Vakhtang Pilpani Folklore Tour
Creator: Vakhtang PILPANI
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FOLKLORE TOUR Vakhtang Pilpani offers a unique opportunity to get acquainted with the ancient and original culture of Svaneti.
Get acquainted not through the glass of a bus and guide’s stories, but let it go through your heart and merge with it for a moment.
It seems incredible, but it’s true – you will sing Svan folk songs.
Sing a cappella.
Georgian polyphonic song – this is what the whole world admires.
Few would dare even try to sing like that – this seems to be some kind of divine privilege of the peoples of Georgia.
But you are lucky!
The artistic director of the Svan folk ensemble “RIHO” Vakhtang Pilpani will be your mentor, and you will sing with him! 😄
Don’t worry – he does not ban you in his tower with the condition “I will let you out when you start singing like Svans” – why should he feed you to the rest of your life.
You will sing, living the life of Svan people – while walking and riding horses in the surrounding villages, to meet with local people and visiting them in their homes.
You will sing at the abundant table of Vakhtang, covered with national dishes and decanters with wine.
Sing while “washing gold” in an ancient way in a mountain river.
You will sing while climbing to glaciers of the legendary Caucasian peaks.
But Vakhtang will not allow you to sing “each in his own way” – he will teach you to sing, not just yell!
You will visit the legendary village Ushguli.
In Mestia, you will visit the house-museum of the unsurpassed mountaineer Mikhail Khergiani.
The Queen of England awarded him the title “Tiger of the Rocks”.
Evtushenko, Vizbor and Vysotsky wrote and sang about him.
You will be like honey in nuts – live the life of Svans, singing Svan songs.
And by the way, singing is good for health – follow us on social networks and you will understand why …)
Duration of the Tour
The duration of the tour can be adjusted to the desire of the group.
We offer three basic options:
4 days (5 nights) – Minimum
7 days (8 nights) – Advanced
10 days (11 nights) – Master Tour
For reference: The Australian group in the autumn of 2018 spent more than a month in the Vakhtang Tower!
You can see a short video about their tour below.
ROAD MAP – Master Tour option
(Shorter tours could be formed from elements of the Master tour at the request of the group)
DAY 1: TBILISI / KUTAISI / BATUMI – ZUGDIDI – MESTIA
Meeting in the city / airport departure to Svaneti.
The road to Svaneti is not short, so we will make several stops on our way.
Arrival in Zugdidi – the administrative center of the Samegrelo region.
Here you will visit the historical and architectural museum Dadiani Palace – the former residence of the rulers of Mingrelian.
The first exhibition here was prepared by Prince Samegrelo, David Dadiani in 1840. It presented archaeological finds from the ancient city of Nokalakevi.
Currently, the museum includes the palaces of Princess Samegrelo, Catherine Dadiani and Prince Samegrelo, Niko Dadiani, the court church and the botanical garden.
- LUNCH BY ROAD
- INGURI DAM
After Samegrelo we begin to drive up to the mountains of the Caucasus.
On our way we will stop near the Inguri dam, which is currently the second highest dam in the world – 271.5 m in height.
In the evening arrival at Mestia.
Our destination is located at the entrance to Mestia in the picturesque village of Lenjeri.
Vakhtang Pilpani, your mentor in Svan folk song and tour leader, will be waiting for you here in his house. His house – Nanila Guesthouse is in 2,5 km from Mestia.
Dinner is waiting for you here.
DAY 2: SMOOTH DIVE
10-00 – 13-00 Acquaintance with the history and traditions of the Svan song The 1st workshop is led by the artistic director of the RIHO folklore ensemble Vakhtang Pilpani
14-00 – 15-00 Lunch
15-00 – before dinner. Walk around Mestia, visit the ethnographic museum, the old Svan house-museum, the house-museum of the famous mountaineer Mikhail Khergiani.
DAY 3: LATALI VILLAGE
10-00 Departure to Latali village
The village of Latali is a village of gold prospectors.
