If hiking is your travel style, Georgia, as a land of the oldest forests, would be a good choice. Think about a two-day tour to the Kintrishi Protected Landscape. (Kintrishi is the first protected area in Adjara). You will find there unbelievable beauty and tranquility of a million year Colchic type fauna and flora. I will explain everything in details, but before that, I’ll give you some facts to prove that you should go there.
Did you know, that Caucasus, due to its unique biodiversity, is in the list of the world’s 200 ecoregions? It is also one of the 34 hotspots, having plenty of ecosystems and being on the verge of extinction.
The Kintrishi Protected Area contains a Colchic type fauna and flora of a tertiary period. The Tertiary Period is the age of formation of the huge mountain massifs that took place 67 million years ago and lasted for 42 million years. The present-day Kintrishi territory was formed at that time, as well.
Better once to see, than hundred times to hear
The number of visitors in the Kintrishi Protected Area is growing from year to year. The most popular season is summer and the month – August. If you decide to walk, it will take two days to cover the route. Hiking is definitely the best way to discover biodiversity of the area. Choose the right time and good weather and don’t forget to visit the below-mentioned places.
How to get there?
Minibuses from Batumi (from the territory of Catholic Church) to Kobuleti depart every 15-20 minutes. In Kobuleti you have to change transport and take a bus to Chakhati village. The eight- kilometer distance from Chakhati to Kintrishi visitor center has to be covered on foot or you might get lucky and meet somebody going the same direction by car.
Alternatively, you can rent a taxi or a comfortable SUV and get to the place.
Anyway, put on comfortable hiking shoes, as you will have to cover two tourist trails there.
Route 1: from Tamar Arched Bridge to the waterfall
Queen Tamar Arched Bridge on Kintrishi River. The construction belongs to the period of the architectural art prosperity. Accordingly, you will obtain a clear picture of the Georgian Masonry of the second period (XI –XII centuries).
1000– 900-year old Tamar Bridge is regarded a monument of Rustaveli’s epoch. According to the legends, it was built by Queen Tamar.
There are two historically significant bridges in the Kintrishi Gorge: one – on the way to the protected area, and another – within the protected landscape.
600 meters away from the Arch Bridge, there is the Tskhemvani Saint George’s Monastery.
There is a footpath stretching from the churchyard into the depth of the mixed, Colchic, mostly deciduous forest. The warm and damp climate is perfect for chestnut, beech, oak and lime tree forests. The same path is leading to the oldest wine-jars and the picnic arbor.
Having left the churchyard, you have to go up to see the waterfall.
You will meet box copses, various shades and green, breathtaking spaces on your way The same path is leading to the oldest wine-jars and the picnic arbor.
Many beautiful places have to be photographed – a couple of houses by the roadside, with bee-keepers and different color beehives in the yard.
Where to stay?
The first day of your travel has come to its end. Being under deep impressions, you probably did not even notice when it ended. It is up to you whether to stay in a tent or a wooden cottage.
Route # 2 – Taxus baccata and the Tbikheli Lake
Good morning. You have, probably, never started your day with such an eye-catching panoramic views. Today, you will ascend to the height of 2,000 meters, so get ready for more inspiring adventures. From subtropical lowland to the subalpine meadows, you will be able to get acquainted with the climate and biodiversity changes.
Taxus baccata (yew-tree)
The road in the mountains and deep forests will take you to the Taxus baccata (yew). It is a unique plant – relict species of the Tertiary Period (started 67 million years ago). This relict species is in the red list of rare and endangered plants. In the Kintrishi Protected Area, village Didvake, there are two trees of Taxus Baccata. One of them is about 2,000 – 3,000 years old.
In Georgia, there are many legends concerning the yew tree. One of them is connected with Jesus, that’s why it is also called a “God’s tree”. Another legend represents the origin of its name. Queen Tamar was asked to allow a tree felling in a yew forest. She answered – “Don’t ask me that” - the words consequently formed the basis of the tree name – “Utkhovari”.
The Yew tree is also special because it is the only coniferous species, not bearing cones. It is at the top of the “Red List” of almost all countries.
On the roadside, you will be dazzled by golden sunrays spreading over the gorgeous daisy fields
Five kilometers away from here, there is the last village of the gorge – Khino, with the only inhabitant, monastery and the oldest church ruins. They say that the name of the village “Khino” is related to Queen Tamar. Once she spent a good time in the village. The name “Khino” is derived from Georgian “Lkhini or lkhena”, meaning mirth or feast.
Khinotsminda church, according to its building technology and masonry belongs to the VIII-IX centuries. Judging from history, in 1860-s, the only part that survived was the altar, which was finally destroyed in 1919.
Now, monks are working on restoring of the shrine. They live right here, in the monastery. The monks have two very friendly Caucasian Shepherds – Loma and Tetra, which especially like visitors.
From the church ruins, there are 12 kilometers left before the culmination of the eco-route. Breathe deep, you are climbing to the height of 2000 meters above sea level. And what do you see there? Tbikheli – the lake placed between mountains enchants you with its oval form and smooth and shiny surface
Reading this blog, you can definitely feel the charm and atmosphere of the Kintrishi Protected Landscape, but to make your heart beat in excitement, you should see the boundless beauty and diversity of the nature with your own eyes. And then you would say that you saw the oldest Georgian forests and would share your experience with others, just like I did.