Travel Program… This thrilling adventure through the ancient Christian regions of Ethiopia's northern highlands features a relaxed schedule, plenty of delicious food, top-notch guides, visits to the most important sites, and lots of interaction with local people. We will also seek out unique musicians to feed our interest in local culture through music, cuisine, and religion. Travel will involve several short domestic flights to bypass driving long distances over rough roads. Our centers of interest will be Addis, Lalibela, Gondar, and Gheralta, with forays to Lake Tana (head of the Blue Nile River), the gorgeous Simien National Park highlands with its unique herds of friendly Gelada herbivore baboons, and remote rock-hewn churches in the Gheralta region. The UNESCO heritage churches at Lalibela will feature heavily in this itinerary, as we visit this sacred city during its most important yearly festival: the feast of the Nativity (Jan. 7th on their old Christian calendar). Join us for this extraordinary adventure! Read more here!
Silk Road Artisans of Georgia
Travel Program… Trade caravans plying the northern routes through the Caucasus brought more than material goods with them: they brought cultural and linguistic influences from far and near, a cultural exchange that is still relevant and present today in the arts of Georgia. Beginning in Tbilisi, we visit the studios of local fresco painters, cloisonne jewelers, stone carvers, felters, and specialty sword-smiths to discover the rebirth of Georgian traditional arts. We visit the opera, rehearsals of traditional folk singers, church services to hear liturgical chant, and rehearsals for semi-professional dance troupes to glimpse the world of the performing arts. The travel program takes us out of the city to find the original locations for these arts and to discover rural artisans living and working outside of the city. Accompanied by singers, and featuring the best in local regional cuisines and wines, this tour is a feast for the senses. Read more here!
Ancient Christianity in the Caucasus
A Cultural Tour of the most important Christian sites (Georgia & Armenia)
Travel Program… One of our most popular tour programs, the Ancient Christianity tour focuses on the most important Christian sites in Armenia and East Georgia. Our tour begins and ends in Tbilisi, the thriving cultural and business capital city of Georgia. On day 3, we travel south to Yerevan, the bustling capital city of Armenia... Read more here!
Cathedrals of Tao
A Cultural Tour through the historic kingdom of Tao-Klarjeti (Georgia & Turkey)
Travel Program… This unique tour program, featured in the New York Times (June 20th, 2017 issue), focuses on the most important Christian sites in the historic 9th-10th century kingdom of Tao-Klarjeti, the location of a great renaissance of medieval manuscript writing, chant composition, and architectural innovation. Our tour itinerary is organized around visiting these "lost" cathedrals, which had fallen into ruin after 400 years of neglect under the Ottoman Empire. But our experience will be infused with traditional music of both Turkey and Georgia, the delicious fusion cuisine and wine of the border regions, and of course a healthy conversation about historical and modern political realities. This tour is perfect for adept travelers interested in a deeper cultural immersion experience. Read more...
Viticulture and Highlands - West
A Cultural Tour through ancient Colchis, also exploring the highlands of Racha and Svaneti
Travel Program… The focus of this unique cultural program will be to visit and understand the impact of the bronze-era kingdom of Colchis, and its dependency on the mountain tribes for mineral resources. After traveling to the Black sea coastal region of Georgia (ancient Colchis), we will pay particular focus to travel through the unique cultural and geographical highland region of Svaneti. The region features a unique language, its own folklore, folk music, and cuisine. The villages are punctuated with thousand-year-old defensive towers, and each town has several Christian chapels with original frescoes dating to the 10th-12th century period.... Read more!
Viticulture and Highlands - East
A Cultural Tour through the viticulture regions of East Georgia, and the Tusheti National Park highlands
Travel Program… We begin and end the tour in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia (airport designation TBS) and a beautiful city that featured prominently on trade routes from Asia to Europe. The focus of this unique itinerary will be the ancient, medieval, and modern architectural and cultural monuments to the East of the capital, particularly the viticulture regions of Kakheti and Kartli with their myriad neolithic, Parthian-Armazi, and early Christian sites. For the highland segment of the trip, we dare to follow the dirt track used by seasonal shepherds to take their flocks into the Tusheti region, now protected as a National Park by the Georgian government .... Read more!
Sounds of the Tour — liturgical chant in churches
A Hiking Tour through the mountains of West Georgia (Svaneti, Racha, Imereti)
Travel Program… We begin and end the tour in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia (airport designation TBS) and a beautiful city that featured prominently on trade routes from Asia to Europe. The focus of this unique itinerary will be walking trails in the High Caucasus mountains. We will not be roughing it, however, as jeeps will carry our luggage to the end point, and we will stay in cozy 3-star hotels where a cool beer, a hot shower, and comfortable bed awaits. JohnGrahamTours specializes in the culture of Georgia: therefore, in addition to our walking schedule, there will be an emphasis on visiting medieval churches to see original frescoes, meeting local families to learn about their lives and customs, and experiences with the music and dance of the local people. Read more!
Walking in the Caucasus - East
A Hiking Tour through the mountains of East Georgia (Tusheti, Khevsureti, Kazbegi)
Travel Program… We begin and end the tour in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia (airport designation TBS) and a beautiful city that featured prominently on trade routes from Asia to Europe. The focus of this unique itinerary will be walking trails in the High Caucasus mountains. We will not be roughing it, however, as jeeps will carry our luggage to the end point, and we will stay in cozy 3-star hotels or best available mountain lodges where a cool beer, a hot shower, and comfortable bed awaits. JohnGrahamTours specializes in the culture of Georgia: therefore, in addition to our walking schedule, there will be an emphasis on visiting medieval churches to see original frescoes, meeting local families to learn about their lives and customs, and experiences with the music and dance of the local people. Read more!
