Dates: August 29–September 10, 2019

Begins & Ends: Tbilisi, Georgia

Nearest Airport: Tbilisi (TBS)

Leaders: Jeffrey Chapman & Winslow Lockhart

Maximum Participants: 8

Tuition: $6,400

Accommodation: Included
(optional single supplement: $900)

Meals: Included

Payment Policy: 3 Installments
     • $500 deposit to confirm participation
     • 50% due by February 1, 2019
     • Balance due by May 1, 2019

This photographic adventure begins and ends in Tbilisi, Georgia. Tuition includes hotels (based on double occupancy; single occupancy is available with payment of a single-occupancy supplement), meals, driver and guide tips, and local group transportation for the duration of the adventure. It does not include souvenirs, bar beverages, laundry, insurance (travel, medical, cancellation), nor any personal expenses.

This adventure is suitable for all levels of photographic experience. Participants must be in good health and able to spend each day walking and carrying their own equipment.

Reserve your spot below.

Georgia Within The Frame Photographic Adventure

Georgia Within The Frame Itinerary

Bordering the Black Sea, Georgia’s strategic location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia has given the country a fascinating and storied history. The intermingling of cultures, dating back to even before the Roman expansion into Persia, has created a richly-nuanced cultural heritage that mixes traditions from both the west and the east. As an important stop along the Silk Road, the culture of Georgia has been formed by a heady mix of migrating peoples with their goods, customs, and ideologies. In Tbilisi, the nation’s capital, one can find a church, a synagogue, and a mosque all on the same street. For photographers, Georgia’s history and geography make it a fascinating place for landscape, people, cultural, and even bird photography.

The Georgian landscape is as varied as the country’s cultural influences. It is a mountainous country of peaks, valleys, and microclimates. Glaciers, rainforests, lakes, treeless arid zones, hot springs, permanently snow-capped mountain peaks, and the deepest known cave on the planet all create a rich biodiversity, including many endemic species that we’ll enjoy exploring and photographing.

The oenophiles among us are in for a treat. Those diverse microclimates of Georgia allow for the production of more than five hundred grape varieties. The earliest production of wine has been attributed to this region, and, although wine production is a major product of the Georgian economy, it is little known in North America as the production from such a small nation has been historically largely absorbed by its large neighbor, Russia. Lonely Planet, when referring to this region’s wine production, writes, “The story of wine here is so old, so real, that it makes what we know of ancient Greece and Rome seem like recent history.”

This photographic adventure is about the passionate discovery and photography of people, place, and culture, with emphasis given to going deep not wide, and pursuing that most elusive of photographic necessities — our vision. It is appropriate for photographers of all levels, and you will be free to photograph independently or always with the assistance of one of the leaders.

Tbilisi (Days One – Two)

We will all arrive in Tbilisi in time for a meet-and-greet dinner and an orientation to discuss our itinerary and events for our shared photographic adventure.

Tbilisi, the nation’s capital and the most populous city with 1.5 million residents, is built along the Mtkvar River in a valley surrounded by mountains. We will explore and photograph the charming old town with its narrow lanes, decorative wooden buildings, and colorful street life. We will have the opportunity to enjoy the celebrated sulfur baths, the botanical gardens, and the ancient remains of the Narikala Fortress, which was first established in the 4th century. One evening, we will visit the top of Mount Mtatsminda via a funicular for panoramic views of the entire city and surrounding landscape.

Tbilisi will be our home for four nights as we take excursions to notable spots in the area. While in Tbilisi we will stay at the chic Rooms Hotel Tbilisi.

Mtskheta (Day Three)

Mtskheta, the former capital of Georgia, is one of the oldest cities in Georgia and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founded in the 5th century BCE, it was built at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers. The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, completed in 1029, and the Jvari Monastery, built between 590 and 605, are among the most important Georgian historical monuments as they are significant early examples of Christian architecture and subsequently influenced the development of medieval architecture throughout the region.

