Dzama gorge, hidden between valleys of Kartli and Borjomi forests, which is a home to around 50 new and old monasteries, represents a sacred place for Georgians. It is also favorite destination for Georgian hikers due to proximity from the capital (120-140km from Tbilisi) and Bateti lake – small lake on the mountain plateau surrounded by mixed forests and beautiful swamp on the southern shore.
It’s great destination to feel all colors of the seasons: spring, fall and winter and spring again – like it is in the Korean movie – tranquility, isolation from outside world, purification of your spirit, lake and monasteries, autumn leaves, snowed and frozen lake, fresh colors of spring, like a life cycle…
Could be somewhat different and adventurous, but if interested and if you are a right person, you can try to live 1 or 2 weeks with monks in the monastery, help them in their agricultural work, farm, follow their strict rules and prayers and discover ancient and conservative Georgian orthodox Christianity, enrich your spiritual world and gain something invaluable, unforgettable experience.
How to get to Dzama Gorge
Dzama gorge can be accessed from Tbilisi by any car – or from small town of Kareli by taxi or hitchhiking. Newly built good asphalted road can lead you few kilometers from Kozipa Monastery and most monasteries in the main gorge are near but Abukhalo area monasteries are not reachable nearby by regular car. Those area requires hike with some sections flooded by river. But somewhere deep in the gorge you may be picked up by big trucks for wood.
As for the main section of Dzama gorge, on the road you will see the signs for monasteries and kilometrages. Some of the interesting Monasteries include: Mukhileti, Mzovreti, Karmeli, Abukhalo and Sarkineti but you may find some even more exotic one where they will meet you with warmth and hospitality.
One of the first monasteries which you can see on the way back from the Dzama gorge is Kintsvisi (and a monastery above it for the views) which is more often visited by tourists has beautiful surroundings during times of golden autumn and frescoes of famous Kintvisi angel and Queen Tamar. Anyway I dont recommend Kintsvisi in comparison to some less touristic monasteries of Dzama Gorge.
Bateti Lake is located near village Kodmani 40min muddy ascent from the road (turn left at the sign – Tbeti Monastery) It is of landslide origin with 0,02km surface. The best time to visit is during fall colors of October month, It can be frozen but also very beautiful after fresh snow. It is also possible to camp in summer.
Longer and interesting Bateti hiking route can be arranged in the gorge starting from Abukhalo monastery crossing the Trialeti range to Gurjareti gorge and Timotesubani church in Borjomi, alternative start can be to start from Levitana village in Gori and continue through Abukhalo to Gujareti.