Racha, the birthplace of beauty!
Lechkhumi, the unique, God-given creation of nature!
Racha-Lechkhumi is the greatest union of all!
This land is not only famous for its mountains and rivers, nor is it well-known only for its rich forests and sour mineral waters. Rather, Racha-Lechkhumi is the land of special people – good and loving, caring and diligent and apart from that, it is a cloister of myts and legends.
Lechkhumi – its beauty, shrouded in mystery, is a challenge not only for any traveler, but also for anyone who loves adventures.
A poet once said: if you have never been to Racha, then you don’t know what beauty is. That is why you should follow the lens of our cameras and see this jewel lost in Georgias mountains with your own eyes.
Lower Racha is the one with the colorful wings! As for the skies above, you will see them in higher Racha. Mountains Racha is even higher. It is also called Grapeless Racha. It is relatively poor in crops but so beautiful that anyone who visits this land will think that all the worlds beauty has accumulated in this tiny place.
The beautiful region is located in the mountainous area of western Georgia and includes two historical-geographical provinces of Racha and Lechkhumi.
Racha-Lechkhumi′s originality and uniqueness is defined not only by its geographical location, but also by rich and diverse flora and fauna.anyone who sees this mountainous land, its snow-cowered peaks and slopes, rivers and waterfalls, great number of forests, natural caves and grottos, passes, alpine pastures and fields, beautiful roads and paths, as well as Shaori and Lajanuri reservoirs, will not be disappointed. But apart from that, this region is rich in history, culture and folklore…
There are also numerous mineral water springs and resorts; Shovi, Utsera, Lashichala, Kveshvake, Muashi, Sortuani, Bugeuli, Khidikari, where more than 25 types of eponymous mineral and sulfur waters are found. Khidikari, Tsesigora, Uravi, Bari, Skhepuri, Kvedi Lake and others stand out for their spectacular landscapes.
There are numerous unique historical-ethnographical, archaeological and architectural monuments here, notably Nikortsminda, Barakoni, Mravaldzali, Patara Oni, Gebi, Kviriketsminda, Lailashi, Minda Fortress, a complex of fortresses called Dakhvdi (meet), Dahkari (strike) and Ar Gaushva (don’t let go), a century-old Oni synagogue, the grave of a 7th century theologist and religious figure Saint Maxime, the monastery in Tsageri municipality etc.
Boulders of Glola
Location: Oni municipality, Southern slope of the main Greater Caucasus mountain watershed range; bank of river Chanchakhi, confluence of Bokostskali; 1280 meters above sea level.
Access road: distance from Tbilisi – 320 km, from Kutaisi – 130 km, from Ambrolauri – 60 km, from Oni – 30 km.
In the village of Glola, in the gorge of river Chanchakhi, comes across a miracle created by the nature – cyclopean granite boulders rolled down from peaks of Greater Caucasus mountain by glaciers during icing period. The size one of them is 11x13x12 meters, the size of the second is 18x10x12 meters.
To the north-east from the Glola glacier boulder, in 2 km, is situated climatic and balneological resort of Shovi with treatment factors like mountain climate and carbohydrate-hydrocarbonate sodium-calcium mineral water of local springs. Resort season lasts here from June to Oktober.
Location: Oni municipality; 1700 m above sea level
Access road: distance from Tbilisi – 295 km, from Ambrolauri – 35 km, from Oni – 20 km
It is exactly the basin of river Kheori where noted Usholta cave made its home. 2150 m-long natural cavity is rich with chemical blurs and blots. Entrance to the cave is square. There is an opening on the bottom wherefrom starts underground gorge of river Bneletura.
Not so easily accessible is an awesome Kheori canyon. Under it, in the so called `blind` gorge, for the distance of 1 km flows river Kheori.
Location: Oni municipality; environs of the village of Mravaldzali, 1840 m above sea level
Access road: distance from Tbilisi – 290 km, from Ambrolauri – 30 km, from Oni – 20 km; from motor road Oni-Ambrolauri towards the village of Mravaldzali runs a rocky road. From the turn of the road to Mravaldzali is the distance from Mravaldzali to the lake is 3 km.
The locals name it Lake of Love. From this spot, along with the lake, opens up a wonderful scenery of the village of Mravaldzali and Racha mountains. `Mravaldzali` means in Georgian `multi-powerful`. This name was given also to the village. To the west from the Mravaldzali lake, near the end of Gholevi rock, is located `glass` lake.
