The Traditional Dresses from the Caucasus

The traditional dresses from the Caucasus keep many similarities between each other, yet every one of them is still unique and shows the heritage and culture of the country it represents. These cultures have survived through foreign occupations and therefore are proud to show their roots through these beautiful traditional dresses.


Armenian parade in Pasadena. Photo by Prayitno / Thank you for.

The traditional dresses of Armenia are very colorful and diversified. The men’s clothes are traditionally made of cotton and wool, with collared shirts that have silky details. The trousers are wide and spacious, and usually made with dark colors. Two especially important traditional pieces of the man’s dress are the Arkhaluk and the Chokha. The Arkhaluk is a cotton or silk made outer garment that is fastened in the waist with small buttons or hooks. The Chokha is made of wool, which makes it heavier to wear, and also gets tightened in the waist with a big belt. Typical accessories are weapons as homage to the ancient warriors, and fur hats with knitted decorations to protect themselves of the cold during the harsh Armenian winters in the mountains.


Group of Armenian dancers in traditional dresses. Photo by Nick Dewolf Photo Archive.

The traditional Armenian dresses for women are loose costumes usually made out of materials such as satin, silk, or brocade, and had a cut on the chest and another one below the hips. It is also common to put a wool big coat over the silk dresses to protect themselves from the cold. The dresses are not only made of luxury materials like the satin and silk, but also embeded with luxurious pieces of gold, silver, or other kinds of jewelry. Also silver or turquoise bracelets necklaces are important parts of the traditional Armenian dress. The dress is completed with luxurious cylindrical or rectangular hats, from which hang long veils and, occasionally, decorations in shape of silver coins.  Both for men and women, the traditional shoe is known by the name of Drekh, and it is a leather made shoe shaped as a boat, combined with colorful socks that have geometrical and floral patterns.

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The traditional dress of Georgia is the Chokha, a robe that is worn over the outfit (similar to the Armenian Chokha described above), but the complete outfit includes a sword, bullets,  a shirt known as Akhalukhi, and a hood that is worn separately from the robe (Kabalakhi). Fur hats are also traditionally worn by men, including the Nabdis Kudi, which is a tall fur hat that belongs to the Georgian tradition, and the Papakha, which is made of wool and is typical from all the Caucasian area.


Georgian Chokha. Photo by Peter.

Another traditional dress from Georgia is the Bashlik. This one is made out of wool and fur (though to protect its carrier from the winter), and it’s a headdress in the shape of a cone.

The traditional dress for Georgian women is the Kartuli, a very long dress that tightens in the waist with a belt that is richly decorated and which extremes fall along the dress almost reaching the floor. They are made of velvet, silk, or fur. Furthermore, women are decorated with pieces of jewelry and with headdresses of different types, from the veil of tulle that falls in the back of the woman (Lechaki) to the veil that covers the whole body except the eyes (Chadri).


Woman wearing a traditional Georgian dress during the Kartuli dance. Photo by Kober.

Turkish traditional dresses are influenced by their time as part of the Ottoman Empire. Women’s festive or bridal dresses have long sleeves and are long, covering most of the body, but tightened in the waist with a belt. This embroidered robe is known as Bindallı Entari and is decorated with natural and geometrical patterns. They also wear hair dresses in a circular shape with veils falling down from them. Accessories include long collars, golden bracelets, and other coin shaped or circular jewelry in different shapes. As for men, the traditional dress can be one piece or two. They usually wear over it a sleeveless decorated vest, and a belt tied to the waist that leaves a extreme falling. They also wear occasionally a cone shaped hat decorated with colorful fabric pieces.


Turkish dancers in traditional clothes. Photo by quinn.anya.

