After our day trip to Kazbegi we felt like discovering more of Georgia. With some help from Khatja at the hotel reception, we signed up for a tour to Rabati, Vardzia and Borjomi. This time around we opted for an English-speaking driver and he picked us up from the hotel at 9 am on Sunday.
Our first stop on the way to Vardzia was Rabati.
Magnificent Rabati Castle
In Akhaltsikhe visitors can admire the medieval Rabati castle complex. Influenced by various cultures, the complex houses a Church, a Mosque, a Minaret and a Synagogue. When entering one is greeted by beautiful green parks and beautiful architecture. The castle has been restored and it echoes the times long gone. Entrance to the castle complex costs a couple of GEL. Because of the size of the complex, you can expect to spend an hour or two admiring strolling around in the area.
From Rabati, we continued our journey to Vardzia. Approximately 60 km from Akhaltsikhe – a road following the upper Mtkvari River and leading through canyons and valleys – lies the cave city of Vardzia.
The cave monastery was mainly built during the second half of the twelfth century. The caves stretch along the cliff for some five hundred meters and in up to nineteen tiers. Visitors can enter the caves as well as the Church of the Dormition. We decided not to enter it. However, we have heard that church is amazing. So anyone a little less non-religious than the two of us should pay it a visit.
The caves are amazing. And getting out of them was quite an adventure in rainy weather. However, even more awe-inspiring are the sights. High hills, rapid rivers and green valleys. And the thunder that echoed in the mountains. This is a place I want to return to.
Finally, Borjomi was the last stop on our journey. The small town is in a green valley of the swift Mtkvari River. The area is famous for its salty-sour mineral water. The Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park is one of the largest national parks of the country. Our stay in the town was a swift one: we only took a short walk in the park, by the river. During our short visit we took the chance to observe some local wedding festivities. One of the most interesting things in a new place is seeing how people live and get on with their daily business.
Thoughts On Our Trip to Vardzia
Our driver to Rabati, Vardzia and Borjomi was an interesting man. He told us a lot about life in Georgia, about his longing to the countryside and how his children were living. We learnt about the Gerogian society and history. The cows on the roads caught our attention, the sight of all those green hills and wild rivers amazed us. Hence this is a trip that we can recommend to everyone.
In total, we paid 250 GEL for a whole day tour. The price excluded meals and entrance to the sights. The day included quite a few naps on the backseat of an old Mercedes Benz. We felt that the driver was more than enough for this trip. We appreciated the visits to the different sights and feel that we did not need a guide.