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.
Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to Tbilisi’s Old Town, where your room will be ready for you at the Kisi Hotel (early check in included). Enjoy the morning at leisure. At 1230 meet your guide to commence an introductory tour of Tbilisi. 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. 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. 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 hotel, here ending your introductory excursion to the pleasant Georgian capital. (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)
Check out 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 and 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 leisure. (B,L)
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 enjoy a hike to Gveleti waterfall. This is a private excursion so there is a degree of flexibility in today’s itinerary depending on the weather and your own inclination. (B,L)
Today descend from the high Caucasus to Chateau Mukhrani near Mtskheta to enjoy lunch followed by wine-tasting in this award winning estate. Head west to Gori, the birthplace of Stalin and visit the Stalin Museum, which includes in its ground the small house in which he was born and his personal railway carriage. 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 walking tour of central Kutaisi. 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 day at leisure. (B,L)
Spend today slowly heading to Mestia, the principal town in Svaneti and the highest inhabited area in the Caucasus. From Kutaisi head northwest towards the de-facto border with Abkhazia. Here visit the Dadiani Palaces History and Architectural Museum before enjoying a brief walk in Zugdid. After lunch in the Host Restaurant depart Zugdidi and slowly head northeast on the scenic mountain road towards Mestia, making a short detour en-route to see the Enguri Dam, the 2nd highest concrete arch dam in the world at 271.5 metres high. Ascend to Mestia, situated at an altitude of 1,500 metres above sea level. On arrival check into your hotel for a three night stay and enjoy a brief walking tour of this small town. (B,L,D)
Today visit the Margiani House Museum and the Historical-Ethnographic Museum of Mestia, giving an insight into the unique culture of the region. Enjoy lunch in Mestia with a local family before driving to the Hatsvali Mountain Ski Resort. Head up in a ski lift to the Zuruldi Restaurant, situated 2,340 metres above sea level affording fantastic views of the surrounding mountains. 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 soak up the vista - as you wish! (B,L,D)
The focus of today 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 head 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. Enjoy lunch in a basic restaurant before pressing on south along the coast towards Batumi. En route visit the Batumi Botanical Gardens, one of Batumi's most interesting attractions. After checking into the World Palace Hotel (or similar) for a two night stay, enjoy the rest of the day 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 promenade and Gogobashvili. Head out of Batumi and visit the Gonio Fortress located 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 Batumi late morning. After over 10 days of busy travels enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Your guide will be able to make suggestions and recommendations on what to do in this pleasant city. (B)
This morning spend the full day slowly making your way back to Tbilisi. Part of the journey will be along already travelled roads 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 trail but is a fascinating contrast to the sights you will have seen already. Situated in a steep river valley, an extensive network of ageing cable cars transport workers around the valley. If working, and if inclined, enjoy 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 highway. Back in the capital return to the Kisi Hotel and check-in for a two night stay. Enjoy the evening at leisure. (B,L)
Head out from Tbilisi for a day trip east to explore the Kakheti Region - Georgia's principle wine country. Drive to Telavi, the main city in the region and visit the local farmers market where you can see a large selection of fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses for sale. From here visit the Tsinandali Palace, the historic estate and winery belonging to the 19th century aristocratic poet Alexander Chavchadze. Continue to the walled city of Sighnaghi and enjoy lunch and wine tasting. This afternoon spend time exploring Sighnaghi, a pleasant place to stroll the back streets and 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, completing a circuitous route of the highlights of Kakheti. Return to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day 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.