The most fertile part of Georgia – Kakheti , which borders the Great Caucasus range from the north Alazani Valley, summits of which are over 3,000 m. This region is known as a birthplace of viticulture and wine- making. The reach land, burning sun and hard work have developed about 500 varieties of vine in Georgia. The history, culture and lifestyle of Georgians are embodied in Georgian wine.
Day 1. Arrival
Arrival at the Tbilisi International Airport. Transfer to the hotel. Time at leisure.
Overnigt in Tbilisi
Day 2. Tbilisi - David Gareja - Bodbe - Sighnaghi
Departure for Kakheti – one of the most beautiful corners of Georgia. Surrounded by greenery and vineyards, Kakheti has been the main center of winemaking since ancient times. Kakheti is a beautiful and fertile land with flat and slightly hilly landscapes. This is a wonderful combination of the history and traditions of the Georgian people, including wine culture.
Departure to the complex of cave monasteries – David Gareja. The foundations of the monastery complex were laid in the first half of the 6th century by the Assyrian monk David. Together with his disciple, he settled in a small cave in the middle of the Gareja desert and soon founded the first monastery there – the Lavra of David. Over time, the old hermit had followers and after a few centuries there were about 12 cave monasteries in the complex. Churches and refectories were built on their territory, and monks lived in cells carved into sandstone rocks.
Currently, the complex consists of about 20 monasteries carved into the rocks. The main monastery is the Lavra of St. David, which is located on the northern slope of the mountain separating Georgia and Azerbaijan. Two of the 20 caves contain still functioning monasteries. David Gareja occupies a special place in Georgian history and is one of the main attractions of Georgia. According to National Geographic magazine, David Gareja monastery complex is one of the wildest and most beautiful places in the world.
Visit to the Bodbe monastery. The monastery embodied ascetic rigor and religious grandeur. It is here that the relics of St. Nino, who is considered the Enlightener of the Georgian people, are currently stored. Inside the temple there is another shrine – the Iviron Icon of the Mother of God. The icon of the Iviron Mother of God streamed myrrh several times. Every year many believers come to worship the miraculous image. The most important attraction of Bodbe is the Spring of St. Nino. A small temple was built above the spring in honor of Zabulon and Sosana (Nino’s parents), and below there is a spring and a font.
Visit to Sighnaghi – beautiful and comfortable town on a mountainside. Over the past ten years, the city has been gradually restored and is the center of tourism in Georgia. The city is picturesque, bright and tasteful, this is the result of the excellent work of engineers and designers. The buildings are built in the style of southern Italian classicism with Georgian elements. This is a place of diverse entertainment for every taste. The city has all the conditions for a great holiday. The city is famous for the fortress of the same name, which is included in the list of the most famous and largest fortresses in Georgia. Along the perimeter of the walls, 28 watchtowers have been preserved, from which a wonderful view of the Alazani Valley opens.
Visit to the Local Lore Museum. It can rightly be considered one of the best local history museums in Georgia. The museum consists of two floors. The first one is devoted to archeology, here you can see ceramics of different centuries, bronze crafts, daggers, dishes. All exhibits are signed, and there are also stands with more detailed information. A large collection, including from small, no longer existing museums in the Kakheti region. The second floor is more dedicated to painting. The hall of paintings by the artist Lado Gudiashvili and the hall of the artist Niko Pirosmani.
Overnight in Sighnaghi.
Day 3. Sighnaghi - Lagodekhi - Sighnaghi
Departure to Lagodekhi. Lagodekhi Nature Reserve is located near the town of Lagodekhi on the southern slopes of the eastern part of the Caucasus mountain range in Alazani river basin. The reserve was founded in 1912 and is a sample of creating and saving unique wilderness areas.
All the protected area can be neatly divided into two zones, forests and meadows, which are separated by a strip of forest. It is a magnificent national park with undamaged ecosystems, being home to numerous endemic species of flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world. In the alpine zone is a group of very beautiful lakes of glacial origin, called Black Mountain Lake. In the gorge, there is Lagodekhi waterfall falling from a height of 1000 meters. In the reserve are numerous hiking trails of varying difficulty, which will please those who pass through it on foot and go on a journey on horseback as well.
Overnaigt in Sighnaghi.
Day 4. Sighnaghi - Kvareli - Nekresi - Gremi - Telavi
Visit to the Khareba Winery. The winery is known to many thanks to its unique wine cellar in Kvareli, which is cut right into the rocks of the Caucasus Range. The constant temperature throughout the year is between 12 and 14 degrees, which is the ideal condition for wine that is stored in oak barrels, as well as for already bottled wine. The total length of the cut tunnels is more than 7 kilometers. There is also a museum sector here – this is a real marani with clay kvevri. Here you can taste the brightest varieties of Georgian wines, the famous Georgian chacha and the famous cognac.
