Republic of Georgia - Tusheti National Park Hike Write a review
This hiking tour in the Tusheti National Park is supported by pack horses which carry your gear. Our journey starts in the capital of Tblisi, founded more than 1,500 years ago. We then drive to the dramatic scenery of the Kakheti and Tusheti valleys. These Caucasian “Shangri-Las” are hidden behind silent mountain tops and stone towers which have only recently been visited by foreign travelers. Largely untouched by the 21st century, Tusheti features ancient villages set amongst a stunningly beautiful alpine scenery. It is the perfect place for hiking and horse riding. We end the trip in the lowlands beneath the Tusheti heights – the province of Khakheti, known to be one of the first wine-making areas in the world. Naturally, we will taste from local wineries and toast our wonderfully unique Caucasian wilderness experience. Experience the poetry of Georgia’s warm people and superb landscapes. Luggage is moved by jeep and by horse.
Republic of Georgia - Tusheti National Park Hike itinerary
Sept 4: Independent arrival Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Tbilisi is located astride the Mtkvari River and is an easy city to explore. Its diverse history is reflected in its architecture, which is a mix of Medieval, Neoclassical, Beaux Arts, Art Nouveau, Stalinist, and Modern structures. Let us know your arrival time and we’ll pick you up at the airport. Dinner is also included for those who arrive by dinnertime. Overnight Tbilisi. (Note: many flights into Tbilisi arrive at 3 or 4 a.m., so you might end up arriving on the morning of the pick-up day, sleep late the next morning, and then meet for lunch at 1 p.m. on Day 2. Of course, you may want to arrive the day before. Either way, we include the night in Tbilisi as you will definitely want a hotel room should you have the red-eye flight!) Hotel and dinner included.
Sept 5: Meet your guides at 9 a.m. for a casual orientation/guided walk of the old town, or just sleep in and meet us later. Our official meeting time is at 1 p.m. at the hotel. We will have lunch together and then have a two-hour drive to the Kakheti wine-growing region at the foot of the Caucasus mountains. Check into our Guesthouse, which is owned and operated by a local family. Reconvene for a winery visit and tasting at one of Georgia’s most innovative yet traditional producers, followed by a home-cooked meal at the winery. Overnight near Telavi. Accommodation and all meals included.
Sept 6: You have an unforgettable four-hour 4x4 drive up one of the most incredible roads in the world to access the Tusheti National Park. Inside the park are dozens of small villages that cling to the steep, grassy slopes of the mountains, and which have received UNESCO’s “Living museum” status. Stop for a picnic lunch overlooking the village of Omalo and its 12th century defensive towers, then begin a walk up through “Upper” Omalo to the neLaliskuri to Tusheti, Omalo, Shenakoighbouring village of Shenako, whose defensive towers are like a beacon from the land of Oz. Overnight in a charming guesthouse owned and run by Eka’s parents. A delicious dinner is accompanied by local wine and Chacha, the amazingly smooth Georgian brandy. Drive time 4 hrs, hiking time 2.5 hrs. Overnight Shenako. Accommodation and all meals included.
Sept 7: You have a full day today as we hike from Shenako to the villages of Diklo and Dotkalto. Hike through an incredible array of wildflowers and alpine grasses as you enjoy views down over Dagestan’s beautiful valleys. You’ll see families hard at work in their fields, often constructing the ubiquitous "hay hives” that dot the landscape. Return by 4x4 to Shenako, where our hosts have spent the day preparing for a “Supra.” More than just a feast, a Supra is an important Georgian cultural event characterized by abundant food and ritualized drinking led by a tamada (toastmaster). The rules are strict. You can only raise your glass when the tamada proposes a toast, and above all, you must drink to the toast (how big a sip you take is up to you!). Before the tamada steps into action, you’ll learn how to make Georgian dumplings from Eka’s mother. Hiking time five hours. Overnight Shenako. Accommodation and all meals included.
