Reins of Freedom

Tusheti Equine Adventure: Delving into Europe's Secluded Wilderness on Horseback

Detailed Description

Overview

Difficulty
Comfort
Tbilisi   Kakheti  
Destination
Active
Tour type
July — September
Period
13 days
Duration
4-7
Group
16+
Age
GT013
Program code

Embark on an expedition-style journey through the most remote regions of Europe, designed for those seeking to escape the stresses of modern civilization and truly connect with nature. This exceptional horseback trek offers a chance to unplug and detox, as you will be without cell phone reception for several days.

Experience the untouched beauty of Tusheti, a historical region now nestled within the modern Kakheti administrative region of Georgia. As you explore its secluded landscapes, far removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, you can get a taste of the rich past this area possesses. Immerse yourself in local culture and cuisine, savoring traditional Georgian dishes and Tush specialties prepared daily using organic, locally sourced ingredients. This once independent territory, brimming with ancient customs and a unique identity, invites you to a journey that transcends time, reconnecting you with nature and history.

Please note that this adventure requires good physical and mental fitness, and some mountain experience is recommended. Participants must have adequate insurance coverage for accidents, medical assistance, and mountain rescue.

Our main guide, a woman with 17 years of experience in the Greater Caucasus and Tusheti, will lead the journey. Her knowledge and expertise will ensure a safe and insightful exploration of this extraordinary region.

Throughout the trek, we must be self-sufficient, as provisions will not be available once we leave the Kakheti region. Our horses will carry your belongings, so pack lightly and responsibly. Upon arrival at Laliskhuri, you will receive two waterproof bags for your essentials, with any unneeded items remaining behind.

As we traverse these remote landscapes, be prepared for challenging terrain and long stretches of walking downhill. Our experienced guides will prioritize safety and may adjust the itinerary if necessary to ensure a secure and enjoyable journey. The horse trek will primarily be conducted at a leisurely pace due to the significant altitude changes.

Join us on this unforgettable adventure as we disconnect from the modern world and immerse ourselves in the serene, untamed beauty of the Georgian Caucasus Mountains.

Itinerary

Day 1 — Welcome to Tbilisi

Our team will meet you at Tbilisi airport and escort you to your hotel for some rest.

Route: Tbilisi

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

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

Guide: Not included

Day 2 — Discovering Kakheti: A Journey Through History, Culture, and Wine

Meeting point at 10:30 am at your hotel in Tbilisi. We'll embark on a journey to explore the rich and diverse Kakheti region, known for its historical sites, winemaking, religious significance, and stunning landscapes. Our tour begins with a visit to Shuamta, which consists of two distinct sites. We'll explore New Shuamta, a 16th-century church and nunnery, boasting well-preserved frescoes. Next, we head to Telavi, the main city in Kakheti. You'll have 40 minutes to an hour of free time to wander its colorful streets, visit the local market, and marvel at the fortress of the last king of Kakheti, Erekle II. After a quick picnic lunch, we continue to Tsinandali, a village renowned for its historic winery and estate, which once belonged to the 19th-century aristocratic poet, linguist, and winemaker Alexander Chavchavadze (1786-1846). We'll tour the elegant house and its lush gardens, constructed in 1835. Our final stop for the day is the magnificent Alaverdi Cathedral. Originally built on a pagan worship site dedicated to the moon, the cathedral was established in the 6th century and rebuilt in the 11th century. Once the tallest cathedral in the Soviet Union, it is now the second tallest in Georgia, standing at 51 meters. The cathedral showcases the region's distinct architectural style. We'll then head to Laliskhuri, a quaint village nestled at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains, where a warm Tush family will welcome us for dinner and an overnight stay. Here, we'll prepare for the upcoming expedition.

Route: Tbilisi — Private car | 145 km · 3 h Laliskhuri

Activities: City Walking | 1 hours , Sightseeing | 3 hours

Accommodation: Included Guesthouse in Laliskhuri * Or similar | Guest House | 2-5 person per room, shower and WC in the front house

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

Guide: Full day

Visited Attractions*: Alaverdi Monastery, Tsinandali Palace, Shuamta Monasteries, Rustaveli Avenue, Sameba Cathedral, Freedom Square.

