With its underground cave cities that date back before Christ, and ruins of the world’s northernmost Zoroastrian fire temple, and thermal baths, and delicious food and wine, and deep green white-capped grey rock mountains with bright blue skies as backdrop, and yellow azalea clad fields and forests, and rickety rusty cable cars that date back to the Soviet era in cozy red-roof towns, and pristine white virgin backcountry-dream powder snow; the gorgeous Republic of Georgia is definitely, hands down, the belle of the ball, and one you will definitely, hands down, want to get acquainted with personally. Especially, if you’re one to love adventure.
However, with all that and more to discover, you will need to make choices, plan in advance and ideally hire a guide to point you in the right direction and help you with logistics. Options abound, and you can look at Explore-Share’s list of certified guides that offer trips in Georgia to start planning your trip, and read our pick of top 5 outdoor adventuresin this Caucasus Mountainhaven below!
1. Climbing Mount Kazbek
At 5,033 m.a.s.l, Mount Kazbek, a dormant stratovolcano, is the third highest peak in Georgia. This stunner is surrounded by geothermal hot springs and capped by glaciers. Additionally, it is associated with Amirani, a mythical Georgian hero that is said to have defied God and introduced humans to metal. Furthermore, at around 4000 m.a.s.l, in the Bethlemi cave, there is an Orthodox hermitage. Legend has it that this cave has stored many religious relics including the manger of baby Jesus. Climbing this mountain will allow you to experience contrasting and breathtaking landscapes and terrains, as well as discover some of the local myths and legends of the land!
Area / Region: Stepantsminda district
How to get there? Mt. Kazbek is a 3-hour drive away from Tbilisi. The closest town is Stepantsminda. Options to get there include renting a car and driving, taking a taxi or taking a local minibus (marshrutka) from Didube bus station in Tbilisi. Keep in mind that marshrutkas operate from 8 am to 5 pm. Another option is to organize a transfer service, which you may be able to coordinate with your guide or the hotel you’re staying at.
Difficulty level: Intermediate.
When to go there: For mountaineering and hiking, during the warmer summer months between June and September.
A historical region in the northwest of the country, Svaneti is one of Georgia’s best-kept secrets, which is why there are probably more donkeys and cows than cars in the region, or so they say. And that is one of the reasons why it is also such a great location for ski touring: it is so remote, that the snow is untouched, and the mountains, a symphony of nature. Furthermore, the stunning villages, Orthodox churches, and amazing medieval constructions make this an area well worth exploring for its culture too.
The region is divided into Upper and Lower Svaneti, and home to Shkhara (5,193m), the tallest mountain in the country, as well as to the town of Mestia. It offers a wide variety of unexplored terrain for skiing that will allow you to enjoy tree runs and pristine virgin powder.
Area / Region: In the municipality of Mestia.
How to get there? You can get to Svaneti by car, marshrutka/minivan, taxi or you can take a plane from Tbilisi to Mestia or Kutaisi to Mestia to the Mestia Queen Tamar airport. Keep in mind that flights are not daily.
Difficulty level: At least intermediate.
When to go there: In the winter months, from December to April.
For ski enthusiasts, another great area to explore in Georgia is the well-reputed Gudauri. This amazing winter sports haven is a ski resort in the Stepantsminda district that has some of the most delectable snow in the region.
Want to add some other great skiing alternatives to your itinerary? Read more about the best ski touring spots in Georgia and take your freeriding adventure to a whole other level!
The ski lifts allow for easy access to the wilderness and because the Gudauri slopes are completely above the tree line and usually avalanche-safe, they are famous amongst freeriders. Also, this region is famous for its spa treatments, hot baths, and warm wine, all welcome and comforting after a day out in the slopes!
Area / Region: Gudauri is located in the Stepandsminda district and lies on the southern-facing plateau of the Greater Caucasus mountains.
How to get there? Gudauri is approximately 120 km away from Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital. Options to get there include renting a car and driving for two hours, taking a taxi, or taking a local minibus (marshrutka) between 8 am to 5 pm from Didube bus station in Tbilisi. Another option is to organize a transfer service, which you may be able to coordinate with your guide or the hotel you’re staying at in Gudauri.
Difficulty level: At least intermediate.
When to go there: During the winter months, between December and April.
Chiatura is an off-the-beaten-path town that boasts some amazing rock climbing opportunities, as well as some rusty cable cars from the Soviet era that are daunting to ride but picturesque, nonetheless. Furthermore, because this is a more remote spot in Georgia, it’s the perfect place to visit if crowds are really not your cup of tea. Additionally, this area is great for rock climbing as there are many options around the town with bolted routes. And, it is also home to the famous Katskhi, a 40m rock pillar crowned by a medieval monastery that was built in the 9th or 10th century. Definitely a one of a kind must see!
Area / Region: In the Imereti Region in western Georgia.
How to get there? Chiatura is quite remote, however, you have a marshrutka service from Kutaisi. Otherwise, a private car is your best bet.
Difficulty level: Intermediate.
When to go there: During the summer months, between June and September.
In northeast Georgia, Tusheti is a historical region that is one of the ecologically best-preserved places in the country. This, and its heart-stopping, breathtaking landscapes are why it is also a Caucasus trekking hotspot.
Further east lies Khevsureti, another historical region with a deep cultural background and stunning landmarks such as the Shatili fortress village. It is also an area where the local traditions are very well preserved. If you combine its rich culture with its stunning landscapes, then trekking in Khevsureti is an obvious must.
Kazbegi, or Stepantsminda, lies on the banks of the Terek river and is famous for its alpine meadows and forests, as well as for its landmarks such as the Gergeti Trinity Church at an altitude of 2170 m.a.s.l, below Mount Kazbegi.
Area / Region: northeastern Georgia.
How to get there? Take a private car or mashtruka from Tbilisi to Stepantsminda (Kazbegi)
Difficulty level: Intermediate
When to go there: During the summer months between June and September.
So, are you ready for a unique adventure in a land full of mystique and charm? Then start planning your trip to Georgia now, you will love the charm and hospitality of the locals, the delicious food and drink, the captivating history and culture and the mesmerizing landscapes ideal for mountaineering, skiing, rock climbing, hiking and more!
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