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is home to many frescoes and is considered an endangered cultural landmark. It is known as the burial site of Christ’s mantle. History meets contemporary life here as it is a popular spot for weddings and will provide us with the opportunity to see and photograph the traditional costumes adorned by the wedding parties. Later in the day, we will visit Jvari Monastery, which overlooks the city from its mountaintop perch, providing panoramic views of the city, rivers, and the surrounding landscape. It’s a spectacular site for one of the country’s most treasured architectural monuments. Fingers crossed for a glorious sunset.

David Garedgi Monastery (Day Four)

The remote David Garedgi Monastery complex on the border of Azerbaijan is one of the more unusual religious sites in the world. The complex includes a web of religious structures, chapels, churches, and refectories hewn directly into the rock landscape. We will take time to explore and photograph the unique land surrounding the monastery with its colorful mineral stone striations and the cave frescoes of Udabno that are over 800 years old. Birds of prey are a common sight in this semi-desert region of Georgia, and we will take care not to become a meal for them!

Mestia (Days Five — Eight)

Mestia is a townlet in the highlands of northwest Georgia. It will be our base for four nights as we explore and photograph the many sites of interest, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites, in the Mestia District.

Svaneti, the highest inhabited area in the Caucasus Mountains, is where we will find Mount Shkhara, the highest mountain in Georgia, peaking at 5,201 meters (17,059 feet). It is a landscape of alpine meadows, peaks with eternal snow, glaciers, and plunging gorges. This region is inhabited by the Svans, an ethnic subgroup of Georgians with their own language, although most are bilingual, speaking both Svan and Georgian. The Svans have retained many of their traditions, including blood revenge; so we’ll be very careful to not make any enemies during our visit. Their traditions also include three-part polyphonic singing, which can get quite loud and is not to be missed.

Among our excursions is a visit to Ushguli, a community of four villages and a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated at the head of the Enguri Gorge. It is one of the highest continuously inhabited settlements in Europe. The remote location has helped it be bypassed by modernization, and it has consequently retained its old-world charm. The community is cut off from the rest of the world for half of each year when it becomes snow-bound, making the road in and out often impossible to traverse.

We will also visit Enguri Dam, the second highest concrete arch dam in the world. It took 26 years to build and has a height of 271.5 meters (891 feet). Set amidst the mountainous landscape, it is a sight to behold.

While in Mestia we will stay at a traditional guest house, which will provide the perfect opportunity to meet local people and spend some time in a Georgian family.

Tbilisi (Day Nine)

We will head back to Tbilisi for one night in transit between Mestia and our next destination, Stepantsminda.

Stepantsminda/Kazbegi (Days Ten — Eleven)

We will travel through a mountainous region on our way to Stepantsminda (often called Kazbegi), a townlet built along the banks of the Terek River in a valley surrounded by mountain peaks. This will be our home for two nights. The terrain here makes it a popular spot for paragliding, which is not a part of our program (except for photographing those flying through the sky), but nobody will stop you if you get the urge to see the dramatic scenery from a bird’s eye perspective.

The trip to Stepantsminda, through a scenic mountain region, will allow us to visit and photograph the castle complex at Ananuri on the Aragvi River, a site of historical significance as it was a location for many battles and is being reviewed for possible inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Later in the day, we will visit Gergeti Trinity Church, built in the 14th century and dramatically situated on top of a mountain with spectacular vistas in every direction. It has understandably become a kind of symbol for Georgia as the site celebrates both the country’s rich religious history and the beauty of its landscape.

While in Kazbegi we will stay at stunning, contemporary Rooms Hotel Kazbegi. The views are breathtaking.

Tbilisi (Days Twelve – Thirteen)

We will arrive back in Tbilisi for a farewell dinner our last night in Georgia and will then spend the final morning enjoying Tbilisi one last time before we have to say our goodbyes, head home, and begin planning our next adventure together.

Although this represents the photographic adventure’s planned itinerary, it is subject to change at the discretion of the adventure leaders.

Reserve Your Spot

A $500 deposit is required to confirm your participation. Click on the Pay Deposit button to reserve your spot. You will be able to pay the deposit via PayPal or credit card. To pay by other methods (or if you encounter difficulties), please fill out the Registration Form and request an invoice in the comments. Please read the Cancellation Policy and the Release of Liability.

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