In the old days, gold was “washed” here in an open way in a mountain river.
Here you can test your luck and use the old technology to wash 200 to 300 grams of yellow metal.
14-00 – 15-00 Lunch-congratulations to the lucky ones with wine, songs and dances.
Wine can optionally be replaced with a small amount of chacha 😊
15-00 – 19-00 Free time
19-30 Continuation of the banquet –
GALA DINNER WITH THE SINGERS OF THE “RIHO” ENSEMBLE.
With new toasts congratulations songs and dances.
Here, sitting at a friendly table, you will hear the famous Svan singing in the best performance.
DAY 4: CHALAADI GLACIER
Chalaadi Glacier descends from the legendary Ushba and its neighbors to a height of 1920 meters. Serious guys climbers go through it to Ushba.
But we do not offer you this extreme option. You will pass not difficult, but very beautiful trekking to the tongue of the glacier.
Having opened lunchboxes, you will have a bite there, sing some songs in a greeting to the glacier under the guidance of your artistic director, and lie down on the opposite course.
19-30 Dinner is waiting for you, as usual.
Those who have the strength – will also sing and dance.
DAY 5: USHGULI VILLAGE
10-00 Departure to Ushguli
Ushguli village is one of the highest mountain places where people live all year round.
About 150 families live there
There are no good roads, and in winter it is often impossible to reach the village.
But, perhaps, thanks to this, the life of old Svaneti remained almost intact.
The whole village with its towers is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Along the way there will be stops in the villages: Ipari and Kala, where you can see churches, richly painted with frescoes.
In Ushguli, you visit the church of Lamaria, which is a sacred place for local residents
Lunch and songs
Folklore workshops on the road are not long and last no more than an hour.
You will always be accompanied by your artistic director and mentor Vakhtang Pilpani.
19-30 Dinner with the continuation
DAY 6: CONTINUATION OF DAY 5. SHKHARA GLACIER
At the request of the group, overnight from the 5th to the 6th day can be organized in Ushguli.
Staying overnight in Ushguli, you get the opportunity to fully enjoy the local beauty and colouring – when the next time you visit the “heavens”?
In the morning, as always, breakfast, but now in a hospitable house in Ushguli. Then, easy walk to the glacier Shkhara.
Shkhara is the highest mountain of Georgia (5068 m).
19-30 Dinner at home – at the Nanila Guesthouse
DAY 7: MAZERI VILLAGE
10-00 Departure to Mazeri village
Mazeri is located on the way to the famous Becho Pass – the most famous pass connecting Russia with Georgia.
Once this land belonged to the princess Dadeshkeliani. Her property was crowned with a 10-story tower! The tower was destroyed in 1921, but its ruins can still be seen in the village.
Mazeri serves as the base camp for many of the most beautiful trekking routes and is famous for its views of the Dolra Valley.
Lunch and songs
19-30 Dinner at home
DAY 8: ZURULDI CABLE ROAD
10-00 Departure to cable road Zuruldi
14-30 Lifting. Picnic on the top, short folklore workshop
19-30 Dinner at home
DAY 9: VISITING THE HESHKILI VILLAGE
Hiking (2 hours) or horse ride to the village of Heshkili
For a group that has little experience in horse riding, horses can be fed.
And you, like real Svans, will go to Heshkili as a cavalry detachment.
Heshkili is famous for its views and wooden buildings.
There you will find a picnic and inspired choir singing.
19-30 Dinner at home
DAY 10: LOCAL CHARCHES AND FINAL WORKSHOP
Visiting local churches, final workshop.
Gala dinner, summing up the music and folklore course,
singing with the children of your mentor and art director.
Presentation of mementos.
DAY 11: DEPARTURE
Farewell singing, departure.
Prices for each particular tour are calculated individually on request.
The price largely depends on the duration of the tour, on the number of participants in the group, and on the chosen set of options.
The presentation of the tour was made on the basis of the real trip of the Australian group in the autumn of 2018.