The New Alps? Trekking Georgia's Peaks
East meets West in the South Caucasus
A unique convergence of East-meets-West, Georgia combines the cultural appeal of medieval villages and old-world charm with massive snow-capped peaks and vast valleys.
Georgia's 750-mile long string of Southern Caucasus Mountains, many of which top out above 16,000 feet, were long considered off limits due to political instability with neighboring Russia. But after the first democratic election in the Republic of Georgia’s history, in 2011, the Caucasus are starting to show up on more and more mountaineers' radars, and Geographic Expeditions and Natural Habitat Adventures are just two of the many outfitters taking notice and offering new trips here this year.
Natural Habitat Adventures’ Ted Martens sums up the country’s appeal as a mix of untapped natural beauty and navigational ease. “There’s visa-free entry and many new and modern hotels, roads, and other infrastructure have been built to facilitate tourism,” he says. “Our trips take place just south of the Russian border, an area that’s peaceful as well as stunningly beautiful for trekkers and horseback riders.”
Geographic Expeditions provides a 10-day cultural tour of Georgia that blends adventurous day hikes into the towering mountains of Svaneti province with wine tasting in remote mountain villages, and visits to heritige sites like the cave monestary of Vardzia. From $3,610 per person.