Martian Trails on Horseback

An Epic Expedition Across Georgia's Surreal, Multicolored Desert

Detailed Description

Overview

Difficulty
Comfort
Tbilisi   Kakheti  
Destination
Active
Tour type
Autumn & Spring
Period
8 days
Duration
3-8
Group
16+
Age
GT016
Program code

Embark on a remarkable 8-day horseback journey traversing the secluded landscapes of Georgia's southern region, bordering Azerbaijan. This expedition, intentionally scheduled outside the summer months, provides an unparalleled opportunity to explore the diverse geography of this area, without the discomfort of the intense desert heat.

We ride with the robust Tush horses, natives of the Caucasus Mountains, through multicolored canyons, expansive plains, and eroded mountains. Our path threads through the breathtaking desert landscapes of David Gareja, around ancient cave dwellings, past forgotten Soviet collective farms, and through the remarkable sights and sounds of Georgian nature.

The trek offers not just a wealth of visual splendor but also an intimate journey into the region's rich history, illustrated by the 6th-century monasteries and ghostly cave-dweller cities we encounter. Far from the tourist-laden paths, this journey embraces the raw, untouched beauty of Georgia, ensuring a detox from the pressures of modern life and a deeper connection with nature.

Each season brings its unique palette of colors to the landscapes, further enhancing the allure of the wilderness. So, saddle up, embrace the thrill, feel the cool wind in your hair, and journey with us into the wild heart of Georgia - an experience that's 99% off the beaten track, a true plunge into the captivating wild.

Itinerary

Day 1 — Welcome to Tbilisi – Your Georgian Adventure Begins!

Touchdown in the heart of Georgia – Tbilisi, a city that pulses with life, history, and culture. No matter where your journey begins, your destination is a magical place where East meets West. Your arrival is timed perfectly to capture the city's enchanting ambience at sunset, giving you a breathtaking welcome. Once you've collected your luggage, we'll transfer you directly to your cozy 3* hotel, nestled in the quaint old city. Here, ancient structures sit side by side with modern architecture, creating a uniquely Tbilisian atmosphere. An early arrival, perhaps a day before or even during the previous night, will allow you to fully savor the city. Experience the winding cobblestone streets, the welcoming cafes, and the local vibe at your leisure. An additional night's stay can be arranged upon request. As the day wraps, gather in the hotel lobby at 6 pm for an introductory session. Here, we'll set the tone for the exhilarating days to come, discuss the thrilling rides, and get to know each other better over a sumptuous dinner. For those arriving a day earlier, rest assured! We will arrange taxi transfers from the airport to the hotel to ensure a hassle-free start to your Georgian adventure.

Route: Tbilisi

Accommodation: Included Kopala * Or similar | Hotel | 2 per room, comfortable accommodation, private WC & shower

Meals: breakfast: not included, lunch: not included, dinner: included

Guide: Not included

Day 2 — Tbilisi to Sartichala – Embracing the Wilderness

Kick-off your day bright and early at 9:00 am, when we depart from our Tbilisi base and set out for the horse stable, roughly an hour's drive away. Here, you'll meet your equine companion for the journey, and we'll help you prepare and saddle up your horse for the adventure that lies ahead. Our ride commences around noon, veering towards the Azerbaijan border. As we traverse through these rustic landscapes, you'll witness a gradual transformation – from verdant greenery to semi-arid plains. The route seems to transport you to a different world, a secluded realm where nature unfolds in its raw, untamed glory. As dusk approaches, we'll set up camp near a historical water reservoir, tucked amidst the desolate beauty of this extraordinary landscape. This spot offers a unique vista that blends the surreal with the serene, providing a perfect setting for a night under the stars. Expect a few trots and gallops along the way, making the journey as exhilarating as the destination.

Route: Tbilisi — Private car | 40 km · 1 h Sartichala — Horseback riding | 20 km · 6 h Semi Desert Area

Activities: Horse Riding | 6 hours

Accommodation: Included Tents * Or similar | Tents | Double tent (VAUDE), 2 per tent + big tent

Meals: breakfast: included, lunch: included, dinner: included

Guide: Full day

Visited Attractions*: Semi Desert Area.

Day 3 — Lake to Monasteries – Journey Through Time

Awake with the first rays of the sun, and after a hearty breakfast, prepare your horse for the day's adventure. Our ride today leads us through an enchanting valley, dotted with remnants of old Soviet-era farms - a quiet testament to a bygone era. As we ascend a ridge, prepare for a breathtaking panoramic view that stretches across the vast expanse, offering glimpses of an ancient city. We'll descend through spectacular reddish rock formations, an unforgettable display of nature's creativity and power. Midway, we'll discover an abandoned cave city, a living testament to the resilience of past civilizations. Here, we'll dismount and explore on foot, clambering up the ridge to appreciate the full scale of this marvel. Our journey continues to the remarkable Natlismtsemeli Monastery, a sublime relic from the 6th century. You'll be amazed by its massive 11th-century church, hewn from solid rock, echoing the voices of ages past. As the day draws to a close, we'll set up camp in an idyllic location, preparing for another peaceful night under the Georgian sky. On Foot: Optional 1-hour trek. Throughout the day, anticipate a few spirited trots and gallops, adding an adrenaline surge to this voyage through time.

