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Walk the Caucasus Mountains
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Walk the Caucasus Mountains

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 10 day(s)
Group Size: 1 - 10 people
Destination(s): Georgia  
Specialty Categories: Hiking & Trekking   Camping  
Season: May - October
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
Minimum Per Person Price: 900 Euro (EUR)
Maximum Per Person Price: 900 Euro (EUR)

Brief Itinerary:

Day 1: Exploring Tbilisi, off to Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park.

Day 2: Hike in National Park on Saint Andrew's Trail, Atskuri, Amarati hike.

Day 3: Amarati, Alpine Shelter Hike.

Day 4: Alpine Shelter, Didi Sakhvlari Hike.

Day 5: Didi Sakhvlari, Marelisi Hike.

Day 6: Back to Tbilisi, free evening.

Day 7: Drive from Tbilisi to Omalo, Tusheti Protected Areas, our base for 3 days' hike.

Day 8: Omalo - Gomertsi Gorge - Jvarbosheli.

Day 9: Omalo - Dartlo traditional village.

Day 10: Omalo - Telavi - Alaverdi Cathedral.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Exploring Tbilisi and off to Borjomi.

Morning meeting with group participants and tour leader at our hotel in Tbilisi for pre-tour briefing. We have time to visit the Old Town, with its churches, monuments, famous sulfur baths and wooden houses with carved balconies. We visit the 4th century Narikala Fortress with excellent panoramic views of the city and 3-hour transfer to Atskuri, the starting point for our exploration of Borjormi-Kharagauli National Park. Overnight at a family run guesthouse.
Overnight: Guesthouse in Atskuri Meal plan: Breakfast.

Day 2: Atskuri - Amarati.

Today we embark on a trail that follows the historic footpath of Apostle Andrew crossing the park from north to south. We will spend 4 days in the park, the total length of the trail is 54 km, the highest peak along this route is 2 642 m. Today's route begins at the Ranger Station.

We first pass the Ranger Station and later an enclosure with Bezoar goats that are part of a WWF project aiming for reintroduction of the National Park. The trail leads uphill through the forest; in about 2 hours we will reach the sub-alpine zone. At the end of the day, we will reach Amarati Tourist Shelter, a basic wooden cabin (hiking 16 km, 6 hours). Overnight: Amarati Tourist Shelter. Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Day 3: Amarati – Alpine Shelter.

From Amarati the trail leads along grassy slopes, going up and downhill at times. Take a look at huge rock formations around and enjoy the wonderful views from the ridge. At the end of the second day on the trail, we will reach the highest peak of the National Park at 2 462m above sea level. If we are lucky and the sky is clear we can enjoy the view of the Great Caucasus range and the Black Sea.

In the alpine zone in the sea of clouds we will see a small ranger shelter, which is used for tourist accommodation, there are only 4 places in the shelter, the rest of the group will camp around the shelter (hiking 9 km, 5.30 hours). Overnight: Alpine Shelter. Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Day 4: Alpine Shelter - Didi Sakhvlari.

We will make an early start to the day, as it is the longest and the most challenging. Starting from the ranger shelter we will follow the wider trail on alpine meadows and amongst beautiful rock formations. And there are still a couple of hours to enjoy the fresh air of the summit. We are now reaching the north side of the National Park, and we can easily notice the change in the climate.

After a couple of hours we find ourselves immersed in the green heaven of the broadleaved forest and slowly start descending. Once we arrive at the bottom of the valley we will come to the junction of two rivers where the tourist shelter of Didi Sakhvlari is located (hiking 18 km, 8 hours). Overnight: Didi Sakhvlari Shelter. Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Day 5: Didi Sakhvlari - Marelisi.

A relaxed day. Across the trail there is a noisy river running from the mountains hidden amongst the broadleaved forest. While crossing the eleven small wooden bridges scattered along the trail we will feel the power of the refreshing river. After a while we find ourselves on the top of winding downhill section. Heading down we will feel that the tour is nearly to the end.

The last valley ahead takes us to the National Park Ranger shelter from where there another 40 minutes' walk to the National Park Guesthouse in Marelisi. Marelisi is a remote village in the north of the park. It is a thriving community where we will have a chance to see traditional rural activities including wine making, bee keeping and traditional crafts (hiking 13 km, 4 hours). Overnight: Guesthouse in Marelisi Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch.

Day 6: Tbilisi.

Back to Tbilisi, free evening. Transfer to Tbilisi, free day to relax and enjoy the bustling city at your own pace. Overnight: Hotel in Tbilisi Meal plan: Breakfast.

Day 7: Tbilisi - Omalo.

Final gear check and we leave Tbilisi after breakfast. We board our 4WD vehicles for a journey to the historical province of Tusheti, a land of sheep-herders and Gouda cheese, one of the most unspoiled regions in the Caucasus. This is a protected area located 1 500 – 4 500 m above sea level and is one of the biggest high altitude parks in Europe. We drive to Alvani and cross the Main Caucasus Range over Abano Pass around 3 000 m, a long but spectacular drive.

Continue through Chanchakhovni Ravine and arrive at Omalo village at 2000 meters. Due to Omalo's high mountain location on the northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range and the absence of well-maintained roads, it is largely isolated from the rest of Georgia for most of the year. We walk up to the restored fortress of Keselo and explore ethnographic monuments. Overnight: Guesthouse in Omalo. Meal plan: Breakfast.

Day 8: Omalo – Jvarboseli.

In the morning we leave Omalo and walk up towards Gogorati Mountain. On the slopes of Gomertsi Gorge we can see traditional tush villages with watchtowers. We will visit a place of worship, have rest and descend to Jvarboseli located on the left bank of Alazani River. We can see a cluster of villages on the hillside, such arrangement of villages was intended to support each other during invasions. We explore Jvarboseli, a tribal center, the ruins of the fortress overlook an old church and the village, back to Omalo (hiking 10 km, 6 hours). Overnight: Guesthouse in Omalo. Meal plan: Breakfast.

Day 9: Omalo – Dartlo.

This morning we will walk along a fabulous winding path through deep pine forest, Off to Dartlo where we explore the mysterious Tush watchtowers used to alert villagers to attacks. Dartlo at 1 666 m is one of the most attractive villages of Tusheti. We will walk accompanied by views surpassing the wildest imagination. The hike is long but not difficult and we will reach Dartlo in the late afternoon. We will enjoy the magnificent views, learn about the chronicles of the past days and return to Omalo (hiking 10 km, 6 hours). Overnight: Guesthouse in Omalo. Meal plan: Breakfast.

Day 10: Back to Tbilisi.

Transfer from Omalo to Telavi, visit Alaverdi Cathedral, the main spiritual centre of Kakheti, Georgia’s wine growing region. Arrival Tbilisi, rest and overnight. Overnight: Hotel in Tbilisi. Meal plan: Breakfast.

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

All the following departures are available:
- 22 May, 2011
- 20 Jun., 2011
- 12 Jul., 2011
- 5 Aug., 2011
- 15 Sep., 2011
- 1 Oct., 2011.

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