Region of Racha-Lechkhumi and Zemo Svaneti is located in the Nortern part and Western Georgia. It includes three historical provinces of Georgia:Racha, Lechkhumi and Kvemo (lower) Svaneti. The region consists of 4 administrative units – municipalities of Ambrolauri, Lentekhi, Oni and Tsageri. The region is bordered from the WEST BY Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, from the south-by Imereti, from the East – by Shuda Kartli, and from the North – by the Russian Federation. The area of the region is 4600 km.
Today territory of the region in early middle ages comprised two Seristavos (territorial units in Georgia) – Svaneti and Takveri, while from the end of X century it was part of the Racha Saeristavo.
Identity of the region of Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti is determined not only by its geographic location but also by rich landscape, rivers, waterfalls, many forest areas, natural cavities and caves, mountain passes, alpine meadows, picturesque paths and roads, Shaori and Lajanurti reservoirs, diverse flora and fauna… from numerous historical, ethnologic, archeological and architectural monuments in the region Nikortsminda church of XI c. and Barakoni church of XVIII c. Mravaldzali, Little Oni, Gebi, Kvirietsminda, Lailashi are the most distinguished…
Mineral waters and resorts of the region are widely known. There are lots of health, mineral and sulpuric waters in the region.
Resort of Lashichala
Location: southern slope of Lechkhumi range, (Greater Kavkasioni system) gorge of river Lajuanuri
Distance: 20 km away from Tsageri, 40 km away from Ambrolauri, 345 km away from Tbilisi
Sea level: 800-900 m
Climate: low mountain climate, winter mild, with little snow, mean temperature in January 2 degrees, summer warm, mean temperature in August 20 degrees centigrade
Average annual precipitation: 1800-2000 mm
Average comparative annual humidity: 75%
Duration of annual sunny light: 1900-2000 h
Natural treatment factors: low mountain climate and carbonic acid, hydro-, magnesium-calcium mineral waters with general mineralization of 1,5 g/dm3
Types of therapy: mineral water baths and application (drinking), passive climate therapy
Diseases for treatment: chronic inflammations of food digestion organs, musculoskeletal system and peripheral nervous system diseases.
Lechkhumi is historical and geographic region of Western Georgia. It is located in the south of Kavkasioni range, on the spot of Lechkhumi, Egrisi and Racha slope confluence and includes territory of Tsageri municipality. The name of `Lechkhumi` seems to have been derived from Megrelian `Chkhomi` (fish).
The region noted for its historical and natural sights is important also from recreational point of view. Mineral health waters of Lashichala, Alpani, Akhalchala, Agvi-Tsageri, Ladzgveria, Dziguri, Usakhelo discovered and examined on its territory are used for curing diverse diseases.
Health balneological resort of Lashichala, 20 km away from Tsageri, is positioned on the slopes of Lechkhumi range (pine, spruce, fir) forests. There are convenient cottages and health centers with a bathhouse and recreational zone. Recently family hostels have also been added to this infrastructure.
Lechkhumi is separated from Samegrelo by Khvamli mountain of 10 km lenghth width (2002 m above sea level). From the apex of the karst massif of limestone texture opens up panoramic views of Nakerala slope, Racha and Tkibuli environs, and even Likhi and Ajara-Imereti mountains.
Resort of Muashi
Location: southern slope of the Svaneti range
Distance: 350 km away from Tbilisi
Sea level: 1250-1300 m
Climate:middle mountain climate, winter cold, snowy, mean temperature in January -4 degrees, summer moderately warm and dry, mean temperature in August 17,9 degrees centigrade
Average annual precipitation: 2000 mm
Average comparative annual humidity: 78%
Duration of annual sunny light: 1800-1900 h
Natural treatment factors: middle mountain, spring waters: carbohydrate, hydro-carbonate, sodium-calcium, iron mineral waters with general mineralization of 1,8 g/dm3
Types of therapy: Muashi mineral water baths and application and Tsurnashi mineral water baths, passive climate therapy.