Day 3 — Tusheti Ascent: Gogrulta and the Great Caucasus Range

After breakfast, we'll embark on a thrilling 4WD journey to the Tusheti region. The path, carved into the rocks after World War II, takes us over the 2,926m high Abano Pass. This pass marks the border between the Tusheti and Kakheti regions, offering breathtaking panoramas of the surrounding landscapes. We'll arrive in Omalo, the main village of Tusheti, situated at an altitude of 2,000m within the Tusheti National Park. Here, we'll visit the local fortress before continuing to our final destination, Dochu. Since Gogrulta is inaccessible by car, we'll meet our horses in Dotchu and begin our 2-3 hour ride to the village. While the packhorses take a shorter route, we'll familiarize ourselves with our riding companions on a longer, easy trail. Gogrulta, perched atop a small summit, boasts spectacular views and a truly authentic experience. The accommodations are simple and rustic, reflecting the traditional Tush way of life. Short trots or gallops are possible during the ride. We'll enjoy dinner and an overnight stay in Gogrulta.

Route: Laliskhuri — 4x4 | 85 km · 6 h Dochu — Horseback riding | 10 km · 2 h Gogrulta

Activities: Hiking | 1 hours , Horse Riding | 2 hours

Accommodation: Included Traditional house in Gogrulta * Or similar | Traditional house | No electricity, WC Outside (No bathroom)

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

Guide: Full day

Visited Attractions*: Abano Pass.

Day 4 — Pagan Roots and Tusheti's Lost Villages

Paganism persisted in the Caucasus region until the mid-20th century, with many altars remaining in Tusheti. Divinities such as Otchopintre (god of nature) and Elia (god of weather) are still honored. Most Tush people lived here year-round until the construction of the road, which led to a gradual migration. Based on weather and mountain conditions, as well as the riders' skills and confidence, we will ride either to Iliurta, the lost villages, or up to a beautiful pass. For the pass option, the pathway is quite strenuous at first. We begin by descending for 40 minutes before riding up to a stunning crest that reveals the region's first breathtaking panorama. Then, we walk down for about an hour, cross the river, and ride up a very steep incline back to Gogrulta. There may be one opportunity for a trot/gallop, depending on the chosen route. Dinner and overnight in Gogrulta.

Route: Gogrulta

Activities: Hiking | 1 hours 30 minutes , Horse Riding | 6 hours

Accommodation: Included Traditional house in Gogrulta * Or similar | Traditional house | No electricity, WC Outside (No bathroom)

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

Guide: Full day

Day 5 — A Day on the Roof of the Caucasus Range

We ride up to a crest that offers stunning panoramas of the Tusheti region. Throughout the day, we explore the "roof" of the Caucasus range, reaching elevations around 3,000m (9,842ft) with the highest point being 3,200m (10,499ft). Our campsite will be determined by the weather conditions and will be situated at a high elevation of 2,500m (8,202ft). Trotting and galloping will not be possible during this part of the journey. Dinner and overnight in tents at the pass to Gometsari valley.

Route: Gogrulta — Horseback riding | 25 km · 6 h Pass to Gometsari Valley

Activities: Hiking | 1 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

Day 6 — Descending into the Gometsari & Zovata Valleys

We begin the day on foot, descending the hill for around 30 minutes. As we continue through the valley, we'll approach a pass and reach Gometsari in the early afternoon. Our journey takes us further into the Zovata valley. Please note, mounting and dismounting will occur several times during this leg of the expedition. Trotting and galloping will not be possible. Dinner and overnight in tents at the pass to Zovata valley.

Route: Pass to Gometsari Valley — Horseback riding | 25 km · 6 h Zovata Valley

Activities: Hiking | 1 hours 30 minutes , 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*: Zovata Valley.

