Travel Period –June-July / September-October
Day 1 – Tbilisi – Vardzia Resort
Day 2 – Vardzia – Valodia’s Cottages – Upper Vardzia Monastery – Tbilisi
Day 1. Drive south towards the Hotel Vardzia Resort, overlooking the Vardzia Cave complex across the river. June and July are the mulberry picking season with residents busy harvesting mulberries and other fruits to make various products. Mulberries are distilled to make vodka and also tklapi (fruit leather), pelamushi (fruit juice pudding), chiri (dried fruit) and bakmazi (reduced mulberry).
On this trip, you can join in harvesting and making bakmazi, a condensed juice made from white mulberries (Morus alba) and sometimes pears. Bakmazi is typical of the Samtskhe-Javakheti region and used as a natural sweetener, often eaten with bread and butter and various cookies. Vardzia Resort offers classes in traditional cuisine, so you can fill your day with a fun learning experience and then feast on what you have made.
Day 2. Start with a visit to the Vardzia Cave complex, inhabited since the Bronze Age and developed into a sophisticated monastic and defensive site between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries.
In Valodia’s Cottage in Korsikhevi you will hear many interesting stories from your hosts about the region and its culture, have a delicious dinner, and swap stories with other guests about your trip.
The excursion ends at Upper Vardzia Monastery where the nuns make a range of handicrafts and offer classes in making candles, wooden crosses, icon painting, and embroidery.