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  • Signature Tours
  • 9 Days

Wilderness Wonders: Vashlovani & Tusheti Expedition

Welcome to a 9-day off-road expedition through Eastern Georgia, spanning from the dry, steppe-like terrain of Vashlovani National Park to the alpine meadows and coniferous forests of Tusheti. During this journey, you'll have the opportunity to witness the rich biodiversity of these national parks, discover the unique watchtowers of Tusheti's villages, and traverse a dramatic altitude range from approximately 300 to almost 3000 meters above sea level.

For this expedition, we've intentionally selected the months that allow you to explore both of these extremely contrasting climatic zones simultaneously. Tusheti is accessible only from mid-June to early October. However, during these months, Vashlovani experiences scorching heat, with temperatures often exceeding 40 degrees Celsius in the shade. It's precisely this climatic and landscape contrast that makes this journey truly exceptional.

  • Season: July - September 2024
  • Group size: 2-8 people

Epigraph Town Hotel

***

Charming 19th-century hotel, steps from Tbilisi State Opera, elegantly restored.

1Day: Flight to Tbilisi

Arrival in Tbilisi on this day or next day early in the morning. Transfer to your hotel in Tbilisi. Check-in. 

  • 25 km
  • -
Flight to Tbilisi

Savanna

Guesthouse

Charming guesthouse surrounded by gardens on a quaint town street. Cozy rooms, warm ambiance, delectable local cuisine.

2Day: City to Wilderness: Your Journey Begins

Embrace the day with a captivating walking tour through Tbilisi's historic Old Town, where ancient charm meets modern vibrancy at iconic landmarks. 

In the afternoon, embark on a scenic 2-hour journey to Dedoplistskaro, a small town nestled in the southeastern corner of Georgia, close to the Azerbaijani border. This town serves as your gateway to the pristine natural beauty of the Vashlovani Protected Areas, established in 1935, encompassing the nature reserve, national park, and three natural monuments over a total territory of 35,292 hectares. Dedoplistskaro is situated in the heart of the Shiraki Plain, nestled between the river valleys of the Iori to the south and the Alazani to the north. The Shiraki Plain boasts vast steppes, where bountiful grain crops thrive, and the region is known for its significant petroleum deposits.

After your arrival, you'll take care of the formalities to obtain entry permits for the protected areas and then check into your cozy guesthouse, where you'll be welcomed by warm and hospitable hosts. Over the next three days, you can savor delicious dinners and experience the genuine hospitality of the region.

  • 140 km
  • B/D
Tbilisi - Dedoplistskaro

3Day: Eagle's Gorge and Takhti-Tepha mud volcanoes

Begin your exploration of the Vashlovani Protected Areas by visiting Eagle's Gorge, just a short 15-minute drive from Dedoplistskaro. The Eagle's Gorge Natural Monument is a breathtaking limestone rock canyon with a picturesque landscape, serving as a habitat for several birds of prey, including eagles and vultures. As you gaze at the hanging cliffs from the rocky slopes of the gorge, you'll have the unique opportunity to observe vulture nests and witness the growth of rare plants found nowhere else in Georgia, e.g. Georgia's endemic species, the Kakheti Machita (Campanula kachetica).

Following your visit to Eagle's Gorge, set out on an exhilarating 4-hour off-road adventure, winding through the valleys of grain crops and passing by shepherds' houses. Your destination is the Dali water reservoir and the Takhti-Tepa mud volcanoes. The Takhti-Tepha Natural Monument, positioned at an elevation of 620 meters above sea level, is a remarkable geological formation.This area is home to active mud craters and small open vents that continuously emit mud, oil, and gas. The landscape is characterized by its distinctive sandstones and clays, creating an unearthly atmosphere that transports you to a different world.

After this captivating journey, you'll head back to Dedoplistskaro, already having had the opportunity to witness some of the region's extraordinary natural wonders, with more exciting adventures in Vashlovani awaiting you the following day.

  • 110 km
  • B/PL/D
Vaschlovani Protected Areas

4Day: Wilderness Adventure in Vashlovani National Park

Today, you'll spend the entire day in Vashlovani National Park, admiring various landscapes, from semi-deserts and steppes to open dry forests and deciduous woodland zones. The name 'Vashlovani' derives from the resemblance of apple trees to pistachio trees, which are often seen here. In total, there are approximately 700 plant species in these protected areas. The wildlife is equally diverse, and with some luck, you may spot foxes, hares, various bird species, and reptiles. In the Pantischara Gorge, situated at an elevation of 300-600 meters above sea level, you'll reach the lowest point of your journey. Afterward, the beautiful Iori Valley unfolds before you, with unique rock formations, remote shepherd's huts, and curious gazelles. During winter, the park is intensively used as grazing land by Tushetian shepherds for their flocks of sheep. On our journey, we somewhat follow the path that shepherds take in the spring from Vashlovani to the mountains of Tusheti.

