The Greater Caucasus forms a truly impressive divide between Asia and Europe, a great rampart that rises to heights much greater than the European Alps. A wild untamed region, the villages set in achingly beautiful landscapes, and the inhabitants both intensely proud and genuinely hospitable.
For a small country, Georgia has a breathtaking floral diversity, a result of the extreme variations of altitude and geology, its position at a crossroads between Central Asian, Russian, Turkic and Iranian influences, and a large dose of Caucasian endemism. Elegant tall Lilium kesselringianum produces a tremendous show alongside many beautiful Delphiniums, Foxgloves and Monkshoods in meadows still cut by hand on the rich grasslands of the volcanic Javakheti Plateau. Lovely Dianthus raddeanus glows pink from rocky outcrops where rich red Sedum sempervivoides blooms with clusters of deeply coloured Campanula alpigena. Marshy spots have Gladiolus dzawakhetica with Dactylorhiza iberica. Swathes of Papaver orientalis make a spectacular sight and we’ll also find Cicerbita macrophylla, Asphodeline taurica, lovely pink and silver Centaurea pulcherrima, and striking yellow Centaurea macrocephala.
The range of Campanulas is unbelievable from tall Campanula lactiflora to delicate and lovely rock-dwelling species such as Camapanula ardonensis that adorn rocky roadsides high in the Greater Caucasus main range. Even in the height of summer bright pink and deep purple Primulas still bloom alongside azure Corydalis alpina, gorgeous yellow Corydalis emmanuelii and electric blue Gentians. Steel-blue Swertias and shining red Louseworts line sinuous streams, whilst little rocky bluffs have all manner of fine alpines such as Saxifraga pseudolaevis, Dryas caucasica and mat-forming Scutellaria oreophila. The Darial gorge is home to Silene pygmaea, Saxifraga repanda, Dolichorhiza renifolia, Allium victorialis, Primula ruprechtii, and Jurinella moschus, as well as even more beautiful Campanulas such as Campanula sosnowskyi, Campanula bellidifolia, and the white Campanula ochroleuca. The Juta-Jaukhebi Massif supports all sorts of beauties such as Pseudovesicaria digita, the unusual Primula bayernii, gorgeous Campanula petrophyla, and various Saxifragas including flagellaris. Screes have Lamium tomentosum and Scrophularia minima, and in the surrounding meadows rare Yellow Globe Orchids mix with brightest pink Polygonum carneum.
In the glorious scenic mountains of Svaneti, the subalpine meadows are alive with many species of Geranium, Inula and Salvia as well as Dracocephalums, the local Jacob's Ladder Polemonium caucasicum, and the strange primula relative Sredinskya grandis. Above we'll find magnificent Pulsatilla aurea in the alpine zone, alongside striking Sedum pilosum and yellow Chiastophyllum oppositifolium, whilst river gravels are coated in a sheet of pink Chamaenerion caucasicum. Beautiful Campanulas are again to the fore with suanetica and engurensis. Lower in the valleys we can find Campanula rachensis, Daphne pseudosericea, and the great ivory bowls of Paeonia wittmanniana. Svaneti is also famed for its extraordinary tower houses and we’ll visit the village of Chazhashi which still has over two hundred of these strange dwellings. Between 3 and 5 stories high they have walls that lessen in thickness upwards giving rise to a distinctive tapered effect.
Alpine Flowers, particularly Campanulas.
Usually quite easy with three or four miles a day the norm, a little more on some days, though always at a relaxed pace, ideally suited to photographers. There are some steep slopes and the ground can be rocky and uneven.
Included in the Price
All flights. All transport, meals, tips and accommodation in Georgia. Services of your leaders. Please note: drinks, and items of a personal nature including insurance, are not included.
Two leaders for a group of up to 7, three leaders up to 10 and four leader up to the maximum group size of 15.
The first and last nights of the tour will be in the excellent Dolabauri Hotel in Tbilisi. Our visit to the Greater Caucasus starts with two nights in the ski resort of Gudauri at the excellent Gelas Guesthouse. A small family run hotel with immaculate modern rooms, it is beautifully situated with unobstructed views over the deep valley below and across to high peaks. Gelas also serves very good Georgian fare. Over the Cross Pass we have two nights in the comfortable Mount Inn in the area’s main settlement, the village of Kazbegi. Next we move to the Sunset Shovi in Glola, Racha. Deep in the heart of Svaneti, this hotel has fabulous views all around – there’s plenty to see in the adjacent meadows and forest. The rooms are light, modern and comfortable. Our visit to the Javakheti Plateau will see us based in the ski-village of Bakuriani, at the stylish Hotel Crystal. This modern hotel has very nice rooms, excellent buffet dinners and breakfasts, a spa and pool, and is in a very lovely location too. All rooms on this holiday have en suite facilities.
UK return flights are from London Heathrow, Edinburgh, Birmingham or Manchester to Tbilisi, via Istanbul. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
Usually warm and sunny, but it can be cool and cloudy. Typically rainfall occurs some afternoons in the form of heavy showers, but it can occasionally be prolonged.
How to Book
Contact us to check there is availability for the number of places you require. Download a booking form or contact us and we will send one to you. Complete and send to us. You will receive confirmation of your place and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health information. Flower and bird checklists are available.