Day 7 — Ascending the Pass & Exploring the Az Valley

We ride up more than 900 meters (2,952 ft) to a pass that leads us to a stunning valley. Once at the pass, we follow the river through a landscape of untamed beauty. At times, we may need to walk. Trotting and galloping will not be possible. We set up camp near the river for the night. Dinner and overnight in tents at the Az Valley.

Route: Zovata Valley — Horseback riding | 30 km · 7 h Az Valley

Activities: Hiking | 1 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 8 — Conquering the Third Pass & Descending to Saidumlo

We ride up to a third pass, ascending 800 meters (2,625 ft) in elevation. Once at the top, we walk down along striking gorges, occasionally needing to dismount and walk. We continue our descent to the valley and set up camp a short distance further near Saidumlo. Trotting and galloping will not be possible. Dinner and overnight near Saidumlo.

Route: Az Valley — Horseback riding | 25 km · 6 h Saidumlo

Activities: Hiking | 1 hours 30 minutes , 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

Day 9 — Exploring Pirikiti Valley's Tush Villages

Today, we ride into the Pirikiti Valley, home to several Tush villages. We'll first visit the inhabited village of Girevi, then continue to Parsma and ride through Tchecho. Our camp will be set up between Parsma and Dartlo, close to a river. Some passages during the day may be challenging, as the pathways are carved into the rock along a ravine, so mountain experience is required for this part of the journey.

Route: Saidumlo — Horseback riding | 30 km · 7 h Dartlo

Activities: Hiking 45 minutes , 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 10 — Exploring Dartlo & Omalo: UNESCO Heritage and Ancient Paganism

We visit Dartlo, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Depending on the weather and our riders' fitness, we may choose to ride along the ridge, or return via the Ghele pass, ultimately arriving in Gogrulta. Paganism persisted in the Caucasus Region until the mid-20th century, with many altars still remaining in Tusheti. Divinities like Otchpintre (god of nature) and Elia (god of weather) continue to be honored. The Tush people lived here year-round until the construction of the road prompted them to leave. We spend the night in a traditional Tush house. Dinner and overnight stay are in Gogrulta.

Route: Dartlo — Horseback riding | 30 km · 7 h Gogrulta

Activities: Hiking | 1 hours 30 minutes , Horse Riding | 7 hours

Accommodation: Included Traditional house in Gogrulta * Or similar | Traditional house | No electricity, WC Outside (No bathroom)

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

Guide: Full day

Day 11 — Returning to Laliskhuri: Comfort and Local Hospitality

We drive back to Kakheti, arriving in Laliskhuri by the end of the afternoon. You'll appreciate the chance to enjoy a shower! We share a meal with the local people, savoring the warm hospitality. Dinner and overnight in Laliskhuri.

Route: Gogrulta — Private car | 85 km · 3 h Laliskhuri

Accommodation: Included Guesthouse in Laliskhuri * Or similar | Guest House | 2-5 person per room, shower and WC in the front house

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

Guide: Full day

Day 12 — Back to Tbilisi: Free Afternoon and Farewell Dinner

We drive back to Tbilisi, arriving in the early afternoon. You'll have a free afternoon to explore the city at your leisure. In the evening, we'll gather for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Dinner and overnight in Tbilisi.

Route: Laliskhuri — Private car | 143 km · 3 h Tbilisi

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

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

Guide: Not included

Day 13 — Farewell and Departure

Today, we'll transfer you to the airport for your departure. Wishing you a safe journey and cherished memories of your Tusheti horse riding expedition.

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

July 1, 2024 — July 13, 2024 € 6,735 EUR Guaranteed
July 19, 2024 — July 31, 2024 € 6,735 EUR Guaranteed
Aug. 2, 2024 — Aug. 14, 2024 € 6,735 EUR Guaranteed
Sept. 7, 2024 — Sept. 19, 2024 € 6,735 EUR Guaranteed

What's included?

Accommodation

2 nights — 2-5 person per room, shower and WC in the front house

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

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

3 nights — No electricity, WC Outside (No bathroom)

Meals

12 breakfasts, 10 lunch, 11 dinners.

