Route: TBILISI – GORI – KUTAISI – VARDZIA – BAKURIANI – BORJOMI – UPLITSIKHE – GUDAURI – KAZBEGI – MTSKHETA – TELAVI – SIGHNAGHI
Duration: 10 days / 9 nights
Land Cost: $3,599-$4200
Single supplement: $780
2013 Small Group Tours
July 8- 17, 2013
Day 01: Tbilisi
Arrive in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Meet one of our representatives at the airport, who will assist you in reaching your hotel for accommodation.
Day 02: Tbilisi
Discover Tbilisi, a beautiful and historical Silk Road Center, whose narrow streets and wondrous architecture date back centuries. Visit awe-inspiring churches, synagogues, and mosques. Founded in the 5th century by Vakhtang Gorgasali, the Georgian King of Kartli (Iberia), Tbilisi became the capital city in the 6th century and is now a significant industrial, social, and cultural center. Be entranced by the Metechi Church of the Holy Virgin (5th c.; rebuilt 13th c.). Explore the Old City's Bath District and Narikala Castle. Walk down Shardeni Street, where wonderful cafes and restaurants will entice you. Afterwards, visit the Sioni and Anchiskhati Churches, as well as the Sameba Holy Trinity Cathedral, often called the "Millennium Building". Sameba is the greatest Orthodox cathedral in Georgia and the Caucasus: it is a synthesis of cross–domed and central-domed churches. Head to the Georgian National Art Museum where you can find all kinds of old country-houses and castles in the Georgian architectural style. Traverse Rustaveli Avenue, alongside of which stands the Georgian Parliament. Enjoy a panoramic view of the Old City. Dinner.
Day 03: Tbilisi – Gori – Kutaisi (300km)
Drive to Gori, a city founded by David the Builder (1089–1125), one of the greatest kings of Georgia. On the way, marvel at Samtavisi, an 11th century Georgian Orthodox cathedral. Originally, the monastery was established by the Assyrian missionary Isidore in 572, and later rebuilt in the 10th century, although only remnants of it remain. Once in Gori, visit the Joseph Stalin Museum (entrance fee: $6). Afterwards, on the way to Kutaisi, stop at a ceramic market, where you can learn how locals design different household items. Kutaisi is the second largest city in western Georgia, dating back approximately 40 centuries. It is the former capital of the Colchis Kingdom, to which the myth of the Golden Fleece is related. Investigate the Bagrati Temple (11th c. UNESCO Heritage Site), Gelati Monastery (12th c. UNESCO Heritage Site), and smaller Motsameta Monastery, spectacularly situated on the edge of a cliff.
Day 04: Kutaisi – Vardzia – Bakuriani (450km)
Pass by Khertvisi Castle (9th – 10th c..) on the way to Vardzia. Vardzia, a rock-hewn complex on the left bank of the Mtkvari River, was established in 12th – 13th c., during the reign of Giorgi III and Queen Tamar. Initially planned to be a town-fortress, the complex became a well-fortified monastery, which played a significant role in Georgia's political, cultural, educational, and spiritual life. In the middle of the complex, explore the Church of Assumption, richly decorated with mural paintings. Afterwards, drive to the famous Georgian ski resort Bakuriani.
Day 05: Bakuriani – Borjomi – Uplistsikhe – Gudauri (350.km)
Set out for Borjomi. Stop and taste delicious the region's special natural mineral water. Take some time to walk through the beautiful Borjomi Park. On the way to Gudauri, another Georgian ski resort, visit Uplistsikhe, "The Lord's Fortress" . This ancient, mountainous town in eastern Georgia was built on the Mtkvari River's rocky left bank, and holds various structures dating from the 2000 BC to the Late Middle Ages. It is notable for its unique combination of rock sculptures. Later, head up the famous Georgian Military Highway into Gudauri. Along the scenic route, which provides a perfect opportunity to gaze at the Caucasus Mountains, visit the Ananuri Architectural Complex (17th c.). Its two churches and grand fortress overlook the Zhinvali Water Reservoir.
Day 06: Gudauri – Kazbegi – Tbilisi (200km)
Take a stunning drive along the Tergi River to reach Kazbegi, the region's main town. From Kazbegi, trek 1.5 hours to Gergeti Trinity Church (2170m) through striking valleys and woodland. Weather permitting, catch a glimpse of Mount Kazbegi (5047m), one of the highest glaciers in the Caucasus. Walk back to town before returning to Gudauri. From there, drive to Dariali Gorge* on your way back to Tbilisi. On the way, visit a local village and watch residents embroider, create felt accessories, and paint icons. Arrive in Tbilisi, the capital and largest city of Georgia. It covers an area of 372 km² (144 mi²) and has 1,093,000 inhabitants.
Drive to Dariali Gorge or Trinity Church, you will need 4X4 vehicles. In the case of group travel, we can rent 4X4 cars on the spot ($15 per person for both sights).
Day 07: Mtskheta – Tbilisi (100km)
Travel to Mtskheta, the ancient capital and religious center of Georgia. Explore the 3000-year-old city's historical sites, such as the Jvari Church (6th c.) and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (11th c.), where the Robe of Christ is buried. Both locations are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Return to Tbilisi.
Day 08: Tbilisi – Telavi (200km)
Journey to east Georgia. Take a wine-tasting tour in the Kakheti region at the Tsinandali Wine Cellar and Chavchavadze House Museum (entrance fee: $3 (without wine testing) to $12 (6 samples of wine)). Sightsee in Telavi, the administrative center of Kakheti. The first archaeological findings from Telavi date back to the Bronze Age. Enjoy an excursion to the residence of King Erekle the II and the Shuamta Monasteries (5th – 17th c.). The Shuamta Complex is made up of three churches, each built in a different century. The Ikalto Monastery (5th c.) was the largest center of culture and education in its time. Choose to enjoy the optional ethnic farewell dinner in Telavi's "Kakhuri Ezo" restaurant, where you will experience the traditions of Georgian bread baking, Churchkhela making, Mtsvadi (Shashlik) roasting, and Khinkali cooking, and where you can taste and compare three different wines ($40 per person; includes dinner, wine, and "master classes" in Georgian cuisine).
Day 09: Telavi – Sighnaghi – Tbilisi (200km)
Visit the Bodbe Monastery, where you can see the tomb of St. Nino from Cappadocia. St. Nino is one of the most venerated saints in the Georgian Orthodox Church, and her symbol, a grapevine cross, is an emblem of Georgian Christianity. Later, drive to Sighnaghi, the "Love Town," famous for its wine and traditional carpets. Explore the Sighnaghi Town Museum, one of the smallest, but best, in Georgia. Drive back to Tbilisi, and delight in some free time.
Day 10: Tbilisi
Transfer to the airport for departure.
This tour program INCLUDES the following:
- Visa support
- Private transportation
- Experienced English-speaking guide
- Entrance fees to the historical sites
- Hotel accommodation with breakfast
- Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
- Essential basic travel insurance
- Pre Departure Travel Package
This tour program DOES NOT INCLUDE the following: