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Things to Know Before Visiting Georgia

When people hear the word “Georgia” uttered, what comes to mind most often is the American state of Georgia and not this tiny, captivating country nestled in the southern Caucasus. The vast majority of people barely know that this amazing land exists and can’t even point it out on a map, much less name just a few basic facts about Georgia.

Known as Sakartvelo in its native language, this nation is packed with fascinating history and culture, unique cuisine, epic scenery, and so much more. Georgia has a lot to offer that most people will miss out on, and that’s a shame, as this country leaves a lasting impression on everyone who visits!

So in this article, we’re swapping peaches for khachapuri and learning about the OG hospitality, not just the Southern variety. We’ve got Georgia on our mind, but sorry Ray; it’s not the one you’re thinking of.

Whether you’re familiar with the region or looking to expand your horizons, Georgia the country is a can’t-miss destination. There’s a lot to know about Georgia before visiting though. Here’s a list of basics you’ll want to know before heading to this incredible country.

Georgia is Home to the Highest Mountains in Europe

The European Alps are by far the continent’s most famous mountain range, But they are, in fact, not its tallest. The Caucasus mountains boast the highest peaks in Europe with a few summits reaching over 5000 meters in altitude, and several more coming close. More than that, these mountains are packed with raw adventure to a degree you won’t find anywhere else in Europe, making Georgia one of the best places around to have a truly unique adventure.

Credits: Nathan Jordan

The mountains and trails of this country are far less developed than their Western European counterparts, making them much rawer and more untouched than most similar places you’ll find in Europe. There’s a singular beauty to these mountains and much of that is owed to their untamed nature.

Georgia’s topography is surprisingly diverse for being such a small country, but the high mountains stretch essentially from end-to-end across the northern border with Russia. Whether you’re looking for an easy day hike that lasts a few hours, a multi-day trek through gorgeous scenery, or more serious mountaineering, the Caucasus mountains have got you covered.

Georgia is the Birthplace of Wine

Georgia is an ancient nation, and is likely the birthplace of one of humanity’s most cherished culinary inventions: wine.

The wine culture here runs deep, and Georgians make no secret of having pride in their wine. There are countless wineries across the country, but the eastern Kakheti region is especially renowned for its vineyards and excellent blends. Defined by rolling, green hills and historic buildings dotting the landscape, Kakheti is a lush wine country that is much easier on the wallet than comparable places in Italy or France, and just as beautiful.

Credits: Nathan Jordan

Georgian wine is undeniably unique, boasting many blends that you simply won’t find anywhere else. Amber wine in particular is a must-try and is famous for its “earthiness”: you’ll either love it or not be a fan of it at all. Khinzmaruli is the far more popular palatable drop but, like most Georgian wines, does tend to be on the sweeter side.

No matter what your preference though, you’re sure to find the right variety for you. Drinking wine is an essential part of the Georgian experience.

The Soviet Era Made a Huge Impact on Modern Georgia

Georgia endured Soviet occupation for decades and that has left prominent scars on modern Georgian society. Architecture, language, demographics, and more were all heavily affected by the Soviet era.

Most people in the older generations understand and speak Russian fluently, and the language is still taught at schools, though younger generations usually refuse to speak it. It is also visible throughout Georgia on street signs, old buildings, and tourist ads. On top of that, there are many Russians living in Georgia today, so many to the point that demographics have been influenced as a result.

Credits: Nathan Jordan

Visitors will also see countless Soviet-era apartment buildings dotting the landscapes of the cities, defined by their concrete, Brutalist architectural style. These buildings have been continuously inhabited for several decades and still serve as homes for countless Georgians, and there are countless Soviet-era monuments still present throughout Tbilisi.

Georgia is Renowned for its Sulfur Baths

Georgia is home to a disproportionately huge amount of sulfur fields. Over the centuries, Georgians have sought to take advantage of this by building baths on top of the country’s many deposits.

According to legend, the modern capital of Tbilisi was founded in the 5th century after a king discovered sulfurous hot springs while hunting. Sulfur baths are so central to Georgian culture that you’ll find them nearly everywhere a sulfur deposit can be found as long as the location isn’t completely remote.

Credits: Nathan Jordan

Sulfur baths are wonderful places to visit and a great way to relax after spending some time adventuring through the Caucasus. The smell is not always ideal, but it’s far cheaper than comparable experiences in more developed countries. Nothing beats a good soak after a long, strenuous trek.

Georgia Maintains Good Relations with It's Neighbors

It seems that every other news bulletin we receive from the Caucasus has to deal with some border skirmish or generations-old transgression.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have practically been at war over a disputed territory since the turn of the century. Turkey meanwhile still denies the Armenian Genocide that the Ottomans carried out after WW1, which is (understandably) a sticking point in the sides of Armenians. 

All this has led to some disapproving governments and a lot of closed borders.

Credits: Nathan Jordan

Luckily, Georgia maintains cordial relations with almost all of its neighbors, arguably with the exception of Russia (but who enjoys sharing a border with that country anyway). This means travelers can freely cross into Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey from Georgia itself. 

One unintended consequence of this is that a lot of travelers will use Georgia either as a base for exploring the Caucusas or as a gateway to access the rest of the region. People will often backtrack to Georgia from places like Armenia or Azerbaijan or Armenia just to get somewhere else. 

To borrow a phrase: all roads lead back to Georgia it seems. 

Georgia has a Distinct Culture and Language

Georgia’s many provinces all contribute to a one-of-a-kind social fabric and culture that stands out not only in the region, but globally. Each province is distinct from its neighbors and yet manages to be completely, uniquely Georgian. Svaneti, Kakheti, and everywhere in between all offer cultural experiences as only Georgia can.

Credits: Nathan Jordan

Depending on how you count, Georgia is around 3000 years old, and its language is just as ancient. Spoken by less than five million people (probably closer to four million) worldwide, the Georgian language may not be widely known but it is unquestionably special.

The language has utilized an elegant, visually striking script for thousands of years, and throughout that time countless works of literature have first been written in Georgian. Arguably the most famous among them being the tale of Queen Shushanik, which is one of the earliest known pieces of Georgian literature.

Entering Georgia is Easy for Most Nationalities

Georgia has incredibly lax visa policies overall, so it’s very easy to enter the country for most foreigners. Citizens of many countries are eligible for visa-free travel on arrival in Georgia for up to a year. If you’re looking to slow down your pace of travel and stay somewhere for a while, Georgia is hard to beat.

It’s very rare for Georgia to impose strict visa requirements on people of a given nationality. Citizens of Pakistan, for example, will have a very hard time getting approval for travel to Georgia, but that is one of the weakest passports in the world. For most potential visitors, this simply isn’t going to be an issue.

Want to take a walk on the wild side of Europe?

Consider visiting Georgia with us! We organize yearly trekking tours in some truly remote parts of the country.

As always, it’s still wise to check the visa requirements that Georgia has instituted for citizens of your country before your trip. Most likely, you won’t have many (if any) issues entering Georgia. You’ll fill out less paperwork, pay less money, and be able to stay much longer than you would in most other countries on the planet.

Georgia Has a Rich History

Being so well-located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, and finding itself on the edges of multiple historic empires – Russia, Iran, and the Ottoman Empire to name a few – Georgia has a history that is as rich as it is complicated. Georgians have fought multiple wars for their existence and have been occupied countless times. Most recently, it was occupied by the Soviet Union until the early 1990s.

Georgians are proud survivors and historically have endured a lot of hardship. They bear that as a mark of pride, and it plays a huge part in forming Georgian identity today. Georgia has only climbed out of poverty fairly recently, with things being so dire in the 1990s that students did their homework by candlelight as electricity was a luxury only the wealthy could afford.

Nowadays, Georgia is by no means a wealthy country, but it has steadily improved its standing since the 2000s and is absolutely safe to visit. Georgians are slowly getting more opportunities as time goes on and the nation further opens itself to the world.

Getting a Georgian Bank Account is Very Easy

Many countries have strict requirements for foreigners seeking to create a bank account, but not Georgia. This might be one of the easiest countries to open an account in, as the banking system is fairly modern and the rules are pretty relaxed.

Opening a bank account here can take as little as an hour or two, so long as you’ve got the right documents on hand. You’ll need to bring your passport with you, and the teller will guide you through the very simple process.

Credits: TheadoreTwombly (wikicommons)

In what seems like the blink of an eye compared to similar procedures in other countries, you’ll have a new bank account up and running and a credit/debit card will be available for pickup at the bank the next day. It is important to note, though, that citizens of the United States will also have to fill out a U.S. tax form.

