Republic of Georgia

September 23-October 6

Sept. 23:  Arrive in Tbilisi, transfer to a beautiful small hotel situated in an historic 19th-century building formerly owned by a winemaker.   Recently lauded in the NY Times, the hotel regularly hosts international dignitaries and celebrities, from former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to film director David Lynch.  Early-day arrivers will sample some of the region’s wine and food with an evening tasting in the hotel’s outstanding wine cellar, accompanied by Georgian bites.     

Sept 24:   Begin exploring Tbilisi’s Old City on foot.   Wander past ultra-modern architecture in Rike Park, then ride a cable car up to 4th-century Narikala Fortress and take in the fascinating panorama of Tbilisi’s historic center.   Lunch on upscale Georgian fare while watching Georgian serious fashionistas stroll by.  Later, visit the Georgia National Museum to examine the country’s ancient and proud history from prehistoric time to the present.   Dinner at a small, family-owned restaurant which derives both its name and menu from a nationally beloved 150-year-old cookbook written by Georgian princess Barbare Jorjadze, a poet and a fierce women’s rights advocate.

Sept. 25:   Day trip to rock-hewn Uplistsikhe, one of the earliest urban centers in ancient Georgia. Notable for the co-existence of Pagan and Christian architecture, Uplistsikhe contains structures dating from the early Iron Age to the Late Middle Ages.  Visit UNESCO World Heritage site Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta, capital of the Kingdom of Iberia during the 3rd-5th centuries A.D.   Return to Tbilisi for a late lunch of Caucasian food at a lively restaurant populars with locals.    In the evening, continue your regional wine education with an evening tasting of organic wines and Georgian sharing plates.

Sept. 26: Free day to explore, shop, and/or relax!   Dinner at a cozy natural wine restaurant offering rare Georgian dishes recovered from the past, and exciting, modern dishes celebrating the future.

Sept. 27: Transfer to Signagi during autumn grape harvest. Located in the heart of Kakheti, Georgia’s main wine-making region,  the beautiful hillside town faces both the Alazani Valley and the Greater Caucasus mountain range.    Visit the revered pilgrimage site, Bodbe Monastery.   Wine tasting at a famous vineyard, with an introduction to ancient varietals made in the lively Georgian tradition.   Then break for lunch on a terrace soaking in a glorious view of the city and the Greater Caucasus mountain range beyond.  Traditional Georgian dinner at our regionally award-winning hotel.

Sept. 28:  Visit the nearby Nekresi Monastery Complex, dating back to the 4th century AD.    Then tour a renown winery located in a 7.7m long complex of tunnels, originally built for military purposes during the Cold War, which was beautifully restored to cellar over 25,000 bottles of wine.  Lunch on grilled trout on castle grounds, then tour the nearby well-preserved 16th-century architectural complex, the Church of Archangels Michael and Gabriel, and the Gremi Royal Tower.  As described by UNESCO: “Through it’s location and interrelation with the surrounding landscape, the Gremi Church acquires outstanding artistic importance and remarkable force.”     Dinner open, with lots of options within walking distance of our hotel.

Sept. 29: Day off to explore Signagi on foot.  Walk the restored section of the 18th-century City Wall, shop for Georgian rugs, get a spa treatment, or just relax and enjoy!   Walk into town for dinner at a renown winery.

Sept. 30: Transfer from Signagi to the small, mile-high town of Stepantsminda on the Georgian Military Highway, described by The Economist as “one of the most beautiful mountain roads in the world.”  Stop for a late lunch at an excellent regional kitchen.   Check into our hotel, formerly a Soviet workers’ barrack recreated as a chic mountain lodge and spa by top Georgian designers.  Immerse yourself in the hotel’s breathtaking view of Mt. Kazbek while sampling wines and hearty sharing plates in the evening.   

Oct. 1: Visit the iconic symbol of Georgia, 14-century Gergeti Trinity Church, with its jaw-dropping view of the looming Greater Caucasus mountain range.   Lunch on European fare in town.   Next, continue our drive on the scenic Military Highway along the dramatic Dariali Gorge to the Russian border.      In the evening, dine on Georgian/European fusion food at our hotel.

Oct. 2: Drive to tiny, traditional Juta village (population: 18), then take an easy one hour hike to picnic amidst unspoiled mountain splendor.   Dinner in Stepantsminda.

Oct. 3:  Start your free day with a champagne breakfast. Then read and relax, visit the spa, go on a hike in the glorious mountains, horseback ride—your choice!   Cocktails and bites on our hotel’s veranda in the early evening.   

