Georgia Winter Sports and Wine by Vintage Soviet Car

Code: GEO/WIN/VIN/19
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Flexible Departure: December – March only. See Itinerary below for details.

Ah, Georgia! The land of wine, winter-sports and song! A haven for trekkers and beach lovers in summer, as winter falls this wonderful Caucasian country becomes a snow-lovers paradise.

This unique, fully-guided trip to Georgia combines an invigorating dose of skiing (or snowboarding) in the High Caucasus, with wine tasting in Kakheti and the novelty of travelling by vintage Lada. And if you really want to up the adrenaline levels, you can spend a day heli-skiing too.

The Caucasus Range is a fantastic winter sports destination that’s refreshingly free of the crowds that plague many Alpine resorts. Lift waiting times are often just a few minutes and the slopes themselves are mostly empty – leaving you plenty of space to perfect your carving and shredding techniques.

You’ll find that powder snow is better than in the Alps, and in general snow is more reliable due the the increased altitude (up to 3300 metres) so from late December to early March the conditions are usually perfect.

Away from the slopes, you’ll be staying in cosy, family-run guesthouses, enjoying some uniquely Georgian apres ski, feasting on delicious Georgian food (Ottolenghi eat your heart out!), glugging local wines, having traditional Georgian banyas and experiencing the novelty of driving a vintage Soviet-era vehicle. And all this just a 4.5 hour flight from London.

Each car is suitable for up to four persons and luggage, and although your guide can drive you if you’d prefer, you can choose to drive yourself whenever you like.

This is a partner-led trip, which means you will be looked after by our tried and trusted local partner. We’re sure you’re going to love them as much as we do.

DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION Tbilisi International Airport
DEPARTURE TIME Whenever your flights arrive
INCLUDED
  • Rental of a Lada vintage car, fully insured, prepared and maintained.
  • All accommodation
  • A driver/guide for each car
  • Mechanic with each group
  • Airport transfers
  • All meals.
  • Wine tasting at two different locations
  • Banya (sauna) in Gudauri and Tbilisi
  • Lift passes for Gudauri
  • Ski/boot/binding hire
NOT INCLUDED

We will be there at the airport to collect you, and will drop you there in good time for your return flight. Please note that to drive a car we will need to see your proof of holding a valid driving licence.

Minimum Group Booking of just 4 persons

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Day 1:

Arrive Tbilisi International Airport, Georgia
Our guide (also your driver) will collect you from your flight with your car, and after a round of introductions we’ll head for the hills! It’s a beautiful 2.5 hour drive into the mountains. Once we arrive, we’ll organise your skis, boots and lift pass and, if there’s time, we can hit the slopes right away. We will be based at a family-run local guesthouse right in the village.

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Day 2:

Gudauri

Today is all yours to enjoy the slopes. The little resort of Gudauri has eleven lifts and gondolas and you reach just over 3300 metres at the peak. The view from up there into Russia and Chechnya is pretty impressive. The resort also has a ski school with two magic carpets for beginners and a couple of blue runs. It has plenty of red runs, a few black and a good area for powder skiing.

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Day 3:

Gudauri
Another whole day of exploring to your heart’s content. As well as skiing, there’s delicious Georgian food and plenty of opportunity for a bit of apres-ski fun too. Georgians are gregarious and garrulous people who have some fantastic wines, beers and local chacha spirit to share with you. There’ll rarely be a dull moment, that’s for sure!

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Day 4:

Gudauri or snow-mobile ski touring
You have the option today to enjoy Gudauri, or to take a snow-mobile for ski-touring a wider area. The price for the snow-mobile hire is an extra £125 per person for the entire day, and is huge fun. We will end our day again at our lovely local guesthouse.

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Day 5:

Gudauri or heli-skiing
Again you’ll have the option to ski locally today or splash out and enjoy a wonderful heli-skiing experience. Of course this is weather-permitting, but for only £180 per person, this is a brilliant opportunity to enjoy heli-skiing in a truly jaw-dropping location. Whatever you choose to do, we will end the day at a traditional Russian banya steam bath in old Gudauri village. Similar to a sauna, this will restore mind and body before we head to the wine cellar tomorrow.

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Day 6:

Gudauri – Telavi
We drive in our vintage Soviet cars across the country today to the region of Kakheti – the wine region of Georgia. Here you’ll be treated to a cultural insight into Georgia past and present. Georgia is the birthplace of wine; the remains of Georgian traditional wine making have been found to date back 8000 years. First we’ll visit the one of the oldest and biggest wine producers of Georgia. Afterwards we’ll visit a small winery situated right at the home of the Milorava family who make delicious wines grown right in the yard and made with huge clay ‘’qvevris’’ – a method taught to the Romans.
We’ll spend the night in Telavi in a wonderful family guesthouse offering us a typical Kakhetian supra (banquet). Kakhetians are masters of the barbeque, using exclusively wine branches to roast the food.  Loosen that belt buckle…

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Day 7:

Telavi – Tbilisi
We roll down the winding road towards Tbilisi, crossing the Gombori Pass on our way. If you are driving your Lada on this road you are certain to enjoy it, and by the time we meet the main road, you’ll also know very well that you’ve been driving an old car with no power steering!  We will enter Tbilisi around lunchtime, so you’ll have a chance to explore this fantastic city. If you feel you’d like to come and enjoy a traditional Tbilisi steam bath and massage, then you’ll be our guests. Most flights leave this evening, so we will ensure to get you out to the airport in good time.

Where will we be staying?

