Traveling to the Caucasus countries of Georgia and Armenia is a contrast between sophisticated world capitals with their café societies and great food, to central Georgia’s timeless vineyards, old world rural towns, and Armenia’s scenic mountain villages. Experience all that and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Mtskheta’s medieval monasteries, the Upper Svaneti villages, the Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery in Kutaisi, and the 1.8 million year old human skull of Dmanisi.
Sun. May 24 depart the United States or Europe for Tbilisi, Georgia. Note that from the United States it may take up to two full days of travel to arrive in Tbilisi.
Day 1 Tbilisi, Georgia Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel
Mon. May 25 arr. in Tbilisi, Georgia, early evening orientation meeting w/ cocktails and dinner (D)
Day 2 Tbilisi Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel
Tue. May 26 Today, discover the capital with a walking tour along Rustaveli Avenue, lined with Soviet Era style architecture of the opera house, cinemas, art galleries and museums, which contrasts the new futuristic architecture of the Theater, the Tbilisi Public Service Hall and the Peace Bridge. After lunch we cross the Kura River to photograph the Old Town with its dilapidated homes and ancient bathhouses. (B & L)
Day 3 Tbilisi-Sighnaghi-Telavi Chateau Mere
Wed. May 27 Today, we depart the capital for a 2-hour drive that takes us through the Kahetic region. This region is Georgia’s wine country, with fertile valleys surrounded by the spectacular Caucasus Mountains. Hundreds of different grapes are grown, with each village producing its own varietal. Our first stop is Pheasant’s Tears Winery for lunch and wine tasting, and a tour of its caves and vineyards. This renowned winery produces artisanal organic wines according to ancient Georgian traditions.
After our long leisurely lunch and winetasting, and photographing we continue on through the Kakheti region to our next vineyard and hotel, Chateau Mere. The family managed Chateau, is a stone castle with magnificent views of the Caucasus Mountains. The Chateau is known for producing several outstanding wines, and for its home style Georgian food. Tonight feast on traditional Georgian cuisine pared with Winiveria wines. (B, L, D)
Day 4 Telavi - Tbilisi Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel
Thur. May 28 our wine region photography tour continues with a visit to a local
Master of Georgian clay jars known as “Qvevri”, which are used for aging and storing wine underground. We next visit the wine cellar of the Alaverdi Cathedral for a wine tasting. The Monastery was founded by the Assyrian monk Joseph Alaverdeli, Joseph of Alaverdi. Located on the monastery property are vineyards and wine producing facilities, including ancient Qvevri. Today the monks produce wine and brandy. This evening we return to Tbilisi. (B & L)
Day 5 Tbilisi – Mtskheta- Gori – Kutaisi Bagrati 1003 Hotel
Fri. May 29 this morning we drive north to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Mtskheta group of churches. The former capital of Georgia, Mtskheta is at the cross road of the ancient trade routes. These historical churches are an outstanding example of medieval religious architecture in the Caucasus. We spend the morning photographing this charming medieval town with its Georgian Christian architecture. We then travel to the city of Gori, birthplace of Joseph Vissarionovich Jughasgvili, aka Stalin. We will visit the Stalin Museum and the Uplistsikhe, The Fortress of the Lord. The Fortress, founded in the 16C BC is an ancient town carved out of rock. The cave town covers almost 40,000 square meters, encompassing the lower, central and upper area. An exciting photographic opportunity! We end our day in the town of Kutaisi, famous for the ‘Golden Fleece’. (B, L, D)
Day 6 Kutaisi- Mestia-Ushguli Hotel Ushbu
Sat. May 30 Today, we drive north to the remote region of Svaneti, the highest inhabited area in the Caucasus. Its inhabitants the Svans are proud mountain people, with their white and black wool hats. We pass through the charming town of Mestia. The architecture of Mestia consists of typical Svan dwellings, fortified stone structures comprised of a tower and an adjacent house enclosed by a stonewall. Then, we drive further north to the isolated town of Ushguli. We will be the only foreigners in this extremely secluded mountain village. Ushguli means ‘Four Villages’ is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offering rare opportunities to photograph the stunning rugged landscape of mountains and waterfalls, and the mountain people with their traditional way of life. Tonight we stay amongst these villages in a local B & B. (B, L, D)
Day 7 Ushguli – Tbilisi Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel
Sun. May 31 Today, we continue photographing in Ushguli, hiking up the mountain to even more remote areas. We return to Tbilisi late this afternoon. (B, L)
Day 8 Tbilisi – Dmanisi, Georgia – Pushkino, Armenia Pushkino B&B
Mon. June 1 This morning we depart Tbilisi by van for our drive to Armenia. Along the route we stop at the archaeological site of Dmanisi, to photograph the superb skulls of Zezva and Mzia. These completely and perfectly preserved hominid skulls were discovered in 2005. Experts believe the fossilized bones date to about 1.8 million years ago and are the oldest indisputable outside Africa. A rare historic and photographic opportunity! Our last stop in Georgia is the spa town of Borjomi, famous for its volcanic salty mineral water. After we cross the Georgian Armenia border we drive to the village of Pushkino, where we spend the night. (B, L, D)
