Sandwiched between Russia, Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, Georgia truly is the jewel of the Caucasus. From its ancient and delicious food, unique language, stunning variety of scenery, colourful history, and unbelievably rich culture, you’d be hard-pressed to find a reason not to visit. Over the past year, Georgia has had its fair share of hardships regarding the pandemic. Fortunately however, this tiny slice of Caucasus heaven is on the up and up. Thanks to the imposed restrictions over the past few months and rollout of the Pfizer and Astrazeneca vaccines, it’s seen a huge decrease in cases and a huge increase in morale. Which means there’s hope for a return to normalcy; and when that time comes, people will definitely have a travel bug. Here’s why Georgia should be your post-pandemic travel destination.
Why Georgia is the Post-Pandemic Destination on Everyone’s Mind
It’s Home to Some Pretty Breathtaking Scenery
From Adjara’s Black Sea beaches, Imereti’s lush plunging canyons, the rugged mountains of Svaneti on to the rolling hills of Kakheti; each region is more scenically diverse than the last. For a country 10,000 km2 smaller than Scotland, Georgia’s biodiversity is one of its most distinguishing traits. Thanks to its size, getting from the Green Cape in Adjara to the Alazani Valley in Kakheti is a piece of cake.
It’s Richer in History Than You Can Imagine
Georgia’s past goes way beyond the realms of Soviet occupation and should be recognised as such. From epic leaders like David the Builder and King Tamar (who was a woman, by the way) to pre-Christian civilisations in Uplistikhe’s ancient cave town and Svaneti’s Medieval hey-day, there’s more history to be explored than you can imagine. Fancy going back even further? The earliest European human fossils were discovered in Georgia’s southern town of Dmanisi which now functions as an archaeological site.
Georgian Culture is Colourful, Warm and Loaded with Hospitality
Georgia’s colourful patchwork of history has lent it a diverse and unique culture that’s truly in a league of its own. Georgians, for the most part, simply don’t know how to be strangers. You’ll find them to be an extremely welcoming bunch ready to invite you into their home for wine and supra (feast) moments after meeting. It’s said that Georgians view guests as a gift from God and as such, they are treated like royalty.
Georgian culture also boasts its own unique elements of Anatolian, European, Persian, Ottoman and Far Eastern cultures thanks to its prime location on the ancient Silk Road route. Over the millennia, remote and mountainous areas such as Svaneti have managed to preserve much of their pre-Christan traditions that have in turn created an individual sub-culture frozen in time.
There’s Good Food and A Lot of It
Georgian food holds the title for one of the world’s most diverse (and delicious!) cuisines. Thanks to all the comings and goings across the Silk Road and fewer thanks to the centuries-long cycle of occupation – liberation – reoccupation and so on; Georgia boasts an incredible food scene. Their most famous dishes include khinkali, a dumpling inspired by travelling Mongols that Georgia has made entirely their own; Adjarian khachapuri, a bread boat filled to the brim with cheese, butter and fresh egg yolk; and lobio, a humble stew of beans, herbs, walnuts, garlic and onion. More than that though, you’ll find a huge medley of unique dishes like badrijani nigzvit, roasted eggplant slivers smothered in a garlicky walnut paste and topped with pomegranate seeds; shkmeruli, a perfect marriage of all things chicken, garlic, cream and butter; and hearty stews such as kharcho, ostri and chakhokhbili.
From Adjara’s dairy heavy dishes such as borano (boiled cheese in brown butter), achma (basically cheese lasagna) and of course, Adjarian khachapuri; to Samegrelo’s spice heavy staples like kharcho soup, Megrelian kuchmachi and ajika paste; each region is more culinarily rich than the next.
There’s a Thriving Wine Culture to Dive Into
Georgian’s know a thing or two about fermenting grapes; in fact, they’ve been doing it for 8,000 years. Georgia is one of the oldest wine regions in the world, and thanks to this, wine and the traditions that go with it are intrinsically linked to Georgian identity and culture. So, if you’re a real wino, the Motherland of winemaking is definitely the place to be. Their technique of winemaking is done via qvevri, a large clay vessel which is buried underground and used for the fermentation process. This ancient tradition even has its own UNESCO status as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Among the must-try Georgian wines are saperavi, rkatsiteli, kisi and kindzmarauli.