Oct. 4:   Depart Stepantsminda.  Visit the beautifully situated Ananuri castle/fortress complex on our way back to Tbilisi.  Dating back to the 13th century,  Ananuri’s numerous architectural styles resulted from it’s proximity to the Silk Road.   Back in Tbilisi, return to our original hotel for our last two nights.  Have dinner at  a natural wine restaurant serving wild, seasonal, and local ingredients, fusing Georgian cultural traditions with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences.

Oct. 5:   Ride Tbilisi’s newly reconstructed funicular to Mtatsminda Pantheon, where some of the most prominent writers, artists, scholars, and national heroes of Georgia are buried.  Rooftop lunch, then visit the magnificent Holy Trinity Cathedral, one of the largest religious buildings in the world by area.   Dinner will be a supra (a Georgian traditional feast) at our hotel’s award-winning restaurant.

Oct. 6:  Depart Tbilisi.

View of the Greater Caucasus mountain range from Signagi

 

What’s included:

  • 13 nights accommodations beginning September 23 (arrival day.)
  • Daily breakfast, 9 lunches, and 9 dinners (gratuities included.)
  • 4 wine tastings with bites.
  • Selected glass of wine, or soft drink, at all tour-sponsored lunches and dinners.
  • Air-conditioned day-tour transportation, drivers, and guides.
  • Entrance and admission fees to museums and sites.
  • Airport transfers on arrival and departure.

What’s not included:

  • Airfare to/from the U.S.
  • Tips to porters, hotel staff, guides, and drivers.
  • Accommodation for early arrival or late departure (although we will happily arrange this for a slight additional charge.)
  • Trip cancellation/travel insurance.
  • Medical insurance or medical care.
  • Room service, minibar, spa, and laundry charges.
  • Hotel restaurant or bar charges not included in the itinerary.

 

Tour Information

As our travel will involve city walking tours, and a short hike, all participants should be in reasonably good shape.

Because our Tbilisi hotel has only a few rooms, in different room categories—Standard, Superior, and Junior Suite, we’re able to offer this tour at three different rates.   

Tour Standard rate:   

$5800, per person, Double Occupancy, or $7000 Single Occupancy.    This rate includes a cozy Standard Room in Tbilisi, an Alazani Valley View Room in Signagi, and a Signature Executive Mountain View Room in Stepantsminda.    We have one tour available at this rate. 

Tour Superior rate: 

$6000, per person, Double Occupancy, or $7200 Single Occupancy.  This rate includes a more spacious Superior King or Superior Twin Room in Tbilisi, an Alazani Valley View Room in Signagi, and a Signature Executive Mountain View Room in Stepantsminda.   We have two tours available at this rate.

Junior Suite rate:       

$6150, per person, Double Occupancy, or $7400 Single Occupancy.  This rate includes a Junior Suite in Tbilisi, a Deluxe Alazani Valley View Room in Signagi, and a Signature Executive Mountain View Room in Stepantsminda.  We have two tours available at this rate.   

Traveler Minimum:  6 people.    Traveler Maximum:  8 people.

$1000 deposit per person is required to confirm your space.  Spaces will be reserved in the order in which deposits are received.   Deposits are payable by check only, made out to ChillAway Travel.   Your deposit is fully refundable until the Traveler Minimum of six people is met.    

Once the Traveler Minimum is met, the trip is confirmed!   You’ll receive an email notifying you of Trip Confirmation.   Your balance will be due by May 1.   (Payment options available—please inquire.)   We recommend you wait until after the trip is confirmed to book your flight.

Cancellation policy

Once the trip is confirmed, the cancellation policy goes into effect.  For this reason, we strongly recommend you buy trip cancellation insurance.   (And if you need to cancel, please notify us in writing.)

We reserve the right to cancel a trip for any reason.  In this case, all confirmed travelers will receive 100% refund of all payments made to ChillAway Travel.

  • Before Trip Confirmation:   Deposit is fully refundable
  • After Trip Confirmation:      Deposit is no longer refundable
  • From May 1-July 31:              50% of all payments received will be refunded
  • After July 31:                           No Refund

 

 

Itinerary changes

Unforeseen circumstances beyond our control may require a change to the trip itinerary.  Should this be necessary, ChillAway Travel will make every effort to reduce revisions to a minimum, and to make substitutions if possible.  

The culinary scene in Georgia is vibrant and ever-changing,  so we might make restaurant substitutions if we feel it would enhance our group’s experience.    

About dining….we’ll do our best to accommodate medically necessary dietary restrictions, so please inform us about any serious food allergies or dietary issues before registering.