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.
For those with more time, consider extending the tour for three nights to include the Svaneti region, known for its rugged mountains, colossal ancient watchtowers and proud mountain people. Remote Svaneti represents the heart of Georgian orthodox culture and traditions. Travel by 4WD over rugged terrain, enjoy mountain treks with stunning vistas and stay in off-the-beaten-track guesthouses.
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 out of your hotel, spend the day slowly making your way back to Tbilisi for your 1925 departure flight with Georgian Airways. Start with Bagrati Cathedral above the city for a final view of Kutaisi before starting your journey east towards the capital. As a diversion from the road trav-elled prior, at Zestafoni branch northeast and drive to Chiatura, a mining town that boomed during the Soviet era. This town is well off the conven-tional tourist trail, but a fascinating contrast to the sights you will have seen already. Situated in a steep river valley, an extensive network of age-ing cable cars transport workers around the valley – if working and if in-clined, enjoy some time to ride a couple of these cars (at your own ex-pense) before enjoying a basic local lunch and brief walk in the town. From Chiatura head southeast via Korbouli and Ali before joining the main Kutaisi-Tbilisi highway. Back in the capital drive straight to the airport, here parting with your driver and guide. Depart Tbilisi at 1925 and arrive back into London at 2150 local time, here ending your tour. (B,L)
* This guide can only be posted out to UK addresses.