Transfer to the airport and departure.
After breakfast we will continue our trip in East Georgia. First we drive through different villages and beautiful countryside to the Gremi complex-once a symbol of the thriving cultural and political life of Kakheti region and the capital of the area before Persian Shah Abas razed it down to the ground. Giving an impression of floating in the air over the river, the Gremi complex includes the church of Archangels with its beautiful frescos and the adjacent royal tower as well as the ruins of different old bath-houses and watchtowers.
Our alfresco lunch will be held by a local family in their house where we will have the unique chance to taste delicious Georgian home-made dishes and drinks.
After lunch we visit the hill-top town of Signaghi- a place of romance and love as it has been called in recent years. Perched on the mountain cliff with its 4.5 km. long defensive wall from the 18th century, Sighnaghi is one of the prettiest towns in the country, still retaining its original scent and style with its narrow, cobbled streets full of one or two storey houses with bright red tiled roofs and beautifully carved balconies . The city has wonderful views over the Alazani valley to the snow capped Caucasus mountains beyond.
We arrive back in Tbilisi in the evening.
Today we will have the best opportunity to pay tribute to the ancient traditions of one of the world’s first wine-makers as we visit East Georgia’s Kakheti region famous for its fertile valleys, endless lines of vineyards, ancient monasteries, castles and delicious cuisine.
In the morning we drive to visit the administrative centre of Kakheti-Telavi. Our first place of interest are the New and Old Shuamta nunneries hidden away in deciduous forests. Then we continue to Duke Alexander Chavchavadze’s estate which was an intellectual centre for European and Russian poets, writers and painters in the 19th century.
After lunch we drive to a local winery where we will visit its wine museum and where local wine-makers will give us an interesting insight about the role and importance of wine in Georgia. After wine-tasting we drive to Telavi and overnight there.
We will leave Borjomi after breakfast and continue to the town of Gori for a photo stop at the family home and now museum dedicated to the infamous Soviet leader (and native-born Georgian) Joseph Stalin. We then continue our trip to Ulistsikhe-ancient town with palaces, hallways, streets and amphitheatres carved into the massive mountain slope. Established in the 2nd millennium B.C as a pagan temple-town, it later became an important base for traders on the Silk Road, on their way from China to Europe.
We arrive in Tbilisi in the early evening and check in at our hotel.
In the morning we will explore Georgia’s southernmost frontiers as we drive down to the town of Akhaltsikhe. Following narrow countryside roads along the upstream of the Mtkvari river,we will pass towering Khertvisi fortress erected on the top of the cliff and rich Vardzia- the largest man made cave-city in Europe which is fully cut into a towering cliff face. Founded by King George III in the 12th century as a support point for the Georgian army against different enemies Vardzia, as a monastic complex mainly developed by his daughter and successor Tamar. Damaged after a devastating earthquake in the 15th century, complex features over 600 caves including refectories , churches, wine-cellars and halls.
After our adventurous visit to the caves we drive back to our hotel in Borjomi for the night.
After Breakfast we will leave Batumi and continue our journey to Vani- an ancient temple-town of Old Colchis Empire where beautiful examples of gold and silver jewelry and coins have been found in the pagan temples and sacrificial altars from the 8th century BC. Afterwards we continue our trip to South Georgia famous for its deciduous forests, alpine meadows and natural spa springs .In the early evening we reach the small spa-town of Borjomi and take a gentle walk in its mineral water park dating back to 1850.
Overnight in at our hotel in Borjomi
In the late morning we will visit historic quarter of Batumi and its sea-front promenade, then continue to the fort of Aphasarus (3rd century AD)-Roman style citadel where, according to historians, Matthew, one of the apostles of Christ, was buried.
We have free-time in the afternoon for resting or more sight-seeing.
Overnight in a hotel in Batumi
After breakfast we will start our morning tour by visiting the local open-air peasants’ market where we will enjoy the multi-scented ambiance of different herbs, spices, sugar dusted dried fruits, seeds and a variety of chili powders.
Later we enjoy Georgia’s one of the natural wanders-Prometheus Cave and take a walk in the underground paradise of different stalactites, stalagmites, petrified waterfalls, and underground rivers and lakes.
After lunch we continue our way to the Black Sea side region of Adjara famous for its subtropical forests, ancient forts and beautiful coastline. We visit local the botanical gardens before driving to the summer capital of Georgia and center of the region- the city of Batumi
Overnight in a hotel in Batumi
In the morning we take a 4 WD to drive to Gergety Trinity church perched on the top of the mountain from where open out spectacular views of different snow-capped glaciers and canyons and then continue our way to West Georgia via Rikoti Pass which is said to be the borderline between Europe and Asia. We head to the town of Kutaisi which is believed to have been the capital of the Dazzling Empire of the sun -Colchis around 3000 years ago where, according to Apollonius of Rhodes and Euripides, a group of the Greek heroes led by Jason arrived in search of the Golden Fleece.
First, we make our way to the 12th century Gelati Academy-one of the country’s most treasured religious and cultural landmarks. Built by the famous king of Georgia, David the Builder, as great memorial of his victory over the Turks, the academy was one of the first institutions of higher education founded in the Middle Ages. This UNESCO World Heritage Site of Georgia is renowned for its Academy building and several churches with beautiful mosaics and rich frescos.
Overnight in a hotel in Kutaisi.
Today we will leave the capital of Georgia to visit the spiritual heart of Georgia- at Mtskheta- the first capital of Georgian empire from the 3rdcentury BC to the 5thcentury AD. First we drive up to the mountains to visit one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Mtskheta – 6th century Jvari (Holy Cross) monastery and enjoy the spectacular views of Mtskheta and the confluence of the two rivers below .
Then, we drive down to the town dominated by the impressive cathedral called Svetitskhoveli – a 11th century building which means literally “Life-Giving Pillar”. According to ancient legend, the first church (4th century AD) was built on the burial site of Christ’s robe.
Afterwards, we continue our trip to the Mukhrani valley to visit the Pagan temple-town of Dzalisi (3rd century BC) where archaeologists have unearthed the remains of several palaces, hypo-caustic baths, a swimming-pool, an acropolis, barracks for soldiers, an atrium as well as the oldest floor mosaics found in the Caucasus depicting Ariadne and Dionysus in a banquet scene.
Our afternoon drive along Georgia’s famous Military highway takes us to the Great Caucasus Mountains. En-route we visit Ananuri Architectural Complex overlooking a man-made lake.
In the evening we reach the town of Stepantsminda and check in a hotel.