GEC Trip Type: GROUP TOUR
*Solo Travelers: You're in luck! Free roommate matching provided - unless you'd prefer to purchase a single room.
The group will travel:
- July 17 - 27, 2018
Join us on this off-the-beaten path, yet stunningly beautiful guided group tour to the up and coming country of Georgia.
Nestled in the southern slopes of the snow-capped Caucasus Mountains to the north and the beautiful Black Sea to the west, Georgia is the ancestral home to the Argonauts, the band of heroes in Greek mythology who around 1300 BC, accompanied Jason to Colchis in his quest to find the Golden Fleece. Today, while its popularity is quickly spreading due to its stunning landscapes and friendly culture, Georgia is still a hidden gem visited by those seeking to see countries in their purest state.
On this 11-day group tour, our local guide will take us on an unforgettable exploration of the country’s best sights – from short hikes under the snow-capped Caucasus Mountains, to the famous winelands and vineyards of the valley. We start and end in the capital city of Tbilisi, in-between exploring such things as the magnificent scenery of Mt Kazbek and its eternal snows, Kutaisi, including Gelati Monastery in the west, Svaneti province in the heart of the Central Caucasus surrounded by mighty 15,000+ foot (5,000m) peaks, remote villages in the mountains, and finally to Kakheti, Georgia’s wine-growing countryside known for beautiful churches and monasteries, as no tour will be complete in Georgia without tasting Georgian wines and delicious cuisine. And all in comfortable hotels and local guest houses.
This classic trip has all the makings of a 'Trip of a Lifetime'. It’s got the fun, exploration, adventure and the opportunity to make life-long friends! But that is, after all, what GEC is all about. Make Friends. Travel the World!
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Group Tour of Georgia, Tbilisi, Mtskheta, Kazbegi/Stepantsminda, hike to Gergeti Sameba church, Mount Kazbek, Gori, Uplistsikhe cave town, Mestia, 4x4 ride and hike to Chalaadi Glacier viewing, 4x4 ride to Ushguli, Kakheti, Georgia’s wine district
B: Breakfast | L: Lunch | D: Dinner
Day 1: Arrive Tbilisi, Georgia. PM Group Orientation.
Day 2: Tbilisi Day Tour (B, L, D)
Day 3: Mtskheta, Jvari Pass & Hike to Gergeti Sameba Church (B, D)
Day 4: Gori & Uplistikhe Cave Town, Gelati Monastery, Kutaisi (B,D)
Day 5: Mestia & Snowcapped Caucasus Mountains (B, D)
Day 6: 4x4 Ride & 3-4 Hour Trek to Chalaadi Glacier (B, D)
Day 7: 4x4 Ride to Mountain Village of Ushguli (B, L, D)
Day 8: Mestia to Tbilisi (B, D)
Day 9: Tour of Kakheti, Georgia’s Famous Wine District (B, L, D)
Day 10: Return to Tbilisi via Gombori Pass & Village Stops (B, D)
Day 11: Trip ends (B)
Arrive Tbilisi, Georgia. PM Group Orientation.
Arrive into Tbilisi, Georgia. If you purchased airport transfers from us, you are met at the airport and transferred to the group hotel. Airport arrival instructions will be emailed to you as part of the comprehensive Pre-Departure Dossier we will send you about 3 weeks in advance of the trip.
The trip officially begins with an early evening Group Orientation Meeting held at the hotel (details provided before departure). Here you will get a chance to meet your Local Guide, as well as all of your fellow travel companions for what is sure to be the beginning of many great friendships!
Tbilisi Day Tour (B, L, D)
We start this tour off right with a visit of Tbilisi. Tbilisi, capital of Georgia from the 5th century AD, has a long and fascinating history. Founded in the 4th century by King Vakhtang Gorgasali on the site of its warm mineral-water springs, it developed into the main city of the Caucasus. Tbilisi’s Old Town, the most ancient part of the city, is renowned for its wonderful mix of cultures. The mosque, the synagogue, the Armenian and Roman Catholic churches mingle harmoniously with the splendid Georgian churches and architecture. The wooden houses with open, carved balconies seem to welcome every visitor. The balmy sulfur baths have hosted poets, writers, musicians, kings down through the centuries.