Location: Northern slope of Racha range, river Krikhuli gorge; 1350 meters above sea level
Access road: from the village of Shua Shkvavi a road runs to the south, then in the direction of a well-freezer leads a pathway; distance from Skhvavi – 5 km, distance from Tbilisi – 285 km, from Kutaisi – 95 km, from Ambrolauri –2 km.
This is a deep cave intruding the rock, a natural well the bottom of which is full of snow. In any season of the years the temperature here is lowe than zero degree. Its length is 54 metres, width – 20 meters.
Cave-freezer is easy to pass. Water flowing from crevasses gives birth to ice stalactites, curtains, stalagmites and frozen waterfalls.in the village of Shkvava, district of Kvatadze family, is situated a fortress dating back to XI century named `Kvaratsikhe` (in Georgian, `kvara` – splinter, `tsikhe` – fortress).
Location: Ambrolauri municipality, villages Nikorstminda, Zeda Shavra, Tkhmori, Kveda Gvardia
Access road: from motor way Kutaisi- Oni-Mamisoni there is a fork with a rocky road leading toward the village of Kveda Gvardia and, past it, to the direction of the gorge. Distance from the fork till the entrance of canyon-like gorge of Shareula is 1 km, from Tbilisi – 290 km, from Kutaisi – 64 km, from Ambrolauri – 29 km.
The left arm of river Rioni – Shareula – is a river of 22 km.
Shaori water basin is located at the outset of the river. Its length is 7,1 km, the widest segment – 2,7 km.
In the shareula river gorge it is possible to arrange tours for extreme tourist groups: rafting, equestrian tours, off-roader tours and cultural tours in the breath-taking nature. A comfortable hotel and cottages can serve tourists in Shareula gorge.
There is also Shaori reservoir. Here is the habitat of: common carp, grass carp, silver carp, vimba, chub, trout, barbell, crucian carp, roach.
Around the Shaori cavity (area 180 sq. km) there are many karst tunnels and wells with the depth hovering from 5-15 m, as well as karst caves with until now unexplored underground halls. From the dam of the reservoir to the village of Nikortsminda there is an underground karst lake.
Location: Tsageri municipality, environs of the village of Zeda Sairme, 900 meters above sea level
Access road: Distance from Tbilisi – 290 km, from Tsageri – 30 km, from Kutaisi – 47 km, from Ambrolauri – 30 km; on the motor road Kutaisi-Alpana-Mamisoni there is a fork of a rocky road running to the village of Zeda Sairme and leads to the rocky landslide, distance from the fork is 1 km.
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 and includes territory of Tsageri municipality. The name of `lechkhumi` seems to have been derived from Megrelian `Chkhomi` (fish). The rocks have the shapes of triangular towers and horns. Their comparative height is several tens of meters. Rocks, other than being an interesting tourist destination, can be used also for training of rock climbers.
To the North of Sairme Udabno, between mountains, is laid out the village of Sairme. In the middle, in 2 km, in the mountains there are surviving ruins.
From the viewing point of Sairme landslides to the North-East, within 3 km, there is an architectural monument Labechina dating back to Middle Ages, a hall church.
Location: Tsageri and Tskaltubo municipalities, maximal height above sea level – 2002 meters
Access road: from otor way Kutaisi-Oni there is a fork with a rocky road leading towards the village of Lakhepa and leads to Khvamli; Distance from Tbilisi – 280 km, from Tsageri (via Okureshi) – 34 km, from Kutaisi – 50 km, from Ambrolauri – 45 km;
Khomli, or Khvamli, rocky massif is situated in the historical province of Lechkhumi, between gorges of river Rioni and Tskhenistskhali. Length of the massif is 10,5 km, width – 7 km.
On the elevation of 1700 meters in the massif, there is a `Freezer Overpass` where even in summer heat wave ice lollies are made up. At the top of river Lakhepisgele there is a lake on the height of 1456 meters above sea level. Environs of the lake are the best place for camping.
A unique natural wonder of this massif is also a 16 meter-deep karst well (1620 meters above sea level. ) From the Khvamli massif starts river Nikordziri which creates a 30-meter waterfall in the lower stream.
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 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.
Well-known dishes of the cuisine of Racha are Shkmeruli, Lobio (beans) soup and Lobiani, which is made of lobio stuffing seasoned with bacon. Several weeks are needed to prepare the Rachian bacon. In Racha, Lobiani is baked in the Tone like bread.