Duration: 13 days / 13 nights
Best Season: From July to September
Accommodation: Tourist hotels, camping tents
Food: Breakfasts, meals in the mountains
Mode of travel: 4WD vehicles, minibuses/ hiking
Number of people: Tour is available starting from 1 person
Tour Support: If group size is 1-3 persons, English knowing guide-driver, 4WD vehicles, horses carrying luggage. If group size is more than 3 persons, bus or minibus, guide required language, English knowing trekking guide, horses carrying luggage.
Included: Accommodation for tourist hotels and camping tents
Breakfasts, meals in the mountains
All transfers, rent of horses
All activities as per itinerary with all entry fees
Travel permits in protected areas
Guiding service, local guides in museums
Excluded: Optional activities
Tbilisi is one of Europe’s prominent cultural and historic centers. This ancient city is the converging point of two cultures, Asian and European. Since the old times Tbilisi has been the transit way of these two parts of the world leaving their marks on the way of life in the city. The history and culture of the vibrant capital of Georgia can be learnt from its architecture, in the old town with its narrow streets and numerous churches, modern avenues and shady parks with monuments to prominent heroes of the Georgian people. Providing an excellent introduction to the history of the city, the Art Museum is an ideal place to start exploration of Tbilisi, new and old. Many of Georgia’s most sacred and revered objects are here, in the exclusive collection featuring the icon of Zarzma Monastery, the Chalice of Bedia, Anchistkhati and Khakhuli Triptychs and much more. Kala is the medieval city center and it’s small yards encircled by galleries, steep street stairs and houses with patterned balconies create picturesque images of Old Tbilisi. Lively Kala also hosts some of Tbilisi’s trendiest restaurants featuring local and international cuisine. The Holy Trinity Cathedral is the largest religious building in the South Caucasus. The other treasure of this beautiful city is Dry Bridge (Mshrali Khidi), open-air exhibition of paintings and artifacts. A unique option this evening is a visit to Nabadi folk theatre where the long history of Georgia is shown in traditional and modern forms of expression, sense of rhythm, folk dances and songs. (B)
North from Tbilisi and up into the Caucasus mountains and on to the Russian border runs the famed Georgian Military Highway. Today it serves as the best route to the north with dramatic scenery, crystal-clear air and indescribable grandeur of the mighty Caucasus Mountains. Ananuri fortress, our first stop today, is undoubtedly one of the most attractive sights along the Georgian Military Highway. In the afternoon we arrive at Kazbegi, a lovely town nestled at the base of the Caucasus Mountains. Mount Kazbek (5,047m) is one of the six 5,000 m peaks of the Caucasus range where Prometheus was said to be chained. The magnificent Darial Gorge, Gates of the Caucasus, is one of the only two crossings of the Caucasus mountain range. Than we move by local JEEPs to the Juta village. Juta village is situated under the massif of Chaukhi, at 2200m above see level.
Overnight at Juta house guesthouse.
After breakfast we hike up to the Mount Chaukhi at 3600m.
Today, walking is promising and impressive, rhododendrons, crystal rivers, mountains seems wooden skyscrapers. Total trekking time is 4-5 hrs.
Then we will return to the Stepanzminda for overnight.
Overnight in hotel.
Our phased conquest of the proud peak of the Caucasus begins with a climb from the village of Kazbeghi up by Darial Gorge to the weather station (we start at 7.00). Transfer by jeep to Sameba Church (2200m) and then walk up to Meteorological Station situated at 3,650 meters, total trekking time from the village to the meteo station is 7-8 h, the degree of difficulty is medium. The weather station is a mountain refuge, a base camp used for overnight and acclimatization (basic amenities).
Before starting the climb of the summit we will have an acclimatization day. Our guide will also help us practice the use of climbing equipment. Acclimatization takes place at the altitude of 4100-4200 meters. The group, accompanied by the mountain guide, will adapt and enjoy the truly incredible views and the healing energy of the mountains. After checking climbing equipment, the team is ready for the climb of the next day.
The most exciting part of the trip, climbing to the summit of Mount Kazbek (total trekking time 10-12 h, start at the height of 3600 meters, level of difficulty high). The upper slopes of Kazbek are permanently snow-covered and present a challenging objective for every mountaineer. Start at 2am and walk to the Plateau at 4500m (4 hours), then Plateau to Saddle (4900m at 30 degrees), from Saddle to Summit at 40-45 degrees, use of ice axes and fixed ropes. Return to Meteorological Station. During the walk from 3900m to the summit and back to 3900m, the group will be roped by crevasses.
After the peak of the mountain is conquered the adventures prepare to move down to village Kazbeghi. The landscape changes as we progress back to civilization. Glaciers and moraines are replaced by rocks; a marked trail can already be seen. We reach the village and on to the comfort and warmth of our hostel. After breakfast, we drive back to Tbilisi. Overnight in Tbilisi.
