Transfer to airport and departure
Today we will explore the tremendous heritage of Georgia’s capital city as we walk through its narrow, cobbled streets, ancient twisted pathways and boulevards, marvelling at the 1500 year history of this great city.
Throughout its history, Tbilisi has been a crucial location for many different trade routes and has been famous for its multi religious and multicultural character. Its diversity and cultural richness can be seen in the magnificence of Tbilisi’s architecture which been influenced by Byzantine, European and Oriental art. In the heart of the old town we will find churches, synagogues, mosques,Caravanserai, and even a Zoroastrian temple as well as the famous Sulphur Baths and glorious ruins of Narikala castle – which was the main fortification of Tbilisi.
After lunch we will enjoy memorable boat trip on the river Mtkvari.
Dinner in a Georgian restaurant with folk show and traditional dances
Overnight in our hotel in Tbilisi.
We will leave Signaghi this morning and drive to David Gareja, acave city out in the semi-desert. Such a stark, remote, steppe-like environment has always attracted hermits seeking solitude and spiritual peace here.
In the sixth century, a small group of Assyrian monks arrived in Georgia. They split up when they reached Georgia, one of them, David, drawn to the desolation and purity of Kakheti, decided to build a monastery there, high up on a bluff overlooking present-day Azerbaijan. For three centuries, it grew slowly – the few devotees who kept up the site lived very simply in small hollows dug into the rock.
The 9th century wall paintings are especially important because of where they are and what they have endured – nearly one thousand years of graffiti has taken its toll on some of the images, not to mention the wind and sand. Most of the frescoes lie just a few meters within cave walls, unprotected by doors from the outside. The biggest threat, though, came not from exposure, but from Soviet artillery fire.
Out of 19 ruins and caves of the once glorious monastery first we visit Lavra and its seven-storey cave and church of Transfiguration where David was buried, then we take a 3 hr walk up to Udabno caves and visit those great frescoes etched on the top of the cliff side as well as dramatic views over Azerbaijan.
We arrive in Tbilisi in the early evening. Time permitting,you may take a stroll up to the Narikala fortress for breathtaking views over the city or take a relaxing sulphur baths in the Old Town.
Today we will explore the Vashlovani National park situated at the extreme eastern edge of Georgia. Established in 1935, the park is famous for its limestone cliffs, arid landscapes and flood plain forests. It is home to the Caucasian leopard, the grey wolf,the brown bear, the striped hyena as well as the Eurasian lynx and the golden jackal. We visit on foot the 5th century castle of Khornabuji and then we have the options exploring different trails by 4WD or on a horseback to enjoy the superb views of the only Savanna-type countryside in Europe.
We drive back to our hotel in Sighnaghi
We will leave the iconic region of Khevsureti this morning and continue our trip through beautiful forests and rustic landscapes where nature’s benevolence can truly make human happiness possible. On our way to the mountains we stop to take a leisurely walk up along the forested pathways to the ruins of Kvetera- an early medieval complex of different palaces, towers and a church famous for its central dome.
After lunch we explore Georgia’s famous wine-growing region of Kakheti where we are welcomed at a local peasant’s old wine-cellar. Herewe learnabout the Kakhetian way of wine-making which in 2016 was listed as UNESCO World Heritage Intangible Site. Here, the wine-maker will tell us the way his ancestors preserved this tradition after which we will have a chance to taste red and white wines straight from the clay jars buried in ground.
In the evening we reach the small, Late-Medieval town of Sighnaghi and stay here for one night.Popularly considered the place of romance and love, the town has a well-preserved city-wall, small, winding streets and offers great views of the Alazani valley with the Caucasus Mountains in the background.
Overnight in Sighnaghi.
After breakfast we will leave town and continue on to visit 18th century Ananuri Castle-a beautiful complex of different churches and watch-towers looking out over a water reservoir. After our visit of the site,we continue our adventurous drive to the small, mountainous region of Georgia-Khevsureti. Encircled by the snow-capped glaciers of the Caucasus, hidden away from the surrounding world, Khevsureti towered villages are like nowhere else in Europe and are places that feel so exotic, unique and magical, a place where ancient pagan traditions have survived, and where medieval fortress villages still stand guard over sacred altars in the valleys.
Today we visit Anatori- medieval communal tombs, where,in times of plague infected villagers would voluntarily enter and wait for death, then explore the fortified village of Mutso and finally take a gentle stroll through Shatili-an ethnographic museum-settlement of Khevsureti.
Overnight in Shatili.
In the morning we will start our drive along Georgia’s famous Military highway first mentioned as a major route linking the Roman Empire to the Caucasus by Strabo as early as the 1st century A.D. We leave dense deciduous forests far behind as we head up to the heart of the Great Caucasus Mountains famous for their snow-capped glaciers and alpine meadows. Driving to Sno canyon we pass Medieval towers and roaring rivers to stop in Juta (2200m) one of the remote villages where we visit one of the local families to observe traditional cheese-making and learn more about their different traditions and customs.
Our next destination is the main town of the region, Stepantsminda, where we head straight to a local hunter’s house to enjoy home–made dishes as well as observing and learning the secrets of Georgian cuisine as we are shown the cooking and baking of local delicacies : Khinkali and Khachapuri.
Later, we drive to the 14th century Gergeti Trinity church from where spectacular views of different snow-capped glaciers and canyons open up. Weather permitting, we may also be able to catch a glimpse of one of the highest glaciers in the Caucasus – Mt. Kazbegi (5047m).
Overnight in Stepantsminda
Arrival in Tbilisi and transfer to our hotel.