Walking in the Caucasus - Armenia/Georgia
A Hiking Tour through the mountains of East Georgia (Armenia-Georgia)
Travel Program… This itinerary features a number of hikes in Armenia, and Eastern Georgia that are not covered in the other itineraries. Please write to us for a sample brochure for this itinerary, or to create your own itinerary. We will stay in cozy 3-star hotels or best available mountain lodges where a cool beer, a hot shower, and comfortable bed awaits. JohnGrahamTours specializes in the culture of Armenia and Georgia: therefore, in addition to our walking schedule, there will be an emphasis on visiting medieval churches to see original frescoes, meeting local families to learn about their lives and customs, and experiences with the music and dance of the local people.
Travel Program… This thrilling adventure through the ancient Christian regions of Ethiopia's northern highlands features a series of short and long hikes through the national parks, along ridges, around lakes and dry river beds. We will have professional guides, support vehicles, packed picnic lunches, and all the necessaries to make this a highly enjoyable trip. Accommodation is in best available hotels and exclusive lodges in the national parks. Travel will involve four short domestic flights to bypass driving long distances over rough roads. Our centers of interest will be Gondar, the Simien National Park, Lalibela, and Gheralta, with forays to Lake Tana (head of the Blue Nile River). The UNESCO heritage churches at Lalibela will be a cultural highlight of this itinerary, as well as the desert churches of Gheralta. We will see plenty of wildlife at Lake Tana and in the Simien mountains! Read more here!
Mountain Vistas - Scenes from our Trekking Tours
+ Over the last five years, many luxury hotels have opened around the Caucasus region, thus allowing far more itinerary options for those desiring high class accommodation. I can arrange any type of trip. I have years of experience curating unique itineraries for private groups interested in a refined experience, as evidenced by excellent recommendations which I can provide upon request. My guests enjoy personalized service from the beginning of the planning process through the end of the tour. The excellence of your tour is guaranteed with us!
+ Despite war and turmoil through the centuries, viticulture is alive and well in the South Caucasus, the area that has been called the "birth-place" of wine. Come learn how the grape has been cultivated for thousands of years, and taste the essence of homemade wines. Fermented in buried earthenware amphoras called qevri, this wine is only drunk accompanied by a variety of toasts, some to the ancestors, some to Gods. It will make you feel like you are tasting the warmth and life of sunbeams, concentrated in the grape, which may be one reason that cults of the Sun account for many pre-Christian rituals and songs. Experience wine the ancient way on one of our custom-designed tours.
+ Three-voiced polyphonic folk music mesmerizes everyone who hears it. This tour focuses on taking interested clientele to various parts of the country where different song cultures survive. A music focused trip, participants will be rehearsing several hours a day with instructors, and singing songs in the context of the music, i.e. in the fields for worksongs, travelers songs while walking, liturgical pieces in the churches, and around the dinner table for feast-songs. Tour leader John A. Graham has been singing, studying, and teaching Georgian folk and sacred music since 2002. Contact us to design a unique itinerary that fits your musical interests.
+ At our best, our tours combine elements of wine tourism, music tourism, bird-watching, architectural discovery, interactions with many different kinds of Georgians, and the finest in Georgian cuisine and hospitality. We have experience tailoring our itineraries to focus on particular areas of study, for example, medieval architecture, modern monasticism, mountain cultures and traditions, traditional music, and viticulture. Contact us to design a custom tour for you.
+ Sometimes, there's no way to get where you want to go except by jeep. For those moments, we've got you covered. Georgia has a full range of rental jeeps, available with driver or without. We'll help plan your trip, and make sure that you have reliable vehicles and drivers.
+ John is an avid explorer, and that means finding new trekking trails every year. Consider booking a trekking tour with us! We have an excellent team of hiking guides to make your trip memorable! Ask us for a sample brochure.
What's on the table? - Wine & Cuisine on our tours
+ Georgia is an ideal location for a conference for several reasons. Many international flights come through the Tbilisi International Airport everyday. It is a quick 90 minute drive from the airport to be in complete paradise in the Kakheti viticulture region of East Georgia. Large conference halls are available, as well as medium sized. Break-out session rooms are available for smaller meetings within the conference agenda. The food is incredible, and walking is abundant straight out the door. Rooms facing the Caucasus mountains afford inspirational views. Air is fresh, noise is reduced to the odd rooster in the village. JohnGrahamTours handles all logistics from start to finish with excellent communication, responsiveness, attention to detail, and sound advice on what will and will not work well. We are happy to assist with the organization of optional half-day or full-day excursions to visit some of the medieval churches in the area, and to learn about traditional wine-making techniques. Contact us for more details.
Sounds of the Tour — liturgical chant in churches
+ As a singer and ethnomusicologist, I have a broad network within the Georgian musical community. In 2019, I have organized a 10 performance tour for a 90 person professional choir from the United States. My team ably handles all logistics including flights, accommodation, airport transfers, in-country transportation, meals, optional cultural tours, venue booking, concert advertisements, guides, and importantly, interaction with local choirs and traditional singers. Please contact us for more information.
HIGH SCHOOL CHOIRS
+ Georgia presents a unique place to bring a high school choir to rehearse and perform. The age-old polyphonic tradition from Georgia was recently placed on the UNESCO list of Intangible Heritage of Humanity, and is a fascinating repertory to study especially here in Georgia from Georgian professional folk singers. See our choirs page, and contact us to design a unique itinerary.