Jeeptour or just roadtrip to Racha region can be continued Lechkhumi (Tsageri district) which can make perfect roundtrip from Kutaisi, or if you are doing a jeeptour you can even continue towards Lentekhi area visit resorts Muashi and Zeskho, and head to Tsana and Ushguli. In addition to sights (waterfalls lakes, old churches), recommended jeep tour/offroading routes are resorts Akhalchala and Dzughuri resorts. Also you can do jeeptour or trekking to sacred mountain of Khvamli where Prometheus (Greek mythological hero) was enchained and where according to legend main treasure of Georgian kingdom was kept in the hidden cave during the Mongol invasion of rich and flourishing Georgian state in the 13th century. Other notable trekking routes start from Kulbaki : 1) Towards Akhalchala resort 2) towards Lebarde alpine lakes in Samegrelo 3) towards Askhi massif. Those routes make Lechkhumi interesting and exotic destination for trekking and hiking.

Nakuraleshi By Tamar Letodiani

Ghvirishi waterfall by Lasha Margalitadze

Nakuraleshi st George church and Ghvirishi waterfall jeep route is the first interesting detour from the main road. Road turns from Alpana village towards Kutaisi via Rioni gorge, then from the main road you head up to Ghvirishi village. Road is spectacular, as you drive at the edge of beautiful cliffs.Then you reach the point from where you can look down the waterfall. Ghvirishi waterfall is very high and by car you make it above the waterfall, but May-June is more impressive period for it as water levels are higher and green color is more sharp. Then road continues to Nakuraleshi st.George church. Why its impressive – first of all, from the area of the church (beautiful field and camping place and huge sacred oak) you can have view to Askhi massif, Mt.Tsikuri and surrounding mountains. The church itself has very rich colors and unique paintings which are even on the outside walls. In Georgia apart from Labechina and Nakuraleshi churches outside painting is only in Svaneti. Third, there is an impressive cemetery in the churchyard with funny bareliefs describing interests of people burried there (like guitar, sewing machine etc). If you are hiking you can continue to Mt.Khvamli from here and then descend to Okureshi side. In Pilgrimage/historical monuments tour I would suggest going down Rioni valley visiting Goni, Derchi and Zarati churches, but in a roadtrip with some sights I suggest continuing towards Orbeli pass and Tsageri and then to Kutaisi via Usakhelouri vineyards of Okureshi.

Nakuraleshi cemetery

Frescoes Nakuraleshi

Even before you reach Alpana you could visit Sairme Pillars– drive and do short hike to the viewpoint above pillars, or just take a photo from below (can be seen from the main road). Pillars are not as impressive as the ones in Zhangjiajie National Park, China but of course it depends on photographer.

Sairme Pillars by Tamar Letodiani

Next photo destination is Lajanuri reservoir on the road. For the better views of Reservoir, and for some impressive photo session, its recommended to go up to Lailashi pool. Its not really a place to swim or special sight, but view from there you can see on the photos. after Lailashi, before crossing Orbeli pass there is turn to Lashichala resort, from where you can hike to Lower Svaneti or you can reach another more remote resort Dzughuri which has mineral waters. From Dzughuri high up in the mountains there is also some kind of alpine lake.

Askhi Pleatau trek, Kulbaki Lakes from Askhi

Askhi Pleatau/Massif trek, Kulbaki Lakes from Askhi

Crossing Orbeli pass to Tsageri is always some kind of sight, especially at night it can be great view to Tsageri. There are 3 towers visible from above names of which sound like battle scene: wait for, hit and dont let it go.Canyon below heading north towards Lentekhi is called Green theater and there is a tomb with grave of St.Maxime. On the road towards Kutaisi there is nearby sight: Rachkha waterfall in village Makhura, but there is longer detour Kulbaki village.

Walk from Dekhviri to Tskheta by Tamar Letodiani

Before you reach Kulbaki lake there is one important and interesting detour from Tsageri. 8km from the town there is Dekhviri medieval fortress ruins and open air archeological museum with some of the monuments dating back VIII-IV centuries BC  including ancient wine cellar. 1km from Dekhviri you can visit Tskheta church which is the only domed church in the area.

 

Kulbaki lakes by Geomegzuri (Levan Enukidze)

Next and must detour from main road is Kulbaki village and lakes – Babushkino lake which is large and beautiful with high forested mountains around it and some streams, also green lake which has trout farm and cottage to sleep. The area of lakes and village Kulbaki itself is great area for rest in summer, with number of hike routes and cold relaxing river Jonouli. The gorge is colder/cooler and more relaxing than other hotter villages of Lechkhumi and this makes an area great place for rest. From Kulbaki you could hike to Askhi massif (even descend to Kinchkha area from there) or hike to Akhalchala, but the most beautiful and recommended wild route is trek towards Lebarde’s alpine lakes, then maybe descend to the resort and further by gorge down to Martvili, or cross the pass to Bavari in Lentekhi. Lebarde’s lakes are also called Tobavarckhili lakes (silver lakes) but dont mix it with Tobavarckhili trek.

Lebarde’s chiche Tobavarckhkhili lake by Sofo Chincharauli

Lebardes Tobavarckhili lake (by Green Zebra)

Lebarde lakes By Sofo Chincharauli

By jeep route from Tsageri via zemo Lukhvano village (20+km of dirt trial only for soviet trucks or hike) you can make it to abandoned resort Akhalchala which for locals is a symbol of great nature and majestic place for relaxation in summer. From Akhalchala resort you can climb to Mt.Tsikuri and descend to Kulbaki village. You will need at least 3 days for hiking. Its recommended to stop and rest in Akhalchala for at least 1 full day without hiking and take water for the next days as you will need to hike on the ridge.  At the end of Hike you can get friend trout at Kulbaki green lake and have relaxing swim in heavenly Jonouli river and remember your childhood as local great poet from this area asks us in his poem – Bardnala to  remember cold springs we have tasted (Binuli in Lechkhumi dialect), fishing in Tskhenistskali river, getting drunk with best friends, getting caught in strong rain during hiking, tears and smiles of your parents and feel that it came back for a second.

one of the huts in Akhalchala, By Lasha Gogebashvili

You can also do trek to mt.Khvamli – most popular trekking and jeep route in the area, which I have described here.

How to get to Lechkhumi:  The best would be arranged car from Kutaisi, roundtrip of Racha and Lechkhumi sights. If you plan to arrive specifically to some area for trekking by public transport, then you can also take afternoon bus to Tsageri from Kutaisi station (near Mcdonalds) and get off at Okureshi in case of Khvamli, or at turn to Kulbaki in case of trekking from Kulbaki. You can see Lechkhumi fb page for more photos.

Lailashi Pool with view to Lajanuri reservoir (popular photo sessions pool)

Road to Lechkhumi By Levan Enukidze Kardinali

For the map and gps tracks please see:

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About The Author

Georgian Tour Adviser (Davit Berishvili) - I have travelled to all of the places posted here and I am happy to share my experience. However, this is for informational purposes only - to help you plan your trip in Georgia. You are welcome to share, comment, correct me or suggest your ideas. Besides, you could also contact me through contact form/fb/email if you want an arranged tour. Please like our fb page to get updates. Hope you will come back soon.

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