If you like discovering hidden gems of the ski world, Gudauri should be at the top of your bucket list. Set against the alluring beauty of the Caucasus Mountains, Gudauri’s powdery, high altitude slopes will leave you wondering why so few people are on them. From beginner areas to steeps up to 50° steep in expert regions, there’s something for everyone, at a fraction of the price you’ll pay in Western Europe. With a dry, mild climate and few cloudy days, you’re likely to want to spend all your time outdoors when you get to this beautiful area. If you tire of the slopes, you can try out heli-skiing or one of the other many winter activities on offer, like paragliding and hiking. Whatever you do, you can look forward to replenishing in the evening with a feast unlike anything you’ve experienced, complete with excellent, incredibly cheap Georgian wine.
Mount Kazbek (16,512 ft) is a mountain on the border of Georgia and Russia, in the heart of the Caucasus. As a beautiful, accessible yet challenging mountain, Mount Kazbek is popular with local mountaineers and tourists alike. While the most popular time to climb is in the summer months, experienced ski mountaineers enjoy it year-round. Most climbers access the mountain from the Georgian side, thanks to the easier ascent and less complicated access (visas are often required for travel through Russia). While there are several routes up Mount Kazbek, the most common route is largely non-technical (Rated PD, or slightly difficult). However, as much of the climb involves glacier travel, you should be comfortable moving as part of a roped team. Mountain guides can teach you this skill, but it is best learned and practiced before the climb in a low-risk environment. You should also be comfortable on steep, icy slopes, as the final 300 feet before the summit is an often icy slope of 25° to 40°.
If you like speed, Rustavi International Motorpark is the place for you in Georgia. Compared to other race tracks around the world, Rustavi’s prices are a steal. You can test out driving a formula car, retro cars, Mitjets, and off-road vehicles. The track is located conveniently close to Tbilisi, making it a fun day-trip or weekend destination.
The Alazani Valley is a wine-making region in Georgia, which is known for its scenic orchards and vineyards. Being surrounded by the snowy peaks of the Caucasus, it’s the perfect place to rise above it all and take a hot air balloon ride. As most flights operate in the morning, you’ll have the whole day ahead of you to come back down to earth and do some wine tasting.
The Rioni River is known as one of the best places to go whitewater rafting in Georgia. This river has intense, but fun rapids, as well as beautiful scenery through the Tvishi and Alpana canyons. For a longer rafting trip, you can organize a multi-day itinerary covering the Rioni and Kura Rivers. The Kura River (a.k.a. Mtkvari River) is one of the largest rivers in Georgia, starting in Turkey and ending in Azerbaijan. It offers rapids of a wide range of difficulty, including some technical routes through deep canyons that require top-notch navigation.
4GB is Georgia’s largest electronic music festival, held each year over two weekends in May. Visit any techno club in Tbilisi and you’ll know that Georgia takes its music seriously, so this is an event well worth planning your trip around.
The Tbilisi Open Air Festival is a three-day event held each year in the hills above Georgia’s capital city. Attending is a great way to get a sense of the unique, bohemian culture in Tbilisi, while enjoying world-class artists and a beautiful environment.
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