A modern town with a storied history, Chkhorotsku’s name is derived from the Megrelian word for “nine springs”. Local legend states that nine springs once flowed in this place: one bitter, one hot, one salty, and six freezing and crystal clear.
One of these springs is called Lugela. Located in the nearby village of Mukhuri, Lugela’s waters contain 99.5% calcium, making them especially good for children. Visitors can soak in Lugela’s healing waters, enjoy a horse ride, or simply swim in the Khobistskali River on a day trip, or they can overnight in the village and bask in its idyllic rural charm.
Ask a local what to do in Chkhorotsku and they’ll point you towards the city’s Central Park. Here, you’ll find ten Ginkgo biloba trees, a species that dates back to the Jurassic Period when dinosaurs roamed the earth and the flowering plants we know today did not yet exist. While these trees are not native to Georgia, their status on the IUCN Red List as being in danger of extinction makes them a rare sight indeed!
If you want to stretch your legs while seeing the region’s natural beauty, following the Khobistskali to Gvalashara and Ghunji Waterfalls, and the numerous alpine lakes that dot the countryside is a must. There are hiking trails to follow the Khobistskali River all the way to its source, some easy and some hard, but all of them are better to be taken with the assistance of a guide.
In the heat of summer, the river is a wonderful training ground for amateur kayakers, while picnickers gathering along the riverbanks snap pictures and dip their toes in the blessedly cool water.
For history buffs, there are a number of significant monuments and historic sites surrounding Chkhorotsku. For example, one of the largest caves in all of the Caucasus can be found below Otsindale Monastery, whose grounds afford a view of Abkhazia, Samegrelo, Ajara, Imereti, and the mountains of Svaneti.
If you’re looking to get off the beaten track and soak in some of nature’s splendor, Chkhorotsku and it's surroundings are a must-see.