Diseases for treatment: Alimentary tract, bone and peripheral nervous system diseases.
Georgias historical and geographic region – Svaneti consists of two parts: Zemo (Upper) and Kvemo (lower) Svaneti divided by Svaneti range. Zemo Svaneti is part of Samegerelo-Zemo Svaneti region while Kvemo Svaneti is included in the Racha-Leckhumi-Kvemo Svaneti region and encompasses Tskhenistskali river gorge from the beginning to the bridge of Muri.
On the Svaneti range there are several passes connecting Zemo and Kvemo Svaneti. Among them is Latpari (2830 m) used for farmling activity (haymaking, timber logging, hunting) and transit of tourists. Auto traffic movement is possible only from July until October, as steep slopes of the range in winter are via two more passes – Lsili (3086 m) and Atkveri (2623 m).
On the Sothern slope of Svaneti range, in the gorge of river Tskenistskali is situated health and spa resort of Muashi noted for its mineral waters. From Muashi it is possible to move to Zeskho gorge where since 1978 have operated mointain climber camps `Ailama` (Ailama is a peak in Zeskho gorge, 4546 m) and Zeskho (1880 m above sea level). `Ailama` was earmarked for professional climbers while Zeskhalo – for amateurs. Since 2003 `Zeskhalo` has started hosting of active holiday makers again.
Resort of Utsera
Location: southern slope of the main range of Greater Kavkasioni, gorge of river Rioni
Distance: 15 km from Oni, 320 km away from Tbilisi
Sea level: 1150 m
Climate: middle mountain climate, winter cold, mean temperature in January -5 degrees, summer moderately warm, mean temperature in August 17 degrees centigrade
Average annual precipitation: 1495 mm
Average comparative annual humidity: 72%
Duration of annual sunny light: 2000 h
Natural treatment factors: low mountain, mineral waters: carbohydrate, iron, boron, hydro-carbonate, sodium mineral waters with general mineralization from 2,2 g/dm3. 1/day of Borjomi-type water and 500 000 – Narzan-type therapy
Types of therapy: mineral water baths and application (drinking), passive climate therapy
Diseases for treatment: food digestion (stomach) and urinary system tracts, gynecological diseases, anemia, light bronchial asthma.
Mountain spa and health resort of Utsera is located in upper Racha, 15 km away from Oni. The name of the village is linked with the Georgian queen, Tamar. It looks like Tamar a nd her ilk travelled in her kingdom. When she was in Racha, she visited Utsera, was enchanted with its beauty and said:`oh, what unspeakable beauty`. As they say, in the course of time, the word `unspeakable` changed and this settlement was called `Utsera (`unwritable` in Georgian). The village is overlooked by so called `Cristal mountain` where crystal glass fragments are mined.
In Utsera 28 cariuos springs gush out of the ground natural mineral water on the surface. In 1913-1914 one of the commercial entities of France got interested in exporting Utsera water to Europe.
Today mineral waters of Utsera are used both as a table drink and for taking baths.
The preserved territory will bring about National Park of Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti, 12 notable sights of nature and 4 Managed Preserved Territories that are home to endemic flora and fauna of Caucasus, Georgia and the region, where tens of plant and animal species from the `Red List` of Georgia are distributed. This is the plase having one of the highest ecological value and development potential for ecotourism.
Location: Racha range, south-western direction of Shaori cavity
Distance: 20 km away from Ambrolauri, 275 km away from Tbilisi
Sea level: 1100 – 1200 m
Climate: middle mountain climate, winter usually with high and long lasting snow cover, mean temperature in January -4,2 degrees, mean temperature in July 17,5 degrees centigrade
Average annual precipitation: 1300-1800 mm
Construction of hydro power plant was launched in the 50-ies of the XX century in the catchment area of river Shaori. Shaori cavity was picked for arranging water supply to HPP. That is how emerged an idea of making a water reservoir in the cavity of a river. Its area is 9,2 sq. km, maximum depth 14,5 m. other than river water, the reservoir gets its feed from underground waters (including mineral water springs) and powerful underground rivers exiting on the surrounding area (Dzrokhistvala, Kvakhetkila, Khvreleti, Chikvaidze Karis Satvale and others).
