Driving distance (one way): 140 km, 2 hr 50 mins.
Hiking distance: 5 km, 2 hours; 390 m ↑ and 390 m ↓
Hike Difficulty: Easy; (Rocky terrain, make sure to wear hiking boots!)
8:00 AM, pick up from Tbilisi. Drive to southern part of Georgia, passing by Tskneti and continuing to Tsalka, largest settlement and municipality center of Kvemo Kartli region.
Soon after leaving Tbilisi, we will make a short stop at the viewpoint called “Sidedris Ena” (Eng: “Tongue of Mother in Law”), which was featured in Hollywood movie about Russo-Georgian war in 2008 called - 5 Days of War, among others starring Rupert Friend, Andy Garcia and Val Kilmer.
Our next stop will be in village Tambovka, located at the shores of Paravani lake (the largest alpine lake in Georgia). This village was founded by Russian Doukhobors (Christian religious group) and there are few of them that still live there, despite harsh climatic conditions.
Their settlements are characterized by very unique form of architecture. Even though, most of the houses are in ruins, there are several examples of traditional Doukhobor houses, with green roofing and fancy facades.
After visiting the village, we will continue west towards the mountains, where our hike begins. The trail here is not marked, so it is advisable to always follow your guide, as the “path” is barely noticeable and lies or rocky terrain with not very stable rocks. The upper section of the trail hides a big surprise for the visitors – ancient “street” that is made out of finely laid flat rocks, which must have been constructed some thousands of years ago. This final and most pleasant to walk section, leads you to the main highlight of the journey – Shaori megalithic fort, located on top of the mountain.
Until today, it is not certain what was the purpose of this construction, some scholars say it was used for Astronomic observations while others are more inclined to its sacral origin and proclaim it as an ancient pagan temple. Whichever it is, one can definitely feel its mysterious atmosphere.
After reaching the top and a picnic lunch at the fortress, we will slowly descend back to our vehicle and drive back to Tbilisi, fully charged with positive energy and peaceful atmosphere of the visited sight.