Expedition into Remote Svaneti

An enigma, wild, remote and very less-trodden, the Svaneti region packs jaw-dropping picturesque villages with stunning Caucasus Mountains backdrops, medieval defensive towers and some of the most hospitable people. Journey on this expedition to uncover the secrets of Svaneti. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Uncover Svaneti's stunning landscapes and villages

Stay in boutique and charming hotels and guesthouses

Sample the most palettable traditional Georgian cuisines and wine

ITINERARY

DAY 1: ARRIVE TBILISI

Arrive Tbilisi - capital of Georgia as we begin a historic tour of the city that dates back to the 5th Century. Visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral, one of the largest orthodox cathedrals in the world. Take a walk on the unique bow-shaped Bridge of Peace - perhaps one of the most visually-stunning contemporary bridges anywhere in Europe and an unmistakable icon of Tbilisi. We then continue over the Mtkvavi River to the historic Abanotubani area, adorned with the many domes of Tbilisi's famous sulphur baths set against the backdrop of the Narikala Fortress before arriving and checking in to the boutique and charming Rooms Hotel Tbilisi

Overnight: Rooms Hotel Tbilisi, Tbilisi

Meals: NIL

DAY 2: TBILISI / NATAKHTARI / MESTIA

After an early breakfast, be transferred to Natakhtari (35mins drive from Tbilisi) where you will hop on a small aircraft on a short but scenic flight journey to Mestia in the beautiful Svaneti region. Upon arrival at Mestia Queen Tamar Airport, be met by your driver as we check in at the Hotel Banguriani for bag drop before taking a drive to the starting point of the hiking trail to the magnificent and stunning Chaladi Glacier. On a guided walk, we explore the valley of the Mestiachala River surrounded by awe-inspiring high peaks and enjoy a picnic-styled lunch in the stunning surroundings of nature before marvelling at the glacier. Return back to Mestia thereafter where you will be warmly welcome for a wonderful and authentic home-styled dinner. 

Overnight: Hotel Banguriani, Mestia

Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner

DAY 3: MESTIA / ETSERI / MAZERI VILLAGE IN BECHO

After breakfast, we will make a drive to Etseri village where we begin our hiking expedition in proper. The route begins from 1,680m altitude from the village road. The snow-capped peak of Mount Chirinda and alpine meadows are seen from the north. We pass by the villages of the Etseri community: Iskari, Kurashi, Barshi, Cherili and then walk upwards and right to the direction of the Baki Pass witnessing the rhododendrons in season. On the hike, the dramatic landscape of coniferous forests greets us as we head to the village of Tvebishi. As we continue, we see the Svaneti ridge to the south, the Ushba-Mazeri massif to the northeast, the River Dolra valley and villages of the Becho community to the east and Meziri Church of Archangel situated on a ridge. 

Trekking Distance: 15km

Duration: 6 to 8 hours

Highest elevation: 2,460m

Overnight: Guesthouse in Mazeri

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 4: MESTIA / KUTAISI / BORJOMI

We say farewell to Mestia today and transfer to Mestia Queen Tamar Airport for a small aircraft short flight to Kutaisi where on arrival, we will embark on a historic tour of Kutaisi - Georgia's second-largest city with a significant history and importance. Visit the UNESCO-listed Bagrati Cathedral, built between the 10th and 11th Centuries and named after Bagrat III, the first king of Georgia. We will also visit the impressive Gelati Monastery, also a UNESCO site and built in the 12th Century and only completed in the 17th Century. The Gelati Monastery had witnessed the most glorious era of Georgia and decorated with fine mosaics and relics and is renowned for one of Georgia's most celebrated king, King David The Builder's legacy. Finally, we drive to the opposite hill to visit the cliff-perched Motsameda Monastery which dates back to the 11th Century with stunning views of the gorge and bend of the Tskhaltsitela River. Thereafter, we continue our journey to Borjomi, a historical area renowned for its rich mineral springs and exceptional pre-alpine setting. 

Overnight: Crowne Plaza, Borjomi

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 5: BORJOMI (EXCURSION TO VARDZIA)

After breakfast, consider a stroll nearby to the Mineral Water Park which dates back to the 1850s and nestled amongst a stretch of wooded forest along the Borjomula River. Spend some relaxing moments here admiring the iconic Glass Pavilion housing the mineral water tap and the beautiful nature before taking a drive through changing sceneries and spectacular mountain passes to the spectacular cave city of Vardzia where we witness the splendours of this tiered cave city with hundreds of dwellings, transitions, ladders, churches, libraries, workshops and is still currently home to monks. On our return, we visit the Khertvisi Fortress, set atop a high rocky outcrop and is one of the most stunning fortresses in Georgia. 

