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Arkhoti-Tanie Valley, Tanie Lake-Kistani

This route, from the Assa River Valley to Kalotani Pass (2,978 meters above sea level), and then eastward to Kistani through the main Caucasus Mountain Range, allows you to cross Khevsureti from east to the west. The length of the route is about 26 kilometers, and it takes two days to complete. The route is harder than average, requiring you to cross rivers more than once, but that makes the experience both unforgettable and rewarding. Make sure you have waterproof shoes ready, as you will definitely need them.

Day 1: Akhieli Village to Tanie River

The route starts in the village of Akhieli in the Arkhoti Valley, 1,800 meters above sea level. From there, you follow the Assa River Valley for three kilometers, until you come to the village of Amgha, which is 1,720 meters above sea level. Amgha is the last Georgian village in Arkhoti Valley, after which the nearest populated place is in Ingushetia, 18 to 20 kilometers away.

Keep going for around 1.5 kilometers into the Assa River Valley, and the path will gradually narrow, leading to a canyon, where you have to cross the river and follow its right bank.

Three kilometers later, a tributary will join the Assa River from the right. This is the Taniestskali River, which is fairly deep, and has to be crossed carefully in certain places. 

After another 12 kilometers, you will come to a Georgian border police post. You must register there, because of the proximity to the border with Russia (Ingushetia). Thereafter, you can set up camp there or continue on towards Tanie Lake, which is another six kilometers.

Near the beautiful, crystal-clear Tanie Lake, shaped like a heart and approximately 2,232 meters above sea level, there are some amazing places to camp. Indeed, you can cool down at the lake as well, if the water isn’t too cold for you.

Day 2: Tanie Lake to Kistani

From Tanie Lake you follow the valley up to Tanie Pass, where you will find yourself at a sort of interchange; instead of going south, keep taking the path downwards toward the village of Ukankhadu. 

After about 1.5 kilometers, turn east onto a slope. Rather than descending, follow the slope until you cross onto the ridge. After following the ridge for one kilometer, you will arrive at an intersection of ridges. Take the path towards the east and follow the ridge on your left.

After three kilometers, you will again arrive at an intersection of ridges and, once again, you should take the path to the left. From the ridge, you will see Kistani Fortresses. Keep going for two kilometers, taking the ridge down into the valley, to the village of Kistani, passing to the right of Kistani Fortresses, and coming to the side of a road.

Kistani (2,080 meters above sea level), is known as a fortress town with as many as 30 feudal fortresses here, which served both defensive and domestic functions. The densely-packed fortress-houses and the mountains rising up into the sky behind them make for an exceptional sight.

From Kistani, you can take a car and continue onward to Shatili or return to the valley towards Barisakho. 

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