Georgia Photosafari from 14-23 March 2018
Georgia is situated at the where Europe meets Asia. It is a beautiful country shaped by rugged mountains, rivers, valleys and meadows. This amazing country lies in the middle of Caucasus region and has unspoiled natural beauty to complement its unique culture. Quaint villages and towns still dot the countryside while modern cities like Tbilisi, Batumi, and Borjomi are highly captivating and photogenic. Tourism is steadily emerging and it is still one of the last European wilderness where you can roam freely. You can also enjoy the authentic experiences, be it the local cuisine or interact with the locals.
The beauty of Georgia lies in the numerous old villages and towns in the province of Svanetia. This province is situated in the North-western part of the country. This is also the most populated part of the country. The landscape of Svaneti is mainly mountainous separated by deep gorges. Most of the region lies below 1,800m above sea level. It is covered by coniferous forests. This region is famous for its glaciers, Inguri River, and picturesque snow-capped summits.
Svanetia is also known for its architectural treasures and picturesque landscapes. The Svanetian towers erected mainly in the 9th-12th centuries, make the region’s villages more attractive. In this province, there are dozens of Georgian orthodox churches and fortified buildings. Architectural Monuments of Upper Svanetia are named in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The wonderful songs and dances of Svanetia culture are a joy to watch. Most of the songs are connected to round dances where outsiders can participate. Svanetia offers both landscape and people photography opportunities.
National Geography has written a very interesting article on Svanetia . National Geography Photographer Aaron Huey has visited Svanetia and produced a good documentary video on this region Svanetia-Forgotten Land of Song
We will be staying in the villages among the people of Svanetia. It will be a great opportunity to make friends with the local people and document their local culture, lives, and lifestyle.
Tbilisi is the capital of Georgia. It lies on the banks of Kura River with a population of about 1.5 million people. This place is known for its distinctive architecture which reflects on its historical medieval past.
Tbilisi International Airport serves as a gateway to the world. There are many international airlines flying into Tbilisi International Airport.
- Getting to Tbilisi
There are a lot of major airlines flying into Tbilisi from Doha, Istanbul, and Dubai.
Here are some flight routes available on skyscanner.net. I find that it is slightly cheaper if you just fly to Istanbul, Doha or Dubai and get another flight to Tbilisi from there.
Accommodation at Tbilisi and Mestia will be in Hotels while accommodations at Svanetia will be in Guest Houses. Guesthouses in Svanetia will have either shared or with private bathrooms. It all depends on each individual guesthouse. Guesthouses are clean and comfortable and will have heating and dining facilities. Some may even have wifi facilities. However, you need to bring your own toiletries and towel. These are not provided at the guesthouses.
Most of the food you can find in Svaneti and Georgia are variations of potato, cheese, and dough ingredients.
- Kubdari is a beef or beef-and-pork filled bread loaf usually seasoned with fresh white onions and Svaneti salt – it’s a mixture of cumin, dry coriander, fennel, red pepper, garlic, and salt.
- Mchadi – cornbread from stone ground white oatmeal
- Chvishtari is pan fried with lots of pieces of cheese inside.
- Khachapuri is a Georgian cheese loaf.
- Fetvraal is similar to Khachapuri with millet flour added.
- Meats such as sausages are also served
If you have any food preference, please let us know so that we can do our best to accommodate you.
Svanetia has a temperate climate. Its weather is influenced by the Blacksea. The temperature in Svanetia at the elevation below 1,800m in March is around 5 to -5oC. There will be snowfalls in some places.
- Clothing and other equipment
Prepare for winter clothing when you visit this place. Layered clothing, long johns with a down jacket and waterproof outer layer is best suited to this climate. Waterproof trekking shoes, winter socks, and crampons are necessary for this trip. For walking in deep snow, you may need to buy a gaiter online (to prevent snow falling inside the shoes). It costs about US$10 a pair. You can get a pair of crampons online for about US$15 a pair. It is necessary to prevent slipping on ice. If you have a trekking pole, do bring it to help us get the balance.
- Camera Equipment
This trip will consist of the landscape, people and documentary photography. Just make sure you have the appropriate camera equipment for it. You need to bring more spare batteries as the batteries tend to discharge quickly under cold weather conditions.
- Maximum number of participants
The maximum number of participants is restricted to 12 people. Accommodation facilities at Svanetia are limited. We wish to accommodate everyone in one guesthouse rather than distributing some participants to other guesthouses in the vicinity. We have only two (2) single rooms.
- Trip Difficulty
Easy to Moderate. There will be some walking required to shooting locations.
Day 1 – 14 Mar (D)
- Pick-up at Tbilisi International Airport
- Check-in Hotel
- Free and easy
Day 2 – 15 Mar (B/L/D)
- Road trip to Svanetia. It takes about 10 hours to get to Mestia Village (centre of Svanetia)
- Check-in to hotel
- Short walk around the village
Day 3 – 16 Mar B/L/D)
- Excursion to Svan-ethnographic museum.
- Transfer to Lakhiry Village
- Old Svan towers and local village
- Lunch with a local family
- Transfer to Zhabeshi Village
- Check-in guesthouse (3-4 participants per room with shared baths and toilets)
- Dinner at guesthouse
Day 4 – 17 Mar (B/L/D)
- Transfer to Adishi Village
- Visit Adishi village and ancient towers.
- Lunch with a local family
- Transfer to Iprali
- Visit Cathedral Kvirica and Ivlitha
- Check-in at local guesthouse (this is a bigger guesthouse than at Zhabeshi village)
- Dinner at local guesthouse
Day 5 – 18 Mar (B/L/D)
- Transfer to Ushguli Village. This is the most beautiful village in Svanetia
- Visit to an ancient Monastery
- Check-in to a comfortable guesthouse (Ushguli is a big village and have better guesthouse facilities)
- Dinner at guesthouse
Day 6 – 19 Mar (B/L/D)
- Walking around Ushguli village
- Visiting the vantage points for landscape photos
- Dinner at guesthouse (Ushguli)
Day 7 – 20 Mar (B/L/D)
- Transfer to Mestia Town
- Lunch with local family
- Concert of local singers in traditional costumes at family house
- Check-in at hotel at Mestia Town
Day 8 – 21 Mar (B/L/D)
- Visit home-museum of the most famous Svan climbers- Khergainy
- Transfer to Tbilisi
- Lunch on the way
- Check-in hotel in Tbilisi
Day 9 – 22 Mar (B/L/D)
- Morning walkabout at Tbilisi city centre with local English speaking guide.
- Shopping for souvenirs
- Farewell dinner at one of the best restaurants in Tbilisi
Day 10 – 23 Mar (B)
- Check-out and transfer to airport
- End of trip