Distance: 42 km, hiking time: 3 days; height: 550-2800 m.a.s.l., difficulty: medium-high, partially steep and narrow trails, sure-footedness and proper hiking equipment needed; horseback riding is possible.
Not only National Geographic honored this adventurous 3-days-hike as one of the most beautiful in Georgia. Up to 3000 m.a.s.l. you will get astonishing views of the Caucasian Mountain Range and the famous Black Rock Lake. You can either sleep in your tent or in alpine, self-catering huts. Don’t forget to bring your own sleeping bag, passport and enough food for 3 days!
Starting your tour at ~550 m.a.s.l. you will walk through a rather unique beech-hornbeam forest. After around 6 hours, you will reach the subalpine zone with alpine shrubs, maple and oak trees. In 1-2 h you will reach the tourist shelter “Meteo” at ~2000 m.a.s.l., which can accommodate max. 16 people. Here you can refill your water bottles, find a picnic site and a campsite.
On the second day, the path continues in the Alpine Zone where the forest strip ends with birk trees and is followed by Rhododendron bushes. If you keep an eye open you can spot red deers, East Caucasian Tours, vultures, bearded eagles, Caucasian Snowcocks, black grouses and eventually even lynxes, bears and wolves. You will mostly walk along mountainous ridges and flat alpine meadows. At ~2300 m.a.s.l. you will reach a water source. Enjoy the stunning view of the Kakhetian plains! After 3-4 h from “Meteo”, you will reach the Georgian Border Patrol. There you might have to wait for a while until your passport is checked. Afterwards you will continue the trail to the Black Rock Lake at ~2800 m.a.s.l. It is highly recommended to refill your bottles here. From there it will take you around 30 mins to reach the second shelter where you can eventually find another water source. Please ask about the water situation at the Visitor Center beforehand, since during hot days some of the sources might dry out. In this case you might have to go back to refill your bottles at the lake the next day.
On the third day, you will descend 2100 m to the valley along the ridges of the mountains and hills (no water source along the way).
The way is marked in red/white.
- Attention: Prior registration at the Visitor Center needed.
- Attention: Passport needed.
- Attention: Don’t touch hogweed plants, contact with the sap can lead to very harmful phototoxic reactions.
- In emergency cases: 112.
First Day – from the administrative center to “Meteo”: Distance 12 km, 6-8 h, 550-2000 m.a.s.l.
Second Day – from “Meteo” to Black Rock Lake (13km, 6-7h) and the second tourist shelter “Demidov’s Bina” (3 km, 40 mins): Total distance – 16 km, 6,5-7,5h, up: 800m, down: 150m;
Third Day – descending from the shelter to the Visitors Center: Distance – 15 km, 6-8 h, 2650-550 m.a.s.l.