Georgia is Far Cheaper than Most of Europe

Traveling much of Europe – western European countries in particular – is infamously expensive, and getting even more so with each passing year. For example, a dorm bed in Rome can cost as much as $70 per night during the summer months!

Georgia, on the other hand, is one of the cheapest destinations in Europe, no matter when you visit. While still not as cheap as countries like Vietnam or Thailand, it is much, much more budget-friendly than most of its Western competitors. To the relief of travelers everywhere, Georgia is not a place that’s going to break the bank.

Credits: Nathan Jordan

You’d have to work really hard to spend a lot of money here. Compared to Switzerland, for instance, where it feels like you sneeze and suddenly you’re out $200, money goes a long way in Georgia. Meals, accommodation, drinks, and everything in between won’t do too much damage to the wallet.

Wrap up: Things to Know Before Going to Georgia

In many ways, Georgia is a microcosm of various other countries within Europe. Georgia offers a lot of things that different European countries do – wine, architecture, mountains, spas, and more – all in one small country!

This is a one-stop shop for experiencing all that a European country has to give to travelers, all while being easier on the bank account at the same time – and more adventurous. Whether you’re looking to wander through cobblestoned streets lined by rustic buildings, sample your way across wine country, or trek through epic mountainous terrain, a Georgia itinerary has something for everyone.

Georgia trekking expedition

Georgia is home to rich heritage, delicious food and wine, and spectacular mountains that make a powerful mark on all who experience them. It also offers a way to get off the beaten path and discover a land that all too often is overlooked as a destination.

Ready to visit already? Join Epic on a 14-day hiking trip in Georgia that happens every year! We’ll visit remote alpine villages, forgotten churches, and some of the most beautiful settings in the Caucasus. Inquire today and save your spot!

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Welcome to our Journal!

snow lake trek pakistan

Here at Epic Expeditions, adventure is constantly on our minds. 

Our blog – or Journal as we like to call it – contains epic trip stories, photo diaries, and news about new tours. 

Thanks for checking it out! 

What's new in the journal?

The trip we're most stoked about

Island Peak Climbing Expedition

Next trip: October 14th - 31st, 2024

Adventure Guide

Hailing from the Toronto region of Eastern Canada, with a background as a former standout athlete (hockey of course) and a  love of mountain adventure, Clark is a welcomed addition to the Epic team.

In addition to being a keen photographer and adventurer, Clark brings his brilliant sense of humor, leadership skills, and positive attitude to everything he puts his mind to. 

When he is not leading trips, he is working on taking over the hard apple cider game in Canada as a skilled craft brewer. 

Adventure Guide

Noemi grew up in the mountains of German-Speaking Switzerland where she naturally developed a deep love and respect for mountain environments.

She is a talented photographer, aspiring climber, and speaks at least 5 languages fluently including Arabic (and probably a few more that we don’t know about), which she taught herself in a matter of months by watching YouTube videos. 

Noemi has spent the last several years traveling, hiking, and photographing her way around many different countries in the Middle East, South and Central Asia, and Europe, and we could not be more stoked to welcome her to the Epic team! 

Adventure Guide

As our man on the ground in Mongolia, there is not much this legend can’t do. As a native the Bayan-Ölgii province of the Western Mongolia Altai, Syerik has been working as a guide and tourism entrepreneur…

for the past several years and is one of the rising stars in Mongolia adventure travel industry. 

He is currently building a beautiful Ger (Yurt) camp near his hometown where he will host Epic Mongolia team members on our trip as well as other travelers from around the world! 

He is the perfect guide for your trip to Mongolia. Serik did an amazing job giving us a well rounded experience in the Altai NP region and down in the Gobi…
The food was fantastic and Serik gave us many opportunities to learn about the Kazakh culture in that region including traditional meals. (I can’t recommend enjoying the milk tea enough!)

– Coastal

Head of canine operations

Choriza started off life as a care-free vagabond on the streets of Madeira Island without any place to call home. From the moment we met her, we knew this dog was just different, and it was pretty much love at first sight. 

She gave up the dog street life in favor of joining her new dad Chris to become a full-time member of the Epic family towards the end of 2022.

