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Hiking in the Caucasus
8 days
Georgia - Trip code WGEO

Hiking in the Caucasus

Trek in a fascinating, off-beat region, virtually untouched by tourism. Lying among the craggy snow-capped peaks and deep gorges of Georgia's Greater Caucasus Mountains, Svaneti is a region with its own unique history and culture. Stay with the proud Svantian people in remote villages with their distinctive \i koshki\i0 - medieval defensive stone towers. Hike through thick forests to the base of Mount Ushgali, the Chalaadi Glacier and beautiful waterfalls.

Trip highlights

  • Caucasus hikes - Trek to the foot of Mount Ushba, to the Chalaadi Glacier and to the foot of Mount Shkhara
  • Local culture - Spend time among the people of remote Svaneti and learn about their distinct culture
  • Monastery and grottoes - Visit Gelati Monastery and the dramatic Prometheus Caves
  • Kutaisi - Explore Georgia's 'second city' on the banks of the Rioni River
  • Food and drink - Enjoy hearty home-cooked local dishes and Georgian wines
Accommodation grade:
Simple
These are often small, family run establishments or campsites which provide a no-frills experience with adequate amenities and service standards. Sleeping arrangements are simple, sometimes with en suite facilities.
Walking grade:
Moderate
For those who are fit and active, these moderate walks are normally on good paths and tracks at low altitude. Days may include some fairly demanding ascents and descents, so previous experience is preferable but not essential.
Group Size:
10 - 16
Maximum group size ranges from between 6 to 20 people, depending on the type of trip, the transport and accommodation used and activities included. We rarely have groups that are smaller than five or six people and the average is 12 people plus an Explore leader.

Itinerary

Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.

Day 1 - Trip starts in Kutaisi, Georgia's second largest city

The trip starts today in Kutaisi. The capital of western Georgia that has a friendly rivalry with the actual capital Tbilisi, Kutaisi sits on the banks of the Rioni River. On a clear day the Caucasus Mountains can be seen in the far distance to the north. The city has today been revitalised after post-war Russian decline and the Georgian government moved its parliament here in 2012. Note that customers arriving on Wizz Air flights from London Luton will be arriving in the early hours of the following day (Day 2) with rooms ready at the hotel on arrival.

Accommodation: Natela's Guesthouse 'Beqa'(or similar)

Simple Guesthouse
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 2 - Visit Gelati Monastery; drive to Svaneti region

After breakfast this morning we visit the 12th century Gelati Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was one of the main cultural and intellectual centres in Georgia in medieval times. We also call in at a local farmers' market before driving directly to Becho in the region of Svaneti, close to the Russian border. The drive will take us around six hours and the mountain scenery becomes ever more dramatic as we head north. Situated on the southern slopes of the central Caucasus Mountains and surrounded by 3,000 to 5,000 metre peaks, Svaneti is the highest inhabited area in the Caucasus. Its valleys are dotted with beautiful medieval villages where you will see many stone towers, or Koshki, as they are locally known, which were originally built in medieval times to house the villagers and protect them from invaders. It is an area of stunning natural beauty with glaciers, rivers and coniferous forests. The local people, known as Svans, are a distinct ethnic sub-group with their own language and traditions.

Accommodation: Jena's Guesthouse(or similar)

Simple Guesthouse
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast & Dinner
Day 3 - Hike to the base of Mount Ushba

Today's trek takes us from the village of Shkhra through thick forests on a rocky trail to the base of Mount Ushba where we reach a glacier and the beautiful Ushba waterfall. At 4,710 metres, Ushba is commonly known as the 'Matterhorn of the Caucasus' because of its distinct spire-shaped summit. We plan to have a picnic lunch during our hike and enjoy the views before making our way back through the forest and driving deeper into Svaneti to Mestia, our base for the next two nights. Mestia is a large village sited at an elevation of 1500 metres with a population of over 2,600. Today's 11 kilometre walk is expected to take approximately 6 hours with a total ascent and descent of 650 metres.

