Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tours around Tbilisi (6): Davit Garedja Cave Monasteries

Tbilisi offers a wide range of 1- day tours.
Georgian Tourism Association (GTA) has tested some of them.

Please note:
GTA does not sell tours, the service is for information only and we do not take responsibility for any inconvenience that people might encounter during the proposed tours.


Tour 6: Davit Garedja Cave Monasteries

Discover the cave monasteries around Davit Garedja / Udabno on the border of Georgia and Azerbaijan. A great classic.

A 1 ½ hour drive takes you to the famous Lavra monastery in the semi-desert area of Davit Garedja bordering Azerbaijan. It is possible to drive via Rustavi (more scenic) or via Sagaredjo (better road).

After visiting the monastery (with long trousers & covered shoulders) walk up the hill right behind the monastery to reach a huge rock face. Follow the path which bypasses it on the left and continue to the small chapel at the top. From there descend slightly to your right and follow the obvious path below the rocky ridge to visit the Udabno Caves with remains of wonderful frescos.

There are several smaller cave monasteries in the vicinity to spend a few days camping and exploring the area full of birdlife and desert colors.

Be careful with snakes when walking though high grass, over exposed rocks or reaching into dark holes, especially in spring, as the area is habitat of the dangerous Lebetine Viper.

How to get there
Public transport was offered during summer 2007 with Yellow City Buses (10 GEL). If this service will be offered in the future is uncertain.
Taxi or organized tours are the alternatives if you do not have an own car. The best road is reached when you turn right after passing through Sagaredjo (on the M5 direction Telavi).

Culinary advice
If you want to make the round trip it makes sense to start with a drive through Rustavi and go for wine tasting and Georgian food in Sagaredjo on the way back.
If you prefer beer and a more “industrial” scenery as a contrast you may go the other way round and visit Kazbegi brewery in Rustavi.

Best Season
All year, but in summer the area can be quite hot.

More information
See Guidebook: Peter Nasmyth: “Walking in the Caucasus”.


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