Betania. Season opening 2017.

As first trip for this year we have chosen a half day long trekking trail from Akhaldaba Village to Betania Monastery.

A medium difficulty trail is going through the beautiful forest with some waterfalls and rocks. Trail is 8 km long and takes approx. 2 h to walk. Time to time signs shows the direction you have to walk, so it is quite easy to get right way.

More clever, I think, is to get to Betania Monastery by car and when you reach Akhaldaba Village, you can take Tbilisi municipal bus #82 to get back to the city or to ask your driver to wait there to pick you up.

Probably better time to walk is springtime, when trees just started to become green and everywhere is full of forest flowers or in colourful autumn time, but even in half snowy winter and early springtime this trail is beautiful as well.

Images by Aleksandrs Znovs ©

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Abudelauri lakes, Chaukhi Mountain

Actually I cannot say I was very satisfied with trekking trip we made last Saturday to Abudelauri lakes, but our friend have had birthday and my participation was just a respect. May be the trip was too long for me and difficulty-satisfaction-beautifulness ratio was too low for me, but okay, I did it and in company with my beloved friends it looks much better than if I would go alone.

So, Abudelauri lakes located in Khevsureti Region up to 116 km away from Tbilisi and the nearest inhabited place is Roshka Village. You can make one day trip if you leave Tbilisi in early morning. Required car is 4×4 vehicle because of bad road condition. Difficulty level of this track is medium to high, but if you are going to get to Zeta Camp (Juta Village) you have to be more experienced and expect 2-day trip with overnight in the tent in cold mountains.

There were 3 lakes with different water color – green, blue and white. Despite many beautiful descriptions in the web, only the blue lake looks interesting for me, green lake is not green, but dirty-brownish, but white lake I even didn’t visit, because of it was too much for my 120 kg to get there after 8,5 km of elevation (one way of course). When I saw images of white lake shown by my friends I understood it was right decision at all not to go there, hahah.

To be honest, it is enough to get to green and then to blue lake (there are next to each other) and take a big rest. A bit further from blue lake it is another, more comfortable trail back. I like it better, because it is not necessary to to pass very cold mountain river and it is almost no elevation parts of trail, so you can get back much more quickly.

I find almost all other places in Georgia I visited before more beautiful and interesting to see, but if you wish something new for your workout or you have already been in all other possible places in this beautiful country, this is the way you go. By the way, IMHO Chaukhi Mountain looks much more beautiful from other side, if you take a trip to it from Juta.

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Images by Aleksandrs Znovs ©
Map credit: openstreetmap.org

Mravaldzali. Far away village with just four inhabitants.

I have been planned a trip to Racha – the mountainous region of Georgia – for longer time. For years I have heard so much how beautiful this region is and now I get there for two days, what, of course, is too short to explore all the beauty and to get real feeling.

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In a first day we have decided to visit a remote place somewhere on the top of mountain – Mravaldzali.

The road to this beautiful village starts from Ambrolauri-Oni road at Mukhli Village. Actually there are two roads, but this one is much better. Tourists must note, that for this road is highly recommended to take 4×4 vehicle, which, by the way, has been friendly provided (as this tour also has been managed) by VayTravel – the small local tour company owned by my friend Maria. I could recommend her as trusted companion and service provider, good guide and simply caring person. For more information and contacts please visit her website here.

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The other one condition for visiting this place is dry weather conditions – if it is raining or snowing it is better to choose other destination. In winter time this village is not reachable.

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Mukhli-Mravaldzali road is only 12 km long, but it takes 1-1,5 h to reach the endpoint. On the go you will pass silent and quite beautiful Samtisi, Kvemo Bari and Zemo Bari villages.

Approaching Mravaldzali you will notice yellowish-white church, which was built in the first part of XI century, then was drastically rebuilt in 1984 and almost fully destroyed by earthquake in 1991. In 2007 government has managed the renovation. This is the only one church in Georgia, which has heads of bull and cow on its facade.

In Mravaldzali village you will see many houses, which are in quite good condition. Here are only 4-5 permanent inhabitants, other owners are visiting their houses only during summertime.

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From village is a beautiful panoramic views to Great Caucasus mountains and, if you reach the top of the hill over the church, you can get 360 degrees view.

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Approximately 3 km from Mravaldzali Village is Cholevi Lake. People say it has the form of heart, but I cannot say it is something extremely beautiful. You can easily reach it by feet. It is nothing more, than you can see from the village, but for picnic is a good place. From the path you can catch amazing view to this stunning village – Mravaldzali.

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Images by Aleksandrs Znovs ©

All day trip to ancient Samshvilde town remains

Samshvilde is a small village, located next to Tetri Tskaro Town, up to 70 km from Tbilisi. The territory of this village is famous of it’s historical site – remains of ancient town dated to 4th century AD. Till the 18th century Samshvilde fortress city played an important role in the history of the Kartli Kingdom, and  then in the history of the Unified Georgia. If you are interested to more detailed historical facts of this place, please visit this page or any other information in the web.

It is quite easy to get there by road. If you have 4×4 car and you are not familiar to trekking, you can easy get directly to the gate of fortress. But it is quite easy to get there by feet and it is more worth, because by the way it is enough beautiful sights and objects to discover, such as ancient hose foundations, millstones and other. So the best decision is to leave your car in the village or downwards the hill at the bridge over Chivchava River.

At first the road for approx. 1 km is going up to the hill, then will start very comfortable road to the fortress, which slightly is going down. After the fortress is the church, then big church remains and it is suggested to walk further to the place, where you will see how both rivers – Chivchava and Khrami joins together, where you will have an opportunity to wonder a very beautiful view and take a picnic. If you will count the distance from the Samshvilde Village to the end, as described, is approximately 3 km. Walking time both directions could be 1,5 h.

The territory of the Samshvilde Archaeological Complex, comparing to many other places of Georgia is quite clean, but on the way you will find plenty of waste, left by local people. I ask everyone of you to take some plastic bags and collect PET bottles, plastic bags, cigarette butts how much is possible. Many thanks for it! By the way, we were not only who tried to clean this place – we met 2 Georgian guys who did the same and I can say I was very happy for that!

To get to the Samshvilde you have to take Tbilisi-Marneuli road, in Marneuli turn right Tetri Tskaro direction, in Tetri Tskaro turn left to Dagheti / Samshvilde.

In first images you can see beautiful old houses built by Germans in 18th century, located in Asureti Village. There is also house-museum, where you can try local wine and even beer. Unfortunately, there were no one at home. So we decided to visit this place again next time. In case if you will, you have to turn in Koda, not Marneuli. From this place it is also easy to get to Tetri Tskaro.

This trip was organized by Maria from VayTravel. Many thanks!

Images by Aleksandrs Znovs ©

The time of apricots and figs

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Yes, it is a time for figs and apricots and prices are becoming more friendly a day. Now you can get big and sweet figs for 2-2,5 GEL per kilo, but apricots for 3 GEL per kilo.

By the way, the “unfresh” look of the fig (like in picture) the tastier it is, so you can be sure to buy such without any doubt!

And be ready for melon as the next.

Photo-aftertaste of Independence Day

I could definitely say this year holiday celebrations were organized much better than the year before. Only the things I missed is local farmers specialties and possibility to get drinking water. The decision to locate the flower fair directly at the Parliament was good idea as well. Beside the hard restrictions for personal transport, citizens and guests have had opportunity to see how these restrictions, OF COURSE, were obsolete for governmental transportation. Despite some minuses, all the celebrations this year I can value as very good. Sakartvelos gaumarjos!

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Images by Aleksandrs Znovs ©