Aroun the Shaori cavity (area 180 sq.km) there are many karst funnels and wells with the depth hovering from 5-15 m, as well as karts caves with until unexpoded underground halls. From the dam of the reservoir to the village of Nikortsminda there is an underground karst lake.
Cavity is surrounded by Nakerala range covered with forests and Satsaliki mount covered with unique groves of beech trees, Caucasus fir-trees and mixed deciduous trees. There are a lot of mushroom, species in the forest massif: Caesars mushroom, red pine mushroom, chanterelle, russule, milk mushroom.
Recently plan of Shaori territory development has been worked out providing construction of tourism and recreational complex on the territory encircling the reservoir.
Resort of Shovi
Location: southern slope of the main range of Greater Kavkasioni
Distance: 35 km away from Oni, 340 km away from Tbilisi
Sea level: 1600 m
Climate: middle mountain climate, winter cold, mean temperature in January -5,8 degrees, summer moderately warm, mean temperature in August 15,7 degrees centigrade
Average annual precipitation: 1050-1100 mm
Average comparative annual humidity: 76%
Duration of annual sunny light: 2000-2100 h
Natural treatment factors: low mountain climate, carbohydrate, hydro-carbonate, calcium-sodium iron containing mineral waters with general mineralization of 2,0-2,4g/dm3
Types of therapy: mineral water application (drinking), passive climate therapy
Diseases for treatment: respiratory tract diseases, anemia, urinary tracts diseases.
In Upper Racha, in the direction of Mamisoni (Chanchakhi) pass, 16 km away, on the Soutern slope of the highest segment of Greater Kavkasioni – Racha Kavkasioni, is located health and spa resort of Shovi. There are 16 mineral water springs deiscovered until now. Each of them is different with its contents and used for treatment of different diseases.
Scientific research os Shovi mineral waters and construction of the resort starts from 1923.
Shovi is an interesting place for mountain climbing, skiing, rafling. It is known that in this segment of Kavkasioni, on the elevation of 4000 m, there are several peaks that have seen no man on its slopes. Lowvers of walking tours will be interested with a pathway leading to Mamisoni pass (2800 m) following remarkable gorge.
Resort Area of Khidikari
Location: foot-hill of Racha range
Distance: 4 km from Ambrolauri, 294 km from Tbilisi
Sea level: 680 m
Climate: low mountain subtropical climate, mean temperature in January 3 degrees, summer very warm, mean temperature in August 22,1 degrees centigrade
Average annual precipitation: 1000 mm
Average comparative annual humidity: 74%
Duration of annual sunny light: 1900-2000h
Natural treatment factors: low mountain climate, mineral waters with general mineralization of 0,4-0,8 g/dm3
Types of therapy: mineral water baths and application, passive climate therapy
Diseases for treatment: musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous system functional disorders.
Resort of Khidikari is located 4 km away from Ambrolauri center. The main point of interest in this historical village is a hall church of St. George dating XI c. ruins of later Middle ages `Tsulukidze Tower` and medieval Khidikari Fortress at the entrance to the village, between rocks in the Rioni river gorge. This Fortress for centuries was a shelter from the east side for the residence of Rachas Eristavi (rullers) Barakoni while on the other side the Fortress of Mindatsikhe stood guard. The Fortresses had the function of giving alarm, maintaining a look-out and providing defense.
Racha-Lechkhumi plays an important role in manufacturing sweet and semi-sweet wines. Ambrolauri is well-known as a micro zone of the Georgian wine brand of `Khvanchkara`. Naturally semisweet wine Khvanchkara is made by mixing two Georgian grapes varieties – Alexandrouli and Mujuretuli. It has a ruby color and velvety, pleasing sweetish taste.. in 1907 this wine was awarded Gold Medal in the wine festival held in the Belgian city of Ostend.