Touring in Georgia (and Armenia maybe?)

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  • Hi!

    Trying to plan a trip cycle touring in Georgia (and Armenia if it makes sense to.) Looking for anyone that has been before for any advice?

    Most likely to be 3ish weeks in August. Flying in with bikes and taking everything for wild camping.

    Thanks in advance!

    Ben

  • My turn to do a call out for advice...flying in to Tbilisi early June (Georgian Airways) and flying out two weeks later from Kutaisi (Wizz Air). Looking for road and gravel but keen to avoid too much in the way of hike a bike. Advice gratefully received

  • Can't help massively, but did go to Georgia last year and hired a car. Roads are generally very good, Tbilisi's a great city and the bulk of the country is pretty hilly. Actually, very hilly. Drivers aren't too bad, but don't think I saw a single cyclist.

    Roads turn to shit the moment you enter Armenia.

  • My friend wrote that, was just about to post it in here!

  • Am coming to the end of a couple of weeks in Georgia, the majority of which has been cycle touring. I'll get some photos up when I'm back in Blighty but wanted to get some thoughts in whilst memories are clear.

    I arrived in very late May through June and it's blazing hot, even in the mountains with a bit of a battle to keep the fluid intakes up. That being said, I haven't been properly rained on once so swings and roundabouts. When I was on the road, I was typically up before 6 so I could be on the road before the heat starts cranking.
    Tbilisi is an interesting city but definitely puts cyclists and pedestrians much lower down the pecking order than cars, trucks and buses.
    Don't count on too much in the way of well set up bike shops outside Tblisi and to a lesser degree Kutaisi
    I wild camped three nights and had no problems with this but I also got a lot out of staying in guest houses which are cheap and also with a supplement will leave you with a full belly. I can remember one evening in particular where there are as ample wine and chacha on top of a full spread of food most of which I'd imagine was produced by the hosts or locally sourced.
    I was keen to ride it up to Kazbegi but the Georgian Military Road is not particularly user friendly with lots of trucks and mini buses heading up. I made it much of the way bit didn't fancy battling the last stretch with a full load and lots of close passing heavy vehicles.
    I opted to cycle west but to be honest, I'd have probably been better using the Georgian railways as the motorway is about the only option unless you want to head much further south due to the proximity of the South Ossetia border.
    I've got a soft spot for Soviet era design and iconography and there's no shortage of that in Georgia. Particular favourites where Chiatura (mining town in steep sided valley with old school cable cars) and
    Tskalbuto (old spa town with many of the resorts now in major state of disarray)
    Major part of my trip was a loop around the Svaneti region heading through Mestia, Oshguli and ultimately over the Zagari Pass. Mestia and Oshguli have lots of tower houses which you may well have seen pictured from people's trips to Georgia. They are iconic but after the relative serenity of solo cycle touring, I found these tourist hubs not so much to my liking
    The latter can be a bit hit and miss as to whether you can pass through due to snow but was clear for bicycles and 4x4s by the time I passed through
    Passing through Lower Svaneti after descending from the Zagari Pass was the highlight of my trip with amazing mountain vistas and relatively unspoilt wilderness
    Speaking of which, agriculture tends to be much more small scale compared to the UK and I'm guessing they use a whole lot less pesticides given how many insects (butterflies in particular) I see flying around.
    Locals particularly outside tourist centres are really friendly. I was plied with beer and chacha by Georgia shepherds, invited to come and stay at a family home and had ice cream bought for me...this from people who obviously have a lot less disposable income than me.
    Cycling isn't particularly big among the locals but I did meet cycle tourists, some just visiting Georgia, others on longer trans continental routes
    Due to trying to sort out a box to fly back to London, I'm spending a few days in Kutaisi but the city is pretty unremarkable in the scheme of things

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Touring in Georgia (and Armenia maybe?)

Posted by Avatar for ferriswheeler @ferriswheeler

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