Sept 8: Today’s hike is challenging as we ascend the Sanare Pass, which is 1,911 m (6,270 ft.) above sea level. Happily, we are accompanied by a pack horse which carries our day-packs and picnic. Stop for lunch on the banks of a small waterfall beneath Chigo village. As we approach Dartlo the valley opens up, and in the distance we can see the craggy and snowy peaks of the Atsunta Range, which soar to over 4,000 m (12,000 ft.). Arrive in Dartlo and relax by the stream that tumbles down the east flank of the village. Dartlo is up for UNESCO World Heritage status for its traditional and unique architecture and Medieval stone defensive towers. You'll see the typical slate-roofed houses jumbled amongst 12th century stone towers. The village overlooks a broad and verdant river valley. Overnight at a local guesthouse. Hiking time 6 hrs. Day-packs carried by horse, main bags moved by 4x4. Overnight Dartlo. Accommodation and all meals included.
Sept 9: Enjoy breakfast next to the stream that rushes past our guesthouse, then transfer by 4x4 to the neighbouring village of Ghele. From there we have a hearty 1,000 m (3,000 ft.) climb up to the Nakaicho Pass, which sits at an elevation of 2,903 meters (9,500 ft.) and rewards you with commanding views over the dramatic landscape. Continue to a shepherd’s house for a reviving cup of tea (or brandy!), and then eventually to the village of Jvarboseli, where we spend the night at a quaint guesthouse run by a wonderful family full of hospitality and good cheer. Overnight Jvarboseli. Accommodation and all meals included.
Sept 10: Hop in your trusty 4x4 this morning for a half-hour transfer to the start of our final hike to Oreti Lake. The trail takes you through forests and villages to remote hamlets where shepherds bring their animals for the summer pasture. Stop for lunch in the summer home of a shepherd who makes wonderful local cheese. At the end of the day we are transported to the UNESCO World Heritage village of Omalo for our final night in the Tusheti Mountains. Overnight Omalo. Accommodation and all meals included.
Sept 11: Today we transfer back to Tbilisi, which entails another epic 4x4 journey out of the mountains and into the city by mid-afternoon. You’ll have time to freshen up before exploring the historic city on your own. We provide a map and an easy-to-follow itinerary that takes in the most charming and historic parts of old Tbilisi. Reconvene for our farewell dinner which is a short walk from the hotel. Overnight Tbilisi. Hotel and all meals included.
Note: some of you may have early flights around 4 a.m. while others may be leaving later. You could even fly out tonight if it makes for a convenient flight, but please don’t book anything before 6 p.m. Let us know your travel schedules and we'll make sure you're set with transport.
Hotel and all meals included.
Note: some of you may have early flights around 4 a.m. while others may be leaving later. Let us know your travel schedules and we'll make sure you're set with transport.
Sept 12: Breakfast and airport transfers included.
You'll have a modern hotel in Tbilisi with en suite WC, shower, and AC. When we are in the national park we will be staying in clean, comfortable, but rustic guesthouses. Toilet and shower facilities (hot water) are of course available, but they are shared with the members of our group. Don’t let the lack of an en suite WC prevent you from participating in this fabulous travel experience!
Activity Level 5 = Challenging: Difficult terrain, sustained climbs and descents, at least 5 hours of activity daily, and up to 7 hours of walking. You need to be fit, experienced hikers who enjoy being challenged.
In general: This is a challenging tour for fit hikers who will be happy to end the hike each day and recover with a cold beer. Not appropriate for novice hikers or even for experienced but unfit hikers.
Terrain: Rolling and often steep terrain. Challenging sustained climbs and descents of up to 1,200 metres/4,000 feet. Altitude can play a role as our Challenging tours are in the mountains. In the Alta Via we sleep at 2,700 metres/8,500 feet.
Actual walking time: between 5-7 hours per day.
Distances: Usually between 15 and 18 kms/9.5 and 11 miles. Max distance is 22 kms/14 miles.
Surfaces: Trails consisting of compact earth, gravelly earth, and sometimes dirt-gravel roads and frequently on rocky and uneven trails. Scree slopes and steep switchback trails are also encountered. Sometimes it is necessary to use one’s arms to climb up a short “impasse”, or sit down on your bum to descend sections that are too big for a step. You might also find somewhat overgrown trails.
