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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Georgia: The High Caucasus

Tour Information

Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Georgia. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they take this tour. Although we do our best to make sure what follows here is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants, and whose contents supersedes any information contained here.

TRAVEL TO GEORGIA: This tour is organized by our British company, Sunbird, and starts and ends in London. The cost of the group flights between London and Tbilisi is included in the tour cost. We strongly urge that you join the tour in London, as it removes a range of possible problems that might occur if you attempt to meet the group in the tour country. You can choose, however, to make your own travel arrangements to Tbilisi; you would receive a corresponding discount in the tour cost should you decide to do this. Please read the Important Travel Information for Participants on Sunbird Tours here.

ENTERING GEORGIA: A valid passport is required for US citizens traveling to Georgia. At the time of writing, US citizens do not need a visa for visits of less than 90 days. For up-to-date information on entry requirements, contact the Embassy of Georgia at (202) 387-2390 or visit the Embassy of Georgia website. Your passport should be valid for at least six months after the date the tour ends.

MAP AND COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can view maps of Georgia in the University of Texas series here. You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information here, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Georgia here.

LANGUAGE: Few people speak English in Georgia, but a translator will accompany us throughout the tour.

CLIMATE: We may experience a wide range of conditions on this tour. Much of our time will be spent in the mountains, where the weather is unpredictable. We could experience bad weather with rain or snow and very low temperatures, or the weather could be quite warm at times. It should be very warm away from the mountains around Tbilisi and in the southeast.

PACE OF TOUR AND DAILY ROUTINE: This tour will require some physical effort, and participants should have a good degree of fitness and be prepared for some occasional discomfort. As we spend most of the tour in a mountainous region, uphill walking is inevitable. How much we need to do depends on the weather conditions and the snow line. We will be walking over grassy and rock-strewn hillsides at some point. This may involve some quite steep inclines, and participants who wish to take part in these walks should be sure-footed and comfortable with heights: we may find ourselves looking out across dramatic vistas from a great height. Some participants will find a lightweight metal walking pole useful.

We can certainly expect to find ourselves walking over snow at some point, although this will usually be small patches; we do’nt expect to spend long periods trekking across snow fields. On all walks there will be no rush and there will be plenty of time for breaks. We may reach altitudes of 9,000-10,000 feet. Our accommodation at Kazbegi is at around 6,500 feet.

HEALTH: Biting insects are scarce, but a few day-flying mosquitoes may occur locally. Insect repellent will provide adequate protection.

Tap water is all right to drink, but to be safe you should drink bottled water, which, along with soft drinks and beer, is widely available. It is a good idea to bring medicine for diarrhea and minor stomach upsets.

The Centers for Disease Control provide detailed updates and alerts for international travelers here. Make certain that your routine vaccinations are up to date, and consult your physician well in advance of traveling for advice on additional vaccinations recommended by the State Department or the CDC. Bring an adequate supply of any personal or prescription medicines, as they may be difficult or impossible to obtain in Georgia.

Note that any health information provided here is gleaned by WINGS from websites dedicated to traveler’s health. Please consult your own physician and the website of the Centers for Disease Control for further information.

ACCOMMODATION: In Kazbegi, we’ll be staying in a new hotel where each room has its own bathroom. In Tbilisi, we stay in a modern hotel. At Chachuna we stay in new cottages; each room has its own bathroom; note, though, that electricity here is provided by a generator and is not available at all hours.

FOOD: The food of Georgia is similar to that of Turkey. Though meat does feature in most main meals, these are usually accompanied by a variety of vegetable dishes. Some of the dishes can be spicy. There will be plenty of opportunity to sample the world-famous Georgian wines.

DRESS: Dress is informal throughout. Shorts are not recommended in rural areas.

TRANSPORT: Transportation will be by minibus or four-wheel-drive vehicles. There are a few long drives to and from Kazbegi, all of them broken up with many stops for birding. Participants must be able to ride in any seat in the tour vehicles; the leader will arrange a seating rotation.

SMOKING: Smoking is not allowed in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. Note that smoking is an extremely common habit in Georgia, and we are sure to find ourselves in the presence of local people who will be smoking. A dislike of smoking is sometimes regarded as a western affectation.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF WINGS AND SUNBIRD TOURS: Please take a moment to read the WINGS Terms & Conditions. This section contains important information about how we conduct tours, e.g., what is included in the tour price, refund and cancellation policies, pace of the tours, and other information that will help you prepare.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: A more complete General Information for Tours to Georgia will be sent to each registrant on receipt of booking. Final information with instructions for meeting the group, hotel addresses, etc., will be mailed about three weeks before trip departure. Other news will be communicated as necessary. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Updated: June 2013