During these two weeks the expedition route takes us through the wildest parts of Georgia visiting its beautiful highlands - Tusheti and Khevsureti - the parts of the Main Caucasus Ridge. The trip starts with a excursion in the capital of Georgia Tbilisi. After driving along a fantastic mountain road to the village Shenako, passing deep gorges with white-waterfalls, we start the trek by walking along the Pirikita Alazani Gorge River with its forested slopes. On the way we will enjoy exploring medieval villages and ancient monuments. We cross the Atsunta Pass (3430 m) into the Khevsureti - a lost wilderness where traditions have remained the same for centuries. Walking through the Andaki gorge we will end our trek in the medieval village-citadel Shatili and then return to Tbilisi.
Georgia is situated on the historic and geographic threshold between Europe and Asia. The capital of Georgia is Tbilisi. The country itself is not very big with the population of 5.5 million people and occupies the area of 69,500 square km. The highest mountains are Shkhara (5068 m) and Kazbek (5047 m). See Mt. Kazbek climb. Georgia is a country of great beauty and diversity. The Europe's highest mountain chain - Caucasus, extending from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea, separates Georgia from Russia. Spectacular landscapes range from the Black Sea subtropics to snowy peaks and from thick forests to semi-deserts. The main part of Georgia is located on the south side of the Greater Caucasus range resulting in a sunny and warm climate.
This is primarily camping trip with some nights in hotels and locals' houses. The majority of walking is on good mountain paths. The hardest and the longest day (8-9 hours walking) of the trek is the day when we cross Atsunta Pass. Here the path gets narrow and sometimes almost disappears. Crossing Atsunta Pass involves walking on quite steep slopes. Some parts of the route lie on narrow, rough mountain tracks. Most of the streams we cross by bridges, but there are few small streams to be crossed without bridges. An average day involves about 5-6 hours walk. The trek is suitable for any normally fit and healthy person used to trekking. The total trek is 11 days walking. Horses will carry the all the luggage allowing us to walk only with a day-pack.
Depending on the group size we use a bus or minibus. On the part in the vicinity of Shenako village (about 100 km) we require a 4WD vehicle since the track is steep and rough. Mountain weather is variable. In the valleys day temperatures may rise over 20°C. At the highest campsites, nights will be cooler and frosts are likely. An extra fleece jacket is recommended for the evenings after the sunsets. Rain and summer storms and snowfall on the passes could be encountered any time. On the other hand, in towns, afternoon temperatures often rise above 30°C. Horses will carry all communal equipment and most of your main luggage; a strong, soft bag is easier than a framed rucksack for the horses to carry.
Good waterproofs and warm clothes are necessary. A ski stick can be useful throughout the trek so we recommend that you take one. A telescopic one is particularly good. Major items are good, waterproof walking boots and a three-season sleeping bag and mat. A 35 liter rucksack should be adequate. If you are already a hiker or backpacker you will probably have much of the clothing and the equipment required. You will not need to take all of your belongings on the trek; some of the items that you do not need on trek can be left in Tbilisi. A detailed equipment list will be sent with confirmation of booking. No vaccinations are required to entry Georgia. We will apply for a group visa and will send the appropriate forms on receipt of your booking form.
Day 1: Arrive in Tbilisi. You will be met at the airport and transfer to the hotel in the city center.
Day 2: Drive to the town Telavi in Kakheti province. On the way visit David Gareji Monastery and walk up to Udabno Monastery. These contain ancient frescos and fine cave architecture. Accommodation at a beautifully designed guesthouse. Possible Excursion to "Batonistsikhe" - the former residence of Kakhetian tsars. Hotel. Dinner.
Day 3: Depart for Tusheti (the mountain road being steep and rough). Along the way we pass wonderful scenery and dense pine forests. We cross the Main Caucasian Ridge over Abano Pass, 2930 m, and stop for a lunch below the pass. Continue down to the mountainous Tusheti and the Village Shenako (6-7 hrs drive from Telavi) where we stay at a village house.
Day 4: We will start our trek passing the village Diklo - the last inhabited point in the gorge. From the village along a narrow path we cross a pass and descend to the Pirikita Alazani Gorge. Passing the village Chigo located on a steep slope, have a lunch and continue trekking along the Pirikita Alazani gorge to the village of Dartlo. The two sides of the gorge have very different vegetation. The slopes on the right side of the gorge are grassy and on the left hand are covered by the rich pine tree forests. Our camp is on the bank of the river, 1850 m, 6-7 hrs walking. The village there with ancient towers makes a wonderful view. Relax before the dinner.
Day 5: We walk up the Pirikita Alazani Gorge to the village Parsma, along a wide path through alpine meadows along the river. 5hrs. We pass old and uninhabited villages with guard towers. In summer shepherds use some houses. Stopover to view the most preserved towers and lunch in the village Chisho. The village Parsma is the one of the last inhabited points in this part of the gorge with a few families living here. Overnight in the chalet at 1960 m.
Day 6: Continuing up the Pirikita Alazani, the path becomes narrower. We lunch at shepherds hut before the gorge gets narrow and heading towards the Atsunta Pass up grassy slopes. Camp at 2400 m. There is a wonderful view of the mountains.
Day 7: We ascend the Atsunta Pass 3430 m. At first the path (very narrow) lies over gentle grassy slopes but then becomes steeper and stony over steep slopes. Lunch before the steep slopes begin. In spring some streams wash the path after intensive snow melting. While descending the slope becomes gentler and covered by bigger stones, 7hrs walk. After a short stop we descend to the campsite, 1 - 1.5 hrs, at 2700 m in an alpine meadow.
Day 8: Descending to the Andaki Gorge, over grassy slopes covered with the thickets of the Caucasian Rhododendron, to the river Andaki. Our campsite is near the confluence of the rivers Andaki and Chanchakhi, 4 - 5 hrs, 1800 m. It is possible to visit Ardoti, the first Khevsureti's village on our way. Old and ruined houses stand close to the new ones of the same design built by the young people who came back to their father's land. There are the ruins of the only orthodox church in Khevsureti.
Day 9: Today we do a side trip to explore the Chanchakhi Gorge, through which the Chanchakhi River swiftly flows with many rapids and waterfalls, then walk to a settlement at Lower Khakhabo. After stopping to meet the local people, we continue to the settlement at Upper Khakhabo, a mysterious medieval village that is one of the most inaccessible villages in Georgia. Its old tower-type houses were built from the local rocks and are very picturesque. After lunch we return to camp.
Day 10: Descending to the Andaki gorge from Ardoti to Mutso, 2 hrs walk. Opposite to the village there is a fortress, once used by all the neighboring villages for defense. A short detour to view the fortress before having lunch by the river. Walking down the gorge. After 3-4 hrs we get to the village Shatili. Camp at the village at 1375 m. Includes: (D).
Day 11: Shatili village-fortress dates back to the 10th - 12th centuries. In the Middle Ages all the neighboring villages were using it to defend themselves. Short visit the Shatili fortress. Drive to Tbilisi, crossing the Datvis Jvari Pass, 2676 m. and following the deep Aragvi gorge join the Georgian Military Highway. We follow this to Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia, where we visit 6th century Jvari Monastery and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (11th century). Return to our hotel in Tbilisi.
Day 12: Morning city tour in Tbilisi with visits to the Old Town, Narikala citadel. Free afternoon. In the evening farewell dinner tasting delishes Georgian cuisine and wine. Overnight Hotel.
Day 13. Breakfast. Drive to the airport for the return flight home. Trip ends.
Also see tour packages in:
Europe Georgia Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking Cultural Journey
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