The Language is Extremely Special
Georgian is spoken by just 4.5 million people worldwide – it’s known for its never ending consonants, many cases, and beautiful script. More interestingly, the origins of it aren’t fully understood. It’s known that the original script was created as far back as 3rd century BC; and most historians consider this the beginning of what would later evolve into three alphabets. But which alphabet it was based on and how long it was spoken before then is still somewhat of a mystery.
Fun Facts: “gamarjoba” or “hello” directly translates to “victory. “This speaks directly to the nation’s fighting spirit despite its long and bloody history. Also, Georgia is not called Georgia in Georgian; in fact it is called “Sakartvelo.”
There are More Than a Few Quirky Cities to Explore
From Tbilisi’s warm bohemian charm to Batumi’s wacky architecture and coastal attitude, there are a wide array of diverse cities dying to explore. In fact, Georgia is home to not one, but two of Europe’s 16 ancient cities. First, is Kutaisi over in western Georgia’s Imereti region. The ancient city has been inhabited since at least 2,000 BC and in its glory days was the capital of the Kingdom of Colchis. Next up is Mtskheta just outside Tbilisi. Founded 3,000 years ago, it was the former capital of the Kingdom of Iberia.
And that’s not even the half of it – from uber cosy Kakhetian gems like Telavi and Signaghi to Zugdidi over in Samegrelo, there’s no shortage of colourful places to explore.
How to Get the Best of Georgia
Now that we have you completely hooked on visiting, you’re probably curious about the best way to get around. When it comes to seeing the very best of Sakartvelo, there’s only one answer: Karavanly.
Karavanly: Your Hop-on Hop-off Adventure Around Georgia
Karavanly is a tour company that prioritises authentic and meaningful adventures throughout Georgia. If you’re a traveller who wants the best out of your Georgian vacay in a way that’s practical and convenient, Karavanly is the way to go. They showcase the very best of Georgia by highlighting popular destinations in addition to a wide variety of off the beaten path experiences.
Here’s Why it Works:
Travelling around Georgia can be difficult solo. From road safety concerns to language barriers to the simple anxiety that comes with not entirely understanding a foreign country and how things work; it is a lot for anyone. However, finding the balance between kitschy cookie-cutter tour groups and roughing it alone can be a conundrum, Karavanly solves it.
Their countrywide hop-on/hop-off setup makes it so you can see and do all that you want without having to bend to the itinerary of a set group tour making it great for travellers who prefer to do their own thing without the fuss of too much planning. Arguably the best perk of the hop-on/hop-off aspect is that travellers can start or finish their trip in one of three major cities at their own accord. And if you make it to a stop on your route and think “I wanna stay a while;” you can do just that. Simply stick around and then catch the next Karavanly bus coming through in a few days.
There’s a Wide Array of Passes to Choose From
There is also a wide range of itineraries to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a quick three-day getaway or full-on 11-day adventure, they have you in mind. Neither is lacking in authenticity, either. For example, the A Brief Glimpse option takes you from Tbilisi to Kazbegi, Pankisi and back. It is the perfect city break full of culture, unique food and stunning scenery.
For the all-in traveller, there’s the Kaleidoscope pass which ranges between 9 and 11 days and includes 36 stops. We’re talkin’ massive supras in age-old villages, cultural masterclasses, Guria’s famous tea route and so, so much more. If you’re looking to fully discover Georgia, this is the pass for you. Looking for something in between? Check out their other itineraries here including the Highland Essential. This five-day package features everything from the abandoned city of Tskaltubo, Rachuli delicacies in Ambrolauri.
They Put the Right Amount of Emphasis on Both Travellers and Locals
Simply put, Karavanly caters to both tourists and locals, and we think that’s important. It not only gives you the ease of being able to kick back and not worry about too much planning; it also prioritises local businesses over large chains meaning no Hard Rock Cafe lunches or golden arches. They’ve yet to sell out to corny tourist experiences and instead are tirelessly dedicated to the raw and rugged heart of Georgian culture. From start to finish, authenticity and the preservation of local culture is a top priority. And in the age of mass tourism (pre-pandemic, at least) that’s really saying something.