These days she can be found listening in on the fringes of important Epic business meetings while half-asleep on the couch. She is a keen hiker, lover of mud, rare steak, and might just be the sweetest little dog we have ever seen. 

Adventure Guide

An experienced trek leader and
IFMGA aspirant ski guide, avid alpine climber, devoted adventure photographer.

Organized and guided trekking expeditions, climbs and ski tours in Tajikistan’s Pamirs, Patagonia, Peru, Morocco, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Georgian and Russian Caucasus and Kamchatka.

A full member and meets the organiser of the British Alpine Club. Visited over 40 countries, lived in the UK for four years. Certified first-aider.

We joined Andrew on a fantastic trip to the Fann Mountains in Tajikistan, pure nature and magnificent scenery! Andrey was super prepared and led us safely up and down numerous passes and through some rough and icy cold rivers. Thank you for a very memorable trip, your planning and prep was excellent!

– Monika Steinlechner

epic expeditions team

Adventure Guide

Our man in Nepal, Sandip is what we like to call a “Swiss Army Knife”. There is not much Sandip can’t do when it comes to helping Epic to run our expeditions smoothly in Nepal.

His tireless work ethic, passion for all things trekking in the Himalayas, and smart decision-making mean that Sandip is a truly invaluable member of our team.

Sandip is passionate about showing visitors to his country an amazing time, and he goes above and beyond to make sure that happens. 

His company Himalayan Masters is Epic’s trusted partner in Nepal and one of the country’s top new tour agencies.

We really enjoyed the entire journey, and I would like to say that Sandip is truly professional. He guided us and he is a hardworking person, providing us with the best service and taking care of each one of us. Plus, he is super funny! The kind of professionnal you always want to find on your path for your explorations! 

– Alexandra Ruth

Fairy Meadows

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Our Favorite Experiences

#1 Sunrise from Reflection Lake

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#2 Hiking to Nanga Parbat Base Camp

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#3 Playing cricket with the locals

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Trips Where We Visit Fairy Meadows

Our flagship Pakistani adventure tour.  Road trip with some  hiking and cultural immersion.

A trekking-style tour that features some very remote locations, inlcuding a K2 viewpoint.

Adventure Guide

João has born in the mountains of Madeira Islands in Portugal. Nature lover, writer, musician, guide, for him, a day without contact with outdoor vibes is a nightmare. 

With a degree in Cultural Studies in Portugal and a Master of Arts in Global Cultures and Creativity in the U.K.

João found out what really matters in life can be found on the trails, and in the contact with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

Guiding, crazy trekking missions, and sharing observations about the natural world, – these are some of João’s passions. 

After trekking to K2 Base Camp and exploring all over Northern Pakistan, he fell in love with the country and the local people. His experiences resulted in his desire to share these feelings with the world.

João is one of the most experienced guides at Epic and his skillset and positive mindset in the mountains is second to none

When not in Pakistan, João is  guiding and exploring in the Madeira Islands trails –  discovering some of the hidden treasures on his Portuguese Island.

João I can not thank you enough for the off the beaten paths and views you keep giving. Definitely one of the most challenging and amazing hikes we did 1200m meters all the way up to Fanal forest and circling back to the hidden village. Wow!

– Jeffery 

travel hunza valley

Adventure Guide

Sohail is the newest addition to the Epic team and we are beyond stoked to have him on board. As a veteran of the Karakoram and a native of Karimabad in Hunza, there is not much Sohail can’t do in the mountains. 

Besides having the ability to speak more languages than we can count, Sohail has explored every corner of Gilgit Baltistan and logs more trekking miles 

in a year than most people will do in a lifetime. As of the summer of 2022, Sohail has summited Gasherbrum 1, Gasherbrum 2, and K2 – three of Pakistan’s five 8000-meter peaks. Sohail guides several trips including our annual bespoke expeditions but specializes in Hunza Valley tours.

Chris and Sohail, and the team at Epic are FANTASTIC! Highly recommend anyone to do a tour with ‘Epic’. They have the perfect balance of fun, excitement and wild adventures, tied in with being super professional and ensuring your safety/health in a foreign environment. Don’t waste a moment and book a tour with these guys as the value for money is UNREAL!

– Borgan

iran travel tour

Adventure Guide

Pedro’s been traveling all around the globe since 2009. His keen interests in documentary photography, rural life, and local people from different ethnic groups have been the focus of many of his professional projects.

