Top 5 wild mountainous resorts of Georgia to visit
12 July, 2017
It’s not always easy to choose a suitable place for your holidays. Some people love to rest comfortably and peacefully in fashionable hotel, or lay on the beach, or in hammock all day long. But what about the people who
prefer more extreme, hiking, physical activity and beautiful wild nature? Exactly for them we offer a list of top 5 Georgian mountain resorts with wild nature and less developed tourist infrastructure. In these high mountains some people still preserve ancient traditions and even live in old towers and dwellings, so that everything there reminds about ancient times. Most importantly, all of these highland places stand out for their breathtaking landscape. Wild nature, medieval towers and less developed tourist infrastructure makes these places even more attractive and exotic to the visitors.

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photo courtesy Giorgi Nikolava

Khevsureti

Khevsureti is a historical-ethnographic region in eastern Georgia. Comprising the small river valleys of the Migmakhevi, Shatili, Arkhoti and the Aragvi, the province borders with Chechnya and is included in Dusheti Municipality, Mtskheta-Mtianeti region. The largest villages are Barisakho and Shatili.

Shatili is a historic highland village. Located in the deep Arghuni Gorge at approximate 1,400 meters, the village is actually a unique complex of medieval-to-early modern fortresses and fortified dwellings of stone and mortar which functioned both as a residential area and a fortress guarding the northeastern outskirts of the country.

The population of Shatili was resettled under the pressure from the Soviet authorities to the plains in the early 1950s. In the 1960s, the exotic landscape of the empty village was used as a setting for a series of Georgian films about the past life of the highlanders.

Shatili is still inhabited by a dozen of families, but is inaccessible by road during wintertime. The village is a favorite place for tourists and mountain trekkers.
Some inspiring medieval cultural monuments – castle-towers, ritual places, and tombs – are still preserved in this picturesque region of Georgia. Like other mountainous areas of Georgia, in Khevsureti many old traditions and customs are still observed. The province is also famous for its medieval ballads and folk music.
The institution of the Blood feud was still alive in the twentieth century.

Mutso is another notable village of Khevsureti. It’s located on a rocky mountain (1880 m) on the right bank of the Andakistskali River. The village, almost completely abandoned more than a century ago, is a home to approximately 30 medieval fortified dwelling units arranged on vertical terraces above the Mutso-Ardoti Gorge, four combat towers and ruins of several old structures and buildings. Difficult to access, the village retains original architecture, and is a popular place for tourists and mountain trekkers. Listed among the most endangered historic monuments of Georgia, a project of the rehabilitation of Mutso has been developed since 2004.

The architecture of Khevsureti is mostly highly fortified and defensive in character, featuring a profusion of towers clinging to the mountainsides, signifying constant vigilance in the face of enemy attack. The defensive towns were located in the villages of Shatili, Arkhoti and Mutso. The Khevsurs were renowned for their warfare with the (mostly Muslim ) peoples of the Northern Caucasus including the Chechens, the Kists, and the many peoples of Dagestan.

On the rocky slopes of Khevsureti, wild sheep still wander. To hunt them requires good hunting skills, since they run and jump on the rocks at a great speed.

In Khevsureti one can travel by any means of transport (be it a vehicle or helicopter) in summer but in winter road closes due to heavy snowfalls and only Barisakho Village remains accessible. While travelling from Tbilisi either by shuttle bus firstly you get to Barisakho. Travel time is around 3 hours. You can take a shuttle bus directly to Shatili. It takes around 5 hours by mini bus from Tbilisi to Shatili.

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photo courtesy Giorgi Nikolava

Tusheti

If you want to feel the real magic of highlands face to face with nature and conquer narrow mountain trails over steep cliffs, then your way should lead straight to Tusheti, amazing mountainous region in northeastern Georgia.

The entire territory of Tusheti is part of the Kakheti region's Akhmeta Municipality and consists of 10 villages. The village Omalo is considered as the center of Tusheti is most frequently visited place by local and foreign tourists.

Shenako is the most notable and attractive village of Tusheti, located on the southern slope of the Greater Caucasus at 2080 meters above sea level. It is only accessible by land through a 4WD. The village is overlooked by Mountain Diklo and contains a series of buildings of Georgian folk architecture and the old church of the Holy Trinity, dating back to the 19th century.

The road to Tusheti starts from the village Pshaveli in Kakheti and it goes through the Abano Pass (2926 m.), which is the highest point on Georgian road map, to Omalo. Abano Pass is only open for few months year-round and even for this period. It is noteworthy that the road to Tusheti is considered one of the most dangerous roads in the world. Keep in mind; you need 4WD vehicle to travel to Tusheti.

