2-Day SUV Tour: Kvemo Kartli-Samtskhe-Javakheti

History, culture, and nature are the three calling cards of the mystical Samtskhe-Javakheti region. Georgian and foreign tourists alike are fascinated by the local heritage, which is wonderfully preserved in this part of the country.

Day I – Tbilisi-Tsalka-Vardzia

The tour sets off from Tbilisi to the village of Koda, to the south. Passing the village Asureti (former German colony Elisabetthal), you head to Tsalka, the home of amazing Tsalka (Dashbashi) Canyon.    

From Tsalka Reservoir the road leads on to Paravani Lake, which is the largest natural lake in Georgia. On its banks, there is the village of Poka, a home to a locally famous Poka Convent. Here you can purchase jams, cookies, Georgian cheeses, oil, and various types of bread made by the the nuns.

Afterward, visit Saghamo Lake, which is particularly attractive at sunset, and then keep on going towards Ninotsminda.  The next town of significance is Akhalkalaki, situated between Paravani and Murjakhetistskali Rivers, 1620-1725 m above sea level.  Then head to the village of Apnia and stop in at Kumurdo Cathedral and onward to Vardzia where there are numerous hotels or guesthouses for an overnight stay.   

Day 2 – Vardzia-Akhaltsikhe

After breakfast, visit amazing Vardzia, a rock-hewn city built in the 12th century. It houses an active monastery and preserves many spaces from the past - wine cellars, libraries, public gathering spaces and residential halls. 

Heading north, the main highlights include the staggering Khertvisi Fortress near Aspindza and the village of Rustavi, where, as legend has it, the great Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli was born. The end point of this tour is Akhaltsikhe, well known for beautiful Akhaltsikhe (Rabati) Castle, which dates back to the 9th century. 

Useful information

You will need an SUV or similar type of vehicle to take this route.

Season – all seasons.

Depending on the road and weather conditions,  special tires may be necessary. 

Take a GPS navigator with you, and keep it on.

In the event of an emergency, dial 112.

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