Period of travel
March-April-May-November. Individual booking and private group on request
THE SEMI DESERT GEORGIA
Ideally located at the entrance of the semi desert ecosystem and one hour drive from Tbilisi, the wintering pastures of our herd of horses offer some beautiful riding possibilities.
Environment: The Badlands
Located close to the border with Azerbaijan in southeastern Georgia, the semi-desert stretches over a hundred kilometers long and a few dozen wide. With their American air of South Dakota, we call these eroded and arid mountains, strange and depopulated the Georgian badlands. Unexpected jagged cliffs, multicoloured canyons which open on a steppe and flock of sheep and a few scattered shepherds’ houses. It is home to a cohort of animal species from hostile environments: powerful steppe eagles, bearded vultures, vultures, lynxes and jackals but also turtles and foxes. In this isolated atmosphere at the end of the world, troglodyte monasteries have sprung up, dug out of stone, the first, that of David Gareja, founded in the 6th century. It was followed by a number of others, unknown to tourists. They are sometimes inhabited by Orthodox communities, sometimes abandoned hiding their ancient frescoes dating back to the 13th century.
In summer when we are in the Tush Mountains, it’s terribly hot, an advise : avoid this period.
Our horses: wintering
Our horses are at the gateway to this ecosystem that contrasts with the Greater Caucasus and offers incredible landscapes. On a biannual migration basis, we transhume with the herd of horses twice a year. In spring, we drive our horses from the wintering to the summer pastures in Tusheti and then in October we bring them back on the reverse path, from the mountain pastures at 2500m in Tusheti to the semi-desert area towards Udabno. The winters are here relatively mild and the summers are scorching.
Our horseback riding tours
We organise a six-day horseback expedition starting at the edge of a patch of natural reserves and national parcs. We ride & discover the Georgian semi-desert, monasteries and troglodyte cities dating back from the 6th century for the oldest. Our horse riding trail leads us on pastoral paths far from any tourist attraction to incredible rock formations, a relentless work of erosion, beautiful labyrinth of multicoloured canyons, an unexpected ecosystem few meters away.
We enjoy a mild climate, nights in tents under the magnificent celestial vault. We may meet some shepherds on their wintering territory and some monks who inhabited the caves dweller city. We ride horseback across some huge plateau and ridges, see some ghost soviet collective farms. Everyday some new surprising landscapes are waiting us. We ride the Tush horses, the local bred from the Caucasus Mountains. We are mostly away from touristic trails.
More information go to the website Horseriding-Georgia
• From 1 day to 6 days expedition
• Transhumance, driving the horses back to the winter or summer pastures, from 12 to 25 days
Semi desert, Southern East part of Georgia at the border with Azerbaijan
Tusheti, Great Caucasus Mountains, Georgia and Eastern part of Georgia
Glimpse on desert rides itineraries:
Ride in the semi desert area, discover the eroded cliffs, the reddish mountains, the salty lake, the cave dweller cities & monasteries dating back the 6th century.
Glimpse on the Transhumances:
The “transhumance” is a seasonal migration when we drive all the horses back to the winter pasture or to the summer pastures. They take place respectively in October and in May/June. Each of them are composed into 2 parts. The entire transhumance last about 25 days. You have the possibility to stay with us during the whole trip or enjoy the mountains part either the eastern crossing, each of them last around 12 days. This unique experience takes you across 3 ecosystems, some incredible landscapes from the high Caucasian summits to the desert and its hidden monasteries dating back the 6th century without forgetting the vineyards in the Alazani valley and the beautiful Gombori range. You ride and meet shepherds, discover some unsuspected treasures and experience a lot of unforeseen adventures.
For all of our trips : On our way to and from Tusheti you visit some places of interests which tell a lot about the Georgian culture heritage, gastronomy, wine production.. . We end up in Tbilisi the energetic main city called the « New Berlin ».
From 2 days to 6 days expedition : Average.
Transhumance: Good riding capabilities requested.
Beginner welcome: we will be glad to put you in a soft contact with the horses and give you riding competencies towards the autonomy.
Min : 4 riders
Max : 8 riders
Transhumance from 1 rider
Privatize / Customise a group from 5 riders and build your own itinerary. Customized group from 5 riders. We cook everyday. Local and fresh food & cuisine. Overnight during the trek: Tent. (double tent and a big tent). Other overnight: Guesthouse and hotel located in the very center of Tbilisi. riders.
The Tush are born on a horse. Before being able to walk they ride. They are horsemen, breed their horses which play an important role in the Tushs’ way of life as well as in the pagan traditions. It is not only a mean of transportation -as packhorse- when the semi nomad are driving their flock of sheep down to the winter pastures and up to the summer pastures or -like a mop- when galloping from one village to another but also it is part of a very old pagan ritual called Doghi. The Doghi is a horse race to commemorate one year’s death of a Tush. It helps the dead person to gain a social rank in the « second world, the world of the deceased ». The Tush mountain horses are middle size, very well balanced, calm, rustic and very smart. They know how to spare their energy to climb the mountains. The horses you will ride are belonging to Audrey. She breaks and trains them. The foals are following their mother on our itineraries from 2,5 months. They learn how to put their feet and find their balance on the rocks, small pathways and deep rivers. They are all living in herd and free all the year without any fences. During the winter (from November to May) they are resting as they have to resist to the climate and be strong and ready for the summer. During each horseback expedition they have 1 week off.
No visa requested for European country citizens. Passport with a validity over 6 months when leaving the country is normally enough. For more and accurate information, check at the Georgian embassy in your country of residence.
Main City : Tbilisi
Language : Georgian, caucasian language, kartvelian group.
Money : Lari GEL. 1 euro=2,9 GEL
More info : https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Géorgie_(pays)
ATTENTION : all products derived from Codeine molecules are strictly forbidden in Georgia. Please consult http://www.rs.ge/en/5982 as well as http://www.incb.org/ documents/Psychotropics/guidelines/travel-regulations/2013-travellers-update/ GEO_26_August_2014_Original_travellers_II_-_LTR_-_table.pdf MY TIPS : Do not even try to bring such drugs into Georgia. (codein/ tremadol)