Tusheti-Kazbegi Traverse

The Most Scenic Trek in Eastern High Caucasus

Detailed Description

Overview

Difficulty
Comfort
Kakheti   Mtskheta-Mtianeti  
Destination
Active
Tour type
July — September
Period
8 days
Duration
4-8
Group
14+
Age
GT020
Program code

Embark on an 8-day trekking journey through Georgia's Eastern High Caucasus, a more accessible yet equally stunning alternative to our Svaneti Trekking. Starting from vibrant Tbilisi, this adventure leads you into the heart of Georgia's mountainous splendor, without the burden of carrying heavy luggage. All your belongings and camping gear will be transported by 4x4 vehicles and, in the enchanting region of Tusheti, by sturdy horses.

Experience the unique charm of Tusheti, a remote gem in the Caucasus accessible only half the year, offering an exclusive glimpse into one of Georgia's most pristine regions. Traverse through varied landscapes, from the picturesque Kvakhidi meadows to the historic ruins at Shatili, where each step reveals new wonders.

As you descend towards Shatili, discover the enigmatic ruins of the Mutso fortress and the mysterious Anatori necropolis. The journey then takes you to the magnificent Chaukhi massif, likened to the "Georgian Dolomites," and past the striking Abudelauri lakes.

The pinnacle of this tour is the awe-inspiring Mount Kazbek, towering at 5,047 meters. Approach the stunning Gergeti Glacier and visit the iconic Gergeti Trinity Church, a symbol of Georgian heritage and one of the country's most photographed sights.

Your adventure concludes with a visit to the iconic Gergeti Trinity Church and a hike towards the Gergeti glacier. The final day is packed with cultural explorations, from the Georgievsk Monument to the UNESCO-listed Jvari Monastery, and Svetitskhoveli.

Join us on this exceptional adventure, where convenience meets the raw beauty of Georgia's mountains, leading you to breathtaking vistas and serene landscapes, for an experience that will linger in your memories forever!

Itinerary

Day 1 — Journey to Tusheti and Exploration of Omalo

The adventure begins with a transfer from Tbilisi to the quaint village of Alvani, where participants can indulge in a local lunch. Following this, the journey continues in four-wheel-drive vehicles to Tusheti, ascending the narrow road to the Abano Pass at 2900m. This route offers stunning views of the valley below, marking a dramatic entry into the mountainous region. Upon arrival in Omalo, the largest settlement in Tusheti, the afternoon is dedicated to exploring the Keselo fortresses. These ancient fortresses, dating back to medieval times, stand as silent witnesses to the region's turbulent history. The day concludes with a cultural immersion in the form of a "Khinkali" cooking class and dinner, providing a taste of local Georgian cuisine. Accommodation for the night is arranged in a cozy guest house in Omalo, offering a blend of comfort and traditional hospitality.

Route: Tbilisi — Private car | 120 km · 2 h 30 min Alvani — 4x4 | 80 km · 3 h 30 min Omalo

Activities: Sightseeing | 1 hours , Masterclass | 1 hours

Accommodation: Included Hotel Tsasne * Or similar | Guest House | Twin or double room, shared WC & shower on the floor

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

Guide: Full day

Visited Attractions*: Keselo Fortress, Abano Pass, Alaverdi Monastery.

Day 2 — Pirikita Range Trek

Departing from Omalo, the journey on day 2 leads north-east through the rugged, mountainous terrain towards Gometsari. Here, participants will have the opportunity to explore the area's natural beauty and traditional architecture, immersing themselves in the essence of Tusheti's landscape. The adventure then continues northeast to Bochorna, perched at an altitude of about 2,345 meters (7,694 feet), earning the distinction of being one of the highest inhabited villages in Europe. The high altitude not only contributes to the breathtaking mountain scenery but also adds a unique atmosphere to the experience. The day's journey progresses with a 4x4 adventure to the Pirikita Ridge, leading to the charming village of Dartlo. Dartlo is renowned for its distinctive traditional features, including medieval Christian crypts, battle towers, residential castles, and an archaeological area. A highlight is the visit to the Ghele Meadow, which is home to the unique monument of Sabcheo, a traditional court setting. Participants will also have the chance to admire the Kwavlo combat tower and the alluring architecture of the village, along with a visit to the sanctuary in the village of Dano. The trek from Dano back to Dartlo allows for further exploration and appreciation of the region's cultural and historical significance. The day concludes with a transfer from Dartlo to Girevi in a 4x4 vehicle, traveling through the picturesque landscapes to reach the village of Parsma. The day ends with dinner and accommodation in Ghirevi, offering a restful conclusion to a day filled with natural wonders and cultural exploration.