In Azerbaijan, the traditional men dresses consist of different kinds of outwear made of silk, cashmere, satin or cloth; and a Kurk, a coat made of lamb fur decorated with a collar and embroidery. The most typical hat is the Papaq, hats made also from lamb fur that had different shapes in the different Azerbaijani regions. The classic shoes are the Charigs, leather shoes that were born by villagers along with woolen socks (Jorabs). As for women, the traditional dress is a colorful, bright long dress with knitted long sleeves tightly fitting across the back and chest. In the region of Karabakh, the dress is called Chepken, and was tight in the waist, with long hidden sleeves. The dresses are usually decorated with flower and color patterns (especially among young ladies) and jewelry like golden and silver beads, buttons, coins, delicate pendants and necklaces. The hair dress consists of a leather or velvet cap, and a special veil that holds and hides the hair known as Chutga.


Azerbaijani girls on traditional dresses. Photo by Oleg Litvin

It is hard to decide over one…so better join us in the next Caucasian Challenge and get to see (and try) all of these and much more in a kick ass adventure!

Liked this story? Getting itchy feet to travel and find adventures? Then join us on the next Caucasian Challenge. Get a team together and let’s see you at the starting line! If you want to join us in spirit, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to keep up with our latest antics.

What Caucasians Ride On: Drinks from the Caucasus

When crossing the mighty countries of the Caucasus, it is important to stop from time to time and get to relax and drinking a cold beverage. Luckily, Caucasian countries have an amazing offer of traditional drinks that you should definitely try- but maybe not all at once.

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Chart of some Caucasian Drinks and its effects.



Armenian wine has the longest history of alcoholic beverages in Armenia, as some of the oldest wineries in the world have been found there. Armenian wine is mostly made from local varietals, such as Areni, Lalvari, Kakhet, although sometimes it is also mixed with international companies like Chardonnay. Their most popular varieties are red and sweet, semi-sweet (Vernashen, Ijevan), or dry (Areni). Every year, there is a wine festival held in the city of Areni, in which you can find both homemade and winery made wines.


Armenian Wines. Photo by Marco Zanferrari.


Oghi is a kind of brandy that is often drunk in regions of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. It is made out of mulberry, and it results in a liqueur with a rich aroma and a smooth taste. For making it, the brandy is aged in barrels with mulberry and oak for long periods of time, even for years, until they get their proper aroma and taste. In the Armenian Diaspora, when no fruit was getting distilled, Oghi started to refer to an aniseed alcoholic drink that is known as Arak, Raki (see below) or Ouzo in other countries of the area.  It is a strong drink, with an alcohol percentage of 53% that can make your head spin for a while. As side dish, it is recommendable some Dzhash: a typical Armenian dish that consists of a stew of meat, legume, vegetables and spices.


Armenian Oghi. Photo by Armenia365.


The Armenian Brandy, also known as Ararat (which is the name of one of the most famous brands that produce it), is made from Armenian white grapes and spring water. It is left to age in barrels from different amounts of time (from 3 to 20 years), to get therefore different kinds of brandy, which provokes that each one of them has a very specific taste and golden color. The legend claims that Armenian Brandy was the fuel of diplomacy during the Yalta conference in 1945 between Stalin and Churchill: so much, that after that Churchill would order boxes of Armenian brandy to be delivered to London monthly.


Ararat Brandy Factory. Photo by Sara Burghoff.



Chacha is a classic drink from Georgia, similar to Brandy. It is so clear and strong that is also called as Georgian vodka or Georgian Grappa. The Chacha is made of the grape pomace or residue which remains after making wine. Sometimes, other fruits can be used such as figs, tangerines, oranges or mulberries. Some Georgians claim that it has medical properties, while others have described it as liquid fire. What is sure is that it has a strong percentage of alcohol (60%), but you can push it down with some delicious Georgian Khinkhali.

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Georgian Chacha. Photo by Khuroshvili Ilya.


Georgian wine is one of the best ones you can find in the Caucasus. According to some researches, wine has been made in Georgia for over 7000 years, and the country has a good wine tradition and some even consider it one of the birthplaces of the drink. Georgia has an amazing amount of different kinds of grapes that they export worldwide. The Georgian wine is still made in a traditional way, mainly by artisans, family business or by the monks in monasteries. Some examples of traditional Georgian wines are the dark red dry Saperavi, or the white semi sweet Pirosmani.


