GEORGIA - HORSEBACK TRAMPING IN KHEVSURETI

Horseback tramping in Georgia

Georgia is not only the hilly tea plantations of Batumi, the Black Sea beaches, Kakhetian wine and ancient cultural monuments. Georgia is also a challenge for active people - raw beauty of the windswept Caucasian peaks, deep valleys sculpted by streams’ rapidity, and pastures covered with a carpet of fragrant grasses and flowers.
Deep in the Caucasus, behind high passes lies Khevsureti: a land cut off from the mainstream of civilization for centuries, inhabited by valiant mountaineers living in stone towers. Their love for freedom and independence has become legendary - they have never served anyone, and fiercely fought everyone who tried to dominate them. They have professed Christianity along with ancient beliefs and ceremonies cultivated up to the present day in chapels and ‘sacred places’ scattered over the least unavailable areas of the mountains. This intriguing culture is slowly sinking into oblivion, suppressed by modern civilization, but, in some of those sacred places, it is still possible to find fresh signs of sacrifices and gifts offered to God and spirits…
An off-road car, good boots, and a brave Caucasian horse will help us experience a few days of an unforgettable adventure. This will be a journey in time and space - but be careful! Before you decide to go, remember that it is addictive and you may want to come back here more often…

ITINERARY

DAY ONE
Time schedule depends on which airport participants arrive - Kutaisi or Tbilisi. Participants from Kutaisi airport should transfer by airport service (shuttle bus) to Tbilisi. Participants from Tbilisi airport should transfer by local service to meeting point in center of Tbilisi - Liberty Square. (Details of “coming together” for each participant will be determined with guide - Jacek Jasinski individually in advance - please contact him before buying flight ticket).
12:00 on Liberty Square in Tbilisi collecting all participants and transfer to Shatili (local means of transport - an off-road car). 6:00 PM Scheduled arrival at Shatili. A walk around the historic village. Rest. 8:00 PM dinner, night’s rest in a hostel situated in one of the historic residential towers in Shatili.

DAY TWO
8:00 AM Breakfast, packing up the equipment, saddling the horses. 12:00 AM Departure for Mutso (ruins of a beautifully located, abandoned fortified village) 2:00 PM Rest - a stop for sightseeing tour in Musto (approx. 2 hours) 4:00 PM Departure for Ardoti (an old, abandoned fortified village; currently inhabited by one family) 5:00 PM Sightseeing tour in Ardoti, transfer to the place of night’s rest, setting up the camp, preparing food (dinner). Evening around the campfire. Night’s rest in a tent.

DAY THREE
8:00 AM Breakfast, breaking the camp, packing up, preparing and saddling the horses. 11:00 AM Departure for Atsunta Pass (a pass that separates two historical regions: Khevsureti and Tusheti). 2:00 PM Rest under the pass. 3:30 PM Departure back for Ardoti. 6:00 PM Setting up the camp, preparing food (dinner). Evening around the campfire. Night’s rest in a tent.

DAY FOUR
8:00 AM Breakfast, breaking the camp, packing up, preparing and saddling the horses. 11:00 AM Departure up Chanchakistskali Valley. 2:00 PM Rest in Khakhabo, sightseeing tour in the ruins of the village. 3:30 PM Departure. 6:00 PM Setting up the camp, preparing food (dinner). Night’s rest in a tent.

DAY FIVE
8:00 AM Breakfast, breaking the camp, packing up, preparing and saddling the horses. 11:00 AM Departure for Shatili. 2:00 PM Rest. 3:30 PM Departure 6:00 PM Arrival at Shatili, unsaddling and grooming the horses, dinner. Night’s rest in a hostel situated in one of the historic residential towers in Shatili.

DAY SIX
9:00 AM Breakfast, packing up. 11:00 AM Departure for Tbilisi (local means of transport - an off-road car). Along the way, there is a possibility to visit an ethnographic museum in Korsha, run by a Khevsuretian folk sculptor, and the Ananuri fortress located on the Georgian Military Road. 6:00 PM Arrival in Tbilisi, accommodation, dinner in a restaurant, evening (and night) sightseeing tour in the city.

DAY SEVEN
9:00 AM Breakfast, continuation of the sightseeing tour in Tbilisi, shopping etc (optional: half-day tour to Mccheta - former capital city of Georgia, with unique cathedral listed by UNESCO) 6:30 PM Farewell dinner in restaurant, 8:00 PM transfer to the airport in Tbilisi or Kutaisi (according to flight schedule, by local airport service).
For participants flying back early morning - an extra night in hotel (Tbilisi or Kutaisi, depends on flight time schedule).

NOTE:
The route of the riding tour described in the itinerary is a proposition that can be modified (extension or shortening, change of the course) in cases of:

  • weather breakdown in the high mountains (rain, snow) which poses a threat to the participants or horses
  • inability to move along particular sections of the route (broken bridges, swollen streams, rockslides)
  • a request coming from all participants of the ride, depending on the level of qualifications and possibilities (an alternative route can be established on the spot during the first day, after the training)

ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

DATE
13 - 19 September 2016

PRICE
now: 750 EUR + 150 USD
(regular price: 870 EUR + 150 USD)

The price includes:

  • transfer by 4x4 car to Shatili and back to Tbilisi
  • hiring horses with Caucasian saddles, bridles and saddlebags, and a pack horse with panniers for transporting the camping equipment
  • supervision of a local, Georgian guide (with a horse)
  • accommodation for the night in Shatili in a hostel situated in one of the historic residential fortified towers from the 12th century (double rooms, shared bathrooms)
  • accommodation for the night in Tbilisi in a hotel (double rooms)
  • catering in Shatili and Tbilisi (breakfast and dinner)
  • supervision of a Polish mountain guide from Mountain Horse Riding Tourism, Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society (GTJ PTTK)
  • accident and health insurances
The amount of 150 USD (paid in cash on the spot) for transportation charges on routes: Tbilisi – Shatili, Shatili – Tbilisi.

The price does not include:

  • flight to Kutaisi or Tbilisi
  • additional accommodation for the night in a hostel in Shatili (instead of in a tent) - just in case participants decide to change route of trip and stay in Shatili (according to conditions independent of the organizer/guide)
  • personal expenses
  • entry to visited places (in most cases free of charge)

REQUIRED SKILLS AND STAFF

The tours are run by Mr. Jacek Jasinski, a mountain guide from Mountain Horse Riding Tourism, Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society (Gorskia Turystyka Jezdziecka PTTK). If you are interested whether a particular date is available or how to get to Georgia, please contact him directly (+48 694 682 217, jajacu@yahoo.co.uk). Additional information on the tours is available on www.nomadiclife.eu.
If you are not confident about your horseback riding skills, you can participate in a training tour in Poland (in Jura Krakowsko-Czestochowska or some other region you request) under the supervision of Jacek Jasinski; the details are settled individually.

The minimum number of participants is 4.
The participants of the horse riding tour should have at least basic off-road riding skills and familiarity with horses. A training in servicing, saddling, grooming, etc. horses during a mountain ride will take place on the first day of tramping, after the arrival at Shatili.

PHOTO GALLERY