Georgia tour, jewel of the Caucasus

“An eight day, small group tour taking in Georgia’s top highlights, from the Caucasus Mountains to cultural gems, staying in both hotels and small locally owned guesthouses.”

Highlights

Tbilisi | Mtskhehta | Jvari Pass | Kazbegi | High Caucasus Mountains | Gori | Uplistsikhe | Kutaisi | Svaneti | Mestia | Ushguli | Mount Shkhara

Description of Georgia tour, jewel of the Caucasus

This small group Georgia tour takes you to the jewel of the Caucasus, and one of Europe most fascinating and undiscovered places. You’ll not only see the main highlights, but also get the chance to delve a little deeper, getting to know its proud and cultured people and to understand its complicated history and heritage.

The tour kicks off in colourful Tbilisi, full of galleries, parks, and beautiful architecture, from where you’ll head to one of the oldest cities in Georgia and the country’s spiritual heart, photogenic Mtskhehta, which is home to a fine collection of UNESCO listed monuments.

A drive into the High Caucasus Mountains comes next, where you’ll visit Mount Kazbek, a place rich in mythology, where Prometheus was chained to a mountainside, according to Greek legend. Next on the agenda is Svaneti, home to the unique Svan people and one of the continent’s most remote and traditional areas; a land of soaring mountains and atmospheric stone villages, where Christianity and Pagan beliefs go hand in hand.

Returning to Tbilisi, you’ll explore the diverse culture and history of this fascinating city, which has been home to a host of different peoples from the Ottomans to the Persians to the Soviets. On the agenda is a visit to the National Museum and an exploration of the historic old quarter.

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Check dates

2019: 11 May, 14 Sep
2020: 9 May, 12 Sep
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Georgia tour, jewel of the Caucasus

Environment

Some of the time on this tour is spent in towns and cities, but we do spend a significant proportion of the trip exploring the countryside and wilder areas of the region. We brief our travellers to stick to the trails so as not to disturb this unique landscape and leave it for others to enjoy. These countries were part of the Soviet Union and as such western European norms regarding the environment are not so well entrenched, therefore it is quite common for local people to dispose of rubbish simply by throwing it out of the window. We operate a strict no litter policy on our tours, and work to educate our drivers and other service providers so as to avoid contributing to this problem.

Similarly, in conjunction with our local team we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters – in some places this is far behind what we might be used to in other parts of the world. This includes basic things like not replacing towels - small things but the Caucasus especially outside of the capital cities is not as used to tourism as countries in western Europe.

In Svaneti we stay in small guesthouses which make a point of using local produce for the meals it provides – local in the sense of being from the village and surrounding area, not from elsewhere. Not only is this a great introduction to the culinary culture of Georgia but it helps in a small way to cut down on food miles.

Community

On all of tours we strive to include a strong focus on local communities and we are firm believers that tourism should have a positive impact on the places visited. On this tour we spend time in the remote province of Svaneti, tucked away in the High Caucasus mountains. We stay at locally owned guesthouses and hotels and where appropriate employ the services of local people in order not only to gain a greater insight into the complex traditions here but to ensure that they gain financial benefit from our visit, rather than just being ‘exhibits’. The communities here do not have a wealth of opportunities to earn money, and tourism helps to bring vital income to the region. It also helps to ensure that there is employment for young people – a key problem with many of the more isolated communities in this part of the world is that younger generations migrate to the cities due to a lack of employment opportunities, and this has a negative impact upon such places, meaning that traditions start to die out. The presence of tourism helps, in a small way, to keep the traditional ways alive.

These are very traditional areas with certain codes of behaviour, and the people here are not that accustomed to outsiders. We ensure that our travellers are appropriately briefed in order so as not to offend local sensibilities. This can include appropriate behaviour in front of local shrines, and the customs of Georgian hospitality. This also applies to the numerous churches and monasteries that we visit on this trip; Georgia is a deeply religious country and it is important that we respect these traditions.

We visit a number of sites and monuments on this tour that do not necessarily receive much funding from other sources; the entrance fees that we include help to maintain the heritage of this country for future generations – not just western travellers but more importantly to local people to whom they have far more cultural and historical significance. We use locally owned suppliers and our partners here are deeply involved with the preservation of the culture and heritage of the country. Many of the region’s sites have been poorly maintained in the past and entrance fees play an important part in their restoration and conservation.

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