Georgian Wines. Photo by Run Mizumushi-Kun.

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Raki is the name given to the strong traditional Turkish drink, an aniseed distilled schnapps. It has its equivalents in many other Mediterranean countries, such as the Arrak in Lebanon and Iraq, the Mahia in Morocco, the Ouzo in Greece and the Anis in Spain. In Turkey, it is a key element in celebrations, friend dinners and traditional weddings. The Raki, with al alcohol percentage of 45%, is transparent in its pure state; however, when you drink it, you must fix it with some water, and then the drink changes its color and becomes white like milk. It tastes even better accompanied with some real Turkish Kebab or some fresh fish dishes.


Turkish Raki. Photo by Chris Pople.



From the non alcoholic drinks that you can find in Azerbaijan, Sherbet may be the most delicious, sophisticated and special one. It is typically served after dinner and it can be prepared from many different fruits to give it different flavors: lemon, basil, mint, saffron, aromatic herbs, or berries are some of the most popular ones, although it can be made almost from any kind of fruit that is mixed with water and sugar. It represents a spirit of celebration, and so it is consumed at banquets, traditional weddings, dinners and special events. You can have it with almost any kind of food, but it is often served with pilaf, a brownish type of rice that is cooked in seasoned broth.


Elderflower Sherbet. Photo by

It is hard to make a choice between all the drinks from the Caucasus? Join the next Caucasian Challenge and let all of these drinks become your fuel for an unforgettable (although just maybe you will forget some little parts if you take this list to the core) race through the Caucasus!


Liked this story? Getting itchy feet to travel and find adventures? Then join us on the next Caucasian Challenge. Get a team together and let’s see you at the starting line! If you want to join us in spirit, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to keep up with our latest antics.

7 reasons why you should visit Georgia

How much do you know about Georgia? This small country located between the European-Asian gates of the Caucasus Mountains, and the deep Black Sea may be a little one, but it has a lot to offer. Warm hearted people, amazing gastronomy, stunning landscapes and cities are just some of the reasons why you should be planning your trip across the wonderful Georgia!


Tbilisi, capital of Georgia. Photo by Alexxx Malev.

The People

Georgian people are known to be friendly and welcoming to strangers. The Georgian hospitality is famous worldwide, as the people of this small country take it to the core: there is even a Georgian proverb that means that “Everybody is God-sent”. There are many special Georgian traditions that come from their desire to please their visitors and be a good host: one example of these traditions are the guest rooms, or even the separate houses with open doors so that a guest could come, eat and sleep in there. According to traditional poetry, hospitality is a skill that is valued more than bravery or courage. A host is always pictured as a idealized generous owner, while the visitor should pay his respects by handling over his weapons when he arrives to the house, and he was expected to be a reserved, modest and kind person.


Spice seller in Tbilisi market. Photo by tomaradze.

The Food

Georgian food will be one of the many reasons why you will fall in love with the country. Diverse and delicious, Georgian food has a heavy presence of cheese, bread, meat, mushrooms and mass dough with different fillings. Some of the most famous dishes are the Khachapuri (you can find out more about this national dish and even how to make one here); or the Khinkali, a Georgian version of the dumplings. Check out our article about Georgian Food to know more about Georgia’s amazing cuisine.


Home made Georgian Khinkali. Photo by Young Shanahan.

Natural Spaces

Georgia may be a small country, but still have a very diverse offer of natural spaces, and, what is more important that, they are absolutely amazing. In the north side of the country we can find the majestic mountains of the Caucasus, with rough roads and peaks full of snow. Beautiful and interesting cities can be found in this area too, such as Kazbegi or Mestia. Crossing the country in direction to the south, there is the area of Kutasi, where you will find amazing forests, breath taking canyons, and Borjomi, a therapeutically natural spa of spring water. During the beginning of autumn, these beautiful forests and natural spaces turn bright yellow and orange, giving a magical hue to the landscape. Finally, the west coast of the country faces the stunning Black Sea, with many great beaches to lie down and enjoy the sun, the sand and the waves. The beaches of Batumi and Poti are two of the best examples.


