With its legendary hospitality, delicious food and abundance of local wines, Georgia is one of the most welcoming countries you will ever visit. Travel on this tailor-made tour in your own private vehicle with a driver and English-speaking guide, discovering diverse landscapes from majestic mountains to golden vineyards, exploring remote Orthodox churches and tucking in to mouth-watering local dishes such as khachapuri - indulgent cheese-filled flat bread.
Today depart London Gatwick at 2255 on your Georgian Airways flight to Tbilisi.
This morning you are scheduled to arrive in Tbilisi at 0635. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to Tbilisi’s Old Town, where your room at the Kisi Hotel will be ready for you, with early check in included. After your overnight flight enjoy the rest of the morning at leisure, with breakfast available should you wish. At 1230 meet your guide in the reception of the hotel to commence an introductory tour of Tbilisi. Departing the Kisi Hotel on foot, walk through the old town, passing the Sulfur Bathhouse and a currency exchange office (for the chance to purchase Georgian Lari) before arriving at the Maspindzelo Restaurant for a welcome lunch. After this welcome meal enjoy a walking tour of the Old Town, slowly heading northwest as you meander past the key Old Town sites to Liberty Square. Continue your tour with a walk along Rustaveli Avenue, heading past the exteriors of the Georgian National Museum, Parliament Of Georgia, Kshueti Church and the Opera & Ballet Theatre before arriving at Rustaveli Metro Station. Here head underground and ride the rails with your guide two stops to Avlabari Station. Back above ground, walk through Rike Park to the Aerial Tramway and ascend by cable car to the Narikala Fortress for a good view over Tbilisi’s Old Town. Descending on foot from Narikala walk back to the Kisi Hotel, here ending your introductory excursion to the pleasant Georgian capital.
This guided excursion will be without private transport, but your metro tickets and one-way tramway ticket will be included in the tour cost, as of course will lunch. In the event of poor weather or tired feet your guide can arrange, on the spot and at your expense, to reduce the walking where possible, with a short taxi or bus journey. (B,L)
Today enjoy the full day free to explore Tbilisi at leisure. Perhaps tour some of the museums (NB: typically closed on Mondays), head up into Mtatsminda Park, tour the Vake area of the city or visit the central market - there is plenty to keep you busy! Speak with your local guide on day 2 for ideas and suggestions. (B)
This morning check out of your hotel and transfer to Mtskheta, the religious capital of Georgia and ancient capital of Kartli. In Mtskehta visit three spectacular UNESCO World Heritage sites, namely the Cathedral of Svetitskhoveli, Samtarvo Monastery and Jvari Church. From Mtskheta head north and ascend the Georgian Military Highway, entering the Caucasus Mountains as you slowly drive towards the Russian border. En-route visit Ananauri, and its amazing complex of churches and towers dating from the 16th-17th centuries. Here enjoy lunch in the Ananuri Restaurant before pressing further north to Kazbegi and the Rooms Hotel. After checking in for a 2 night stay enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening at your leisure. (B,L)
Spend the day exploring in & around the local area. This morning enjoy a tour of the small town of Kazbegi before visiting the Gergeti Holy Trinity Church, located at an elevation of 2170m. This Church is accessed by 4WD, although if you prefer a hike is possible. Lunch today will be with a local family. This afternoon drive towards the Russian border for dramatic views of the Dariali gorge, and here enjoy a hike to Gveleti waterfall. This is of course a private excursion and thus there is a degree of flexibility in today’s itinerary depending on the weather and your own inclination. (B,L)
Checking out of your hotel descend from the high Caucasus to Chateau Mukhrani near Mtskheta. Enjoy lunch followed by wine-tasting in this award winning estate. From Mukhrani head west to Gori, the birthplace of Stalin. visit the Stalin Museum, which includes in its ground the small house in which he was born and his personal railway carriage. Moving from 20th century history to pre-Christian history visit the cave-city of Uplistsikhe. Established as a major Silk-Road trading centre by the 5th century this site was settled for almost 2000 years before the Mongolians arrived in the 14th century. From Uplistsikhe drive west to Kutaisi, Georgia’s 3rd most populous city and capital of the western region of Imereti. On arrival check into the centrally located Best Western Kutaisi Hotel for a 2 night stay. (B,L)
This morning enjoy a brief introductory walking tour of central Kutaisi from your well located hotel, taking you past some of the key sites in the small city centre. From the hotel walk over Tetri Bridge and head via the Tourism Information Centre to the Green Bazaar where you can enjoy some time in this small yet interesting market. Pressing on pass the Mes-khisvili Theatre and nearby fountain before passing through Kutaisi Park and the Soviet-era monuments in the park’s southwest corner. From the Opera Theatre enjoy a coffee/refreshment break (at your own expense) before picking up your transport and heading to Gelati Monastery, located in the hills to the northeast of the city. From Gelati head towards Kumis-tavi (Prometheus) Cave, the largest cave in Georgia. En-route stop in Tskhaltubo and enjoy lunch at the Stalaktida Restaurant. Kumistavi Cave is the largest cave in Georgia and here walk a 1600 metre route, just 10% of the cave system. Back above ground return to Kutaisi and enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening at your leisure. (B,L)
