Accepting my friend’s invitation to visit something new right in David Gareji Semi-Desert, we decided to open our trekking season with this intriguing offer. So last Sunday, despite some rain over the Tbilisi in early morning, we took a trip to this place.
Before I continue, I would like to mention that everything related to the car and driving was under responsibility of our friend Maria, who owns her own touristic company VayTravel, whose services we use and kindly recommend to you. All necessary information you can get here.
Firstly we drove to the Badiauri Village which lies next to Kakheti Highway 73 km away from Tbilisi. Here is necessary not to miss right turn to Iormughanlo Village, from which is beginning the real journey we came for.
Our journey started with some unpleasant views about which I wish to mention for sure, but to begin from something more positive this “unpleasant bonus” I will move to the end of this post. Instead of that, I will show you local dogs, huh.
The road was quite okay for the semi-desert at least because it was dry. Boring landscapes started to open their secrets to us with such a beautiful views.
Quite quickly we got to our first stop – former Sabere Cave Monastery. Actually there were a few owith one name. Fortunately the Sun was coming out, so we got the best view of this ancient beauty.
This cave complex is the first in our visit plan and beside our further destination points is a part of David Gareji Monastery Complex spread over 60 km around.
After it we passed two more places with same name, but I will not bother you with historical facts. If someone is interested you can try to find detailed information in the web. Just look on this beauty!
After first positive impressions the weather started a little to disappoint us with its grayness, but there were still no rain. After short time we reached former Kolagiri Monastery, which was same like previous carved in rock. This historical monument is located on the right bank of Iori River, so there are more trees. I would like to see this place in the summer.
From here we have started to find right way to our last stop former Pirukugmari Cave Monastery. It is two options to get there. I cannot be sure what we would get if we would take other option, but our decision was right anyway – we saw the whole valley from the top of mountain and the view to Pirukugmari was stunning as well. One thing – we cannot get directly to the caves. Next time we will choose the other options, so will see could we access it.
Anyway we all were hungry and this was the best place for picnic, so…
After getting full lungs of fresh spring air and full bellies of healthy picnic food we started the second part of our trip – the way home.
If you are interested on taking same trip, please find the trail map in Google Maps.
Oh yes, I have to show you something I promised in the beginning of this post. Unfortunately the tourists in Georgia can see it everywhere. In images below you can see where the waste from all local villages (Iormughanlo, Paldo, Duzagrama, Tsitsmatiani, Tulari, Kazlari) is coming to. Fields of waste right at the fence of last houses. It is what totally spoiled our mood in the beginning of our trip. This is still a long way to change the way of thinking of local people, but I hope with the patience and with help of each of us – tourists and locals – we can get any aim. I still hope…
Images by Aleksandrs Znovs ©
Last summer we decided to visit remote mountainous region Tusheti. After many stories we heard before we supposed it would be something gorgeous and, despite quite short visit, it definitely was unbelievably beautiful. I am (as well both my friends) very thankful to my best Georgian friend Gio for such a beautiful trip and I can say for sure I wish to repeat it and explore this place much detailed.
In spite of information about very dangerous road from Kakheti to Tusheti villages I could say for sure, it is not much dangerous as some parts of mountain roads in Svaneti, Khevsureti or Racha. The only thing I could mention is the right weather to wait for – in case of rain of snow any mountainous road could be the subject of big troubles. So, sunny weather and good car with appropriately working braking system is a must, guys.
In this post I will show you what we saw on the way, but let me say sorry for quality of images – my IXUS cannot afford such a bright sun and reflections in mountains.
From Kakheti flatness, passing Pshaveli Village, we entered a kingdom of bright green colour, singing small rivers and summer freshness of untouched rocks.
The road started to go up and after the serpentine of countless turns we get to the first place 1750 m AMSL – Torghuas Abano, where is located hot sulfur baths. This place owned by locals, as I see, can offer a stay in simple rural house.
Right before the bath houses we saw how visitors used to chill watermelons and drinks – just in cold water of waterfall next to the road, sweet…
After bathhouse we reached Abano Pass, which is 2826 m above sea level, where is possible to see two different sides of gorge with beautiful views.
Images by Aleksandrs Znovs ©
Image by Aleksandrs Znovs ©
After getting appropriate information about beautiful sites hidden in the picturesque region Samtskhe-Javakheti we decided to make one-day trip to first of them – Abuli Fortress remains, located next to Gandzani Village, which could be reachable by car and from Tbilisi downtown it takes approximately 2,5 h for 155 km distance.
As the road trough the Tskhneti is still closed, there are any other solution: firstly to take Tbilisi – Marneuli Road, but then to turn to Akhaltsikhe Road at Koda Village. Road is in very good condition, so it will be no troubles.
On the way you can enjoy beautiful landscapes sinking in green grass palettes and fresh blossom of June.
After you get to Gandzani Village you have to be quite careful to find right path. At first we crossed the only one bridge over small river and then took the road to the left. There were one small turn next to small church, which we have accidentally skipped.
Okay, now we are in a right way and after a short time we will leave our car and start to walk uphill to discover something beautiful. It is approximately 2 km long distance each way, walking time was 50 minutes each way, elevation difference up to 300 m and difficulty level is quite low, so this trip could be made even with children and seniors. There was very windy and full of pieces of rock, so appropriate trekking shoes and wind proof dresses are required.
After a short time we start to see shapes of our target.
Of course, mountain are always beautiful and the higher was elevation, the more beautiful were sights.
By approaching we started to recognise more and more details of this ancient fortress.
By the way the history of this place is very controversial at least because no single artefact (i.e. utensils, tools, graves) has been found. Also the purpose of this fortress located at 2600 m a.s.e. is quite unimaginable even taking into account its location on the top of the mountain.
The structure is really huge and surprisingly in a very good condition. From the fortress you even could see Paravani Lake and some far away located villages.
To get to the fortress I choose to reach it from right side (Opt. 1 in the map), but the way back was from the back of fortress and along the left side of it (Opt. 2), so we saw this monument from all sides.
After farewell saying to this beautiful place we started our walk downwards.
Images by Aleksandrs Znovs ©
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.
Images by Aleksandrs Znovs ©
Map credit: openstreetmap.org
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Images by Aleksandrs Znovs ©