To reach Tusheti a long road is needed. First, the you should go from Tbilisi to Qvemo Alvani, where the road leads to village Omalo. The distance from Tbilisi to Kvemo Alvani is 120 km. The mini-buses from Tbilisi set off from Ortachala and Navtlugi stations, the ticket price is 6 GEL. In the village Qvemo Alvani one can rent private transport and leave for Tusheti.

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photo courtesy Giorgi Nikolava

Svaneti

Svaneti is one of the most remote and thrilling regions of Georgia. Situated on the southern slopes of the central Caucasus Mountains and surrounded by 3,000–5,000 meter peaks, Svaneti is the highest inhabited area not only in in the Caucasus but Europe as well. Four of the 10 highest peaks of the Caucasus are located in the region. It is home to the highest mountain in Georgia, Mountain Shkhara at 5,201 meters (17,059 feet).

Svaneti incorporates two parts: Upper Svaneti (Zemo Svaneti) on the upper Enguri River; administratively part of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti; main town Mestia.
Lower Svaneti (Kvemo Svaneti) on the upper Tskhenistsqali River; administratively part of Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti; main town Lentekhi.

According to National Tourism Agency, there are 3 hotels and 49 guesthouses in Mestia.

As for Ushguli (the highest village in Savneti) there are 9 guesthouses functioning. Mestia operates 3 restaurants located in hotels.

Svaneti is known for their architectural treasures and picturesque landscapes. The area is also famous for its alpine flowers and unique plant species. This historic part of the country boasts a number of towers, built between 9th-12th centuries. Some of them are available for rent, so that the tourists can spend a night there. In the province there are dozens of medieval Georgian orthodox churches and various fortified buildings. Architectural monuments of Upper Svaneti are included in a list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Svan people possess unique culture that has endured centuries. The most vivid demonstration of their folk culture is the songs performed in Svan language as well as dances.

From Tbilisi to Mestia, traveling by minibus, one way costs 30 GEL. The road takes from 10 to 15 hour, depending on the type of transport and road conditions.


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photo courtesy Giorgi Nikolava


Bakhmaro

It is the highest alpine climatic resort in the Republic of Georgia. Bakhmaro is located in the west part of Georgia, Guria Region, Chokhatauri District, 2000 meters above the sea level. The landscape is very picturesque. The mountain sides are covered with coniferous woods comprising fir and silver fir species. Winter is moderately mild. Snow cover is very high and lasts around 6 months. Summer is moderately dry. There are over 2000hr of sunshine per year. Climatic conditions exert a curative effect on chronic diseases of respiratory organs (of non-tubercular etiology) and on hypotonic disorders. The surrounding mountains area source to Bakhmaro bottled spring water, which is also very beneficial for health.

Views from the forest covered mountains are breathtaking, especially from Lenchis Seri (2505 m), which is called “Sun rise hill”. There is also a smaller Bakhmaro peak called “Sunset hill” (2250 m). When there is clear visibility it is possible to watch the sunset on the Black Sea.
The one who wants to visit Bakhmaro, first must go from Tbilisi to Chokhatauri Center. One way ticket costs 15 GEL, the second trip from Chokhatauri to Bakhmaro - 10 GEL respectively.

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photo courtesy Giorgi Nikolava

Racha

Racha is a highland area in western Georgia, located in the upper Rioni river valley and surrounded by the GreaterCaucasus mountains. Racha is included in the Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti region as the municipalities of Oni and Ambrolauri.

Racha is a spectacularly beautiful region of Georgia. The inhabitants of the area are thought to be relatively calm in contrast to the people of other regions. There are many jokes preserved in folklore on their easy-going nature. Apart from is stunning landscape, mountains and greenery, the region is famous for its cuisine and well-known bean pie with ham called Lobiani. One of the main attractions of Rachian resorts is the unusually pleasant climate and bountiful hunting grounds.

In Racha, many pure, cold rivers and streams provide some of Georgia's best fishing, and the thick forests and mountains attract hikers and hunters from all over the world. Racha is also notable for its small remote “paradise”. The beautiful village of Gona that can also be called the “Little Switzerland”,is located in Oni Municipality. Gona represents the main district of bigger Gebi Village, but is located higher, on the southern slopes of Great Caucasus mountains, on the banks of the river Chveshuri (right tributary of Rioni), at an elevation of 1680 meters above sea level and is surrounded by snowy peaks. The distance to the municipal center is 39 kilometers (25 miles). According to the 2002 census, only 2 people live permanently in Gona. After the village was emptied out several years ago, it has been mainly used as summer residence as well as for pastures.

Tourist infrastructure is less developed in Racha. Although there is only one European Standard hotel in Oni region (it works seasonally), there are a plenty of small family hotels with cozy and comfortable environment. The prices start from 15 Gel per day. You can get there by minibus, from Tbilisi railway station. One way tickets amounts to approximately 10-15 GEL.


Author: Bedisa Dumbadze


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USD
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GBP
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