Checking our of your hotel, spend the day slowly heading to Mestia, the principal town in Svaneti, the highest inhabited area in the Caucasus. From Kutaisi head northwest towards the de-facto border with Abkhazia, arriving in Zugdid after a journey of approximately two hours. Here visit the Dadiani Palaces History and Archtiectural Museum before enjoying a brief walk in Zugdid. After lunch in the Host Restarurant depart Zugdidi and slowly head northeast on the scenic mountain road towards Mestia, making a short detour en-rout to see the Enguri Dam, the 2nd highest concrete arch dam in the world at 271.5 metres in height. Pressing on ascend to Mestia, situated at an altitude of 1,500 metres above sea level. On arrival in Mestia check into your hotel for a three night stay and enjoy a brief walking tour of this small town. (The hotel here will be TBC - there are a few options which are all quite similare. Our preferred options are the Chubu, Old Seti & Banguriaini Hotel. Should you have any preference please advise us and we will strive to acommodate this). (B,L,D)
Today enjoy the full day exploring in and around Mestia. Start the day by continuing your walking tour of the previous afternoon before visiting the Margiani House Museum and the Historical-Ethnogrraphic Museum of Mestia, giving an insight into the unique culture of this region. Enjoy lunch in Mestia with a local family before driving to the Hatsvali Mountain Ski Resort. Here head up in a ski lif to the Zuruldi Restaurant, situated at 2,340 metres above sea level - affording fatastic views of the surrounding mountains. Here enjoy drinks or snacks (at your own expense) before enjoying a flexible afternoon with your guide - you may wish to wander around the mountaintop, hike back towards Mestia or just relax and sozk up the vista - as you wish! (B,L,D))
The focus of the day will be a day trip to Ushguli, located 55km from Mestia on a rough road that takes you through spectacular alpine scenery. Ushguli, situated at an altitude of 2,100 metres is arguably the highest settlement in Europe. Somewhat protected from the outside world due to its relative inaccessibility, the village has something of a timeless feel. With a population of just a couple of hundred people, scattered through four small UNESCO World Heritage Site settlements, your itinerary here will be flexible to suit your interests and requirements, but will include a visit to the Ethnography Museum and time to explore the area on foot with the possibility of ascending a defensive tower (should you have a heard for heights!). Lunch will be enjoyed with a local family. You may also wish to enjoy a light walk towards Mt. Shkhara, the highest peak in Georgia. Return to Mestia and enjoy the evening at leisure. (B,L,D)
Departing Mestia descend from the high Caucasus to the Black Sea Coast, arriving in the port city of Poti after a long morning of driving. Here enjoy lunch in a basic restaurant and the chance to look at some of the Soviet-era legacy in this overlooked city before pressing on south along the coast towards Batumi. Before arriving in bustling Batumi visit the Batumi Botanical Gardens, one of Batumi's most interesting attractions. After checking into the Hotel Piazza Boutique (or similar) for a two night stay, enjoy the rest of the afternoon and all evening free at leisure. (B,L)
This morning enjoy an introductory walking tour of Batumi. The route will depend on your own inclination, but will almost certainly include a stroll along the premonade and Gogobashvili. Heading out of Batumi visit the Gonio Fortress 15km to the south. This Roman fortification dates back to the 4th century BC and lies just 4km from the Turkish border. After touring this pleasant spot return to Baumi in the late morning. After over 10 days of busy travels enjoy the rest of the day at leisure in Batumi. Your guide will be able to make suggestions and recommendations on what to do in the is pleasant city. (B)
Checking out of your hotel this morning spend the full day slowly making your way back to Tbilisi. Part of the journey will be along roads already travelled earlier in your tour, but to create an interesting diversion branch northeast at Zestafoni and drive to Chiatura, a mining town that boomed during the Soviet era. This town is well off the conventional tourist train, but a fascinating contrast to the sights you will have seen already. Situated in a steep river valley, an extensive network of ageing cable cars tranpsort workers around the valley - if working and if iclined, enjoy some time to ride a couple of these cars (at your own expense) before enjoying a basic local lunch and brief walk in the town. From Chiatura head southwest via Korbouli and Ali before joining the main Kutaisi-Tbilisi highwaway. Back in the capital return to the Kisis Hotel in the early evening and check-in for a two night stay. After checking in enjoy the rest of the evening free at your leisure. (B,L)
Head out from Tbilisi for a day trip east to explore the Kakheti Region - Georgia's principle wine country. Heading northeast from the capital drive to Telavi, the main city in the region. Here visit the local farmers' market where you can see a large selection of fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses for sale - essentially all the food stuffs one would find in a Georgian kitchen. From here visit the Tsinandali Palace, the historic estate and winery belonging to the 19th century aristocratic poet Alexander Chavchadze. Pressing on drive to the walled city of Sighnaghi, here enjoying lunch and wine tasting. This afternoon spend time to explore Sighnaghi, a pleasant place to stroll the back streets and to watch the world go by. From Sighnaghi enjoy an excursion to the Monastery of St. Nino at Bodbe, a nunnery just a couple of kilometres from Sighnaghi. Return to Tbilisi via Manavi and Sagarejo, complete a circuitous route of the highlights of Kakheti. Return to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening at leisure. (B,L)
Check out of your hotel (and if you need to store luggage please ask at reception) and enjoy your last few hours in Tbilisi. In the late afternoon transfer back from your hotel to the hotel and check-in for your flight back home. (B)
* This guide can only be posted out to UK addresses.