This women’s only tour, hosted by Julia Zaetta, will take you deep into the lesser known side of Europe. Join Julia Zaetta, the longest serving editor in Australia’s publishing history, with over 30 years as editor-in-chief of Better Homes and Gardens, also as editor-in-chief of the Australian Woman’s Weekly, to name a few, as she treks through the fabled and mysterious mountain region of Svaneti, Georgia. Make this experience yours and join Julia as she explores quaint stone villages mingles with friendly locals, get hands on with flavoursome traditional cooking. Go behind the scenes with exclusive wine tasting experiences and share this enchanting journey with one of Australia’s best know and respected magazine editors. Enjoy Julia’s fast wit, crazy stories and incredible career as you venture through one of the most magical counties in Europe.
Welcome to Georgia! Your adventure begins upon arrival in Tbilisi you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is yours at leisure.
Tbilisi’s cobblestoned old town reflects a long, complicated history, with periods under Persian and Russian rule. Its diverse architecture encompasses Eastern Orthodox churches, ornate art nouveau buildings and Soviet Modernist structures. Looming over it all are Narikala, a reconstructed 4th century fortress, and Kartlis Deda, an iconic statue of the “Mother of Georgia.”
This evening, join Julia on the rooftop at your hotel for welcome drinks (payable locally) where you will have the opportunity to meet your fellow travellers.
2 nights Makmani Hotel or similar
This morning after breakfast, you will set off on foot to explore the city, starting at the 13th century Metekhi Church taking in the magnificent views over old Tbilisi.
Wander the narrow streets of the old districts of the city full of traditional style colourful houses structured like terraces with their patterned balconies, mixed together with wonderful examples of modern architecture. The charm of the old town is overwhelming. Learn how Tbilisi is the only city where Georgians, Armenians and Azerbaijani’s all live peacefully alongside each other and how the city is so well blended with mosques, cathedrals, Russian churches, synagogues and Zoroastrian temples with no religious conflict what-so-ever.
Continuing on, take a cable car up to the 4th century Narikala Fortress for panoramic views of the town below, before walking down to the historical domed sulphur bath area. Finally, the Golden Fund of the National Museum of Goergia (closed on Mondays) will prove the fact that Georgia is truly the land of the Golden Fleece. Dinner this evening is at a hidden local gem. Walk here from your hotel with your guide. (B,D)
This morning you will drive to Mtskheta, the ancient capital and religious centre of Georgia. With a history dating back 3,000 years, you will visit the UNESCO World Heritage sites including the 6th century Jvari Church, and the 11th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral – where the Robe of Christ is said to be buried. Both Jvari and Svetitskhoveli are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Then, drive to Mukhrani village. Visit the royal estate of duke – Ivane Mukhranbatoni. His interest in farming was greatly enhanced on his trip to France, where he learned more about winemaking. On his return home, he decided to start producing wonderful Georgian wines on his forefathers’ Mukhrani estate land. Here, you will have lunch and taste the finest local wines, famous for combining traditional Georgian and European winemaking techniques to create a unique flavour. Later, drive to Kutaisi, which is one of the oldest cities in the world. Its centuries-old past attracts visitors to discover famous or unknown places. Today Kutaisi is the third largest city in Georgia. (B,L)
Overnight New Port Hotel or similar
In the morning, drive to the Samegrelo region and visit Martvili Canyon which will embed an unforgettable impression on you. While boating, will enjoy the beautiful valley of the mountain river and waterfalls. The transparent river has a beautiful green colour and you can even see the seabed. For lunch, visit a local family producing fine natural Georgian wines made with traditional methods. Enjoy lunch with authentic West-Georgian dishes. Continue on to Svaneti, where the highest peaks of the Greater Caucasus, glaciers eternally covered with snow, lakes, waterfalls and towers from the middle Ages are found. (B,L,D)
Overnight in a family hotel or similar
This morning you will drive to Mulakhi village, from where you will start your trek towards Adishi village. Traversing along the slopes of Mt. Tetnuldi at heights of approx. 2,800m it offers spectacular views of Chaneri Glacier, Mt. Ushba (4,700m) and the Svaneti range with its highest peak, Mt. Laila (4,010m). You will cross Ugviri Pass (2,480m) and then walk to the untouched village of Adishi (2,000m), its remoteness means that even in summer it is largely inaccessible, even for 4WD vehicles. There are only a handful of families living in the village, and tonight you will be welcomed into their homes, where you will experience true Svanetian hospitality and enjoy traditional cuisine. (B,L,D)
Overnight in a local guesthouse (basic shared facilities) – group will be split amongst the local families.
