and head to a place where wine is a valid breakfast choice, 'breathtaking' describes more than the mountains, and time strums to the beat of a panduri player.
on a cultural immersion tour filled with monasteries, mountains and music (and somehow, Dr. Dre)
You know where Eastern Europe meets the Mediterranean?
Georgia's like right there. Sandwiched between Russia and Turkey, she's the motherland of carbs & melty cheese. #getinme
While Georgia was once a part of the Soviet Union, she’s very independently NOT Russian.
Georgia has her own extremely distinct language, heritage, cuisine, and a history that involves Persia, the Ottoman Empire, and the Silk Road. (So. Culturally. Rich.)
Georgia lies mostly within the Caucasus Mountains between Europe and Asia.
The Greater Caucasus forms a natural border between Russia to the north, with the lesser Caucasus dividing Georgia from Turkey and Armenia to the south. The west ends at the Black Sea and the east, at Azerbaijan.
So yeah, this Georgia is not in the USA
We're not talkin' peach cobbler on your mama's porch. No ma'am. But if you're familiar with southern hospitality, you'll have an idea of the rush of warmth and welcoming you're about to experience.
I don't know how to prepare you for the Caucasus mountains themselves. Spin on your heel anywhere near the Greater Caucasus and you'll be stunned by the views.
You’ll use words like lush, serene, and rustic. Maybe even whisper “jaw-dropping” and “soul-nourishing”. (I firmly believe the FDA would approve a trip to Georgia for its mental health benefits.)
Like drinking wine as the Georgians do: straight from a ram's horn, arms entwined with your newest BFFs.
or gnawing off sweet chunks of churchkhela (which looks like a candle but tastes of walnuts and grapes) near ancient aqueduct arches.
or dancing with new friends until after midnight... because what else do you do when you've got a monastery for a backdrop, and musical prodigies jamming out on Georgian folk instruments (to Dr. Dre)?
The pandemic travel bubble is about to burst and avoiding the crowds is going to be like outrunning hornets. They'll be EVERYWHERE.
And Georgia's not France or Italy. It's a rising star in Europe. Meaning early adopter travelers are clue-ing in and numbers are rising from here.
Now is the time to visit and still capture that untainted, "all this... for ME?" feeling. Before Big Corps like Expedia and Four Seasons gentrify the raw culture away.
Remember what happened to Iceland 5-10 years ago? Almost overnight it became THE destination. Now the best spots there require reservations and limit daily entries.
Which is great for sustainability, not so much for intimate experiences.
Most people - and their pent-up wanderlust - will spring for beaches and cocktails and plastic loungers by a pool. Relaxing, sure. But far from bonfire-story worthy.
This trip to Georgia will be like having the entire country to ourselves.
And we'll likely NEVER have another global travel opportunity like this. Next year will bring back the sardines squabbling over tables on the terrace.
I’ve spent months exploring, researching, and curating under-the-radar immersion adventures for you in Georgia.
My trips are hand-crafted to bring you the full scope of a culture, stopping places others can't or don't even know about.
The cherry on top? Getting to see it all without the crowds that grow each year.
Because one-of-a-kind experiences aren’t enough. Memories are made with people. The right people. You know what I mean.
Top-shelf people who respect your privacy and start stellar conversations. Group dynamics can make or break a trip. That's why we make sure everyone's a good fit for these types of culturally immersive experiences before we finalize the guest list.
You're getting years of expert reconnaissance, relationship-fostering, and lowkey travel spycraft. All rolled into 10 days. Your itinerary is designed with enough free time to absorb every nuance, dig deep into a new culture, and enjoy the heck out of it. It's also full enough that you return home with no regrets.
None of this tourist restaurant crap where they're trying to make a buck by getting you in and out. No faded menus with pictures or sad iceberg lettuce lunches. It's all the real deal here baby. Your meals are made with love, very often in the homes of locals. And the restaurants? We'll never let you eat anywhere less than memorable.
When you travel with us, you're a name and a face we remember, not a booking reference. Once you're in, you're IN. You get preferential booking and first dibs on all future trips. There are plenty of perks for being part of the inner circle. If you know, you know.
