Bird’s-Eye View of Breathtaking Georgia

Bird’s-Eye View of Breathtaking Georgia

We’ve always loved Georgia, admiring its fabulous food, spine-tingling music, and craggy mountains. Its warm Mediterranean climate, deep black soil, saw-toothed mountains and Black Sea coast combine to make Georgia a Garden of Eden, overflowing with wine and rich in culinary flair – everything you could wish for in a destination.

Recently, The Atlantic published 20 stunning drone photos over Georgia. Taken in the glow of morning and evening light, they are unbelievably breathtaking, and show the kaleidoscopic beauty of Georgia’s mountain villages, urban panoramas, old stone structures, and contemporary life.

These  photos might be some of the last legal drone photos of parts of Georgia, because in September 2017, Georgia put in place restrictions on drone photography over certain areas of the country.

Go ahead and contemplate them. We’ll wait. (Tip: If you open the Atlantic article in a new window, you’ll be able to toggle back and forth for more info on the places in the photos.)

You’re back? Good: we want to tell you about the numerous ways we can help you find yourself at the center of most of these photos.

Tbilisi, Georgia. Photo: Jake Smith

Metekhi Bridge into Tbilisi’s Old Town, built over the first wooden bridge,Tbilisi, Georgia
Photo: Jake Smith

Photo #2, Tbilisi

The capital of Georgia, Tbilisi is a great place to begin an exploration of the country. Modern life flows seamlessly around medieval monuments, new farm-to-table restaurants introduce you to fresh Georgian cuisine, café culture flourishes, the local wine flows, and world-class museums sweep you off the streets.

(click on photo to see larger version)

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Choose one of these MIR itineraries; each offers a taste of Tbilisi life:

Photo #3, Kazbegi

At over 6,000 feet, Kazbegi is a small alpine village set in a monumental bowl of mountain peaks, including the Caucasus’ highest, Mt Kazbek. Perched on a hill above the village are the 14th century church of Tsminda Sameba (Holy Trinity) and its bell tower, their silhouettes dark against the mountain.

A quintessential sunrise as day breaks over Mount Kazbek and Tsiminda Sameda Church near Kazbegi, Georgia Photo credit: James Carnehan

Day breaks over Mount Kazbek and Tsiminda Sameda Church near Kazbegi, Georgia
Photo credit: James Carnehan

Visit Kazbegi and Tsminda Sameba church on these MIR itineraries:

The village of Kazbegi (Stepantsminda) is dwarfed by glacial Caucasus mountains Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

The village of Kazbegi (Stepantsminda) is dwarfed by the Greater Caucasus mountains
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Photo #4, Katskhis Pillar

Katskhis Pillar is a natural limestone pillar nearly 140 feet high, where the remains of a tiny medieval church and hermitage were surveyed by a research expedition in 1944. The buildings testify to the presence, for perhaps hundreds of years, of Christian ascetic monks called Stylites, who sought to live, pray and preach from atop pillars.

Katskhi Pillar in Georgia. Photo: Kees Sprengers

You can see the small structures balanced on top of Katskhis Pillar in Georgia
Photo: Kees Sprengers

At the top of this pillar, measuring some 1,600 square feet, there’s room for the church, hermit cells, a crypt for the dead, and eight qvevri, the earthenware vessels used to make and store wine. One monk lives up here.

You can see this pillar (from below) on the small group tour:

Katskhi Pillar in Georgia. Photo: Kees Sprengers

Comfy and cozy atop Katskhis Pillar in Georgia
Photo: Kees Sprengers

Photos #8 & 16, Omalo

Omalo is the largest and most important village of Tusheti, the most remote and mountainous of Georgia’s regions. It’s located on a plateau that connects the region’s three valleys, which are dotted with smaller villages.

The village is the terminus of the vertiginous Pshaveli-Abano-Omalo road, which the Tusheti shepherds traverse twice a year with their flocks. Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty documented this migration with a series of incredible photographs.

The New York Times recently published a fascinating photo gallery following the installation of internet to this remote off-the-grid locale (see the photos and article). 

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You can get to Omalo on this new-for-2018 small group tour:

Tusheti, Georgia. Photo: Shota Lagazidze

You could simply sit here all day, in Tusheti, Georgia
Photo: Shota Lagazidze

Photos #9 & 10, Chiatura

Crumbling factories and abandoned mines haunt the town of Chiatura, its bluffs festooned with cable cars leading up to the town’s few functioning manganese mines.

Stop for photos at Chiatura on this small group tour:


Photo #13, Vardzia

12th century King Giorgi III began digging the caves at Vardzia as a stronghold against the Turks. Giorgi’s daughter, Queen Tamara, completed the complex and transformed it into a monastic center. Over time, earthquakes have altered the layout of the 3,000 caves and corridors that existed in Tamara’s time. Frescoes in the caves that remain represent the pinnacle of the Golden Age of Georgian painting; among them are portraits of King Giorgi and Queen Tamara.

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Explore Vardzia on one of these tours:

Cave town of Vardzia, Georgia

Climbing around Vardzia cave-town

Photo #14, Kutaisi

Kutaisi is an ancient city that served as an important merchant center on the route from Greece to India, and became the capital of Georgia from 978 until 1122. Today it’s a busy modern town with one of the best produce markets in the country.

Choose one of these MIR itineraries that travels to Kutaisi:

Gelati Monastery, Kutaisi, Georgia. Photo: Caucasus Travel

12th century Gelati Monastery, tucked into the hillsides of Kutaisi, Georgia
Photo credit: Caucasus Travel

Photo #15, Batumi

Batumi is the capital of the autonomous region of Ajara and the most important port and resort city on this section of the Black Sea Coast. It’s a lovely town with broad tree-lined streets and a leisurely pace where the locals drink coffee (considered the best in Georgia) at streetside cafés, consume the cheesy boat-shaped Ajaran khachapuri, and stroll the postmodern waterfront.

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Bite into a gooey Ajaran khachapuri in beautiful Batumi on these MIR itineraries:


The Adjara Highlands

The Adjara Highlands

More Proof (and Photos) of Georgia’s Appeal

 There’s a lot to love about Georgia:

And here are more reasons (and photos and videos):

Ananuri, Georgia

Travelers wearing traditional Georgian sheep’s wool hats in Ananuri, Georgia
Photo credit: Michel Behar

Travel with MIR to Georgia

MIR has more than 30 years of unmatched destination expertise and travel planning experience, hand-crafting tours to Georgia and the South Caucasus since 1986.

Be on the lookout for the places in these photos, and snap your own (from a down-low perspective) on these small group tours:

Chat with one of our destination specialists by email or by phone at 1-800-424-7289 to start planning your 2018 travels now.

Top photo: Rooftops of Signagi, Georgia. Photo: Jake Smith

PUBLISHED: January 24, 2018

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