quaint-town-of-ushguli

Caucasus Travel Guide

Practical information

14:45:40
Language(s)
Georgian
Currency
Georgian Lari
Time zone
GMT +4

Georgian History and Culture

The Georgians are famously gentle natured people who behold an ancient culture. This is reflected in the large number of architectural monuments, including many religious buildings that still adorn the landscape. Georgia first became a nation under King Bagrat III in the early 11th century. However Tbilisi, the capital, wasn't recovered from the Muslims until 1122, under the rule of King David IV. The kingdom then flourished between the 10th and 12th centuries, before falling to the Mongols in 1243. From the 12th to 18th century Georgia was dominated by Turkish and Persian rule, before being annexed by the Russian Empire in the 19th century. Its position on the historic Silk Road enabled important trade to journey through during this time. Georgia then briefly existed as an independent state from 1918 to 1921 as the Democratic Republic of Georgia, before being incorporated into the Soviet Union. It has now been independent since 1991, however the country was very unstable during the 1990s, with tensions between Russia and Georgia eventually leading to the 2008 Russo–Georgian War.  The countries have had no formal diplomatic relations since.
Take a step away from Georgia's political history, however and you are treated to the charming nature of it's people and the incredible landscapes that it sits upon. Traditions still hold high importance in Georgian culture, many of which date back to medieval times. One of these traditions is a gathering called "Supra". Held to mark important occasions, this is a ceremonial feast of traditional Georgian cuisine and wine, with speeches made by the “Tamada” or 'toastmaster'. Another emblem of Georgian history that still holds strong today, is the ancient architecture, particularly noted in the monasterial complexes and Svan Towers that dominate rural villages.
The Caucasus Mountains are fairly new in travelling circles, and with that comes empty paths, unspoiled views and fragile, raw landscapes. The destination has the foundations to become a big player in outdoor adventure but is still lesser known than the Western Alps. The introduction of ski lifts has boosted the tourism industry in the winter seasons and the introduction of set trails has caused the secret to begin to creep out into wider society. Yet the Caucasus provide a haven for people seeking untamed nature without it costing an arm and a leg. 

Time Zone

The time zone in Georgia is GMT +4

Languages

Georgian

The language in Georgia is Georgian.

Useful Phrases

  • Hello - Gamarjoba
  • Good-bye - Nakhvamdis
  • I don’t understand - Ver Gavige
  • Please - Tu Sheidzleba
  • Thank you - Madloba
  • You’re welcome - Arapris
  • Yes - Ki
  • No - Ara
  • Excuse me - Ukatsravad
  • Where is the bathroom? - Sapirpaerosho sadaa?

Currency

Georgian Lari

The currency in Georgia is the Georgian Lari (GEL) and it's sign is ₾. For the latest exchange rates visit www.xe.com

Georgia has a closed currency which means Lari cannot be imported or exported from the country. You can exchange currency at the airport, banks, exchange offices, or with currency exchangers. However, the latter isn't recommended as some exchangers will provide you with counterfeit money.  US Dollars and Euros are the easiest currencies to exchange. The National Bank of Georgia and TBC bank are considered to be credible banks to exchange your money with. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted at restaurants and larger shops in the big cities. If you are planning to carry a credit card for emergencies, please inform your card provider in advance. ATMs are also available in the bigger cities to withdraw cash, if you have a pre-paid card such as Monzo or Revolut this can often be done without exchange charges. The only way to pay for things once you leave Kutaisi is in cash. Cards are not accepted in the smaller towns and villages so you will need to carry enough cash for snacks, drinks and any personal expenses. 


The average cost of a three course meal in Kutaisi is around ₾60-80 ($20-30). A taxi ride will generally start at ₾2 ($0.75) whereas a one way bus ticket for a 10 minute journey will be around ₾0.4 ($0.15). Its is a fairly a cheap place to eat out and travel compared to Western standards and if you are wanting to buy some suluguni cheese or churchellato take home then these generally cost anywhere between ₾15-270 ($5-$100) for gifts that will pack into your main bag. Don't forget you will also need to budget for drinks too. A bottle of water might cost you $1 to $2, while a local beer can be around $2 to $4. We would recommend a budget of $250 for your time
in Georgia. 