Remember the whole Travel Fam thing? We mean it. Need more travel info? A packing list? Flight advice? Whether or not you should bring that third suitcase (answer: probably not, unless it's just for wine). We're here for you if you need anything. (3 doors down, room #12. The password's "cheese curds with gravy.")
We take you places where your dollars are invested directly into the community, not skimmed into global corporations’ coffers (looking at you, Airbnb experiences). We're always striving to DIRECTLY and positively impact the regions and people we visit.
We also have a policy to work with women-owned businesses first, and then family-owned businesses so that we can contribute to the autonomy of the individuals we visit. This means you feel good about it, locals benefit, and they love sharing the finest of their culture with us even more.
Well that's an issue. But you have me - Juliana Dever - and that's almost as good!
When I fall in love with a country, I dig in and start scouting. I criss-cross a region, wander off the beaten path, and make loads of friends.
I sit and visit with people, learn from them, and ask them if they’d like to share any favorite spots that I can share with you when I bring you back.
I have an innate knack for cutting through travel noise and getting past hollow theme-park-like tourist traps. What can I say? It's just a superpower of mine.
I've created this Georgian adventure and I want to take you with me so you can connect with the culture in ways you wouldn't if you went by yourself.
If you're going to spend all that time and money to experience a destination, it needs to be meaningful.
I've had tour operators tell me I don't need to work so hard to bring you the little gems because you "won't know what you're missing."
But I will. That's why my itineraries are so extensive.
And I know you - that's not why you and I travel. We want to explore to the fullest and really understand a culture.
We love to make real, authentic human connections (and eat all the food, too. Ahem.).
That and the most awesome people go on my adventures, so having a blast traveling with each other is all but inevitable. You'll have more fun with your new traveling companions than binge-ing a season of The Good Place.
And Sarah, my destination manager, considers Georgia her spiritual homeland. She's a Georgian wine expert who has more connections than the London Underground.
(That's Sarah next to me in the other clay pot, or qvevri, an ancient Georgian vessel used to ferment wine...and store visitors until they agree to try chacha. Probably)
Our guides were born and raised in Georgia, and are at the top of their game. Natia, our tour manager, (the orange-haired force-of-nature in the middle, there) runs the Georgian guide certification program in Tbilisi.
But she and her small army of smart cookies also know all the nooks and crannies of this fascinating country personally because they grew up here.
Because of this, we're able to create experiences and introduce you to people you wouldn't have access to if you traveled here on your own.
You'll only get that kind of authentic adventure by traveling with locals, not by spending 17 hours reading reviews of the same 10 things on TripAdvisor.
"This is the 1st tour I've ever taken where I felt like I got an actual glimpse of how locals really live, instead of only seeing tourist stop highlights. I could've never done this on my own."
ONLY 12 people max + your host, Juliana Dever!
Culturally Immersive, Local Experiences, Guided, Fully Curated
And the Pillows?
Mix of 3* and 4* Boutique Hotels and Traditional Guest Houses
How Active Will it Be?
Easy-Moderate: Walking, optional trekking
My guides are local Georgians who are also fluent in English (among other languages)
Independent, kind, respectful, curious, absolutely inclusive, and a bit silly.
Do I Get Free Time?
75% planned, 25% your own explorations. (Or lazy gazing at the gawk-worthy scenery)
Georgia is a vegetarian's dream! We can accommodate any restiction except nut allergies.
"Loved loved loved it, so much fun, would 100% do another/more tours! Thank you for doing all of this!! It really was the trip of a lifetime!
Also loved that it was in a place most tourists don't go!!"
Your inclusive tour price covers all of this:
Does not include: Air travel, some independent meals, gratuities for guides, drivers and porters
*This happened last trip, but you know, it could happen to you too if you want. We just have to find a new drummer, the last one was taken. Results not guaranteed.
Our tour will kick off in the late afternoon. Meet the group for an introductory city walk followed by a rooftop wine reception and dinner at a traditional restaurant.
Meals: B, D
Start your morning with a more in-depth journey into Georgia’s history, then break for architectural walks or market tours and cooking classes.
