Mtskheta, Georgia's ancient capital, is sheltered from the west by a mountain range and sits at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers. Mtskheta maintained its status as the capital until the 6th century CE when Dachi, the son of Tbilisi’s founder King Vakhtang Gorgasali, moved the royal throne to Tbilisi.
Turn right and you'll see Jvari Monastery, which is perched high on a mountain and can be seen from the highway below. The monumental architecture of this cultural and religious site from the 5th century is well-preserved. From Jvari Monastery, you can enjoy a wonderful view of Mtskheta, Mtkvari, and Aragvi valleys and endless mountain horizons.
Once you've returned to the main road from Jvari Monastery, you'll soon come to another crossroad: at this point, turn right to continue along the Aragvi valley's winding path.
In about 30 minutes, you will find yourself at the huge Zhinvali reservoir, which is supplied with water by the White and Black Aragvi rivers. But you can't see any of those hues in the reservoir because the artificial lake mirrors the color of the sky above it.
Go for a boat ride on the reservoir, swim at certain times throughout the year, and fish during the months permitted by Georgian Law.
The Aragvi valley narrows after Zhinvali, and you'll reach Pasanauri town, where you can eat lunch in a local restaurant and try some Khinkali. A serpentine path leads from Pasanauri to the Gudauri ski resort.
At an altitude of over 2,200 meters, in an area known as the alpine zone, surrounded by massive mountains linked by modern cable cars, you'll find a variety of hotels, apartments, restaurants, and bars, that cater specifically to winter sports enthusiasts.
It is a unique place for professional and amateur skiers and snowboarders, with various categories of pistes. In summer, Gudauri is the center of attraction for paragliders. Fly over the deep valleys of this part of Georgia with professional instructors.
The town of Stepantsminda can be reached from Gudauri by car in about 40 minutes. Stepantsminda is home to a wide variety of hotels, from budget to luxury ones.
When you first set foot in this town, you can't help but look up. The Gergeti Trinity (Sameba) Church and Mount Kazbegi will catch your eye.
Colors and tones on the mountains shift as the sun moves across the sky. If your neck begins to ache, it's time to ascend to eagle heights and gaze out from the Gergeti Church. There are a few kilometers of the winding road leading to Gergeti, but it's a fairly easy drive. Physically fit tourists often hike to Gergeti by foot - it takes around an hour.
After enjoying the view of the small town and large mountain Kuro behind it, you should look to the left and catch a glimpse of the huge rocky slope of Mount Kazbegi.
Further up, we can see a glacier buried under snow and ice, with an appearance of a white-bearded old man sleeping peacefully. The glacier, in all its grandeur, can be seen even from Tbilisi in good weather.
The next morning, let's head back to Zhinvali and take a right towards Pshav-Khevsureti area. This region is home to a wealth of historic sites, including natural landmarks and exceptional examples of Georgian architecture.
One of the wonders of this region is Shatili fortress-village, which is the clearest example of the architectural abilities of the highlander Georgians. The average height is 1,400 meters above sea level and is spread across the northern slope of the Caucasus watershed.
Historically, the stone fortress in Shatili served as both a defensive and a residential facility. This monument has been on the Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage since 2007.
Mutso, another ancient residential and defensive complex, will never be outshone by any other wonder of the world. This ancient settlement is on high steep rocks in the Ardoti River Valley, 1,800 meters above sea level.
Like Shatili, Mutso is spread over the northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus and protected Georgia from invaders from the north. Over the last century, Mutso has been completely deserted. About forty preserved buildings will take you back to the Middle Ages.
Narrow footpaths link Arkhoti to the rest of Georgia. Olden days seem to have lingered here forever. There are only three sparsely populated villages in this entire region. The main temple of the locals is Akhieli’s Archangel Michael’s church.
The village of Roshka is one of the Khevsureti's oldest. Few families now permanently live in the once-bustling village. The village has preserved its historical buildings and shrines, including the Cross of Didgori and the Cross of the Archangel.
Careful! The breathtaking scenery of the Abudalauri Lakes might tempt you to jump into the ice-cold water!
There are three lakes close to each other: green, blue and white. This magnificent scenery will always serve as an everlasting source of inspiration. So what are you waiting for? Go up to the mountains and explore authentic Georgia!