Finally, you'll have the opportunity to admire the sunset from a vantage point before returning to your accommodation in Dedoplistskaro.

  • 200 km
  • B/PL/D
Vaschlovani Protected Areas

Biliki

Guesthouse

A traditional guesthouse crafted from stone and wood, adorned with wood carvings, and featuring balconies for beautiful views.

5Day: A Day of Extremes: From Arid Plains to Alpine Heights

Today, you'll embark on a captivating journey from the dry savanna-like landscape to the majestic mountain region of Tusheti in the Greater Caucasus, with a dramatic elevation change from 300 meters to a breathtaking 2,826 meters at Abano Pass.

Your destination is Omalo, the largest settlement and administrative center of the Tusheti National Park. Covering an expansive 835 square kilometers, this national park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including leopards, bears, wolves, and wild goats. Nature enthusiasts will be awed by the pristine, gently rolling mountain landscapes, while dense coniferous forests flourish in the valleys.

The tuschetian villages with their defensive towers, dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries, are particularly impressive. Many of these villages are now nearly deserted, and some are inhabited only during the summer months. Upon your arrival, we'll set out on a 2-hour hike from the guesthouse to the Keselo fortress towers and the Que viewpoint, where you may be fortunate enough to observe endangered Bezoar goats with binoculars. Back at the guesthouse, you'll savor a dinner of traditional Georgian dumplings known as Khinkali.

  • 190 km
  • B/D
  • Walking time 2 hours, ↓↑ 190m
Dedoplistskaro - Omalo

6Day: Picturesque Villages: Shenako and Diklo

Today, we have the exploration of idyllic mountain villages on the agenda. Our first destination is the village of Shenako, located at an altitude of 1945 meters above sea level and approximately a 45 min. jeep ride from Upper Omalo. The village is distinguished by its picturesque location on the green slopes, as well as well-preserved, centuries-old stone towers and traditional Tushetian architecture. Worth visiting in addition to the typical houses is the Church of St. George in the village. Afterward, we will embark on an easy hike to the ruins of the Ageurta village before continuing to the village of Diklo.

Diklo is the last Georgian village on the border with Dagestan and is popular among hikers due to its remote location. It's worthwhile to take another 2-hour hike to the old fortress ruins. Please be sure to keep your distance from the shepherd dogs during the hikes. We will return to Omalo by jeep and have free time until dinner.

Some routes can also be easily traversed on horseback, which can be rented locally. Please inquire about this option in advance with your guide.

  • 25 km
  • B/PL/D
  • Ageurta: Walking time 2 hours, ↓↑ 150m; Diklo Fort ruins: Walking time - 2 hours, ↑↓ 200m.
Omalo - Shenako - Diklo - Omalo

7Day: Scenic Views and Ancient Watchtowers

Another exciting Jeep excursion awaits you today, combined with a short hike. This time, our journey takes us to the enchanting village of Dartlo in the Pirikita Alasani Valley. A unique feature of this area is the extraordinary coexistence of Caucasian pine and rhododendron. From Dartlo, we'll embark on a hike to the village of Kvavlo located above, known for its beautiful watchtowers, just like Dartlo.

Afterward, we'll continue our Jeep journey and explore the Gometsari Valley, which offers diverse landscapes with mixed forests. Along the way, we'll pass by the village of Bochorna. This village is considered to be the highest inhabited place in Europe (2345 meters above sea level) because a local doctor revived it. Our final stop for today is a viewpoint that offers a glimpse of the village of Dochu, known for its three-story houses that capture attention. After the excursion, we'll return to Omalo and enjoy a cheerful evening.

  • 50 km
  • B/PL/D
  • Walking time 2-2.5 hours, ↑↓ 315m
Omalo - Dartlo - Bochorna - Dochu - Omalo

Epigraph Town Hotel

***

Charming 19th-century hotel, steps from Tbilisi State Opera, elegantly restored.

8Day: Final Farewell: From Mountain Majesty to Kakheti's Wine Country

Today, you will leave the majestic mountains behind, filled with overwhelming impressions, and return to the valley, heading to the wine region of Kakheti. You will have the opportunity to taste local wines at a native family's home and enjoy a farewell lunch together. Afterward, there will be a transfer to Tbilisi, where you will check in for one night. You are free to have dinner at your leisure. 

  • 200 km
  • B/L
Omalo - Telavi - Tbilisi

9Day: Departure

Check out. Transfer to the International Airport of Tbilisi. Departure.

  • 25 km
  • B