Today’s full-day city tour of Tbilisi with visits to the Old Town, Metekhi Temple, 12th c. “Abanotubani” – the baths area, The Mosque; Narikala, the main fortress of Tbilisi and walking through the narrow streets of old town. We visit the Sioni Cathedral 11th c., “Peace Bridge”, Anchiskhati Church 6th c., the National Museum (Closed on Mondays and public holidays), Freedom Square and Rustaveli Avenue, and the main street of Tbilisi. We will even take a cable train to the Funicular for panoramic views of the city. This evening we will enjoy a welcome dinner at a local Georgian restaurant.
Mtskheta, Jvari Pass & Hike to Gergeti Sameba Church (B, D)
Today we drive to Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia situated 12 miles (20km) from Tbilisi. Historians date the town back to the 2nd millennium B.C. Mtskheta was the capital of the Georgian Kingdom of Iberia during 500BC - 500AD. Here Georgians accepted Christianity in the beginning of the 4th century. The town and its architectural monuments are listed as the World's Cultural Heritage sites by UNESCO. Visit Jvari Monastery (6th c.) and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (11th c.).
We’ll then travel north, en route visiting the Ananuri architectural complex of the 16th century. After a great photo stop, we’ll cross the Greater Caucasus Mountains via the Jvari Pass 7,857 feet (2395m) and down to Kazbegi (Now officially named Stepantsminda). Kazbegi, 5,577 feet (1700m), is a picturesque settlement overlooked by the snowcapped Mount Kazbek 16,558 feet (5047m), one of the highest mountains in the country and one of only six 5,000+ meter (16,404+ feet) peaks of the Caucasus Mountains. According to legend, Prometheus was chained to Mount Kazbek. We take a short trek (1h 15min) up to or drive to Gergeti Sameba, a church beautifully located on the hill 7,050 feet (2150m) with stunning views. Walk down (40min) to Kazbegi. Drive to our hotel in Gudauri, 6,561 feet(2000m).
Gori & Uplistikhe Cave Town, Gelati Monastery, Kutaisi (B,D)
Today we drive south and then west to Gori, a historical town. Today the town is mainly known for its huge Fortress and as the birthplace of Josef Stalin. From here we’ll drive to Uplistsikhe cave town dated back to the 7th c. BC. It contains a large central hall for pagan rituals, living rooms as well as a church of the 9th century. Here we’ll take a walking excursion.
We’ll then drive to the town of Kutaisi. Kutaisi, dated back to the Argonauts times (13th - 12th cc. B.C), was the capital of old Colchis and later of western Georgia. Here we’ll visit Gelati Monastery, founded in the 12th century by the most famous Georgian King David the IV, the Builder (1073 – 1125). Here he founded an Academy and the Monastery, which became the foremost center of education in Georgia. The unique murals of saints and Georgian monarchs are inside the main Virgin Cathedral. This site is included in the World's Cultural Heritage of UNESCO.
Mestia & Snowcapped Caucasus Mountains (B, D)
After breakfast we drive to Mestia, passing through Svaneti in Samegrelo province and along the Enguri River valley. Mestia is a small provincial settlement surrounded by the impressively huge Caucasus Mountains, the most impressive of which are Mt. Ushba at 15,452 feet (4710m) and Mt. Tetnuldi at 16,322 feet (4975m), displaying some of the most severe and beautiful summits of the Caucasus Mountain Range. We’ll explore the town and visit Mestia Museum with its unique collection of icons (Closed on Mondays and Public Holidays).
4x4 Ride & 3-4 Hour Trek to Chalaadi Glacier (B, D)
In the morning we will take a trip north from Mestia in 4x4 vehicles to the trail head. From here we’ll trek about 3 - 4 hours to/from Chalaadi Gorge on the north-east side of Mt. Ushba for stunning views of Chalaadi Glacier and the surrounding snowcapped summits.
We’ll then return to Mestia and visit Svanetian Ethnography House. (Closed on Mondays and Public Holidays).
4x4 Ride to Mountain Village of Ushguli (B, L, D)
In the morning we’ll again take 4x4 vehicles, but this time drive to one of the highest permanently inhabited villages in Europe, the village Ushguli at 7,874 feet (2400m). Here we’ll visit the village, its medieval towers and Lamaria Church and enjoy the views (in good weather) of Mt. Shkhara 17,063 feet (5201m), the highest summit in Georgia. We’ll then take an easy hike in the valley leading to the foot of Mt. Shkhara. Returning to Ushguli, we’ll drive back to Mestia where you can visit a traditional Svanetian house.