Guide

10 days — Full day,

Transport

Private car: ~373 km, Horseback riding: ~175 km, 4x4: ~85 km. *

Activities

Hiking: ~9 hours 45 minutes, Horse Riding: ~47 hours, City Walking: ~1 hours, Sightseeing: ~3 hours. *

Additionally included

Entrance fees to all sites according to the programm, 1 dinner in restaurant in Tbilisi (except alcoholic drinks), English speaking guide, All meals during the horse riding part of the trip, Cook services, All camping gear rental, Equestrian material rental.

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

The itinerary is subject to change based on mountain and weather conditions. At this season, alterations to the itinerary are common due to factors such as weather and the aftermath of winter.

If riders arrive before midday on the first day or depart after 8pm on the last day, they will be required to pay an additional 20-euro taxi transfer fee to the airport (one-way).

Additional overnight in Tbilisi in the same hotel:
Single : 60 euros / pers.
Twin : 80 euros / room for 2 pers.

* The times given are approximate.
** Lunches during the horseback trek will be picnics.

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.

Difficulty

Embarking on this Tusheti expedition, participants will be presented with a moderately challenging adventure that requires both mountain experience and good physical fitness. Designed for riders with an average skill level, this journey offers an opportunity to delve into the breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage of Tusheti.

Throughout the expedition, you'll tackle varying terrains and altitudes, making previous mountain experience essential to fully enjoy and safely navigate the trails. As we traverse the remote landscapes of Tusheti, having a solid physical condition will ensure you can comfortably participate in the various activities and make the most of your time in this incredible region.

By combining your mountain know-how, physical fitness, and equestrian skills, this Tusheti expedition offers a rewarding and memorable experience for those who are eager to explore the untamed beauty of Georgia's hidden gem.

Accommodation

Gogrulta : Traditional house.
Laliskhuri: Guesthouse.
On the way: double tent (VAUDE), 2 per tent + big tent
Tbilisi : Hotel 3* located in the very old center of Tbilisi, double room with breakfast, 2 per room.

Meals

During the Tusheti expedition, delight in a variety of local Tusheti and Georgian dishes prepared daily to energize your adventure.

Breakfast: Savor tea, coffee, accompanied by cheese, jams, honey, butter, bread, eggs, and fresh fruits.

Picnic: Enjoy a midday picnic with fresh vegetables, bread, cheese, and a choice of fish, chicken, along with fruits and churchkhlas.

Dinner: Traditional Georgian and Tush dishes.

NB: Vegetarians welcome!

Transport

In this tour, all transportation is private and tailored to your group's needs. Depending on the size of the group, transportation options can range from a car, a mini-van, or a minibus. In areas with challenging road conditions, a 4x4 vehicle may be used to ensure a safe and comfortable journey. With private transport, you will have the flexibility to customize your itinerary and move around at your own pace.

Important Information and Guidelines for Your Tusheti Horseback Expedition

Luggage will be transported under challenging conditions, and we cannot be held responsible for any damages that may occur.
At Laliskhuri, you will receive two waterproof bags for your essential items. Please pack lightly and leave unneeded luggage behind to ease the burden on our horses.
Our trek requires self-sufficiency, as provisions will be unavailable once we leave the Kakheti region.
Enjoy daily meals of traditional Georgian cuisine and Tush specialties, made from locally sourced, organic ingredients.
Be prepared for lengthy downhill walks during the trek.
The trek takes us through secluded areas, requiring good physical and mental condition. Ensure you have insurance covering accidents, medical assistance, and mountain rescue.
Previous mountain experience is recommended, as some trails may be challenging.
Our guides reserve the right to modify the itinerary for safety reasons, and their decisions should not be contradicted or discussed.
The horse trek will primarily be conducted at a leisurely pace due to significant altitude changes.
Note that products containing codeine are strictly prohibited in Georgia. Consult the relevant websites for more information on travel regulations.

