Diane Gaydos 13/08/2017 | Posted in Creeking, Internationalisation, Karma, rivers, Trip Reports, Trips, United States, Whitewater, WW Disciplines
Why are you spending two weeks in Georgia? This was a common and recurring question leading up to our most recent trip. Living in Tennessee, most people understandably associate Georgia with the bordering state directly south. Patiently we would explain that our trip was actually to the Republic of Georgia, home of the Caucasus Mountains.
Preparing for this trip, we realized that a lot of people, including myself, know very little about this region. The Republic of Georgia is located in Eastern Europe or Western Asia, between Turkey and Russia. The Caucasus Mountains are located between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and are the tallest mountain range in Europe. The highest peak is Mount Elbrus, 18,510 ft above sea level. For comparison, the highest peak in the Alps is Mont Blanc, which is 15,781 ft above sea level. There are two mountain ranges in this system, the Greater Caucasus in the north and the Lesser Caucasus in the south. Our trip included both.
The next most common question I encountered was how did we become interested in exploring this region. Truthfully, this was through my husband Daniel. While kayaking in Europe, we met Tomass Marnics and learned of his kayaking company Two Blades Adventures. Daniel then learned that Tomass’ business partner, Egor Voskoboynikov, who we also met in Europe, led kayaking trips in the Republic of Georgia with his wife Alona Buslaieva. After seeing photos of this amazing beautiful area, we were intrigued. There is almost no English beta for this area, and without speaking either Georgian or Russian, it would be very difficult to travel remotely in this country. Therefore, we decided to join Egor and Alona with Two Blades Adventures to travel and explore the area.
Daniel and I decided to fly out our Jackson Karmas so we would be ready for anything. It’s always a hard decision as it’s no simply task to fly with a kayak, paddle, on-river gear, off-river gear, and camping gear. However, on such a short (2 week) trip, it takes out the variable of having to get used to a new kind of boat. Our Karma’s are so reliable that we instantly are ready for anything, which we were very glad for because our trip timing ended up with high water. We had a great need for immediately being comfortable in our boats, taking powerful strokes and having a boof stroke ready around every corner.
With Egor and Alona’s help, we were able to explore much of the region in a relatively short amount of time. On a 2 week trip, we kayaked 17 different sections of rivers. One of the many highlights was having dinner with host families, who cooked amazing and seemingly never ending local feasts. Any time we almost finished a dish it would be completely refilled, leaving the table as full as when we started several hours later. Another highlight was seeing the beautiful snowcapped mountains in the high valleys of the Caucasus and kayaking glacier melt waters. The trip ended with one of the best parts, an evening at the Turkish baths in Tbilisi. We had never felt so clean after a 2-week kayaking trip!
Overall, this was a very well organized and reasonably priced trip to a region that would be very difficult to otherwise visit. The scenery and paddling were both top notch. I highly recommend a trip with Two Blades Adventure. Check out their website at http://two-blades.com/kayak.
~Diane Brasuell (Gaydos)