Accommodation: Family Hotel Kala(or similar)

Simple Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 4 - Trek from Lakhiri to Mestia

This morning we take four-wheel drive vehicles for the short distance to the start of our walk today, a tiny church perched on a hilltop overlooking Mount Shkhara, Georgia's highest peak (5201m). After taking in the views we descend along a small ridge into the forest where there are some steeper sections of the trail. As we emerge from the forest we are treated to superb views of Mount Tetnuldi, Mount Shkhara and the Chalaadi Glacier. Our walk takes us all the way back to Mestia. This afternoon, we plan to take a ride on the Hatsvali cable car. Hatsvali is a small ski resort close to Mestia and the cable car takes us up to a ridge in the Zuruldi range for spectacular high mountain views. Today's 15 kilometre walk is expected to take approximately 5 hours with a total ascent and descent of 400 metres.

Accommodation: Family Hotel Kala(or similar)

Simple Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 5 - Four wheel drive to Ushguli and Mount Guro ascent

This morning we drive to Ushguli, our base for the final two walks of the trip. Our hike today starts with a steep climb out of the village then pass through a small birch forest before heading up beyond the tree line. The view opens up to show us Mount Shkhara, Mount Tetnuldi and Mount Laila. The last 50 metres of the climb to the summit of Mount Guro (3070m) are very steep but we take our time. The views from the top are simply stunning and we spend time enjoying them before making our way back down to the village. Our accommodation tonight is at a simple guesthouse where we share the facilities with the local family who run it and also live there. Today's 10 kilometre walk is expected to take approximately 5 hours with a total ascent and descent of 800 metres.

Accommodation: Nanuli's Guesthouse(or similar)

Simple Guesthouse
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 6 - Trek from the foot of Mount Shkhara to the Shkhara Glacier

Mount Shkhara is Georgia's highest mountain, standing at 5201m, it's the eastern anchor of an imposing 12 kilometre long ridge known as the Bezingi Wall. Our walk to the base of the mountain follows a surprisingly flat trail and for the most part we are rewarded with spectacular views of the peak. As we reach the final approach to the mountain we follow the glacier water and the terrain becomes rockier. Finally we reach the tongue of the glacier, with incredible views up to the craggy, snow-covered sides of Mount Shkhara. We return on the same route and drive back to Mestia via Ushguli. Today's 18 kilometre walk is expected to take approximately 6 hours with a total ascent and descent of 320 metres.

Accommodation: Family Hotel Kala(or similar)

Simple Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 7 - Drive Kutaisi via Dadiani Palace and Prometheus Grotto

Leaving the mountains behind us today we make our way back to Kutaisi via the town of Zugdidi where we visit Dadiani Palace - now a museum it was once a magnificent palace and the seat of one of the oldest great Georgian families. We then continue to the Prometheus grottoes - one of Georgia's natural wonders where you will see magnificent stalactites and stalagmites, petrified waterfalls, cave pearls, underground rivers.

Accommodation: Natela's Guesthouse 'Beqa'(or similar)

Simple Guesthouse
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast & Dinner
Day 8 - Visit Bagrati Cathedral before trip ends in Kutaisi

There's time this morning to pay an early visit to the 11th century Bagrati Cathedral and before the trip ends in Kutaisi.

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Walking and Trekking information

Walking grade
Moderate
Trek details
Walks on 4 days for between 4 to 6 hours. Mountain trails are rough and rocky underfoot.
Max walking altitude (m)
2900

What's included?

Included meals
  • Breakfast: 7
  • Lunch: 4
  • Dinner: 6
Transport
  • Bus
  • 4WD
Trip staff
  • Explore Tour Leader
  • Driver(s)
  • Local Guide(s)
Accommodation
  • 4 nights simple guesthouse
  • 3 nights simple hotel
Award Winning Explore Leaders
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Price Guarantee Promise
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Airport Transfers
Read more
FairFX currency card
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Trip information

Country information

Georgia Holidays & Tours

Climate

Georgia has a temperate climate with warm dry periods from June to September. Early and late in the season, temperatures can drop to sub-zero at higher altitude.

Time difference to GMT

+4

Plugs

2 Pin Round

Religion

Christian

Language

Georgian

Budgeting and packing

Clothing

Take light and comfortable clothing that can be layered according to the temperature. Pack a good quality waterproof jacket and trousers, fleece jacket, comfortable walking trousers, shorts, t-shirts and a sunhat. Please be aware that temperatures can change dramatically at altitude and at night.