Route: Semi Desert Area — Horseback riding | 20 km · 6 h Natlismtsemeli Monastery

Activities: Hiking | 2 hours , Horse Riding | 6 hours

Accommodation: Included Tents * Or similar | Tents | Double tent (VAUDE), 2 per tent + big tent

Meals: breakfast: included, lunch: included, dinner: included

Guide: Full day

Visited Attractions*: Natlismtsemeli Monastery.

Day 4 — Monasteries to Udabno – Ancient Echoes Amidst Modern Marvels

Our adventure continues today as we ride towards the famed David Gareja Monastery Complex. Founded in the 6th century by Saint David Garejeli, one of the thirteen Assyrian monks who arrived in Georgia together, this historical treasure is a must-visit. Disciples Dodo and Luciane expanded upon David's original lavra, establishing two additional monasteries: Dodo's Rka and Natlismtsemeli ("The Baptist"). From the late 11th to the early 13th centuries, David Gareja flourished, mirroring the prosperity of the medieval kingdom of Georgia. The monastery, however, has witnessed periods of decline and devastation, from the Mongol invasion in 1265 to the Safavid attack in 1615. Post the Bolshevik takeover of Georgia in 1921, the monastery remained vacant, until 1991 when monks reoccupied this sacred site. After parking our horses, we'll step back in time to explore this remarkable complex. Then, we'll remount to roam the surrounding valley, a labyrinth of eroded, color-soaked mountains. Ancient cities are hidden like precious gems in this landscape, waiting for us to uncover their secrets. Ascending a ridge, we'll be met with an awe-inspiring vista that will etch itself into your memory. Our day ends in Udabno, a deserted "Wild West" village where we'll exchange stories and experiences over a local dinner. On Foot: A brief 30-minute trek. Throughout the day, enjoy a few exhilarating trots and gallops as we traverse this stunning landscape.

Route: Natlismtsemeli Monastery — Horseback riding | 25 km · 7 h Udabno

Activities: Hiking | 2 hours , Horse Riding | 7 hours

Accommodation: Included Tents * Or similar | Tents | Double tent (VAUDE), 2 per tent + big tent

Meals: breakfast: included, lunch: included, dinner: included

Guide: Full day

Visited Attractions*: David Gareja.

Day 5 — Udabno to Iori – From Infinite Plains to Hidden Valleys

We begin our day traversing the expansive plains that stretch as far as the eye can see, enveloping us in a sense of vast infinity. It's a humbling reminder of the grandeur of nature. Suddenly, the monotony of the plains gives way to a network of unexpected eroded valleys, as though Mother Earth herself has torn open the landscape, revealing her intricate secrets. We'll navigate these intriguing terrains, eventually ascending to maintain our journey along the ridge. From this high vantage point, be prepared to be awestruck by the stunning tableau that unfolds – the majestic snow-capped peaks of the Great Caucasus Mountains, contrasted by the arid expanse of the Vaschlovani Desert. As the sun begins its descent, we reach the trip's oasis – the lush Iori River ecosystem. Here, amidst an orchestra of birdsong and the gentle rustling of trees, we set up camp for the night, recharging for the adventures yet to come. On Foot: Brief exploratory walks. Anticipate a few spirited trots and gallops as we navigate this day of contrasts, etching unforgettable moments into your Georgian journey.

Route: Udabno — Horseback riding | 25 km · 7 h Iori River

Activities: Hiking | 2 hours , Horse Riding | 7 hours

Accommodation: Included Tents * Or similar | Tents | Double tent (VAUDE), 2 per tent + big tent

Meals: breakfast: included, lunch: included, dinner: included

Guide: Full day

Day 6 — Iori to Udabno – Echoes of the Past Amidst Nature's Artistry

Begin the day saddling up for a ride through fertile valleys, where we'll come across a solitary symbol of Soviet industrialism – an old oil pump, a stark reminder of a bygone era. Bask in the magnificent views of the Great Caucasus Mountains, their snowy peaks piercing the azure Georgian sky. Our ride takes us through the eerie echoes of the ghost village of Udabno, a relic of the Soviet era that has now succumbed to the irresistible march of time. The ghost town stands in silent testament to its past inhabitants, offering a unique glimpse into history. From there, we'll continue our journey through a lush green valley, framed by imposing canyons that seem to hold the secrets of the earth within their stone faces. On Foot: A few brief walks. Throughout the day, prepare for a few exhilarating trots and gallops, adding to the thrill and excitement of this historic and scenic ride.