Meals: B, L, D
We'll drive out to Kakheti, Georgia's premier wine region. You'll have the opportunity to get up close and explore the grounds of a very culturally important old monastery.
After our picturesque morning, we’ll relax over a wine and cheese tasting at one of our favorite wineries.
Meals: B, L
Today we visit the old capital of the region which is now an artisan village.
We'll have lunch at the home of a husband and wife winemaking couple, and visit a cave city carved from rock and abandoned thousands of years ago.
This night you're free to explore and enjoy dinner in Kutaisi which was once Colchis, known in Greek Mythology as the home to the Argonauts, Medea, and the Golden Fleece.
Meals: B, L
This is where you'll try and feast on homemade Samegrelian cuisine in between sips of her newest vintage of wine.
After a ride to the mountains, you can curl up in the hotel lounge and watch the sunset over the Greater Caucasus.
Meals: B, L
How you spend your day is up to you. Maybe you want to relax and with a book and a mountain view. Or perhaps you'll use your downtime to savor ginger tea or lattes in the local coffee shop, then explore the town on your own.
There's even an extremely good museum you can take in to further understand the high-elevation civilizations in these parts. Or you can...
Meals: B, D
If you want to pick up swirls of spices and intoxicating mixes to make your own Georgian food back home - this is the place! We’ll visit a local market in Zugdidi for an authentic sensory experience. We'll also have lunch in this old fortress town and try medók - a scrumptious multi-layered honey cake.
From there we'll continue on to the sparkling town of Batumi on the Black Sea. Chill out by the water or grab some of your new friends for dinner and rooftop cocktails.
Meals: B, L
I’d say this might be one of the most delicious days of your life, but that would be slighting the previous week of eating you’ve just done.
Oh yes, we're talking about the glorious salty sulguni cheese melted into a gondola of perfect chewy crusty bread then blazed golden in a wood-fire oven. Add an egg on top and then that dreamcatcher is delivered fresh and hot to you. In a treehouse. Because that's how I do Georgia.
Then another wine tasting. #sorrynotsorry
Meals: B, L
What do you want to do today? It's up to you. You can walk off that cheesy bread with exploration on foot through the eclectic mix of Batumi's architecture from Gothic to Post-Modern, Georgian to Italianate.
Dinner begins with a gondola ride to the mountaintop and ends in stories over dinner at a favorite local's spot.
Meals: B, D
We'll return to Tbilisi with some free time for you to revisit or explore more of the city and get those last souvenirs.
We'll be staying on the opposite river bank from the start of our tour so you won't miss a beat of the eclectic vibe of the Dry Bridge flea market, Fabrika food shops, or Agmashenebeli Avenue.
Meals: B, D
*activities subject to change
MEMBER OF / IN COMPLIANCE WITH
10 Day Culturally Immersive Tour to Georgia
Includes lodging, ground transportation, most meals, wine, professional guides, all planned activities, bonuses PLUS travel with Juliana Dever!
(Hi! Yes, I'll be there from our first 'hello' to the final - joyfully teary - 'goodbye'.)
“I loved every minute. It was so well organized, planned, and we had such great guides - it made this the best holiday of my life. I would definitely go on another CleverDever Adventure, it is worth every penny.”
Upgrade to a private room for the entire trip for only $720USD.
Just check the box single supplement box when you check out.
Traveling Solo but want to take advantage of the double occupancy rate?
Request to share a room with another single traveler upon checkout.
We will do our best to fulfill all share requests, however, we cannot guarantee a roommate.
Georgia is one of the few countries in the world open to vaccinated travelers.
However, If we must reschedule this trip due to COVID-19, CDA will reschedule you onto the future trip of your choice with *no* penalty or fees. More info here.
FOR YOU, MY GORGEOUS FENCE-SITTER
I'm here for you!
Book a free 15-minute call with me and we'll have a no-presh chat about whether this trip's for you.
Because I want you to be so happy (and happy travelers make better friends both off and on the road).
"As someone who has really never traveled, this trip was even more incredible than I thought it was going to be! We did unique, not touristy activities that really gave me an experience not a vacation."
