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Georgia - Gudauri (Caucasus)

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Got back from Georgia yesterday morning... So here's my trip report...

 

Sunday evening (Feb 24) left Riga in a plane to Tbilisi.

Monday morning (Feb 25) at 4:00 AM arrived in Tbilisi. No problems with transfer - our driver was already waiting for us in the airport. Two hours of very sweet dreams and alarm clock rings...

5 days of skiing waiting for us....

 

Now about the Gudauri ski resort - there are 3 levels of lifts:

1) Bottom - slow 3 seated chair lift (Blue)

2) Middle - fast chairlift and a gondola which make an X over the main ski area (Red)

3) Top - a separate chair lifts on two peaks. I wouldn't call them fast. (Black / Red)

 

It's not a big ski resort - if the weather is fine, you can ski all groomers during a single day. Total vertical - 1km

 

We got full set of weather:

Monday - cloudy with sun

Tuesday - Fog

Wednesday - 100% clear sky

Thursday - Snowing all day long

Friday - Powder

 

We didn't take our boots and skis with us. Rental costs for a full set - 14 to 20$ per day. Boots were wet, skis were scratched and haven't seen wax for ages. I suggest to take your equipment with you... At least boots.

 

Apres ski - nothing. One store where you can buy drink and snacks for the evening.

Skiers/Snowboarders - 50/50

Heliskiing is available - they were flying around all the time.

 

Now pictures...

Monday morning - First chair lift (the slow one)

Tuesday morning - breathtaking view from very top :). Clouds came upwards and it became a foggy day.

Wednesday - a perfect day in mountains. A few hotels, apartment houses and a vilage. That's entire ski resort... But it grows very fast.

Mountains...

The steepest part is left ungroomed with "Avalanche danger" signs.

The dark dots are lifts... Bottom station for top lift

And top station of top lift. Take a little walk and draw your own line :)

 

 

Thursday - fog and snowing

Friday - some powder.. already melting at the bottom.

Above the ski lift X.

Ques? This is what you see on a powder day :)... But these were working days... It gets more crowded during hollidays.

 

As for skiing - It's OK... Alps have bigger ski resorts.

As for service - It's OK... But nothing special

As for hospitality - Georgia rocks. I haven't experienced anything like this in hotels in Austria, Greece, Slovakia, Iceland. But... with growing number of big hotels, things are getting worse... Take a look on small, family owned hotels.

 

Food, wine and stronger alcohol is another story. You won't loose weight there :)

Costs for 2 persons for 5 days:

550$ Hotel with breakfast and supper

100$ transfer to hotel

40$ transfer back to Tbilisi with other skiers in our van

500$ Plane tickets

200$ Lift tickets

160$ Ski rent

100$ dinner on mountain

 

Will I return? Sure I will :)

post #2 of 8

Wow nice pics , im not gonna lie to ya i had to get out google maps to figure out where that was. Seems to me its cheaper than going to a Mega resort here in the states
 

post #3 of 8

Thanks for the window into a whole different world of skiing.

D1

post #4 of 8

Nice report! That area has intrigued me for a while, love reading and seeing pics. Beautiful mountains. Where did you travel from? 

 

For those that might not have seen it, Salomon Freeski TV did a video about heliskiing the Caucasus earlier this season. For the time being, the operation is using the former Soviet Cold War hideout as lodging. One of the coolest ski stories I've ever seen: http://www.salomonfreeski.com/us/freeski-tv/season-06-episode-04.html

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Good morning... it is 8 am here smile.gif
I took a direct flight from Riga, Latvia with Air Baltic. They have sales almost every few month. Cheap flight to Riga is Ryanair or the same Air Baltic.
The most popular vehicle for transfer is small Mitsubishi 4x4 van. It has seats for 7 passengers. Technical inspection for cars was cancalled years ago. We had a van what was almost falling apart. Taxis have no licensing either. Its just a way for many people to earn some money. Starting taxi price for a tourist is 2 to 3 times higher than regular. You have to negociate. It is 120 km from Tbilisi to Gudauri so 100$ was a reasonable price for transfer.
I stayed in hotel Shamo in Gudauri. It is located in the vilage below Gudauri ski resort. The rooms are small but with a toilet and shower. It is family owned and they treat guests like they are family members. You can eat as much as you want. Food is traditional Georgian. They have had some bad experience with English speaking tourists. Breaking furniture and waking everyone is not a must when you're drunk. wink.gif
We spent 4 more days in Tbilisi. I'll try to write a small report about it too.
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

We stayed in Tbilisi for 4 days. Visited museums, churches. Most of tourism objects are related to religion. All museums are closed on mondays.

Visited some restaurants in the evening. You have to open your mind for food culture - chicken hearts and liver, cow tongue, hinkali, pikled flowers and so on... Home made wine, cognac, chacha, beer... Don't hesitate to agree if someone recommends you to try anything.

The other not so bright part is beggars. They are near all tourist objects and paths. Mostly women with infants, children alone or old people asking to give some money. So be prepared for that.

It's a good idea to leave Gudauri and go to Tbilisi for Saturday and Sunday, if you plan to stay longer than a week. You will avoid crowd and drunk locals on mountain and see the city.

Tbilisi is not a place for shopping. They have very few supermarkets.

 

This is Mtsheta. A must see place if you visit Georgia.

Evening sun over Tbilisi

Tbilisi Holy Trinity Church.

Some improvisation on construction ... No control from institutions on such things.

post #7 of 8

Thanks for the follow up! What a cool combination of town and mountains. Now I want to go even more! 

post #8 of 8

I have been to Tblisi. It was in 1979 when the Soviet Union still existed and was regarded as the "Evil Empire." Fascinating place. I have picture of an old fellow seated at a side walk table selling tickets for the state lottery. I did not get how a lottery figured into Karl Marx's plan for a socialist utopia. And then I remembered the opening line of "Animal Farm," which went something like, "all the animals are equal. But some are more equal than others."

D1


Edited by deliberate1 - 3/8/13 at 12:17pm
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