Overnight: Crowne Plaza, Borjomi

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 6: BORJOMI / GORI / UPLISTSIKHE / KAZBEGI

Leave Borjomi today and drive eastwards towards the city of Gori where we will visit the Joseph Stalin Museum, showcasing fascinating exhibits documenting the former Soviet leader's life. The museum includes the memorial house where Stalin was believed to have been born, an exhibition building, and Stalin's personal train car, in which he travelled to Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam. Thereafter, we continue to the stunning ancient cave city of Uplistsikhe, one of the earliest cities in Georgia which went through some of the most storied invasions in the ancient world. Finally, we will drive northwards along the Georgian Military Highway to Kazbegi, travelling on some of the most stunning drives in the world past astonishing landscapes against the backdrop of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. En route, we will visit the Ananuri Fortress, built in the 13th Century and was the seat of the Dukes of Aragyi spanning over 600 years of history. Two churches comprise part of the complex, with the larger Church of Assumption boasting elaborate facades, a large carved grapevine cross and remnants of stunning frescoes. We then arrive into the Rooms Hotel Kazbegi, a remarkable hotel with probably the most beautiful setting in all of Georgia directly facing Mount Kazbegi. 

Overnight: Rooms Hotel Kazbegi, Kazbegi

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 7: KAZBEGI

After breakfast, we will take advantage of the early morning air to embark on a hike through the villages to the iconic Gergeti Tsminda Sameba Trinity Church, built in the 14th Century and situated nearly 7,000 feet up on the hill. From this spot, you will have unforgettable views of Mount Kazbegi, rising over 16,500 feet and covered with glaciers and permafrost. As we return down, enjoy a late lunch in a guesthouse with authentic Kazbegi-styled cuisine. Then spend the rest of the day rejuvenating from the hike.

 

Remarks:

The hike each way takes about 2 hours and we strongly discourage the hiring of vehicle due to extremely bad road conditions as well as horrendous traffic. Hiking allows you to see the villages, sceneries in greater depth and perspective

Overnight: Rooms Hotel Kazbegi, Kazbegi

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

DAY 8: KAZBEGI / MTSKHETA / TELAVI

We bid farewell to Kazbegi today as we once again return on the drive on the Georgian Military Highway. En route, we make a stop at the amazing Russia-Georgia Friendship Monument, built in 1983 to celebrate the bicentennial of the Treaty of Georgievsk. Later, we continue our drive to Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia and a UNESCO World Heritage site where Georgia's conversion to Christianity started here in 337AD and is considered one of Georgia's most important religious centers. Visit the Jvari Monastery perched on a cliff overlooking Mtskheta before continuing next to the Svetiskhoveli Cathedral, renowned as the burial site of Christ's mantle, has long been the principal Georgian church and remains one of the most venerated places of worship to this day. We spend some time in the historic quarter of Mtskheta before continuing our journey into the Kakheti region to arrive into the beautiful surroundings of the unusual, boutique and charming Chateau Mere

Overnight: Chateau Mere, Telavi

Meals: Breakfast  

DAY 9: TELAVI (WINE COUNTRY OF KAKHETI)

We spend an amazing day out sampling the superb wines of the Kakheti region - undoubtedly Georgia's wine country. Begin with a visit to the splendid Khareba Winery where the wines are produced and stored in 15 connected tunnels lined with thousands of bottles of Khareba wines. We will also have the opportunity to participate in traditional "grape crushing" (in harvest season) and sample wine from a drinking horn that have been passed down for generations from the early days for centuries. Thereafter, continue to the beautiful town of Sighnaghi, surrounded by a city wall, cobblestoned streets and alleys and colourful houses that gave it its character and charm. Visit Pheasant's Tears, a boutique winery and restaurant showcasing some of the best kept secrets of Georgia - an amazing array of artisanal wines and we enjoy over a sumptuous "Omakase-styled" lunch with amazing flavours in a cute, comfortable and charming setting. Later, visit the Bodbe Monastery of St Nino - one of the most beautiful monasteries built in the 12th Century with amazing panorama of the mountains and villages in the heart of Kakheti. 

Overnight: Chateau Mere, Telavi

Meals: Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 10: TELAVI / TBILISI

An unforgettable journey comes to an end as we transfer to Tbilisi Intl Airport for your onward journey. 

Meals: Breakfast

HOTELS

Rooms Hotel Tbilisi is located in the intellectual neighbourhood of Vera which cleverly incorporates the building's history as a publishing house into its design elements, while also honouring its cultural past with many art and music events. The hotel boasts 125 rooms and suites combining 1930s NYC vibes with old world Tbilisi charm. 

Rooms Hotel Tbilisi, Tbilisi

Hotel Banguriani is located in the center of Mestia surrounded with ancient Svanetian towers, castles and historical sights. There are ancient orthodox church and renovated Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography near the hotel and each room offers splendid views of the town. 

Hotel Banguriani, Mestia

Crowne Plaza Borjomi is located in the heart of Borjomi, a picturesque Georgian spa resort town set within minutes of the Mineral Water Park. Rooms features contemporary design with a hint of nostalgia and elegance to complement its luxurious furnishings. 

Crowne Plaza, Borjomi

Rooms Hotel Kazbegi is nestled at the foot of the dramatic Greater Caucasus Mountains with peaks reaching over 5,000m. Comprising 156 guestrooms, each offers remarkable views out to Mount Kazbegi with amazing aesthetics, comfort. 

Rooms Hotel Kazbegi, Kazbegi

Chateau Mere opened in Sep 2011 near Telavi, the main city of the Kakheti region in Georgia's wine-producing area. Featuring a 1,500 square metres stone castle with 4 pointed towers, rooms offers a sense of nostalgia, design and comfort as well as a winery, restaurant and a pool with tremedous views. 

Chateau Mere, Telavi

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