Footwear

We recommend you bring lightweight walking boots with ankle support, make sure that your boots are worn-in and comfortable before the start of the trip. Also trainers or sandals for relaxing and general wear. We suggest that on international flights you either carry your walking boots in your hand luggage or wear them - should your luggage be lost or delayed, your own boots are the one thing that will be irreplaceable.

Luggage

20kg

Luggage: On tour

One main piece of baggage and daypack.

Equipment

You will need a water bottle (preferably 2 litres), torch, insect repellent, sunglasses and high factor sun cream. Trekking poles are recommended.

Tipping

Explore leader
At your discretion you might also consider tipping your Tour Leader in appreciation of the efficiency and service you receive.
Local crew
Although entirely voluntary, tipping is a recognised part of life in this region of the world. Some local staff will look to members of the group for personal recognition of particular services provided. Accordingly, you should allow US$ 20. In order to make things easier for you, the Leader may organise a group's tips kitty and if this is the case, they will account for it throughout the tour.
Country Information

Georgia Holidays & Tours

Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.


Lunch price
£5
Dinner price
£7
Beer price
£1.00 - 3.00
Water price
£0.3
Foreign Exchange
Local currency
Lari.
Recommended Currency For Exchange
We recommend you take your money in undamaged mixed denomination US$ notes issued post 1993.
Where To Exchange
Most major towns - your Tour Leader will advise you on arrival.
ATM Availability
Only in major towns.
Credit Card Acceptance
Very limited.
Travellers Cheques
Travellers cheques are difficult to change

Transport, Accommodation & Meals

Transport Information

Bus, 4WD

Accommodation notes

Booking a Single Room

All of our group tours are planned and operated on a twin-share basis, meaning that the standard cost is based either on individual travellers sharing accommodation with another group member of the same sex, or people who book together sharing accommodation. Please refer to the tour notes where the single room option availability is detailed on a night by night basis for this tour, and the price for the available nights is detailed on the dates & prices tab by departure date. For Self-Guided trips the Single Room supplement offers the option of a single room each and is charged per person. The Single Room supplement also applies to the third person in a party of three that will be accommodated in a single room.


This trips stays in simple, family-run guesthouses and hotels. In Kutaisi and Mestia all rooms have attached bathrooms while in Becho and Ushguli you will be accommodated in twin or single rooms with shared bathroom facilities.

Essential information

FCO Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice click here.

For more information from Explore about travel advice, click here
 

Under 18 immigration guidance

Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.

Essential Information

Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions

Visa Information

Georgia: Visas are not required for EU nationals, UK, Canadian or US citizens. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate. You should confirm all visa related issues with the relevant embassy prior to departure.


If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may consider applying through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.

Booking conditions

Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.

Transfers

Find out more about Trip Transfer Terms and Conditions before you book.

Booking a land only package with Explore

Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information. 

You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.


Joining Tour Abroad

Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will now receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The transfers will be from the Explore designated airport or train station to the joining point of your tour, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.  

Free transfers are not available for Self-Guided, Tailormade or Tours for Churches customers.

If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.  


For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here

Insurance

It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.

Flight information

Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.


Flight Information

You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.

  

Booking a flight inclusive package with Explore

We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.

On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.

Maximum altitude (m)

2900

Georgia Holidays & Tours

Vaccinations

Nothing compulsory but we recommend protection against malaria, typhoid, tetanus, infectious hepatitis and polio. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria. Special Note: Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at http://www.explore.co.uk/Travelhealth/ and from your local healthcare provider.

Dates, prices and booking

Date
Price from
Single room option
Sunday 24 June 2018 - Sunday 1 July 2018
This departure is guaranteed
WGEO_2018
From £999
Single room option +£145
Show full details for this departure, including trip notes
All customers that travel on an Explore Group or Private Journey trip will be provided with a complimentary transfer, provided they arrive and depart into the designated airport or train station on the trip start and end dates. Please see free transfers for terms and conditions.

These trip joining details are provided on a provisional basis and may change prior to this tour departing. Any changes to these details will be updated on this page.
For those not eligible for a free transfer the joining / ending time and location for your trip are detailed below:
Joining Point
Town
Kutaisi
Time and place
18:00 at Hotel Reception
Ending Point
Town
Kutaisi
Time
10:00
If you have booked a pre or post trip accommodation directly with the hotel, or through any other intermediaries, please ensure you regularly check this page in case of any changes.
Download Trip Notes
Sunday 29 July 2018 - Sunday 5 August 2018
This departure is guaranteed
WGEO_2018
From £1069
Single room option +£145

1 space available

Show full details for this departure, including trip notes
All customers that travel on an Explore Group or Private Journey trip will be provided with a complimentary transfer, provided they arrive and depart into the designated airport or train station on the trip start and end dates. Please see free transfers for terms and conditions.