Day 9 Pushkino-Amberd Saghmosavank-Metsamor-Echmiadzin
Tue. June 2 Yerevan Marriott Hotel
This morning we drive through Aragatsotn Province stopping to photograph the medieval fortress of Amberd built on the slope of Mount Aragats. Amberd means a “fortress in the clouds” in Armenia. The Fortress complex includes a castle and church perched 2,300 meters above sea level. Our next site is the 13th century Saghmosavank monastic complex of unusual temples located atop the precipitous gorge carved by the Kasagh River. We end our day at the well-preserved Echmiadzin Cathedral Compound, with its majestic cupolas, wooden domes, and stunning rotundas with murals painted by Nagash Ovatan in 1720. We end our day in the capital Yerevan. (B, L)
Day 10 Yerevan-Garni-Geghard – Yerevan Marriott Hotel
Wed. June 3 Today, we drive east of Yerevan to the quaint village of Garni and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Geghard Monastery. Garni has an ancient history, and is best known for its fortress complex home to the Hellenistic Garni temple, a Parthenon-like structure. Nearby is the Garni Gorge, with well-preserved basalt columns carved out by the Goght River. The Monastery of Geghard is a unique architectural construction, being partially carved out of the adjacent mountain. The 4th century complex originally named Ayrivank, meaning “the Monastery of the Cave”, includes several churches completely carved out of the cliff rocks. Spend time photographing this noteworthy site. In the late afternoon we return to Yerevan. (B, L)
Day 11 Yerevan Marriott Hotel
Thu. June 4 Our last day in Armenia is spent exploring the snow capped Mount Ararat region, stopping to photograph the Khor Virap Monastery. According to the bible, Noah’s arch landed on the mountains of Ararat. The Khor Virap Monastery is where Gregory Luisavorich (St. George the Illuminator) was imprisoned for 13 years before curing King Trdat III of a disease. We will photograph this dark underground chamber where he lived. We wind down our remarkable journey with a tour and tasting at the Ararat Brandy Company. Tonight is our farewell dinner. (B, L & D)
Day 12 This morning depart Yerevan for your journey home.
Fri. June 5
It may take up to two days to travel from the United States to Tbilisi, Georgia. You
should plan to arrive in Tbilisi, Georgia on Monday May 25, 2015, and depart
Yerevan, Armenia on Friday June 5, 2015.
Passport and Visas
You are responsible for having a valid passport and for obtaining all visas. Presently no visa is required for citizens of the United States. Visa support is provided for Armenia.
Who Should Attend
This workshop is for serious amateurs and professional still photographers & videographers who have a working knowledge of their camera. This is an opportunity to hone your shooting technique while developing a new body of work. Participants should be highly motivated, technically self-sufficient and experienced travelers comfortable navigating and photographing a foreign culture. Participants should be physically fit, and capable of hiking on rough terrain.
Participants may shoot still images or video using a DSLR camera or a point and shoot camera. Optional but recommended is a computer with Lightroom, Aperture or a digital imaging cataloging program and an external hard drive for backup. For those shooting video you should have either imovie or Final Cut Pro for viewing and editing your videos. Bring at least one camera body, all your lenses, a tripod, extra camera batteries, plenty of memory cards, a flash unit(s) and any light modifiers you own, a flash light for shooting at night, all technical manuals, and a notebook and writing utensil.
The workshop fee is $8,490.00 and includes shared accommodations, group hotel transfers, all regional transportation, private touring, private English speaking guides, most meals, all gratuities for our guides and drivers, and on site photography instruction and demonstrations. A 750.00 deposit must accompany your registration forms to secure your place in this workshop. Final payment is due by February 1, 2015. The single supplement charge is $795 .00
Not included are international flights, single supplement accommodations, visa fees, travel and medical evacuation insurance, personal expenses and items, personal photography fees where applicable, and meals and beverages not indicated on the itinerary, and any optional activities. Trip cancelation and interruption, and medical evacuation insurance are strongly recommended. Recommended travel insurance websites: www.travelassistnetwork.com and www.squaremouth.com
You are encouraged to bring a companion who will be able to participate in all Workshop activities. Non-photographing companions are encouraged to attend.
- Georgia’s wine region with wine tasting
- Tbilisi’s Old City
- World Heritage Sites of Mtskheta and the Upper Svaneti
- Dmanisi archaeological site
- Mount Aragats
What you will learn
- How to capture compelling images of people
- How to light an environmental portrait
- Perfect your street and landscape photography
- Photograph an interior
- Hone your skills and gain confidence
Maine Media Workshops Registrants
Your deposit is payable to the Maine Media Workshops, and the balance of the workshop cost is payable to: Arlene Collins Photography, LLC
The above is subject to change.