USD
GEL

Electricity

For hiking in Georgia there are two plug types: type C and type F.  These operate on a 220V supply voltage and 50Hz.

Weather

Summer hiking weather in the Caucasus, whether you're in the Svaneti or Kazbegi regions  is generally very pleasant. While you may walk in short sleeves under sunny skies on some days, we can almost certainly guarantee that there will also be some days that are cool and wet, especially at higher elevations. The mountains create a rain shadow. Temperatures can range from 4 °C at night to 26 °C during the day. Hikers can expect daytime temperatures around 21 °C in the valleys and 15 °C above 8000 feet—although it's not uncommon to have freezing rain or snow on the high trail one day, and T-shirt weather at the 9500-foot pass the next.

As for seasonality, the Caucasus are ideal for hiking or alpinism from mid-June through mid-September, with the high passes often snowbound until early July. We typically schedule our first  trips around the first week of June and finish by mid September. Wildflowers in the alpine meadows are at their peak in late July and early August.

Safety and Security

Your safety and well-being is always the number one priority at Kandoo Adventures.


We operate all our travel destinations in accordance with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice, which publishes travel advisory notices for British nationals. We also closely follow the advice of ABTA (The Association of British Travel Agents) which provides support to UK tour operators.  


In addition to this, our extensive, directly-managed operations in each of our destinations, provide us with detailed knowledge and up-to-date information, which enables us to make informed decisions and operate our trips safely.

We always recommend that you regularly check the FCDO's travel advice, in order to keep up to date about the country you are planning to visit.

If you are not a UK resident, we would recommend that you visit your government's travel advisory website for further information:



Alternatively, you may wish to visit our Travel Updates page or seek further information from the World Health Organisation.

Lost or delayed luggage

We recommend that you wear your walking boots to travel and pack as many essential items as possible in your carry-on luggage for your alpine trekking tour. If your luggage is delayed we can then do our best to kit you out to start the trek on time. In the event that your luggage is delayed or lost, our procedure is as follows: 

  • Establish what items are missing and a contingency plan for each critical item
  • If it reaches 6pm on the evening before starting the trek and your luggage has not arrived we recommend buying and/or hiring items immediately as a precaution
  • We will take you to a shop where you can buy toiletry items, e.g. toothbrush. You will be able to find everything you need in the big cities. 
We will do everything we can to help if your luggage is lost or delayed. Be sure to check your insurance policy coverage for lost luggage cover.
deep-valleys-of-Stepantsminda-region

Geography

The Caucasus Mountains divide the continents of Europe and Asia; crossing through Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea. The highest peak in the range is Mount Elbrus (5642m) which sits just north of the Russian/Georgian border. The range contains 200 peaks over 4000m, 30 over 4,500 and 7 over 5,000m. 

The Caucasus were formed around 25 million years ago by the collision of the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates. Sedimentary rock from the ocean floor was forced upwards to form the mountains we see today. Four of the high peaks are in fact dormant volcanoes, Mount Elbrus, Mount Kazbek,  Mount Aragats and Mount Khabarjina. The area is generally characterized by huge volcanic plateaus, ancient lava flows and volcanic lakes. The Caucasus Mountains have a varied flora, usually changing due to elevation and distance from water. The slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains tend to be covered by deciduous forests at lower elevations, whereas coniferous and mixed forests (pine, birch, spruce, fir and beech) take over at higher elevations. There are also differences in climate as you move from West to East. The Western side of the Caucasus adopt a subtropical climate with denser flora and more precipitation, whereas the Eastern side is semi-arid, with reduced plant life and rockier mountains.