giving a hand in a local church construction will get you close to the place, give you a chance to connect to its genius loci, its spirit of the place. If you always were for this style of travel, one that is contrary to "consuming" travel, you are ready to be an Adventourer.
Our team is our greatest asset and we are sure you will agree when you meet them. Whether it's the team at our office with whom you communicate sometimes for months preparing for your epic trip, or the guides you meet on the ground and spend the time of your life with, you will see they are all top in their field.
In each of the countries you travel with us, you will travel with a guide that was born or lived a long time there, whose enthusiasm, versatility and knowledge will be second to none. This is their country they're taking you around! Well, and they are foreign to you just as you are foreign to their country.
It is through them that you learn most of what you want to learn about their country so you both need time to understand each other, adjust to each other's expectations, style and pace. A sense of humor, a team spirit and appreciation of people around you will bring out the best in them, you will see how incredibly generous they are in their hospitality to you, the traveler through their land. This will make the holiday a truly unforgettable experience for everyone.
Your trip is over, you go back home and after some rest and settling at home, you start rethinking and crystallizing your experiences. At that time we ask you to provide your feedback on how the trip went for you. We are happy to say that we have fantastic feedback from you, you are telling us that we are doing things right and one of the best evidences for this is you coming back on another trip and referring your friends to us.
In fact 30% of our travelers each year come by reference from friends and we thank you for that. In addition to feeling proud and encouraged by your feedback, we put it to good use - every year we analyze and review our products with your comments in mind, we look at which experiences you have rated as "peak" and which as "I would be willing to miss that" and repeat the tour crafting cycle to give you the absolute best.