The monuments of Khelvachauri are centuries old, with an impressive collection of fortresses and bridges to be explored.
The ancient fortresses of Gonio and Gvara boast gorgeous views of the confluence of the Chorokhi and Machakhela Rivers, with Gvara also home to twenty-two Qvevris dating back to the 11th century.
Chkhutuneti Fortress remains only as ruins, but you’ll be fascinated by the 32-metre-long tunnel that has survived to the present day. The views from this crumbled fortification are exceptional, with the both Machakhela River and Daviteti Gorge visible from its lofty perch.
With so many rivers crisscrossing the region, it is no surprise that Kvelvachauri is also the home of several impressive bridges. These include the 11th-13th century Mirveti Arch Bridge, restored in 2013, and the 22-metre long Tskhemlara Arch Bridge over the Machakhela River. The Tskhemlara Bridge is still in regular use today, and was granted the status of an Immovable Cultural Monument in 2006.
It is the region’s natural beauty that makes it such a drawcard, with an abundance of wildlife the likes of which you’ll find in few other places. Visitors to the region may spot bears, wolves, and deer, along with a variety of birdlife that includes quail, kites, hoopoes, rooks, woodcocks, swans, and ducks.
Both the Mtirala and Machakhela National Parks lie within Khelvachauri. Mountainous Mtirala is considered the most humid place in Georgia, with mist and rain so common here that the name - Mtirala - means “crybaby” in Georgian!
Machakhela is a well-known misty forest on the slopes around the Machakhela River. A true arborist’s paradise, there are a variety of unique and rare species of plant here, making it an arboreal safari.
Both parks have marked trails, shelters, and all the infrastructure needed for hiking. To hike in Machakhela Park you need to set it up with the park’s administration five days in advance. As it is a border area, you will need a pass.