Walking Holidays in Georgia
Our Georgia walking holidays include the beautiful regions of Svaneti and Tusheti and itineraries along the Transcaucasian Trail, which, being developed since 2015, is becoming a world-class, long-distance hiking trail more than 3,000 km in length, following the Greater and Lesser Caucasus Mountains and connecting roughly two dozen national parks and protected areas in the region.
Situated on the southern slopes of the central Caucasus Mountains and surrounded by 3,000–5,000 meter peaks, Svaneti is the highest inhabited area in the Caucasus and our Mestia and the Trails of Svaneti tour provides some of the best walking opportunities in Europe. Svaneti is also known for its cultural and architectural treasures and friendly people.
The Transcaucasian Trail is becoming one of the best hiking trails in the world for a reason. The walks are a hiker’s dream come true and the views are always spectacular in Tusheti, where the landscape is dominated by snow-capped mountains and wide valleys dotted with ancient villages and medieval defensive towers.
Where Do our Walking Holidays in Georgia Take Place?
Bordering Europe, Asia and the Middle East, the region known variously as the Caucasus, the South Caucasus, or Transcaucasia is one of the most biologically, culturally and linguistically diverse regions in the world – yet one that few have had the chance to explore. Now, united by a shared vision of a long-distance trail network across the region, a growing community of local and international hikers, cartographers and conservationists is putting this hidden gem on the map to help ensure that the landscapes and heritage of the region can be enjoyed by future generations.
Georgia is a country in the Caucasus region, located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. It is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital and largest city is Tbilisi. Georgia is approximately the size of Ireland and covers a territory of 69,700 square kilometers (26,911 sq mi). Its 2017 population is about 3.718 million.
For a country of its modest proportions, it presents a remarkable mix of landscapes and climates, ranging from high mountain peaks to wine-growing valleys and lush Black Sea resorts. The landscape within the nation’s boundaries is quite varied. Western Georgia’s landscape ranges from low-land marsh-forests, swamps, and temperate rainforests to eternal snows and glaciers, while the eastern part of the country even contains a small segment of semi-arid plains. Forests cover around 40% of Georgia’s territory while the alpine/subalpine zone accounts for roughly around 10 percent of the land.
Because of its high landscape diversity and low latitude, Georgia is home to about 5,601 species of animals, including 648 species of vertebrates (more than 1% of the species found worldwide) and many of these species are endemics. A number of large carnivores live in the forests, namely Brown bears, wolves, lynxes and Caucasian Leopards.
The highest mountain in Georgia is Mount Shkhara at 5,068 meters (16,627 ft). Other prominent peaks include Mount Kazbek at 5,047 m (16,558 ft), Shota Rustaveli 4,860 m (15,945 ft), Tetnuldi 4,858 m (15,938 ft), Mt. Ushba 4,700 m (15,420 ft), and Ailama 4,547 m (14,918 ft). The region between Kazbek and Shkhara (a distance of about 200 km (124 mi) along the Main Caucasus Range) is dominated by numerous glaciers. Out of the 2,100 glaciers that exist in the Caucasus today, approximately 30% are located within Georgia.
Georgian culture evolved over thousands of years from its foundations in the Iberian and Colchian civilizations. Georgian culture enjoyed a renaissance and golden age of classical literature, arts, philosophy, architecture and science in the 11th century. The Georgian language is written in unique script used only by Georgians, which according to traditional accounts was invented by King Pharnavaz I of Iberia in the 3rd century BC. The native name of Georgia in Georgian language is Sakartvelo (საქართველო; “land of Kartvelians”), derived from the core central Georgian region of Kartli.
Georgian cuisine and wine have evolved through the centuries. Georgia is considered to be a birthplace of wine making. The Georgians invented wine making sometime in the 6th millennium BC. Wine making in Georgia has been recognized by UNESCO on the Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Here you’ll find 8,000 vintages, more than 400 varieties of grapes.
Walking holidays in Svaneti
Situated on the southern slopes of the central Caucasus Mountains and surrounded by 3,000–5,000 meter peaks, Svaneti is the highest inhabited area in the Caucasus. Four of the 10 highest peaks of the Caucasus are located in the region. The highest mountain in Georgia, Mount Shkhara at 5,201 meters, is located in the province. Svaneti is known for its architectural treasures and picturesque landscapes. The famous Svanetian tower houses erected mainly in the 9th-12th centuries are a highlight. In the province there are dozens of Georgian orthodox churches and various fortified buildings. Architectural monuments of Upper Svanetia are included in a list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Walking holidays in Tusheti
Tusheti is a remote region of northeast Georgia, nestled in the Greater Caucasus and only accessible through a few high passes. The walks are first-class and the views are always spectacular in Tusheti, where the landscape is dominated by snow-capped mountains, wide valleys dotted with ancient villages and medieval defensive towers.
Most of the inhabitants of Tusheti live in the lower valleys of Kakheti in the winter and then return to the mountains when the shepherds move the herds in early summer. They keep the unique elements of Tushetian culture alive through festivals, feasts, horse races, and religious rituals held throughout the summer.