On this trip we’ll be staying in small, locally-owned family guesthouses. We feel that true luxury is getting to know a place and its people, not necessarily measured by the thread count of the bed linen or. And Georgians are famed for their food, wine and hospitality.

How is this different to other itineraries in Georgia that I’ve seen?

No-one else offers this itinerary or anything like it in Georgia.

Combining the wonderful wintersports (with options for heli-skiing and snow-mobile touring), with vintage cars as our transport and a day of wine tasting provides a totally unique cultural snapshot.

Tell me more about these cars then?

We have a range of vehicles available including the 4×4 Niva and the classic Lada Zhiguli. None of these vehicles have power steering and you may end up with arms like a Russian ship-builder after getting behind the wheel! The seats are only modestly comfortable, there is little acceleration and it’s quite possible you’ll break down. (Which is why you’ll always have a mechanic/driver with you!)

But that isn’t really the point, as we see it. The Lada has been the workhorse of the the Russian sphere of influence for decades and it is slowly but surely becoming a dying breed. Here in Georgia too, it will largely disappear from the roads in the coming years. But we think travel should be fun, quirky and shun the ordinary or mundane wherever possible. And travelling by these old cars will be an experience you’ll remember for years to come. This isn’t just a means of getting from A to B but a journey in it’s own right.

I love the sound of this trip, but would like more time on the slopes – is this possible?

Of course. We can tailor this trip to however you like it. You can make it longer, shorter; add more skiing or heli-skiing or hire a snow-mobile for the duration. You let us know what you want and we’ll make it happen, and price it accordingly.

What kit do I need to bring?

We will provide you with an information pack after signing up to this trip, and this will detail any particular equipment we think either necessary or useful. We can provide skis, boots and bindings but clothing, helmet and any other specific kit shouls be brought with you.

What are the ski routes like?

Gudauri is a small resort but has a significant number of ski runs to enjoy, plus off-piste options. Obviously using the snowmobiles or heli-skiing options add un-ending choice to your trip. Here is a map of the main runs in Gudauri.

What will the weather be like?

In the hills, it is going to be snowy (this is winter sports after all) and cold, so bring the appropriate gear.

How much are flights?

This totally depends on season, but there are direct flights from across Europe to Tbilisi, and some from further afield. There are also now budget airlines flying to Georgia (mostly to the airport at Kutaisi, from where you’ll transfer to Tbilisi), so it is entirely possible to get a return ticket very cheaply if you shop around and don’t mind the time of day you’ll travel.

We can book your flights for you through our trade ATOL partners – please just ask us for details.

What will the food be like?

Amazing! Georgian food is a feast for the palate; a tasty array of (largely home-produced) meat and vegetarian dishes infused with the tastes of Persia, the Middle East and Europe. This is definitely one of our more gastronomic (and vegetarian friendly) trips.

Are the Cars Insured?

The cars are insured as per local law. Your own personal travel insurance should cover you for driving a car in Georgia.

Do you perform proper risk management on your expeditions?

Yes. We are members of TRIP – the Travel Risk and Incident Prevention Group – and perform detailed country risk assessments prior to departure, in line with the ISO 31000 international standard for risk assessment. We also maintain close contact with the relevant Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice for countries we plan to visit, in addition to making use of the Australian Smart Traveller assessment tool, and the US State Department’s OSAC service. Beyond this, we have a full set of risk management and disaster contingency plans for each expedition and are expedition first aid trained by Crux Medical. For final back up we also use the services of Remote Medical Support that allows us to have a UK expedition doctor on the end of a telephone line wherever we may be. And we always carry a satellite phone if there is any danger of being out of signal in the places we travel through. We really don’t mess around when it comes to safety.

Value for Money

We are very proud of the routes we design and the way in which we travel them. We don’t cut corners and we plan meticulously. We are a small company that treats every guest as our friend and you won’t find that kind of service in many places. 85% of our customers have re-booked to travel again with us and some of them come on a trip every year. We also do annual expedition and remote medicine training and pay for 24/7 remote medical assistance cover. We employ professional military-grade risk assessments and plan for every possible negative scenario whilst hoping that none ever come to pass. We take our obligations to you and your safety very seriously and this all does cost money. We think the price represents great value for an experience you won’t find elsewhere.

What’s a partner-led tour?

We run a range of different trips and expeditions. Our Director’s Cut tours are 100% designed by us, and are completely unique to Silk Road Adventures. You won’t find these trips anywhere else and a huge amount of research has gone into making these journeys one-offs. Examples of these are our ‘In the footsteps of Joanna Lumley’ and Amu Darya journeys. These trips are either led by one of the SRA directors, Marley or Antonia, or by a carefully picked expert on the region, such as Leon McCarron.

Partner-led tours are a little different to this, in that they are designed, organised and led by one of our tried and trusted local partners. These tours are not always unique to Silk Road Adventures, and won’t be led by one of our UK team. However, this by no means affects the quality of the trip, or the level of enjoyment you’ll experience: we’ve put a great deal of time, research and Air Miles into ferreting out the best people to work with, and collaborating closely with them on these trips. We try and make it very clear what sort of trip each one is – if anything is remotely unclear please drop us a line here.

Is this really for me?

Although this is an extremely enlivening way to spend two weeks of your life, it’s also potentially dangerous.

Winter sports are inherently risky activities.

It will also be physically tiring.

Don’t even consider signing up for this adventure if you aren’t fully aware of the risks you are taking.

If you like your holidays to include foie gras, butlers and miles of quilted loo roll then please look elsewhere.

If however, you want a proper, unique and delightful experience that you’ll remember forever, then you are in luck!

Price:£1,560.00