Beach of Batumi. Photo by miss_rubov.


Georgia is not an expensive country, which means it is a very budget friendly place to travel to. The currency is the Georgian Lari (GEL). One Georgian Lari is approximately 40 cents of Euro or 44 cents of US Dollar. So you can picture it in your head, a meal in an inexpensive restaurant would cost around 15 GEL , and half a liter of domestic beer would be around 2 GEL.


Cheap and great Georgian Beer. Photo by J. Stoffels.

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Wine and Chacha

Georgian wine is one of the best ones you can find in the Caucasus. According to some researches, wine has been made in Georgia for over 7000 years, and the country has a good wine tradition and some even consider it one of the birthplaces of the drink. Georgia has an amazing amount of different kinds of grapes that they export worldwide. The Georgian wine is still made in a traditional way, mainly by artisans, family business or by the monks in monasteries. Some examples of traditional Georgian wines are the dark red dry Saperavi, or the white semi sweet Pirosmani.  Another drink that gives fame to the country and that you would definitely need to try is the Chacha. This Georgian brandy- like beverage is a strong liqueur made out of the residues of grape that are lift after making the wine. Many Georgians claim that the Chacha has medicinal properties.


The dangerous Georgian Chacha. Photo by Khuroshvili Ilya.


Georgia has been occupied in several occasions but despite it, or maybe because of it, it has always fought hard to keep its own identity and culture through centuries.  Georgian architecture and painting have been slightly influenced by the Russian and the Persian ones, which are mixed with the traditionally Georgian elements, creating a unique style hard to find in any other countries. In a more contemporary style, art pieces can be found all around cities like Tbilisi and Batumi. Literature is also an important page of the Georgian culture, from the old chronicles and Christian texts to the contemporary novels. Finally, Georgian cinema is starting to make its own spot into the international film scene, with movies like Tangerines, which was nominated for the Academy Awards.


Children painting in the streets of Tbilisi. Photo by Tony Bowden.


The old city of Tbilisi is not only the capital of Georgia, but a beautiful city worth to visit and admire. It is full of historical buildings that tell the story of the city through the last centuries; many of them may need some renovation, but it is this decadent atmosphere what gives Tbilisi its melancholic and strong character. The contrast of the new renovated parts with the old little streets makes the strolls through this city even more interesting.


Tbilisi. Photo by miss_rubov.

Do you need more reasons to discover the wonders of Georgia? Join the next Caucasian Challenge and race across this and other Caucasian countries in an adventure that you will never forget!

Liked this story? Getting itchy feet to travel and find adventures? Then join us on the next Caucasian Challenge. Get a team together and let’s see you at the starting line! If you want to join us in spirit, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to keep up with our latest antics.

Georgia’s most delicious secret: the Khachapuri

Khachapuri is not only a traditional Georgian dish: it’s THE traditional Georgian dish. Leading any list that you will find about Georgian gastronomy, this cheese-filled bread is a mandatory stop during your trip across Georgia. There are so many variations of it that it will take you a while to decide which is your favorite one but once you do we must give a warning: it may cause addiction!

Georgian Khachapuri

The delicious Georgian Khachapuri. Photo by Sergey & Jenia.

What is it?

So, what is all about? The base of the Khachapuri is a big piece of bread, which can take many different forms depending of the Khachapuri type. The bread is leavened and allowed to rise while the middle of this bread base is left hollow and filled with different ingredients. The very basic ones are cheese and eggs, but the rest of the fillings can vary from kind to kind.

Different Kinds of Khachapuri

There are different varieties of Khachapuri that can be found depending of in which Georgian region you are. They usually take their specific name from the name of the region. These are some of the most popular Khachapuri variations:

Imeruli : this kind of Khachapuri is circular with the filling in the middle. It is the most popular kind, and it takes its name from the region of Imereti.  

