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With more than a decade of experience leading custom tours in Georgia, we have built up a network of the best in hospitality, cuisine, music, and unique cultural experiences along our tour routes. We design and implement tour itineries to fit your interests and schedules. Contact us to inquire about rates and availability.
+ Despite war and turmoil through the centuries, viticulture is alive and well in the South Caucasus, the area that has been called the "birth-place" of wine. Come learn how the grape has been cultivated for thousands of years, and taste the essence of homemade wines. Fermented in buried earthenware amphoras called qevri, this wine is only drunk accompanied by a variety of toasts, some to the ancestors, some to Gods. It will make you feel like you are tasting the warmth and life of sunbeams, concentrated in the grape, which may be one reason that cults of the Sun account for many pre-Christian rituals and songs. Experience wine the ancient way on one of our custom-designed tours.
+ Three-voiced polyphonic folk music mesmerizes everyone who hears it. This tour focuses on taking interested clientele to various parts of the country where different song cultures survive. A music focused trip, participants will be rehearsing several hours a day with instructors, and singing songs in the context of the music, i.e. in the fields for worksongs, travelers songs while walking, liturgical pieces in the churches, and around the dinner table for feast-songs. Tour leader John A. Graham has been singing, studying, and teaching Georgian folk and sacred music since 2002. Contact us to design a unique itinerary that fits your musical interests.
+ At our best, our tours combine elements of wine tourism, music tourism, bird-watching, architectural discovery, interactions with many different kinds of Georgians, and the finest in Georgian cuisine and hospitality. We have experience tailoring our itineraries to focus on particular areas of study, for example, medieval architecture, modern monasticism, mountain cultures and traditions, traditional music, and viticulture. Contact us to design a custom tour for you.
Mtkvari River Valley
+ Starting in Tbilisi (named for the hot springs along the river), we journey upstream to the ancient capital Mtskheta. Dominated by the 11th century Cathedral of the "Living Cross," Mtskheta is a quaint little hamlet at the confluence of Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers. The Romans reached Mtskheta in 65 AD... read more
+ Sighnaghi, a hilltop fortress town built by King Erekle in the 18th century; boasts twenty seven towers and a four kilometer defensive wall overlooking the broad Alezani valley, commanding a 180 degree view of the Great Caucasus Range. Once an artisan capital... read more
+ Telavi, regional capital of the Kakheti region. Telavi is situated at the top of the long Alezani wine-growing valley, at the base of the Great Caucasus range, and has been the seat of kings for several centuries... read more
+ Tbilisi, capital city of Georgia, founded in the 5th century by King Vakhtang Gorgasali. A center of trade and conflict for centuries, Tbilisi has been sacked forty times by various invaders but survives today as the modern hub of the South Caucasus. Nevertheless, the downtown area is full of winding cobblestone streets... read more
+ Mount Qazbegi, the mythical mountain hold of Prometheus' epic torture, elevates to an impressive snowcap, 15,000 feet above sea level. Against this backdrop, the small hamlet of St. Stephens and the hauntingly silhouetted Gergeti Trinity Monastery (13th century) strikes an indelibly austere frame... read more
+ Tao-Klarjeti is the mountainous region in contemporary North-Eastern Turkey that was once the birth of the medieval Georgian "Golden Era" that lasted from the tenth to the twelfth centuries. We will enter Turkey via the border from Akhaltsikhe, map here, visas obtainable for $20 at the border for American citizens. The high-plateau topography is criss-crossed with deep canyons... read more
+ Emerging from the mountains of Tao, which plunge directly into the Black Sea, we will be only 30 minutes drive to the current Georgian border at Sarpi. This area has been populated for millenium by Georgian tribes who traded with Ancient Greeks, Romans, and later with caravans from the East traveling the Silk Route... read more
+ Traveling up a narrow gorge from the plains of ancient Colchis, the hidden valleys of Svaneti reveal themselves among the snow-capped peaks of the Great Caucasus range. In the 19th century, famous explorers such as David Freshfield and Vittorio Sella recorded their travels through this area... read more
Ethnomusicologist and Georgian chant scholar, John is a Ph. D. candidate at Princeton University, where he is pursuing research for a dissertation titled "The Transmission and Transcription of Georgian Liturgical Music, 1880-1910." Co-founder of the Monastery tour in 2006, John had already been studying music and language in Georgian since 2003, including on a Fulbright research grant in 2004...
See all tour leader biographies here.
Contact and Reservations
John A Graham
johnananda [ ] georgianchant.org
145 Windsor Dr.
White River Jct.
VT 05001 USA