Visit to the House-Museum of Ilya Chavchavadze in Kvareli. The museum of the great Georgian writer, public figure and poet is located in the family estate of Chavchavadze. The museum complex includes a family tower, a residential building and an exhibition hall. The museum contains memorial items of Ilya and his family members. A very interesting building in terms of architecture and a very beautiful garden inside. Well organized tour with pleasant musical accompaniment. There are many interesting stories not only about the life of Ilya Chvchavadze himself, but also about the history of Georgia.
Visit to the winery “Kindzmarauli”. The plant is the main producer of the famous brand of wine. The company owns three-quarters of the vineyards of the Kindzmarauli microzone, several wine storages and wine shops, a restaurant and a tasting room on the territory of the plant. Kindzmarauli wine ferments naturally, but the process is interrupted before it is completed by cooling the juice containers. Therefore, it retains the natural sweetness and aroma of Saperavi grapes, unlike other semi-sweet wines where sugar is added. The program includes wine tasting.
Lake Ilya is a real gem of Kakheti, framed by picturesque mountain ranges. Great place to stay for many locals and travelers coming to Georgia. Surrounded by a beautiful forest with a lake in the middle, the resort is the perfect place to unwind after a trip. Lake Ilya is perfectly equipped for visitors – there is both an entertainment complex and a restaurant that offers a magnificent view of the city. The lake is located at an altitude of about 500 meters above sea level, 200 meters above the altitude of the adjacent Alazani valley. To the right and left of the lake there are wooded mountains with a height of about 700 meters. In summer, you can swim.
Visit to the Nekresi Monastery – ancient monastery complex in Kakheti, located in a picturesque place, right on top of a mountain, offering a breathtaking view of the Alazani Valley. Many centuries ago, there was once the town of the same name Nekresi, the ruins of which can be seen from the height of the monastery. The general view of the church and the interior decoration are quite ascetic. The monastery complex combines several monuments of Georgian architecture, among them there are three temple buildings. In addition to spreading the faith and teachings of Christ, the monastery was an important scientific and educational center of the region.
Visiting to the architectural ensemble of Gremi – Gremi strikes the imagination with its size, as well as the amazing insight of its architects. The castle is considered the pearl of the wine region of Kakheti and it is no coincidence that it is listed as the point of every sightseeing trip around the region. Gremi is an architectural ensemble and consists of the Church of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, a bell tower, a three-story palace and a wine cellar (marani). The complex is surrounded by a wall with towers and embrasures, where the remains of a secret underground passage leading to the river are still preserved. This is all that remains of the once flourishing ancient capital of Kakheti.
Overnigt in Telavi
DAY 5. Telavi -Pankisi Valley - Telavi
The Pankisi valley is located in Kakheti, in the Alazani Gorge of the upper reaches, the length of which is 34 km. The slopes of the gorge are covered with a wide range of deciduous forests up to 2000-2200 m. The Pankisi valley is an ideal place for relaxing in nature, where you can soak up, read a book, light a fire and spend the night with friends.
Visit to the Ethnographic Museum in the village of Duisi. The museum presents ancient objects and pottery found in the valley. The museum has about 300 exhibits, some of which date back to the Bronze Age. It also stores personal belongings, historical and ethnographic materials brought by the local population – Georgians, Kists, Ossetians and refugees from Chechenie.
Tower of Baltagori is an architectural monument and is under state protection. To this day, the tower has reached almost its original form. A staircase leads upstairs, the last few flights pass inside. This watchtower was built in the 16th century and had three floors. From here, the Pankisi Valley and its villages are perfectly visible.
The fortress -Torgva Pankeli is located on the top of a high mountain (1200m). An interesting object with fabulous views of the surroundings. If the forest did not hide the fortress, it would be visible from any point in the north of the Alazani Valley. Once it was the main residence of the Pankisi Eristavs and most of the Alazani Valley was subordinate to a man whose main castle was this very fortress. At the beginning of the 13th century, the Eristavi of Pankisi, Torgva Pankeli thoroughly rebuilt the fortress, which was thus named as the Torgva Pankeli Fortress.
Khadori waterfall. Stunning beauty in a far from the most famous place. The right time to visit this place is the spring, summer and autumn season, when all the vegetation is still green, and the water in the rivers has not become shallow. Khadori Falls is a turbulent stream of water falling from the height of a mountain range. This spectacle will not leave anyone indifferent. Near the lake, you can set up a campground and enjoy the beauties of the local nature to the sound of a waterfall.