Route: Omalo — 4x4 | 10 km · 30 min Bochorna — 4x4 | 12 km · 30 min Dartlo — 4x4 | 9 km · 30 min Girevi

Activities: Hiking | 2 hours

Accommodation: Included Guest House Nakudurta * Or similar | Guest House | Twin or double room, shared WC & shower on the floor

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

Guide: Full day

Visited Attractions*:

Day 3 — Girevi to Kvakhidi Meadows Hike

An early start in Girevi, the last inhabited village in the valley, begins with a hearty breakfast. Here, trekkers obtain necessary permits from the local border post. This day marks the beginning of a two-day, off-grid segment of the trek, the most remote part of the journey with no cellular connection. During this phase, participants will experience the true essence of wilderness trekking. Sleeping in tents set up in camps, the group will be fully immersed in nature. All equipment for this part of the trek will be conveniently carried by horses, adding an authentic touch to the adventure. Meanwhile, any luggage not needed for this segment will be transferred to the village of Mutso, where we'll meet back with our driver. The hike commences directly from Girevi, venturing towards the mountains and passing the hauntingly beautiful, abandoned settlement of Chontio. The trail weaves through a mesmerizing landscape of alpine meadows and river gorges, each turn offering a new perspective of the stunning terrain. The trek spans 16km, with an elevation gain of 920m and a loss of 530m, challenging yet rewarding trekkers with breathtaking vistas and the tranquility of untouched nature. The day reaches its zenith as the group sets up camp in the picturesque Kvahidi meadows, located at an elevation of 2600m. This serene location, surrounded by the grandeur of the Georgian mountains, offers an unparalleled opportunity to connect with nature, far removed from the hustle of modern life. Here, under the vast mountain sky, the group will spend a memorable night, truly off the grid and in harmony with the natural world.

Route: Girevi — Hiking | 16 km · 7 h Kvakhidi Meadows

Activities: Hiking | 7 hours

Accommodation: Included Tents | Tents | Double tent, 2 people per tent

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

Guide: Full day

Day 4 — Crossing the Atsunta Pass

The fourth day of the trek marks the most awe-inspiring and challenging segment, with a distance of 16.8 km, an elevation gain of 1405m, and a loss of 1168m. The day starts with crossing multiple rivers, setting the stage for the ascent to the Atsunta Pass. This ascent is a mix of scenic meadows and rugged shale terrain, leading to the pass which serves as a panoramic vantage point. From here, trekkers are rewarded with breathtaking views of both Tusheti and Khevsureti regions. The descent from the pass onto the Khidotanis ridge unfolds a canvas of captivating landscapes in all directions, spotlighting Mt. Tebulo (4492 m), Tusheti's highest peak. The day concludes with setting up camp on the Khidotanis ridge, offering a memorable night under the stars, surrounded by the majesty of the Georgian mountains.

Route: Kvakhidi Meadows — Hiking | 17 km · 7 h Khidotani Ridge

Activities: Hiking | 7 hours

Accommodation: Included Tents | Tents | Double tent, 2 people per tent

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

Guide: Full day

Day 5 — Khidotanis Ridge to Shatili via Mutso

The fifth day's journey, transitioning from the wild, off-grid trekking experience, begins with a trek from Khidotanis Ridge to Mutso village, spanning a distance of 10 km. This leg of the journey features an elevation gain of 280m, followed by a descent of 1360m into the Khonischala valley. The route then leads to the historic ruins of the Mutso fortress, an iconic example of medieval Georgian defensive architecture, marking the end of the trek's most remote segment. At Mutso, a significant historical site, the group reunites with their driver and retrieves their luggage. This reunion signifies a return to more accessible terrain and the conveniences of modern travel. From Mutso, the journey continues by 4x4 vehicles, enhancing the day's adventure with a visit to the Anatori necropolis, also known as the "Houses of the Dead." This site offers an intriguing insight into ancient Georgian burial practices and local folklore. The day concludes with a transfer to Shatili, a village renowned for its unique stone structures and defensive towers, reflecting a rich history and culture. In Shatili, participants can relax and absorb their surroundings, with dinner and accommodation provided at the Shatili guesthouse. This comfortable setting allows trekkers to reflect on the day's diverse experiences, from rugged trekking to historical explorations, culminating in the warmth and hospitality of Shatili.