These trip joining details are provided on a provisional basis and may change prior to this tour departing. Any changes to these details will be updated on this page.
For those not eligible for a free transfer the joining / ending time and location for your trip are detailed below:
Joining Point
Town
Kutaisi
Time and place
18:00 at Hotel Reception
Ending Point
Town
Kutaisi
Time
10:00
If you have booked a pre or post trip accommodation directly with the hotel, or through any other intermediaries, please ensure you regularly check this page in case of any changes.
Download Trip Notes
Sunday 5 August 2018 - Sunday 12 August 2018
WGEO_2018
From £1199
Single room option +£145
Show full details for this departure, including trip notes
All customers that travel on an Explore Group or Private Journey trip will be provided with a complimentary transfer, provided they arrive and depart into the designated airport or train station on the trip start and end dates. Please see free transfers for terms and conditions.

These trip joining details are provided on a provisional basis and may change prior to this tour departing. Any changes to these details will be updated on this page.
For those not eligible for a free transfer the joining / ending time and location for your trip are detailed below:
Joining Point
Town
Kutaisi
Time and place
18:00 at Hotel Reception
Ending Point
Town
Kutaisi
Time
10:00
If you have booked a pre or post trip accommodation directly with the hotel, or through any other intermediaries, please ensure you regularly check this page in case of any changes.
Download Trip Notes
Date
Price from
Single room option
Sunday 24 June 2018 - Sunday 1 July 2018
This departure is guaranteed
WGEO_2018
From £779
Single room option +£145
Show full details for this departure, including trip notes
All customers that travel on an Explore Group or Private Journey trip will be provided with a complimentary transfer, provided they arrive and depart into the designated airport or train station on the trip start and end dates. Please see free transfers for terms and conditions.

These trip joining details are provided on a provisional basis and may change prior to this tour departing. Any changes to these details will be updated on this page.
For those not eligible for a free transfer the joining / ending time and location for your trip are detailed below:
Joining Point
Town
Kutaisi
Time and place
18:00 at Hotel Reception
Ending Point
Town
Kutaisi
Time
10:00
If you have booked a pre or post trip accommodation directly with the hotel, or through any other intermediaries, please ensure you regularly check this page in case of any changes.
Download Trip Notes
Sunday 29 July 2018 - Sunday 5 August 2018
This departure is guaranteed
WGEO_2018
From £819
Single room option +£145

1 space available

Show full details for this departure, including trip notes
All customers that travel on an Explore Group or Private Journey trip will be provided with a complimentary transfer, provided they arrive and depart into the designated airport or train station on the trip start and end dates. Please see free transfers for terms and conditions.

These trip joining details are provided on a provisional basis and may change prior to this tour departing. Any changes to these details will be updated on this page.
For those not eligible for a free transfer the joining / ending time and location for your trip are detailed below:
Joining Point
Town
Kutaisi
Time and place
18:00 at Hotel Reception
Ending Point
Town
Kutaisi
Time
10:00
If you have booked a pre or post trip accommodation directly with the hotel, or through any other intermediaries, please ensure you regularly check this page in case of any changes.
Download Trip Notes
Sunday 5 August 2018 - Sunday 12 August 2018
WGEO_2018
From £819
Single room option +£145
Show full details for this departure, including trip notes
All customers that travel on an Explore Group or Private Journey trip will be provided with a complimentary transfer, provided they arrive and depart into the designated airport or train station on the trip start and end dates. Please see free transfers for terms and conditions.

These trip joining details are provided on a provisional basis and may change prior to this tour departing. Any changes to these details will be updated on this page.
For those not eligible for a free transfer the joining / ending time and location for your trip are detailed below:
Joining Point
Town
Kutaisi
Time and place
18:00 at Hotel Reception
Ending Point
Town
Kutaisi
Time
10:00
If you have booked a pre or post trip accommodation directly with the hotel, or through any other intermediaries, please ensure you regularly check this page in case of any changes.
Download Trip Notes

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