Money

In Georgia, the currency is the Georgian Lari (GEL). You can exchange money at banks, exchange offices, and some hotels. Small exchange offices are omnipresent throughout Georgia and offer competitive exchange rates. Your guide will be able to advise you on the best place to exchange money, as exchange rates may vary depending on the location. You can also check the current exchange rates on www.xe.com

Bank cards are widely accepted in restaurants, hotels, and shops, but it is advisable to have some cash as a backup, in case there are issues with local ATM machines or credit cards. However, it is possible that in remote villages, bank cards may not be accepted, so it is best to have some cash on hand. The most widely accepted cards are Visa and MasterCard. We recommend exchanging only small amounts of money at a time, as exchange rates can fluctuate frequently. It is also advisable to inform your bank in advance of your travel plans to avoid any issues with international transactions.

Tipping

The Georgia.to travel team, including guides, drivers, cooks, etc., are paid a fair wage and do not expect tips. If you choose to leave a gratuity as a way of expressing your satisfaction, please note that damaged or adhesive coins or banknotes cannot be exchanged. Tips can be left at your discretion in envelopes. In restaurants, it is customary to leave 5-10% as a tip.

Health

For your health and safety, it's important to be in good health before traveling to Georgia. Consult with a doctor or travel medicine specialist for recommended vaccines and preventive measures. To prevent insect bites and follow food safety measures, it's best to drink only bottled or treated water and be mindful of what you eat.

Bring enough of your prescription medicine and ensure that it is legal in Georgia if you have a pre-existing medical condition. A basic first-aid kit, including pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, and insect repellent, is also recommended in case of minor illnesses or injuries.

While Georgia has modern medical facilities in cities like Tbilisi and Batumi, it's still wise to have travel insurance in case of unexpected medical expenses. There are no specific health requirements for this trip, but it's important to prioritize your health and safety while traveling.

Visa Requirements for Georgia

Visa requirements for Georgia for foreign citizens vary depending on the country of origin. Citizens of most countries are eligible for a visa-free entry to Georgia for stays of up to one year. However, some countries require a pre-arranged visa, which can be obtained from a Georgian embassy or consulate. It is recommended to check the specific visa requirements for your country of origin before traveling to Georgia. Here is a short list of countries with citizens that do not need a visa to enter Georgia for a stay up to one year:

EU countries, including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, and more. Switzerland, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico etc.

Please find the exhaustive information on the Ministry of Foreign Affaires of Georgia website: https://www.geoconsul.gov.ge/

Dress Code

When visiting Georgia, it is important to be mindful of the local customs and dress codes, especially when entering religious buildings. In such places, it is expected that visitors dress modestly with women covering their heads and legs. Shorts and skirts above the knee are usually not allowed. Outside of religious buildings, there is a more casual and relaxed dress code with no specific restrictions, and visitors are free to wear what they prefer. It is worth noting that Georgia is a modern and European-influenced country, so visitors may encounter a mix of styles from traditional and contemporary.

Laundry

Laundry service is available at most of our hotels for a reasonable fee, typically around 10 euros or less per load. If you need this service, please let your guide know in advance to arrange it. During the hiking portion of the trip when staying at family hotels or home-stays, you may need to do your own laundry at times. To ensure environmental safety, we recommend bringing non-polluting/biodegradable soap for this purpose.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is not a requirement to enter Georgia, but it is highly recommended. A comprehensive travel insurance policy can provide coverage for trip cancellations, medical expenses, lost or stolen belongings, and emergency evacuation. In case of unexpected events, having travel insurance can provide peace of mind and financial protection. It is important to review the coverage and terms of your travel insurance policy before departing to ensure it meets your specific needs and provides adequate protection while traveling in Georgia.

Safety and Security

Georgia is considered one of the safest countries in the world and visitors can generally feel safe while exploring the country. Crime rates, including pickpocketing, are low and tourists can move around freely without major concerns for their safety. However, as with any destination, it is always advisable to take basic safety precautions, such as keeping valuables out of sight, not carrying large amounts of cash, and being aware of one's surroundings in busy areas.

Emergency Contact

In case of any emergencies, we are available for support. During office hours (Tbilisi time), you can reach us at +995 591 257 715 for any urgent questions. Additionally, upon booking, you will be provided with a 24/7 personnel travel assistant for the duration of your trip. They will be available to assist you with any needs or concerns.

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