Travel Period: April – October
Day 1 – Tbilisi – Borjomi – Timotesubani – Elkana Seed Ark Farm, Tsnisi – Akhaltsikhe
Day 2 – Akhaltsikhe – Zarzma – Ghreli – Saphara – Vardzia Resort
Day 3 – Vardzia Cave Monastery – Khertvisi – Village Gandzani – Phoka Monastery – Tbilisi
Drive to Samtskhe-Javakheti via Borjomi, 2½ hours of easy driving. Our first stop is at the whimsical Borjomi Local Lore Museum for an expert-guided tour. Afterwards, walk through the Historical Park of Borjomi and saunter past the local shops offering honey, local handicrafts and a bottle of the famed Borjomi mineral water. If you are patient, you can even fill your own bottle at the Ekaterine limestone spring in Central Park.
After your walk, enjoy a sumptuous lunch at the best and most authentic restaurant in town – expect the table to be piled high with Georgian delicacies.
Your tour continues by cable car to the rim of the Park Canyon and then a drive to the Chapel of the revered Russian St Seraphim of Sarov. People come from all over to pray at this site and find solace, believing that praying at this shrine can cure serious illnesses. The last stop in Borjomi Municipality is one of the most iconic Georgian monasteries in the area – the imposing Timotesubani Monastery.
Your first day finishes with a visit to Elkana Seed Ark Farm, an experimental demonstration plot in the village of Tsnisi, nine kilometres from Akhaltsikhe. It specializes in indigenous varieties of cereals and legumes, fruits and vines that farmers have grown in the area for centuries. Here you can taste dishes that were common in ancient times, the food our ancestors ate before our diet became mainly dishes made from imported crops. These indigenous plant varieties form the basis of ancient recipes, which are not likely to feature in a modern cookbook. Taste dishes made from grass peas, faba beans, chickpeas, cowpeas and lentils as well as bread baked with indigenous varieties of wheat (more information below).
Continue your trip to Akhaltsikhe where you can settle into the boutique Hotel Taba Hall. Enjoy a sunset dinner with a full spread of Georgian delicacies and hearty wines at one of the town’s best eateries, located atop the steep ramparts of Akhaltsikhe Castle.