Since 2012, he has developed his passion for travel and awesome shared experiences into a full-time adventure photography tour leader position.

Pedro has found himself continuously going back to the Middle East, with his likely favorite destination being Iran. Pedro lead his 11th tour in Iran with Epic in spring 2020

When Pedro’s not traveling the world with Epic Expeditions, you’ll find him based in the western south of Portugal planning he’s next adventure missions, logistics and working out his photos in local exhibitions.

 I loved the combination of hiking, camping around breathtaking scenery mixed with the cultural aspects. The guide (Pedro) is knowledgeable and work very hard to make the trip as memorable as possible. All in all an epic adventure with some extremely epic individuals! Go for it, you won’t regret it!

– Coastal

Diane Bouvet

Adventure Admin / Marketing

After fleeing from the corporate fashion world in Paris towards the start of 2020, Diane has been working as a web developer and graphic designer remotely from various bases across the globe

She brings all of her incredible design and organizational power to Epic Expeditions and is responsible for many of the beautiful behind-the-scenes design elements. 

Diane has been to Iran and to Pakistan twice including all over Gilgit Baltistan and KPK.

k2 gondogoro la trek

Head of Operations | Guide

A veteran of Pakistan travel, Ralph is an experienced guide, photographer and writer who specializes in documenting remote locations. 

Not one to simply go where everyone else does, he insists on exploring new and lesser-known areas.

Together with Epic Expeditions, he shows people parts of Pakistan that most other operators don’t even know about. He is particularly fond of the village of Barah, which he believes will become just as famous as Hunza one day.

Just got back from EBT’s Trekking Amongst Giants 15 day tour. The experience was first class. Ralph, our head guide, ensured that the entire trip ran smoothly and relatively on time (a bonus for anyone travelling in Pakistan). We had so many unforgettable days on the tour and the trekking was well-planned, safe but also a rewarding challenge. 

– Calvin

Traveling to a non-tourist destination can be a little intimidating but EBT takes all of the worry and trepidation away. From the pre-trip call to meeting the wonderful staff in person you can tell that you are dealing with a company that has a passion for what they do each and every day. Ralph, Zahid, and Khan were supportive, kind, and always willing to go the extra mile to make sure that everyone on the trip was getting what they wanted out of the experience.

– Katrina 

adventure tours pakistan

Founder | Adventure Guide | Director

Since he started exploring the world, Chris has been seeking out every shade of adventure in various parts of the globe and had visited more than 70 countries along the way. 

Over the last 10 years, Chris has logged more than 7000 trail miles across five continents and climbed multiple 6000 + 7000 meter peaks in Pakistan and Nepal.

A few years back, a distant dream and a deep passion for the mountains and the people of Pakistan led Chris to co-found Epic Expeditions at a time when foreign adventure tourism in Pakistan was almost nonexistent. Since then, Chris has guided more than 20 expeditions to various parts of Northern Pakistan.

Chris believes in using photography and powerful adventure experiences to dismantle negative stereotypes regarding what mainstream media considers “dangerous” countries while facilitating unique and meaningful memories in the mountains for countless people from around the globe. 

For him, an ideal start to the day begins with a steaming cup of good coffee, the beam of a headlamp, alpine boots, and a camera in hand.

He lives in Madeira Island when not leading expeditions in far-flung lands. 

Chris also works as a writer and photographer on his blog Off the Atlas – an adventure travel blog all about Pakistan.  

Read this interview our staff did with Chris to learn more about him!

Chris believes in Pakistan and its people, and he believes in the value of journeys shared with others and family cultivated on the road. Honesty and integrity are at the heart of what he does, and this really shines through in his work as a guide. He also makes great coffee – whether at 5am in an empty guesthouse or half way up a Himalayan peak.”

– Will De Villers

Pakistan is a magical country! Had 3 of the best weeks of my life thanks to Epic Backpacking Tours with owner, and one of our awesome guides, Chris. From detailed itinerary, preparation with an equipment list, and visa assistance. To amazing food, great porters, helpful guides, and great accommodations. Epic really hit home run after home run. […]

Their desire for adventure and amazing trip is just as high as yours. Bring a good pound of coffee for the trip. French press coffee every morning and no average tin coffee, plus you’ll be in your guides good books.

– Clark Tyler

epic backpacker tours

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