Mestia to Tbilisi (B, D)
Today we have a long drive to reach the town of Tbilisi (298 miles (480km)). We start after breakfast and will reach Tbilisi at about 6pm / 7pm. Dinner will be in a local restaurant.
Tour of Kakheti, Georgia’s Famous Wine District (B, L, D)
Today we start a two-day trip to Kakheti. Kakheti, Georgia’s famous wine district, lies due east from Tbilisi and is a land dotted with fine old churches and vineyard after vineyard. First, we visit St. Nina Monastery in the village of Bodbe. We then travel to Sighnaghi, a beautiful hill-town providing panoramic views of the Alazani Valley and the Eastern Caucasus Mountains. We’ll take a walk in the town and visit a wine cellar to taste several of Georgia’s famous wines.
After lunch, we’ll visit Tsinandali residence, a 19th century noble family home and then take a quick tour of Telavi. Later, we will arrive in the town of Kvareli, where we will enjoy a delicious dinner with local wines.
Overnight at one of the boutique hotels around Kvareli (or Telavi)
Return to Tbilisi via Gombori Pass & Village Stops (B, D)
After breakfast we visit Gremi Church (16th c) and Alaverdi Cathedral (11th c). Then we travel back to Tbilisi via the forested Mountains of Gombori pass. Time permitting we visit Shumata Monastery. Arrive in Tbilisi. Tonight we will enjoy a farewell dinner.
Trip Ends (B)
Trip ends after breakfast. The morning is free to spend at your own leisure. If you purchased airport transfers through us, then you are picked up at the hotel at the appropriate time and transferred to the airport to catch your flight home.
This is a locally guided GEC small group trip that is open for anyone to join. You can sign up as a solo traveler* OR join with a spouse, friends or other family members. All are welcome!
*Solo Travelers: You're in luck! No mandatory single supplements. We provide free roommate matching - unless, of course, you'd prefer a single room which you can purchase during checkout.
This tour requires a total minimum group size to run. Please DO NOT purchase your airfare or any personal travel requirements until you receive a written confirmation of guaranteed departure.
Prices are based on double occupancy in twin rooms. If you would like your own room (where available), please choose the optional single room supplement at check out. If you do not mind being paired up with a roommate of the same gender, then the single supplement does not apply.
A Visa to enter Georgia is not required for citizens of most western countries including the US and Canada (be sure to reconfirm directly with Georgian Embassy in the country of your citizenship before departure).
A passport is always required. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 month following the last day of the tour.
This is a very active, locally guided trip and you will see some of the amazing sights. We have built in some free time into the itinerary, but we will also cover a lot of ground. Be prepared to be on the go traveling and exploring these amazing sights most of each day. But also prepare to be absolutely awestruck!
Trip ID: AS1231
- Small group tour of Georgia
- GEC Trip Leader
- Expert English-speaking Local Guide
- Guided tour of Tbilisi
- Guided tour of Mtskheta
- Guided tour of Kazbegi/Stepantsminda
- Short hike to Gergeti Sameba church with stunning views of Mount Kazbek
- Guided tour of Gori and Uplistsikhe cave town
- Visit to the mountain town of Mestia
- 4x4 ride and 3-4 hour RT hike to Chalaadi Glacier viewing
- 4x4 Ride to Mountain Village of Ushguli
- Visit to Kakheti, Georgia’s famous wine district
- 10 nights Georgian 3-4-star hotels and local guest houses
- Meals as indicated
Price Does Not Include
- International airfare
- Meals and beverages not indicated
- All alcoholic beverages not indicated
- Travel medical insurance (details)
- Local fee
- Personal expenses
- Tips for GEC Trip Leader
- Tips for guides
- Optional activities
- 10 nights Georgian 3-4-star hotels and local guest houses
- The weather in Georgia during the summer is typically warm and comfortable, with temperatures averaging about mid 60’s in the mountain to 70's or 80’s during the day in the lower regions. Temperatures can be cool at night, especially in the higher villages/regions, getting down to the mid 40’s to 50's at night. Summer (July - August) is typically the busiest and warmest with the least rain.