Greater & Lesser CaucasusAsia
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 situations, 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. Below the snows lie slopes covered in the yellow, purple, white and pink of Primulas macrocalyx, cordifolia, ruprechtii, amoena and algida. The thirteen species of Primula also include elegant pallasii, velvety purple meyeri and tiny darialica. Millions of deep blue Gentians stretch across the snow-streaked Javakheti yet beautiful powder-blue Scilla rosenii outnumber them. Galanthus platyphyllus and alpinus line stream-sides, whilst creamy Paeonia steveniana and deep pink Primula sibthorpiana populate woodlands. Vinous-peachy Fritillaria orientalis and abundant yellow Fritillaria collina are sure to be a highlight along with Iris furcata, Puschkinias, delicate Muscari pallens, and white and pink Anemone fasciculata. Majestic Orchis caucasica will take the breath away, and rarer orchids include Hooded Orchid, Ophrys transhyrcana, Steven’s Orchid and Caucasian Helleborine. Hillsides of purple Pulsatilla violacea sway in the breeze, open woodlands are covered in pink and white Corydalis and alpine meadows are a pastiche of pink Primula auriculata, yellow Trollius and brilliant blue Scilla caucasica so thick the grass cannot be seen!
Rose-coloured Starlings, Bee-eaters and Rollers are abundant and we’ll see Steppe Eagles, Lammergeiers and Wallcreepers. Strawberry-hued Great Rosefinches and endemic Caucasian Snowcock inhabit mountain slopes where Caucasian Blackcock will be performing their amazing somersaulting displays. East Caucasian Tur, a rare relative of the Ibex, lives in large herds in a secret valley high in the mountains where we’ll hope to see a Wolf or a Brown Bear too.
Dates and Prices
15th May - 28th May 2024 (14 days)
* doesn't apply if you're willing to share and a room-mate can be arranged
Flowers and Birds. Mountain Landscapes and a little Culture.
Minimum group size is 4 and the maximum is 15.
All flights. Accommodation, transport and meals in Georgia. Services of your leaders. Please note; items of a personal nature including travel insurance, drinks and tips are not included.
Flower, bird and mammal checklists are available.
Our visit to the Greater Caucasus starts with three 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. Over the Cross Pass we have two nights in the comfortable Stepantsminda Hotel in the area’s main settlement, the village of Kazbegi. In the Lesser Caucasus we have 3 nights 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. This is followed by two nights in the Observatory Hotel, high above the hot springs resort of Abastumani. Not only is this a comfortable hotel but if conditions permit we’ll be able to use the observatory’s telescopes for a close look at the moon and some of the planets. The first and last nights of the tour will be in the excellent Dolabauri Hotel in Tbilisi. The itinerary has details of the accommodation and walking on the Lagodekhi Extension. All rooms on the main tour have en-suite facilities.
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.
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.
Very variable. A mixture of warm sunny weather, cool showery weather and even cold snowy weather in the higher parts of these mountains. Any of the three could predominate though prolonged snow is rare in May.
Contact us to check if there is availability for the number of places you require. Click on the ‘Book this Tour’ button on this page to be taken to the online booking form or contact us and we will send one to you which you can complete and send back 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.