Acharuli: From the region of Adjara, this Khachapuri is shaped as a boat, with a wider centre where the filling is served, and narrower ends made of bread.  Besides the typical filling of cheese and eggs, the bread is topped with raw egg and some delicious butter.

Megruli: The Megrulian Khachapuri comes from Samegrelo region, but it is quite similar to the Imeruli one. The only difference is that it has more cheese added on top of its filling.


Megruli Khachapuri. Photo by Schalwa.

Achma: The typical Khachapuri from Abkhazia region may be the most original one. It is formed by several different layers of bread and fillings, giving to it the appearance of some kind of lasagna without sauce.

Ossuri / Khabizgini: Typical from Ossetia region, it has a stronger filling with potato and cheese.

Svanuri: Svanuri Khachapuri comes from the Svaneti region, and it is filled with meat and chopped onions.

Guruli: It comes from the region of Guria, and, according to some opinions it can be considered either as a different dish, or a Khachapuri variation. Whatever the case is, it is similar to an Italian Calzone, and the bread dough is filled with boiled eggs. It is also known as “Gurian Pie”, and, only in Guria, as a “Christmas Pie” because it is typically prepared for Christmas, something that does not apply to the rest of Khachapuris.

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How to make your own khachapuri

As pointed before, there are so many kinds of Khachapuri that it would be impossible to give one correct recipe, as the possibilities are endless! However, you can learn how to make one of the most typical and delicious kinds of Khachapuri, the boat shaped Acharuli. After this, you can always try all the other variations by changing the filling, or even invent your own kind…imagination is the limit!


Georgian woman baking Khachapuri. Photo by Martijn.Munneke.

Acharuli Khachapuri :

You will need to prepare beforehand the ingredients: active dry yeast, sugar, olive oil, flour, salt, Sulguni and Imeretian cheese (alternatively you can use Mozarella), eggs and butter.

To prepare the dough, first put a teaspoon of dry yeast and another of sugar in boiling water. Wait around 10 minutes until the mix get foamy, and then add a cup of flour, a spoon of oil, and salt. After mixing it all together with a preferably wooden spoon, you will have the dough ready. You will need to put this mass in a greasy bowl and cover it with plastic, so it can grow until having the double size, a process that will take around 45 minutes.

In the meantime, you can start to prepare the filling. Grate the cheese and mix it with egg and butter until you have a homogeneous mass. When the dough is ready, make its oval boat shape, and put the mixture you just made in the middle space, leaving some empty space around it. Use this empty space to fold the ends of the dough towards the middle, securing the filling inside.

Carefully place the Khachapuri on a floury oven tray for a few minutes at high temperature, until it gets its nice golden color. Top it with raw egg on the cheese and an egg yolk, and let it bake just a little more, no more than three minutes. Serve it hot and with a whole piece of butter to be mixed with the filling.


Acharuli Khachipuri ready to eat. Photo by Stefan Krasowski.

So now you know which should be your first (but, for sure, not your only) culinary stop when you race across beautiful Georgian regions in the Caucasian Challenge. Nothing better than a delicious Khachapuri in your favorite version to recharge forces and keep going to new adventures!

Liked this story? Getting itchy feet to travel and find adventures? Then join us on the next Caucasian Challenge. Get a team together and let’s see you at the starting line! If you want to join us in spirit, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to keep up with our latest antics.

The Mysteries of the Black Sea

Located between Europe and Asia, the Black Sea baths the coasts of Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Georgia and Ukraine, being some of its most famous spots awesome Istanbul or the Bulgarian beach of Burgas. It has been a quiet witness of the spot where European and Asian elements meet, and hides under its dark waters many secrets that have been known to be kept for centuries. It is a Sea full of ancient stories and unrevealed mysteries: some of them we have gotten to know, but how many to be discovered? Dare to come with us into the mysteries of the Black Sea!

