It takes only one hour and 50 minutes to cover the distance. There is also another way to Telavi - via Sagarejo and Gurjaani. However, this adds an extra 40 minutes to the trip.
So if you are not afraid of sharp turns, serpentines and altitude, you can choose to drive via Gombori Pass. The road is beautiful at any time of the year, especially in autumn, when you can see all the variety of colors abound. On your way, you will pass subalpine fields full of flowers, hills and woods, and once you cross the pass, you can immediately see the famous Caucasus Mountain Range.
The highest point above sea level on the Gombori pass is 1620 meters. If the weather is good, you can see the sun rolling down and getting lost in the haze over Tbilisi.
In the middle of the autumn, the way may be covered by a milky fog or snow. In this case, you have to slow down while driving.
Gombor belongs to Sagarejo Municipality and is 50 km away from the regional center.
The pass connects Tbilisi to the regions of Telavi and Akhmeta, partly to Kvareli region and surrounding villages.
There are very fertile lands here. Locals raise livestock and garden. On the road, next to the settlements, farmers sell products from local farms, with a distinguished taste – ecologically clean vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, as well as cheese and honey. Gombori walnuts are also very famous. You can find many wild berries, cranberries, blueberries, gooseberries, mushrooms and blackberries here too.
On the road you can see small villages. The biggest settlement here is the village Gombori. It is located 1050 meters above sea level. Since olden times, there was a road connecting internal and external Kakheti and it was an important strategic point. People settled here from Pshav-Khevsureti a long time ago. It’s been more than a century that the Laiji people have been living in Gombori together with Georgians. They were classified as Azerbaijanis during the general census (as they moved from the village of Lahiji, Baku province, at the beginning of the 20th century), although they now consider Georgia as their homeland.
Near the village Gombori, next to the road there is the memorial to the Georgians who died during World War II.
To the right of the pass, on the right embankment of the Iori river, on a rocky ridge, you will see the ruins of a fortress - this is the historical fortress-city of Ujarma, which was built in the III-IV centuries and played a crucial role in the safety of this area – it was the closing gate of the narrow outlet of the Iori river.
From the Pass, the road takes you through a leafy forest. Here you should take the chance and see the monastery complex – one of the most unique monuments of Georgian architecture – Old and New Shuamta.
The Old Shuamta complex includes three churches, the oldest of which is a three-aisled basilica – dating back to the 5th century and it is one of the most important and noteworthy examples of Georgian architecture. The other two churches of the complex were built in the 7th century. Currently, the Old Shuamta complex is not active, however it still hosts lots of visitors.
The New Shuamta nunnery is active and is one of its most important sacred images is the icon of the Khakhuli Virgin Mary. The icon is strewed with gold and precious stones - diamonds, pearls and turquoise. Nowadays, it is kept in the treasury of the Georgian National Museum of Arts.
Over the years, the road on the Gombori Pass wasn’t repaired, and the ground was frequently damaged, which made driving near impossible and travelling to Telavi was more comfortable by passing through Gurjaani.
Nowadays, the whole road through the Pass is asphalted, as it has national importance thus transportation is also available at any time of the year. The Roads Department of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia takes care of this issue, and 75% of the flow of vehicles consist of automobiles.
The road starts from Tbilisi, near Vaziani settlement and ends in Telavi. The total length of the road is 65 kilometers. On the 45th km it is 1620 meters above sea level.
Despite the fact that it is a serpentine, you may meet here backpackers and people with bicycles in warm seasons. On the road, in the forests and river gorges there are many places for camping, as well as places to pitch tents, and the villagers will share some local fruits, vodka and traditional bread. There are many things to see for both hiking lovers and those who are just interested in historical monuments and nature.
By passing the Gombori Pass, you arrive at the ancient and beautiful city of Telavi, where you can find even more interesting things to see – Alaverdi, Gremi, Nekresi, Tsinandali and Kvareli. On Zuzumbo, the Caucasus will meet you with all its glory!