Day 1: Arrive in Tbilisi
Welcome to Georgia! Upon arrival in Tbilisi, make your own way to the group hotel where you can relax and get acquainted with your fellow Yomads travellers.
Day 2: To the mountain town of Kazbegi
After a late breakfast we’ll drive to Mtskheta to visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed Jvari Monastery (6th century) and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (11th century). We will also stop to admire the ancient Mtskheta ruins, the residence of the Georgian Royal family residence and the original Georgian capital. The route to Kazbegi takes us along the famous Georgian Military Highway, stopping en route to visit the Ananuri complex (17th century). In the afternoon we reach Kazbegi, our destination for the night and also known as Stepantsminda. Here we are able to take in the stunning scenery for the first time as we are surrounded by the Caucasus mountains, including the 5074m snow-capped peak of Mt Kazbek just south of the Russian border.
Meals: B, D
Day 3: Gergeti Trinity Church day walk
Today is reserved for embarking on a challenging hike to the 14th century Gergeti Trinity Church, situated at 2170m with the snow covered Mt Kazbek in the background. From the church we can admire the panoramic views of one of the highest glaciers in the Caucasus region as well as the deep valley of Kazebegi with the Russian frontier only 10km away. For those who wish to continue the trek, there is the option to explore the Gveleti waterfalls (approx. 10 Euros per person).
Meals: B, D
Day 4: Free day in Kazbegi
The day is spent at leisure, allowing you to discover what Kazbegi has to offer. Our recommendations for the day are:
- Trek to Mt Chaukhebi and visit Juta village (2165m) to discover local cheese and bread making (approx. 30 Euros per person)
- Explore the authentic local scene in Kazbegi
Meals: B, D
Day 5: Travel to the Silk Road city of Akhaltsikhe
Drive to Gori, the hometown of Stalin, for a visit, and continue to the intriguing ancient Cave Town of Uplistsikhe. Here you can wander between cave dwellings carved in the soft sandstone. Uplistsikhe has been inhabited since 1000 BC and at its zenith the city counted 20,000 inhabitants. We journey on to the Silk Road city of Akhaltsikhe, a quaint Georgian town featuring the historical, and recently restored, Rabati Castle. Akhaltsikhe provides a great place to relax and soak in the local atmosphere at one of the many cafes and restaurants.
Day 6: Free day in Akhaltsikhe
Spend the day exploring Akhaltsikhe. Our recommendations for the day are:
- Visit the Vardzia cave town (approx. 20 Euros per person)
- Drive to the Borjomi - Kharagauli National Park for a 5-6 hour trek through the rarely visited wilderness (approx. 80 Euros per person)
- Explore the older part of town, Rabati, and its fine examples of traditional Georgian houses, the remains of its 12th century castle and an 18th century 'medrese' (Islamic school)
- Gaze at the planets across the open sky at the observatory (night tour, weather permitting)
Day 7: Kutaisi via Zekari Pass
We travel by jeep to Kutaisi across the Zekari Pass on unpaved roads. Crossing the beautiful Khetis Mountain range via the Zekari Pass (2182m) gives host to stunning views over the forested hills and grassy mountain ridges. In the afternoon we arrive in Kutaisi and visit the famous Gelati Monastery and Academy, home to the brightest frescoes of the country, located in the hills on the outskirts of town.
Meals: B, D
Day 8: To Svaneti Valley and Mestia
Our Georgian journey continues today to the Svaneti region, home to Georgia’s highest mountains and glaciers as well as local people who still follow ancient traditions. We enter the narrowing valley of Svaneti via Zugdidi, the only reliable way to enter the valley, and find that here, time seems to have stopped. On arrival in Mestia we’ll visit a traditional Svanetian house and tower before spending the evening at leisure.
Meals: B, D
Day 9: Mt Zuduldi and Ushguli
In the morning transfer by cable car to Mt. Zuduldi for some spectacular views over the area's dramatic landscape, including that of Mt Ushba (4710m). It's a 3 hour drive to the highest permanent village in Europe, Ushguli (2200m). In Ushguli, we'll take in the local sites including the 12th century Lamaria Church and walk up the hill to Queen Tamar’s Tower to be greeted with even more remarkable views of the mountains. Here you'll be reminded that you are truly in the heart of the Caucasus Mountains!
Meals: B, D
Day 10: Ushguli to Mestia
Today we'll stretch the legs with one of the most beautiful hikes of the tour to the impressive Mt Shkhara. Following the sheep tracks through the green valley behind Ushguli towards the feed of the moraines below the tongue of the Shkhara glacier will earn us views of Mt Shkhara whose 5068m summit makes it the highest mountain of Georgia. There is ample time to awe at the impressive walls of ice and rocks that rise 2500m above us before returning to Mestia and enjoying free time in the evening.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 11: Return to Tbilisi
Today's drive takes us back to the Georgian capital to properly explore the culture of the city. Tonight is a good opportunity to enjoy a traditional Georgian restaurant with a folk show (approx. 25 Euros per person).
Meals: B, L
Day 12: Free day in Tbilisi
You are free to search the hidden corners of Georgian culture in Tbilisi today, making your way through the local shops, restaurants and nature walks. You may wish to take a wine tour to the Kakheti area (approx. 60 Euros per person). Here, you'll see how Georgians make clay vessels for wine storage, learn to bake local bread and the traditional sweet Churchkhela, and try the famous Georgian delicacy, Mtsvadi, before stopping at the Gremi Fortress on the way back to town. There is also an optional cycle ride through a lunar semi-desert lanscape to the rock-hewn Georgian Orthodox monastery at David Gareja on the border of Azerbaijan (approx. 70 Euros per person).
Day 13: Tour concludes Tbilisi
You are free to head home or continue on your adventure on your own. For those flying today, an airport transfer can be arranged for your departure.