Pimp My Weekend: Hiking Through Georgia's Untouched Mountains
Incredible scenery, great food, and fascinating history - 5 reasons why Georgia should be on your holiday list...
Georgia isn't a destination that immediately comes to mind for many a holidayer.
Even less so those looking for a long weekend break.
But with direct five hour flights from London, and smart, time-efficient itineraries like Much Better Adventures' four day hiking trip on offer, you can experience a trip of a lifetime, with just one and a half weekdays out of your diary.
Not too shabby, Georgia.
As if our Insta-perfect pictures weren't ticket-booking-y enough, here are five reasons why a long weekend in Georgia should zoom right to the top of your travel list...
1. The scenery is 100% ridiculous
First thing's first - don't be scared of the word 'hiking'.
Thankfully, you don't need to be Bear Grylls to make the most of Georgia's ridiculously scenic landscapes, and this four day trip offers a series of hikes that showcase the sights in spectacular style.
Day 1 offers a gentle, meandering stroll through thick pine forests and past roaring rapids to the eye-bogglingly impressive Chaladi Glacier (yes, you can lick it if you want), before stopping for much-needed lunch-fuel, and then tackling a much-higher wander (over 2,000 metres, with the first part thankfully eased by a 4x4 off-road drive up) that offers 360 views of the Caucaus Mountains.
Not only are the alpine-ish views incredible, but you'll also get the chance to nab the perfect Insta shot - a series of natural pools, on top of a mountain, reflecting other peaks right back atcha.
Day 2's a little more calve-burny, as you ascend Mount Ushba, and marvel at its beautiful waterfalls, woodland trails and utterly stunning views back at the valley below ('Pano' will become your best friend).
2. Learn about the region's fascinating history
Hands up who was taught all about Georgia's history in school.
Thankfully, your trip's very local guide is eager to offer friendly, informative history lessons as you hike - and it's pretty incredible.
Due to its location (close to Russia, and at the entry point to the Middle East), it's been invaded. A lot.
Incredibly, its last occupancy occurred in 2008, when the Russians stormed in. Even more incredible is to hear the stories of displacement, cultural steamrolling and trauma from the mouth of someone who actually lived through it.
As sobering as it is informative, it's a valuable intro to the region's geo-political scene, and one that's incredibly human.
Just as interesting are the many, many Svaneti Towers that dot the ancient town of Melia that you stay in. Dating back to the 12th century, there are over 60 throughout the valleys - cultural icons that have stood the test of time due to the valley's difficult-to-conquer safety bubble. Climbing to the top and staring out at the beautiful rolling hills certainly gives pause for thought - especially when you realise someone else was standing in your very spot over 900 years previously.
And then there are the incredible local dances and performances that accompany your dinner on the first night - as you stuff your face with all manner of cheesy, bready goodness (again, more later), you'll be treated to a collective of whirling dervishes - a group of men, young and old, dressed in traditional Georgian garb, who drum, chant and dance with such joy that it's impossible not to smile.
3. The wildlife is also 100% ridiculous
We really are not kidding when we say there are dogs, cows, wild horses, and pigs everywhere.
In the fields (cattle aren't held within clear borders, so they're free to roam everywhere), on the roads (you will play 'dodge a cow' more than once) and outside your accommodation.
Throw in grey wolves and deer in the woods, and bewilderingly friendly donkeys in the valleys (one followed us for around an hour as we wandered along a stream), and it's every Dr. Dolittle's dream.
4. There ain't no food party like a Georgian food party
The food. My God, the food.
You will quickly discover that the Georgians like an array of ingredients - parsley, walnuts, peaches, literally all of the meats, caviar (we were offered some for breakfast), bread and cheese.
Lots of bread. Lots of cheese.
Most of these ingredients combine in the classic Khachapuri - a gooey, warm cheesy bready mess that's every foody's dream, and every dietician's nightmare.
5. There are so many other reasons to go back
We explored the area in the height of Summer for a long weekend, but the region offers a tantalising array of reasons to go back another time.
From the ski resorts that rival Europe's best, to the spectacular beaches bordering the Black Sea, it offers so much more than a long weekend can offer.
In the immortal words of Ray Charles, visit once, and you'll have Georgia On Your Mind for a very, very long time.
MTV Travelled With... Much Better Adventures offer adventure holidays like a 'Trek The Republic of Georgia in 4 Days' trip from just £406. MTV flew with Wizz Air, who offer return flights from London Luton to Kutaisi from £67.