Is it safe to travel to Georgia?
Yes. Georgia is a safe country, and in fact, rates higher in the Gallup Law and Order report than the United States. While you may have recently heard of Georgia in the news for having disagreements with Russia (an issue they've had for centuries), these have been largely peaceful in recent years.
For anyone that has seen travel advisories issued by their local government, please note that they affect disputed territories that we will neither cross into nor travel near.
What city do you fly into?
The main capital city of Tbilisi is the most accessible to fly into. It’s also where we’ll start our tour. Please note that almost all flights arrive around 3 - 4 in the morning. But don't worry! My team will meet you at the airport and drive you to your hotel in the city center where your room will be waiting for you. You can crawl into bed in your clothes. I won't judge.
What's the currency? What is the best way to get it?
The Georgian Lari is the national currency. As a very general guideline, you can expect roughly a 2 to 1 exchange rate with the US Dollar and 3 to 1 with Euro. Laris can easily be obtained at any ATM, including the airport when you land and the lobby of your hotel. You won't need any Lari immediately as my team is picking you up and you can tip the driver at the end of the tour.
Is the tour open to everyone globally?
Yes! Everyone’s invited!
Will I need a visa?
Most travelers to Georgia do not need a visa including visitors from North America and the European Union, however, be sure to double-check that it is not required for your country of residence here.
One other thing, Georgia absolutely requires a valid passport, so make sure you have one and that it’s valid for at least six months after the finish of our trip. Go check your passport and be sure the expiration date is December 1, 2021 or after.
What language do they speak in Georgia?
Georgian. Many people in cities and towns speak English. Most people under 35 speak Georgian and English, while folks over 35 tend to speak Georgian and Russian. But we’ll also have several Georgian guides with us to help prevent anything getting lost in translation!
What's the climate like?
On the coast, it can be mild and rainy but during the summer there are large amounts of sun. In the mountains, it will be cooler. For the most part, the areas that we will be visiting in the central plains will be sunny, nice and warm. Expect highs around 85°F/ 29.5°C and lows of 65°F/18°C everywhere but in the mountains where it is typically about 10 degrees cooler.
How should I dress?
Georgia is very western with respect to dress, so you don’t have to make any special considerations when visiting other than dressing for the weather. Because we will be going up to the mountains, you'll need light layers and a rain jacket. We’ll also be doing some hiking, so you’ll want appropriate footwear for both terrain and comfy shoes for city walking.
Don’t worry, I’ll send everyone who’s going with me a suggested packing list. 😉
What's the food like? How can food restrictions be accommodated?
You can get the rundown from this post that I wrote specifically about Georgian food. But expect meals filled with wonderful vegetable dishes, lots of cheesy bread (I know you all can’t WAIT to try that cheesy bread!), dumplings, and I’m told there are some great meals if you eat meat as well.
We can accommodate for celiac, vegan, vegetarian, kosher and other food restrictions. Please note Georgians cook very heavily with walnuts and sunflower oil so nut allergies are very difficult to accommodate. Therefore we do not take liability for this.
What's the wine like?
I hope you like wine. 😍🍷 This is a trip to a wine-lovers paradise.
We will be visiting several winemakers during this trip and trying lots of wines. The reds are deep and powerful, the whites can be fruity, fragrant and lively and the ORANGE wine…oh it’s my favorite by far. It might take a few tastings to appreciate it, but it just might become your all-time favorite!
How much hiking will we be doing?
Once we drive up to the mountains you can take a half-day hike in Mestia, or opt to go via 4x4s even further up into Ushguli, the most remote settlement in Georgia, for a full day hike to Shkara Glacier. How much or how little is up to you.
How's the Internet?
Georgia is very well wired and many cafes and museums have free Wi-Fi if you ask for the password. You can also very easily purchase a Georgian SIM cards at the start of the tour to have connection between hotels.
Will you (Juliana) be on tour with us?
Yes, though this may be the last year I can. My tour and acting schedule is filling up like me after forcing down one last dumpling. So, if you have your heart set on traveling with me to Georgia - do it this is the year.