Route: Khidotani Ridge — Hiking | 10 km · 2 h Mutso — 4x4 | 15 km · 30 min Shatili

Activities: Hiking | 3 hours

Accommodation: Included Front Castle * Or similar | Guest House | Twin or double room, shared WC & shower on the floor

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

Guide: Full day

Day 6 — From Roshka to Juta Village

After breakfast in Shatili, the sixth day involves a transfer to Roshka, marking the start of a scenic hiking tour towards Juta. The trail heads towards the impressive Chaukhi massif, often compared to the "Georgian Dolomites" for its striking rock formations. The journey features a passage by the vibrant Abudelauri lakes, including the remarkable blue lake, known for its stunning hues. The ascent to the 3068m high Sadzele pass, a natural boundary between the Khevi and Khevsureti regions, offers spectacular views. The day's trek concludes in Juta village, known for its rustic charm and breathtaking mountain backdrop. Overnight accommodation is provided in the hotel Fifth Season, allowing trekkers to rest and rejuvenate in the heart of the Caucasus.

Route: Shatili — 4x4 | 42 km · 1 h Roshka — Hiking | 18 km · 8 h Juta

Activities: Hiking | 8 hours

Accommodation: Included Fifth Season * Or similar | Hotel | Comfortable accommodation, private WC & shower

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

Guide: Full day

Visited Attractions*: Chaukhi Mountain, Abudelauri Lakes.

Day 7 — Gergeti Trinity Church, Glacier Trek, and Mt. Kazbek Views

The day begins with a scenic drive to Stepantsminda, setting the stage for a memorable ascent to the Trinity Monastery of Gergeti. This journey, undertaken by a 4x4 vehicle, brings travelers to the revered church, perched at a high altitude and offering breathtaking views. The Gergeti Trinity Church, a pivotal symbol of Georgian Christianity dating back to the 14th century, also presents a unique opportunity to closely admire Mt. Kazbek, standing majestically at 5,047 meters. This proximity allows for a stunning and comprehensive view of one of the highest summits in the Caucasus. Following the visit to the church, the adventure continues on foot with a hike towards the Gergeti Glacier. This part of the trek offers a chance to witness the magnificent glacial landscapes and provides an even closer perspective of the imposing Kazbek. For lunch, participants can visit Alti Hut, offering a chance to dine with the mountain as a backdrop. Please note that this meal is not included in the tour package, allowing for individual choice and flexibility. After trekking back from the glacier to the Gergeti Trinity Church, where the driver will be waiting, the evening in Stepantsminda is yours to enjoy freely. This free time allows for exploration, relaxation, or further admiration of Mt. Kazbek. Dinner is also at your discretion, with a variety of local restaurants available for an authentic culinary experience. The day concludes with an overnight stay in Stepantsminda, providing a comfortable and reflective end to a day filled with breathtaking views and cultural insights.

Route: Juta — 4x4 | 30 km · 45 min Stepantsminda

Activities: Sightseeing 30 minutes , Hiking | 4 hours

Accommodation: Included Kazbegi Sunshine * Or similar | Hotel | Comfortable accommodation, private WC & shower

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

Guide: Full day

Visited Attractions*: Gergeti Glacier, Gergeti Trinity Church, Mount Kazbek, Sno Fortress, Sno Church, The Stone Heads Of Sno.

Day 8 — Descending from the High Mountains and Sightseeing Return to Tbilisi

The final day features a scenic descent from the high mountains to Tbilisi, enriched with several significant sightseeing stops. The journey begins with a visit to the Georgievsk Monument, or “Friendship” Arc, a symbol of Georgian-Russian friendship built during the Soviet era in the 1980s. This iconic structure commemorates the historical ties between the two nations and stands as a poignant reminder of the past. As the journey progresses along the Georgian Military Highway, the group will pass by the Jvari Pass, one of the highest in Georgia, towering at an elevation of approximately 2,379 meters (7,815 feet). This route offers spectacular views and a tangible sense of the region's natural grandeur. The route then leads to Gudauri, a renowned ski resort offering a last glimpse of the Caucasus peaks. Following this, a visit to the Ananuri fortress, a 13th-century structure on the UNESCO Tentative list, allows for an exploration of Georgia's medieval history beside the Aragvi River. Continuing the descent, the group pauses at the Zhinvali Reservoir, a picturesque spot where the interplay of water and landscape creates a serene setting. Next is the 6th-century Jvari Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offering stunning views and a deep dive into Georgia's religious heritage. The tour culminates with a stop at the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, another UNESCO site, known for its architectural splendor and historical significance. This final visit before returning to Tbilisi encapsulates the rich tapestry of Georgia's cultural and historical journey, rounding off an unforgettable mountain adventure. The tour concludes with a return to the heart of Tbilisi. Participants have the option of being dropped off in downtown Tbilisi, perfect for those who wish to explore the city further or enjoy its vibrant atmosphere. Alternatively, for added convenience, we offer direct transportation to your hotel, ensuring a seamless and comfortable end to this remarkable jour