Overnight in Telavi
Day 6. Telavi – Ikalto- Alaverdi – Telavi
Discovery of Telavi. The city has been known since the 1st-2nd centuries AD. e., and for a long time was an important trading center on the caravan route from the Middle East to Europe. Telavi is not only the center of the region. This is the center of all Georgian winemaking, which, as you know, is elevated to a cult here. The landscapes of Telavi and its environs are very impressive. Here you can simultaneously enjoy the greenery of the river valleys, the slopes of the mountains of the Greater Caucasus, crowned with thousand-meter peaks, its slopes, overgrown with hornbeam and oak forests, turning into alpine meadows.
Visit to the Residence of King Erekle II. The house-museum of Erekle II in the castle of Batonis-Tsikhe is located in the center of the city of Telavi, which served as the residence of the kings of Kakheti in the 17th-18th centuries. The castle includes two churches, the ruins of the royal baths of the XI century, the pantheon and the palace of Heraclius II. Today there is a house-museum of Erekle II, an ethnographic museum and an art gallery. In the museum you can see numismatic collections, an early medieval sarcophagus, late medieval weapons and a collection of copper household items from the 18th-18th centuries.
Visiting the pottery workshop and getting acquainted with the unique manual process of making Qvevri. The craft is passed down from generation to generation, and future masters join it already in childhood, learning from their fathers and grandfathers. The clay used to make qvevri must be carefully chosen, as its characteristics will affect the mineral composition of the wine. Professional skills and knowledge are considered sacred family secrets.
Visit to the medieval academy of Ikalto. Currently, the complex has a functioning church, where the relics of its founder, Zenon Ikaltoeli, are exhibited for worship. As well as in Gelati, the monastery had its own academy built in the XII century by King David IV and was one of the cultural centers of Georgia. The famous philosopher Arsen Ikaltoeli taught there, one of whose students was the great poet Shota Rustaveli. The majestic temple has the oldest wine cellar in Georgia.
Alaverdi cathedral. It was built in the beginning of the 11 the century and was one of the tallest structures of the time. The temple was built on the site of a small church of St. George. The temple is still called St. George Cathedral (Tsminda Georgi). Alaverdi cathedral was repeatedly destroyed. Its first restoration was accomplished in the 15 the century. The second one was in the 18 the century after the disastrous earthquake. Restorations have changed the cathedral a little but nevertheless it remains the outstanding example of medieval Georgian architecture.
Overnigt in Telavi
DAY 7. Telavi -Tsinandali - Shuamta - Ujarma -Tbilisi
Visit to the house-museum of A. Chavchavadze in Tsinandali, largely symbolic place. The current Tsinandali Palace was built in the early 1800s by the famous Georgian poet and thinker Alexander Chavchavadze. He often hosted guests (Griboyedov, Pushkin, Lermontov and Alexander Dumas Sr. were here), entertained them with music, witty conversation and, in particular, fine wines produced in his manor marani (winery). Now the estate houses a museum with well-preserved interiors and artifacts from a bygone era. Around the elegant mansion was laid out a regular park in the English style with various rare plants.
Visit of Winery “Shumi”. The winery of the company is located in Tsinandali. The plant is equipped with the most modern equipment that allows you to control all stages of the wine production process, making it possible to guarantee the stability of product quality. The Schumi company has created its own museum of vines and wine “Vazioni”. There are collected 294 names of Georgian grapes and 92 foreign varieties. The museum also contains ancient wine-making equipment found during archaeological excavations. The museum provides an excursion program for tourists. It includes a story about the history of the emergence and development of winemaking, tasting several types of wines.
Visiting the monasteries Dzveli-Shuamta and Akhali Shuamta (Old Shuamta and New Shuamta). There are two monasteries in the village of Shuamta, which at one time were important religious centers of Christian Georgia. The monasteries were built in different eras and differ in the style of the structure. Dzveli or Old Shuamta consists of several temples built in the 5th-7th centuries. The very first of them is a small church in the foreground. The current nunnery – Akhali or New Shuamta was built later, in the 16th century. The monastery complex consists of the Church of the Virgin, the bell tower and outbuildings.
Visit to the Fortress of Ujarma – historical fortified city and one of the most important monuments of medieval architecture in Georgia, due to its location and historical significance. St. Nino placed one of the three crosses here, symbolizing the Christianization of Georgia. Under King Vakhtang Gorgasali, a palace was built here, and his residence became the de facto capital of Kakheti. The panorama that opens from the upper part of the fortress to the Iori River, the Gombori Range and the surrounding nature is simply mesmerizing. On the territory there are buildings belonging to different eras: a temple, a cross, towers, a water collector, marani, ruins of walls and other objects.
Overnigt in Tbilisi
Day 8. Departure
Transfer to the airport.
The price per person $ US Dollars
Price Includes: Transfers, Transport throughout all round, Accommodation in Tbilisi (2 nights), Telavi (3), Sighnaghi (2). Breakfast in the hotel (7), Insurance, Services of the guide.
Not included: Air Tickets. Meals and Drinks not mentioned in the program.