Mtskheta, our next stop today, is the ancient capital of Georgia founded 3000 years ago, home to a number of very important Georgian religious sites and famous as the spiritual heart of Georgia. Jvari Church built to house the robe of Jesus Christ and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral are major pilgrimage sites listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. (B)
Gori is one of the ancient towns of Georgia and the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. Visit the remarkable Stalin Museum re-creating surreal and revealing scenes from the life of the tyrant. A large statue of the “Leader of the People” used to dominated the square of Gori until last year. Stalin’s bulletproof train carriage, which he used to travel to the Potsdam Conference in 1945 lies in the grounds of the museum. We explore Uplistsikhe or Fortress of God is an ancient cave town dating back to the I millennium BC. Its caves, temples, labyrinth passages and colonnaded streets are carved out of stone.
Take a journey to Western Georgia and reveal many secrets of the history of Georgia. Kutaisi is the capital of ancient Colchis, Western Georgian Kingdom. Our first visit is to Khareba Winery where we see every step of the wine making process from fresh grapes to the delicious beverage; our visit concludes with wine tasting. Motsameta Monastery (10th c.) a beautiful monastery with round turrets crowned with peaked tent-shaped domes is our next visit today. Motsameta attracts pilgrims with an ancient legend: if one crawls three times under the ark and makes a wish while touching the hallows, the princes David and Konstantin will grant it. The architectural complex of Gelati Monastery and Academy founded by King David the Builder is one of the country’s most treasured religious and cultural landmarks. Gelati Monastery has preserved a great number of murals and manuscripts dating back to the 12th-17th centuries. A unique option this afternoon is a visit to Sataplia Caves famous for fine speleothems and dinosaur footprints. Now renovated and open to the public, this 300 m long cave abounds in stalactites and stalagmites. Travellers can enter the cave on one hillside, cross the hill underground and then go back on the surface past dinosaur footprints. (B)
Overnight in Kutaisi.
On to Zugdidi with a stop to visit Dadiani Palace and Museum, where we travel back in time and explore rare exhibits from various periods of Georgia’s turbulent history. Among the exhibits is Napoleon’s death mask! Our next stop is at 271-meter Enguri Dam for impressive views and we continue our trip to Zemo (Upper) Svaneti boasting several 4000-5000 meter peaks such as Shkhara (5,048m) and Ushba (4,700m). Surrounded by gigantic, white capped peaks of the Caucasus, Svaneti is one of the most remarkable historic regions of Georgia. Among these mountains live the Svans, independent and amazingly friendly people essentially cut off from the rest of the country during the winter. Mestia is the administrative centre of Upper Svaneti. It is an important cultural centre and contains a number of medieval monuments, churches and forts which are on the UNESCO list. The Margiani open-air ethnographic center and Church of Prophet John are two unique religious landmarks that we will visit today. (B)
Overnight in Mestia.
After having a sound rest in the hotel the group starts its trip to Mount Ushba. The village is located at 1699 m and offers fascinating scenery with the twin peaks of Ushba at 4 690 and 4 710 meters in the background. From here we will start trekking to Ushba (4710m), one of the most stunning glaciers in the Caucasus. As the peak is too high the group will not reach it this day but will trek till 3000-3500 meters. We will walk along a path leading to the southern slope of the mount and Guli Glacier located at 2900 m starting from the Ushba peaks. Today the group has a moderate trek which lasts around 4 hours. We return to Mestia for overnight.
Overnight in Mestia.
In the morning the group collects its camp and we head to mount Layla, where we plan to have a four hour trek round the mountain. Mount Layla is the highest mountain in the Svanetian Mountain Range which is parallel to the Main Caucasus Range and located to the south of it. Layla is a mountain of low or moderate difficulty, unreservedly seldom climbed mostly because of its remote location. Climbing Layla can become one of the brightest climbing impressions of Caucasus as together with its really interesting climbing opportunities it gives the unique chance to witness the incomparable and outstanding views of all the famous mountains of Main Caucasus. Actually climbing Mount Layla does not mean applying any of special mountaineering skills or negotiation with serious technical climbing problems, all the necessary mountaineering skills can be trained directly before the climb. Here we will trek till 3000-3500 meters high and spend the night in the camping tents.
Overnights: Camp near Layla
In the morning the group has its lunch near the camp and we head to our final destination Skhara. Shkhara is the highest point in Georgia. The group will not reach the summit, but it will have a four hour trek round it. The highest peak reaches 5201 meter and according to its height it is the second peak in the whole Caucasus after Ialbuzi and is also considered the highest point of Georgia. It is built of granite and crystalline shale. From the northern side it boarders with the glacier Bezengi, while from the south – by the glacier Shkhara. River Enguri takes origin from the glacier Shkhara. After trekking here, the group will return to Mestia and have rest at a hotel.