Walks in the Mountains of Georgia: Land of Heaven and Earth

16 June - 30 June, 2023

Destination:
Georgia

Trip Dates:
16 June - 30 June, 2023

Trip Length:
15 days

Trip Price: £2960

From Promethean legends to stories of the Golden Fleece, the mountains of Georgia are known for their turbulent histories, extraordinary cultural traditions and spectacular landscapes. Situated at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Middle East, these mountains have been an impenetrable barrier whose ancient tribes have survived despite the ravages of the vagabond hordes from the steppes (Huns, Mongols, Khazaras and Turks) and the mighty Eurasian empires of the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Turks and Russians. On this unique journey learn more of a rich culture still intact whose history is steeped in ancient customs and traditions.

 

The journey involves a series of moderate walks (up to 9 hours) along the southern crest of the Caucasus Georgia whose peoples have has been profoundly affected by the country’s adoption of Christianity in the 4th century. The walks will take place in Svaneti which link ancient Silk routes, monasteries in spectacular positions, and picturesque villages. Learn more of the communities here where the old customs and beliefs still survive despite years of Communist oppression and political and social disarray following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

 

There will also be a visit to Tbilisi which in the 12th  century, was one of Asia’s most important political, economic and cultural centres and today is a flourishing modern city with its theatres, cafes and markets. Explore the beautiful villages of Mestia and Ushguli with their incredible ‘tower houses’ the highest permanently inhabited settlements in Europe. The journey finishes at Batumi, on Georgia’s balmy eastern coast of the Black Sea surrounded by high forested mountains and lush sub-tropical hills.

 

This walks do not require any special technical abilities but will involve about 8 hours of walking per day over uneven and in places steep ground. The walks are classed as easy to moderate. Please note the highest the party will ascend in one day of walking is about 500 metres in altitude. However there are occasional steep portions of a walk. The highest altitude that the party will reach is around 3000 metres.

Trip Leader: Dr Alex Koller

Art Historian Alex Koller was born in Vienna and has studied in Vienna, Salzburg and Cambridge. In Vienna he studied Art History, which is one of the cradles of the art-historical evaluation of the architecture of the Transcaucasus. In Salzburg, he gained his first degree in History of Art and Slavonic languages before continuing to Cambridge for a PhD in History of Art from Magdalene College where he also lectured and supervised. Alex has been accompanying Alumni journeys since 2004 inncluding much of Eastern Europe and Russia including previous journeys to the Caucasus. He is an accomplished linguist and has studied the art and architecture of the Orthodox and other Oriental churches in several countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Walks in the Mountains of Georgia: Land of Heaven and Earth . Trip Comments:

‘Dr Koller was erudite and entertaining and very generous with his knowledge.’

‘The meeting in Tbilisi with the head of the Strategic Studies Centre, in which he spoke to us with suppressed emotion, revealed to us as much as anything the political factors operating in Georgia today. Our visit to the cathedral on a Sunday, when scores of people were celebrating a Sung Eucharist, will always stay in my memory. The harmonised singing of the liturgy was an inspiration.’

‘A very interesting, enjoyable and well organised trip which I would recommend to anyone. Congratulations to all the team.’

‘Overall, it was an excellent trip packed with wonderful experiences and accompanied by excellent guides.’

‘The organisation was superb, everything seem to go according to plan. All in all this ranked as one of the top 6 trips that I have made and I have travelled very extensively. It was a succession of one high after another with hardly any lows in between.’