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Black Sea. Photo Credit: Manatari

Noah’s Ark

Studies of the ancient religious texts and the Bible have led to believe that Mount Ararat, standing along the coast of the Black Sea between the Eastern Turkey and the Western Armenia, could have been the point where Noah’s ark landed after the end of the Universal Flood. Actually, the story refers to a region quite wider, but some believe that the fossilized remains found at that spot coincide with those of the legendary Ark.

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Mount Ararat. Photo by Martijn.Munneke.

The Cursed Sea

This legend about the Black Sea may be one of the darkest, as rumors whisper that the Death lays underneath its black waters. Why? Because not only shipwrecks, but also tons of human carcasses can be found at the bottom of it. The strangest thing of it is that, after examinations of the corpses, the conclusion was that these bodies belonged to people that lived centuries ago, and yet the remains can be found in a state of conservation that indicates a much recent death. Did these people live for centuries? Is this a ghost story? Not really. Fortunately (or not for those that prefer ghost stories), science has the answer to this mystery. Simply, the anoxic nature of the water makes the decomposition process slower.


Cursed Sea? Photo Credit:

The Black Sea Islands

The Black Sea constitutes the home of 28 different islands and islets sets. Each one of them is quite unique, as they belong to the jurisdiction of different countries: Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.  Apart from being beautiful small paradises lost in the middle of the Sea, they are an amazing store of fauna and flora that can hardly be found anywhere else.  

Mysteries of the Black Sea

Black Sea Nettles, example of the unique fauna. Photo by Lyn Gateley.

The Mysterious Shipwrecks

As mentioned before, there can be found in the bottom of the Black Sea a big amount of old shipwrecks (along with their old bony inhabitants). The ships are perfectly preserved, and are therefore an impressive view of ancient wood ships sleeping quietly at the silent bottom of the sea.  According to investigations, the Ships belong to a time between 3 and 5 B.C., which was be the period of major greatness of the ancient Greece. This discovery and the surprisingly big amount of shipwrecks led to the belief  that the Black Sea was an important crossroads of the ancient world for commerce and maritime business.

Mysteries of Black Sea

Photo Credit: Revolution_Ferg.

The Underwater River

The bottom of the Black Sea has still more surprises to show. One of the world’s biggest underwater rivers was discovered lying under the Sea. It is an active river that keeps flowing and carrying sediments through the Sea Floor. This underground activity means that, even at that level of water pressure, the river could be sustaining life in lower layers.


Under the sea. Photo Credit:

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The Location of Atlantis

A theory that is starting to gain force says that the old lost continent of Atlantis could have been located in the Black Sea, and would have been submerged by a great flood more than seven thousand years ago. Researches and scientists have gathered together evidence of this great flood, and some say that the description of the Black Sea area and some coastal cities like Sinop match the description of the one given by Plato about Atlantis. Also, underwater archaeologist Robert Ballad, famous for the finding of Titanic’s wreck, found under the waters of the Black Sea stone remains of human houses and farms.

Mysteries of Black Sea

Photo Credit: Katya.

The Black Sea Triangle

Similar to the stories about the Bermuda Triangle, some legends have emerged about the Black Sea after the mysterious vanishing of Soviet and Greek planes in the area. Search efforts could neither manage to find the remains of these planes nor the fate of the people aboard.  These vanishing planes have aroused many different speculations, from those who named the spot with creepy names such as “The Triangle of Death” to those who speak about magnetic anomalies that may cause electrical malfunctions in the plane.

Mysteries of the Black Sea

Storm in the Black Sea. Photo credit: Sergey Galyonkin.

The Black Sea is a box of surprises, and we still cannot know what other mysteries are still to be unrevealed or if they will ever be. However, make sure you don’t miss this amazing Sea through your Caucasian Challenge trip along the Turkish Black Sea coast, and dare to embrace its beauty and mystery!


Liked this story? Getting itchy feet to travel and find adventures? Then join us on the next Caucasian Challenge. Get a team together and let’s see you at the starting line! If you want to join us in spirit, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to keep up with our latest antics.

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