Footing: Good to tricky. You must almost ALWAYS pay attention to where and how you place your feet. Proper hiking shoes or boots with thick soles with good treads are required. Sport sandals, running shoes and tennis shoes are not adequate.
Specifics: The most challenging day entails a 1,000 metre (3,200) climb up and over the Sanares pass. Horses carry our day-packs, but it is a challenging climb all the same. The tour has long hikes each day.
Hiking Poles: REQUIRED! If you don’t bring your poles the guide will hit you over the head with their own poles.
Compared to the Cinque Terre: Significantly more difficult than the Cinque Terre because the distances are much longer and the terrain and footing much more difficult. If you enjoyed the hikes in the Cinque Terre and found them to be a dawdle, and you regularly hike and backpack, then these 5-rated tours right up your alley.
Other: These tours are not appropriate for first-time hikers. People with hip and knee issues will probably find that these tours will aggravate your pre-existing injuries to the point that you may have to abandon the tour. Hikers need to be fit with healthy joints who can easily hike for six hours a day and who are also used to negotiating rocky, uneven terrain.
Backpacks: On these trips you will be carrying more in your backpacks than on other tours because: a) we are in the mountains and therefore you need to carry more layers and be ready for any weather conditions; b) you may need to carry more water since it may not be available; c) you may be carrying your lunch; and d) in some cases you may have to carry extra clothing, as in our Dolomites Alta Via Hike you stay up in the mountains where luggage transfers are not possible.
Challenging Tours: Dolomites Alta Via, Republic of Georgia – Tusheti National Park
Note on Itinerary: Although we do our best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control.
Trip Cost Includes: 8 nights accommodation; 8 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, wine and Georgian brandy included; pick-up from Tblisi airport and transfer back to Tblisi airport; all road transfers by van and then 4X4 vehicle; expert local guide; expert 4X4 driver; pack horse to carry your day-pack on certain days; transfer of main bags from one guest lodge to the other; and winery visit. A Customwalks guide will also accompany the tour.
Not included: air travel to Georgia; travel insurance; any extra beverages not included; and items of a personal nature.
Weather: the days should be warm to hot, but the air stays cool as we're in the mountains. Evenings are cool in the mountains but can be warm to hot in Tbilisi and the Kakheti wine-growing region. We will be traveling in alpine areas so you must be prepared for mountain weather.
Booking: e-mail us at email@example.com to receive a booking contract (or use the 'Contact Us' link at the top of this page), or click on the 'Book Now' button to the right.
Insurance: We highly recommend the purchase of Trip Insurance. We recommend “Travel Guard” to our North American clients, just click on the logo below. Australian, New Zealander, and British travelers, please consult your insurance brokers.
Getting There: Tblisi international airport is relatively well served by flights from Europe and from Istanbul.
Air: Check for flights with Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines.
Getting Away at the End of the Trip: the trip ends after breakfast on Saturday morning. We can arrange a transfer to Tblisi airport for your flight out.
If you book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to and from the trip, and of course you can e-mail us with any questions.
It is a tremendously interesting part of the world to visit. The mountains are beautiful, the walking was on good trails with spectacular views. I found the wild flowers enchanting,so many different types and the blueberries, wild strawberries and raspberries were simply delicious. The people were lovely,warm and friendly, and our guide, well I feel like we have made a life long friend.
We were lucky enough to do this trip in 2014, it was a wonderful experience. The walking is challenging, but so worth it- the views are spectacular. The owners of the guest houses in the Tusheti National Park are very welcoming, the accommodation is comfortable and the food plentiful. It was an adventure and one which we thoroughly enjoyed.
It is a tremendously interesting part of the world to visit. The mountains are beautiful, the walking was on good trails with spectacular views. I found the wild flowers enchanting,so many different types and the blueberries, wild strawberries and
raspberries were simply delicious.
The people were lovely,warm and friendly, and our guide, well I feel like we have made a life long friend.
by E Hope from Christchurch New Zealand