Trek time approx. 5hrs. Today’s trek is a moderate trek with an incline of 930m. The first half of your trek is uphill on often shale and muddy surfaces. The second half of your trek follows a gentle downhill decline. There is regular shade.
This morning after bidding farewell to your host family, you will begin your trek to the remote village of Iprari. This full day trek will lead you along a river, down beautiful Rhododendron lined paths, past the remains of Kalde village and along the picturesque Chkhutnieri Pass (2,720m). The trek involves crossing a river, which may be crossed on horseback if the water level is high.
This afternoon, you will experience the unique cultures and traditional way of life of the Iprari people. (B,L,D)
Overnight in a local guesthouse (basic shared facilities)
Trek time approx. 8hrs. Today’s trek starts off with a gentle two hour trail trek before a steep, challenging and lengthy ascent. Once you cross the pass, the descent is steep. If there has been rain, there can be a lot of water on this trail and slippery muddy conditions.
Today you will trek to the UNESCO World Heritage listed village of Ushguli, which at 2,200m, is the highest permanently inhabited village in Europe. The village is punctuated by ancient stone watch towers, from which you can get an impressive view of the highest mountain in Georgia – Mt. Shkhara, at 5068m.
As todays trek isn’t overly long, and if you’re feeling energetic, you might take the opportunity to walk up the hill to Queen Tamar’s Tower, before to returning to Ushguli. (B,L,D)
Overnight in a local guesthouse (basic shared facilities)
Trek time approx. 4 hrs. Moderate.
Depart from your guesthouse this morning bound for the base of Georgia’s highest mountain, Shkhara (5068m) and the glacier which is the main water source of the Enguri river. After reaching the glacier (2,500m) you will return to Ushguli. Todays trek will take you through beautiful meadows filled with rich alpine flowers and will finish in Mestia. (B,L,D)
Overnight local family hotel or similar
Trek time approx. 5-7hrs. Easy to moderate
This morning after breakfast, you will then leave the Svaneti region and drive to Zugdidi where you will stop for lunch (payable locally). This afternoon, continue your drive to Kutaisi and visit the Gelati Monastery dating back to 11th century. (B)
Overnight New Port Hotel or similar
Today you will drive to Gori and visit the 1st millennium BC cave town of Uplistsikhe. Once passed through by the great Silk Road, you will explore the tunnels, streets, wine cellars and bakeries of this ancient, abandoned town. There is even a three-nave basilica church, a jail and an amphitheatre carved into the rocky mountainside.
Visit the Stalin Museum, the former Soviet leader Josef Stalin was born in the town of Gori, before continuing your drive to Tbilisi. On the way you will stop to visit a local family, where you will have the opportunity to sample the unique BIO wines produced by a traditional Georgian method in Kvevri (inscribed in the UNESCO intangible heritage list). It’s noteworthy that this wine can be found on the list of unique wines of the Ritz Hotel in London.
This afternoon, check into your hotel in Tbilisi, where the remainder of the day is yours at leisure. (B)
This morning, drive to the Kakheti region, famous for being a wine making area, as well as associated with welcoming hospitality. Firstly you will visit the 18th century beautiful, small town of Sighnaghi which will impress you with its old fence and small houses with tile roofs and decorated balconies. From here, you can take in the picturesque views of Alazani valley and Great Caucasus mountains. For lunch, drive to local farmer’s house where you will enjoy a traditional Georgian lunch with locals and savour authentic tastes of freshly harvested products from the host`s garden. Sit at the local`s table, share a delicious meal prepared with family recipes, and incredible moments to cherish forever. Experience how to live like a Georgian and eat like a Georgian! Here, you will also attend a cooking class where you see how to make Churchkhela – a traditional dessert made with grape juice and walnuts. Drive to Kvareli city and visit the famous winery `Kindzmarauli`, where you will taste Georgian wine with Georgian cheese. Combining wine and cheese is an unquenchable subject and it is being discussed by many gourmets and experts around the world. Georgian sommeliers specially worked for several months to create this special product. Afterwards, drive back to Tbilisi. (B,L)
This morning is yours at leisure until it is time for you to be transferred to the airport for your onward flight. (B)
Download this tour’s PDF brochure and start your planning offline!
**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 10 adults is required to guarantee this departure, maximum group size is 12.
A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.