Route: Stepantsminda — Private car | 140 km · 3 h Tbilisi

Activities: Sightseeing | 3 hours

Accommodation: Not Included

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

Guide: Full day

Visited Attractions*: Ananuri Fortress, Zhinvali Reservoir, Jvari Pass Travertine, Russia-Georgia Friendship Monument, Jvari Monastery, Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.

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.

Prices

This tour has open departure and can be organized based on your preferred dates. Remember, prices vary based on the exact group size.

From July 1, 2024 to Sept. 15, 2024

What's included?

Accommodation

2 nights — Comfortable accommodation, private WC & shower

3 nights — Twin or double room, shared WC & shower on the floor

2 nights — Double tent, 2 people per tent

Meals

7 breakfasts, 6 lunch, 6 dinners.

Guide

8 days — Full day,

Transport

4x4: ~198 km, Hiking: ~61 km, Private car: ~260 km. *

Activities

Hiking: ~31 hours, Sightseeing: ~4 hours 30 minutes, Masterclass: ~1 hours. *

Additionally included

English speaking guide, All master classes mentioned, All camping gear rental, Sleeping bags and floor mattress.

Not included

Plane tickets, Personal expenses and tips, Travel insurance.

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

Guide services can be provided in different languages, depending on the preferences of the group.
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.

Equipment & Checklist

Embarking on a trekking adventure in Tusheti, Georgia is an amazing way to experience the stunning landscapes of the region. Since you'll be hiking and your luggage will be transferred by car, it's important to pack light and choose gear that's both functional and comfortable.

During the summer months, the temperature in Tusheti can range from 10°C (50°F) to 20°C (68°F), but keep in mind that weather conditions can change quickly, so it's essential to pack accordingly with warm layers and rain gear. Additionally, you'll be trekking at high altitudes, so it's important to take the necessary precautions to acclimate and stay hydrated. Make sure to drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and smoking.

With the right preparation and gear, including sturdy hiking boots, breathable clothing, warm layers, waterproof and windproof jacket and pants, trekking poles, hydration system, snacks, and a camera, you'll be well-prepared to enjoy the breathtaking scenery and unique culture of the region. Here's a comprehensive checklist for your summer hiking adventure in Tusheti:

Accommodation

The accommodations in this tour offer a unique blend of traditional character and modern conveniences, with the majority of nights spent in locally-run hotels or home-stays with shared facilities, and a few nights in good and clean 2-3 star city hotels with private facilities. Both types of accommodations, whether in family-run establishments or city hotels, are clean, good, and centrally located to maximize your time for exploring the sights. If a hotel name is marked with "* or similar," it means a similar hotel of equivalent or higher class may be provided based on tour dates, group size, and hotel availability. The itinerary section of the program description will specify the exact type of accommodation for each day.

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.

Food Arrangements During the Hiking Part

During the hike in the mountains, meals are typically organized as picnic-style lunches, with a variety of fresh, hearty, and filling items to fuel you throughout the day. The exact menu may vary depending on the day, but common options include sandwiches, fruits, nuts, and snacks. Water is provided to keep you hydrated. For dinner, you will have the opportunity to experience the local cuisine by dining with local families. If you have specific dietary requirements, please let your travel assistant know and they will do their best to accommodate them.

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!

Luggage Transportation During the Hike

During your hiking journey in the mountains, you'll be able to travel light with just your personal belongings. To ensure that your luggage is safe and secure, it will be transferred from one overnight point to the next by a reliable 4x4 vehicle. This means that you can focus on enjoying your hike and taking in the stunning mountain scenery, without having to worry about carrying your luggage. Rest assured that your luggage will be waiting for you at your next accommodation, so you can freshen up and relax after a day of hiking.

Guides

Our group tour leaders are the most experienced and knowledgeable individuals with excellent English language skills. If the common language of the group is different, we can provide guides in other foreign languages by coordinating with our travel assistant team. The guide will be available to the group for the entire duration of the trip, and their exact availability is marked in the Itinerary section of the program for each day. Please refer to the Itinerary section to know how long the guide will be available on each day.

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: May 6, 2024, 4:41 p.m.