Mountains of Georgia
A taste of Georgia at its most traditional. With its location in the Caucasus Mountains, Georgia is home to a complex array of traditional cultures and ethnic groups that live with a foot firmly planted in the past. This trip spends time exploring the remote villages and mountain strongholds that once provided a line of defence against invaders from the north, in some of the least accessible parts of the country.
From Tbilisi we make our way north, visiting the splendid religious monuments of Georgia’s spitirual heart, Mtshkehta, before driving into a land of snow capped peaks and high mountain passes. In Kazbegi we visit the iconic Sameba Church, with its dramatic location on a spur overlooking the village, then explore the nearby Chaukhi Mountains on foot. From here we drive to perhaps the least visited part of the country, the valleys of Khevsureti, where medieval villages and watchtowers evoke a sense of Georgia’s proud military heritage. It was not so long ago that most people here still wore traditional dress, and it feels a world away from the modernising towns and cities of the lowlands.
Georgia is renowned for its excellent wine – in Kakheti we visit a local winery to sample the local tipple, as well as experiencing the life of the old Georgian nobles at Tsinandali.
In Tusheti we continue to explore ancient settlements, pagan shrines and breathtaking valleys crisscrossed by pine forests and rivers flowing from the glaciers beyond. This is Europe at its most remote – little has changed here for generations and the first road to Tusheti was only built in the 1970s. Churches adorned with the skulls of rams hint at archaic customs, still very much a part of everyday life in the towering High Caucasus.
Upon our return to Tbilisi we explore its multi-cultural influences, from Soviet to Persian and Ottoman, visiting its historic old quarter and the excellent National Museum for an insight into its fascinating history.
This is Georgia a little more off the beaten track than most, the Georgia of old that is quickly disappearing. It won’t be around much longer.