Route: Iori River — Horseback riding | 25 km · 7 h Udabno

Activities: Hiking | 2 hours , Horse Riding | 7 hours

Accommodation: Included Tents * Or similar | Tents | Double tent (VAUDE), 2 per tent + big tent

Meals: breakfast: included, lunch: included, dinner: included

Guide: Full day

Day 7 — Sartichala to Tbilisi – A Farewell to Freedom

On our final day of riding, we journey through undulating hills, offering breathtaking vistas of the Gombori range. We traverse our last impressive canyons, the rocky behemoths whispering farewell. The sight of the salty lakes marks another milestone in our unforgettable journey. Around 4pm, we reach our final destination - the horse farm, where it's time to bid farewell to our equine companions. These noble creatures have been our steady partners throughout this adventure, making the goodbye bittersweet. We then head back to the vibrant city of Tbilisi, where comfortable 3* accommodations await. In the evening, we gather for one last time over dinner, reminiscing about our shared experiences, the challenges, the discoveries, and the freedom we found together on this unique Georgian journey. On Foot: A few brief walks. Prepare for a few final exhilarating trots and gallops, the perfect end to this unforgettable adventure.

Route: Udabno — Horseback riding | 15 km · 5 h Sartichala — Private car | 40 km · 1 h Tbilisi

Activities: Hiking | 2 hours 30 minutes , Horse Riding | 5 hours

Accommodation: Included Kopala * Or similar | Hotel | 2 per room, comfortable accommodation, private WC & shower

Meals: breakfast: included, lunch: included, dinner: included

Guide: Full day

Day 8 — Farewell Tbilisi – Return to Home

The last day of your Georgian adventure begins with a transfer to the airport. As we bid goodbye to Tbilisi, the heart and soul of Georgia, carry with you memories of a journey enriched by breathtaking landscapes, historical wonders, and a camaraderie fostered by shared experiences. You'll touch down at your home destination on the same day, your heart filled with tales of adventure and an urge to explore more of the world's hidden gems. Safe travels, until we meet again on another unforgettable journey.

Route: Tbilisi

Accommodation: Not Included

Meals: breakfast: included, lunch: not included, dinner: not included

Guide: Not included

Our tour program's list of attractions is a guide, not exhaustive. Unlisted sites may be visited, and listed ones might be viewed from a distance. Conditions like operating hours, weather, or local rules may affect access. Thank you for your understanding.

Departures

March 2, 2024 — March 9, 2024 € 4,410 EUR Guaranteed
March 17, 2024 — March 24, 2024 € 4,410 EUR Guaranteed
March 31, 2024 — April 7, 2024 € 4,410 EUR Guaranteed
April 14, 2024 — April 21, 2024 € 4,410 EUR Guaranteed
May 5, 2024 — May 12, 2024 € 4,410 EUR Guaranteed
May 13, 2024 — May 20, 2024 € 4,410 EUR Guaranteed

What's included?

Accommodation

5 nights — Double tent (VAUDE), 2 per tent + big tent

2 nights — 2 per room, comfortable accommodation, private WC & shower

Meals

7 breakfasts, 6 lunch, 7 dinners.

Guide

6 days — Full day,

Transport

Horseback riding: ~130 km, Private car: ~80 km. *

Activities

Hiking: ~10 hours 30 minutes, Horse Riding: ~38 hours. *

Additionally included

Transport, Entrance fees to all sites according to the programm, English speaking guide, All meals during the horse riding part of the trip, Cook services, All camping gear rental, Equestrian material rental, 2 diners in restaurant in Tbilisi (except alcoholic drinks).

Not included

Plane tickets, Personal expenses and tips, Travel insurance, Sleeping bags and floor mattress.

The provided measures of total kilometers for transport, duration of guide services, and activities in our tour program are approximate and may vary depending on the program flow and terrain conditions. While we strive to ensure the accuracy of these numbers, please note that they are intended as estimates. We make every effort to provide the most precise information possible to give you an idea of the overall tour experience.

Note

This tour has open departure and can be organized based on your preferred dates.

Please note that prices for this tour fluctuate depending on the specific size of the group. For groups with fewer than 4 participants, a small group supplement of 306 Euros per person will apply.

If you're interested in extending the tour for more days, please let us know, and we'll be happy to provide options and prices upon request.

Extra charge for single room 40 euros / pers.

There is no possibility to take a shower during the whole horse ride.

Equipment & Checklist

As you prepare for your Tusheti expedition, it's crucial to consider the unique aspects of a horseback riding adventure. The appropriate gear and equipment will ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience while accommodating the challenges of riding and navigating through varying weather conditions and terrain. Here's a general guide followed by a checklist of items to pack for your horseback riding journey:

When packing for the Tusheti expedition, prioritize essentials such as your airline ticket, travel insurance, and personal medications. To ensure a safe and pleasant riding experience, include a hard hat, riding gloves, and suitable footwear—good-quality trekking shoes are recommended over riding boots for versatility on different terrains.

Prepare for a range of weather conditions by including rain gear, a warm jacket, and sun protection items like a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Additionally, bring a sleeping bag, floor mattress, small flashlight, and a knife for camping and other outdoor activities.

While the water in the area is typically clean, it's up to you whether to bring water purification tablets or a filter as a precaution. Keep in mind that alcoholic beverages at restaurants and entry fees during your free time are not included in the trip cost, so plan accordingly.

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Last update: April 12, 2024, 6:02 a.m.