Frequently asked questions
Welcome to my page. Here I would like to answer few basic questions any potentional tourists, not too familiar with Georgia may have.
Why to hike in Georgia?
In Georgia you can find not only beautiful, wild mountains but also unique and diverse culture of several mountain ethnic groups who built numerous fortresses and fortified villages. Georgia is cheap and safe country with kind, hospitable people and a great cuisine. And to top it all, with the exception of few places it has not yet been fully discovered by mass tourism - I like to imagine it as Alps hundred years ago. So the question should rather be - why not?
Is it safe?Trekking in mountains brings its own share of risks, but I dare to say that Georgia (not counting its breakaway republics) is as safe as any other trekkers destination. Still, it has some issues, for example lack of effective and fast mountain rescue system. Currently it can be quite problematic to arrange help in case of accident in mountains.
Is it expensive?
"Expensive" is a very subjective term, but I dare to say that Georgia is quite unexpensive country. I come from Eastern Europe and feel that prices in Georgia are about 30% lower than in my homeland - one of reasons why so many of us like to travel there. For westerner, Georgia is a very cheap country, though not as cheap as India or SE Asia. Here can be found more info about prices in Georgia.
Could you send me a price calculation for…. ?
Not really. Also, as I prefer to trek independently, I have only limited experience with guides and trekking companies.
But I get asked about them quite often, so I established cooperation with my friend David. If you are interested in any paid service, please contact him directly.
My name is Alex, I like cats and have one week to spend in Georgia. Please, send me some itinerary.
Hello Alex. I appreciate that you trust me, but it is hard to tell as I don’t know you - I don’t know when you plan to come, what are you looking for, what is your fitness level, experience,
what level of comfort do you expect etc. And I really don´t feel comfortable planning vacations for strangers.
Please do your research and if you have some more specific questions, I will try to answer them. But I will not plan your vacation from the scratch, that should be your decision.
Duration and difficulty of hikes - what does it mean exactly?
All info I post is based on personal experience of me and mine friends. To put things into perspective, I am a guy in early thirties with average walking speed and above average endurance.
Other people with different level of fitness can see those hikes differently (not speaking of variables such as weather).
Walks rates as "Easy" are usually dayhikes, where you don't have to overcome major elevation. "Moderate" hike - that’s a standard walking day for me, where I walk for 7 hours, cross some pass, make some breaks etc. Hikes rated as "Hard" are similar to Moderate with the difference that I am much more exhausted in the end. And "Very hard" difficulty is reserved for long, remote multi-day treks in rough terrain.
This rating is further adhusted - dayhikes get easier rating, multi-day hikes longer than 3-4 days more difficult one. And the last thing I try to take into account is whether you have to carry heavy backpack or not. On 1-day roundtrips I expect that you are carrying only daypack, but when you are crossing from point A to point B, I expect that you are carrying everything on yours back. Simply - it's difficult and often misleading, don't rely on those ratings too much.
QUESTIONS I GET WAY TOO OFTEN
First of all, I don´t want to scare anybody away. I love getting e-mails from my readers and always try to answer them. But there are questions I would happily live without. So, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to my grumpy side. He will now handle these questions once and for all.
How long does it take to finish Omalo - Shatili trek? Are there any hostels on Tobavarchkhili trail?
People often ask me ask about things I already explained on a web. I find it mildly annoying - I already "did my job", collected that info and published it.
Now I expect from my readers that they will browse a site (even briefly) and try to find needed info independently instead of immediately asking questions.
I realize that sometimes is the problem in me and some info may be hard to find, but I have a feeling that, most of the time, this is not the case.
Same with overly general requests such as "hey, send me some info about best treks thx". I won’t. Why should I spend the effort on someone who is not willing to do the same?
We are heading to Svaneti in a month. What weather should we expect?
Seriously, don't ask me about the weather. Nobody can accurately predict the weather further than a 3-4 days in advance. I am tired of constantly repeating that it could be sunny and it could rain.
I admit, maybe I am culturally insensitive here. I come from a continental Europe and we don’t have monsoons, dry/rain periods and so on. Georgian mountains are similar - weather, especially in mountain is unpredictable. It could be sunny one day and the day after you may experience a hailstorm. Plan accordingly and prepare for both cases.
What is the lowest night temperature at Kvakhidi meadows?
The another case of overplanning - I get this one quite regularly from people who are planning to buy a new sleeping bag and want to know EXACTLY what T[comf] value they should aim for.
I want to provide useful information, but only to some degree. I tend to sleep at night. I don´t crawl every hour out of my tent just to measure a temperature. And even if I did, it would be meaningless, as the next night, the weather could be completely different.
To provide at least some information: I usually camp during the summer months not higher than 2600-3000m and from my experience - it very rarely freezes there. I carry sleeping bag with down insulation (T[comf]= -2C°) and never felt cold in it.
I want to trek to Udziro lake on 17th October. Will it be possible?
A typical representant of a very popular "Is it possible?" questions. Oh, how much I hate these! Why? Simply because people want to know something different that they are asking for. Strictly semantically, the answer is obvious - of course it is possible. The mankind landed on the moon, why it should be "impossible" to cross some mountain pass?
BUT - even if something is possible, it doesn't mean it's a good idea. Because while the trek might be possible to finish, in sub-optimal conditions, there is also an increased risk of an accident. And who I am to decide if this increased risk is still acceptable or not? So I can't say that it's possible because people would go there. And I can't say it's impossible because I would be lying. Also, I have no idea who is asking or how much snow will be there in the future so this question is really tricky.
Usually, I just send them some lengthy explanation (such as the one you see above) why I have no answer for them, that takes lots of time and it leaves me irritated. Of course, if you want to trek in the shoulder season or sub-optimal conditions, feel free to write me. And ask me if I would recommend going there or if I think it´s a good idea. But, please, don´t ask me if it´s possible. Because it always is.