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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 this tour. 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.

ENTERING GEORGIA: US Citizens need a passport valid on the date of arrival and containing at least one blank page for an entry stamp.  A visa is not required for stays of 90 days or fewer. 

Citizens of other countries may need a visa and should check their Georgian embassy.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information for Georgia at, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Georgia at

PACE OF TOUR: This tour may require some physical effort and participants should have a reasonable degree of fitness and be prepared for some occasional discomfort. As we spend half of the tour in a mountainous region, some uphill walking is inevitable. How much we need to do will depend a lot on the weather conditions and the snow line and the effect that has on the birds we are looking for. None of the walks are in any way dangerous but we may find ourselves looking out across dramatic vistas from a great height.  Some participants might find a lightweight, collapsible walking stick useful. 

We could find ourselves walking over snow at some point although this will usually be small patches - we do not expect to spend long periods trekking across snow fields, and this has not actually happened in the last seven years. We will however, be crossing a small scree slope and spending time standing on grassy slopes. There will be no rush on any of our walks, and there will be plenty of time for breaks. We may reach altitudes of 2500-3000m (8000-10,000 feet), although around 2100m (7000 feet) is more usual.

Mornings in Stepantsminda will start around 06:30, with coffee and optional early birding, followed by a sit-down breakfast around 09:00. Then we will go out birding for the day, taking a packed lunch with us. We are usually back at the hotel in plenty of time for some relaxation before dinner at 19:30 or 20:00. A similar schedule will prevail in Chachuna, with the exception that we may take advantage of the hot temperatures to have a sit down lunch in the ranch where we stay. There are four moderately long drives drives on this tour, from Tbilisi to Stepantsminda and back, then from Tbilisi to Chachuna and back. These drives are broken by either a picnic lunch or lunch in a café, and there will be several birding stops along the way. On the drive to Chachuna, the last 20 miles are along a track, from which the birding can be excellent.  

HEALTH:  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. 

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid. 

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations for Georgia can be found on the CDC’s  Travel Health website at

Elevation:  We may reach elevations of 8-10,000 feet. The accommodation at Stepantsminda is around 6,500 feet. 

Miscellaneous:  Tap water is basically safe but we recommend drinking bottled water, which along with soft drinks and beer, is widely available. 

Smoking:  Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

Note: Smoking is an extremely common habit in Georgia and we are sure to find ourselves on some occasions in the presence of local people who will be smoking. A dislike of smoking is sometimes regarded as a western affectation, although they have recently banned smoking in restaurants. 

ACCOMMODATION: In Stepantsminda we’ll be staying in a modern new hotel. Each room has its own facilities including a bathroom and the hotel is kept very warm. In Tbilisi we stay in a modern hotel. At Chachuna we stay in some new cottages which have en suite facilities for each room. However please note that the electricity here is from a generator and is only available after dark.  Also note that there are a  limited number of single rooms at Chachuna where we stay for two nights.

Internet and Mobile Phone Access: WiFi should be available in the hotels at Tbilisi and Stepantsminda, although it can be slow and unreliable. There is no WiFi at Chachuna. Phone signal is generally good throughout the country, although beware of excessive charges from your mobile phone provider. 

CLIMATE: The first part of the tour is spent at Stepantsminda in the mountains. Here we can expect some snow, low cloud and possibly rain at times, so you need to take suitable clothing such as waterproof jackets, woolly hats and gloves. Temperatures are likely to be between 0-100C (32-500 F), especially in the early mornings. When we leave Kazbegi we travel to the south-east corner of Georgia and will experience an improvement in the weather. It is likely to be hot (250 C or more) and sunny, so appropriate clothing such as sun hat and lightweight shirts are essential, although rain and cooler temperatures are still possible here. 

FOOD: The food of Georgia is similar to that of Turkey and although meat does feature in most main meals, these are usually served with a variety of vegetable dishes. The hotel at Stepantsminda makes an effort at providing vegetarian meals and these are usually good, although simple. On our last night we plan to go out to a restaurant in the old town for a traditional Georgian meal. Here there will also be an opportunity to sample some Georgian wine. 

Drinks:  Bottled water, a soft drink or a beer will be provided at lunch and dinner and bottled water will be available on our vehicle during the day. 

Food Allergies/Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

TRANSPORT: Transportation is in a minibus or possibly four-wheel drive vehicles. There are a few long drives to and from Stepantsminda but these are broken by stops for birdwatching.  Participants should be able to ride in any seat in tour vehicles.

Updated: 26 June 2018