After quite an adventurous day at Ananuri & Kazbegi, on our next cold day we visited Uplistsikhe, Gori and Borjomi.
We began our day with 100 km drive from the city to the cave town of Uplistsikhe also known as the “Fortress of the Lords”. Situated in the far east of Georgia, in the highlands, used to house 20,000 people back in the 11th Century A.D, approximately. This rock – cut cave town overlooks river Mtkavri on left of the bank. Its history dates back to the second millennium B.C. when people hid from their enemies, therefore, they excavated caves in this rocky mountain for shelter which was then surrounded by huge mountains. As years passed, certain conquerors such as the Moguls destroyed some parts of the site which was soon left abandoned. Many years later, the town was sadly struck by a massive earthquake which ruined a huge part. These ruins are preserved until today.
What was really overwhelming about this place was, as we were climbing the rocks and walking cave to cave whilst my guide explaining – we could imagine what most of the caves looked like and were used as and at the same time deeply saddened by the destruction. Each cave had a purpose- for entertainment; which even had a stage, caves for preparing wine and bread, a pharmacy, an exclusive hall of Queen Tamara and many more. Interestingly, distinctive carvings in different caves depicts traces of various invaders of Uplistsikhe.
Apart from its rich history, culture and tradition, Uplistsikhe is known for its picturesque location. Horizons of luscious green mountains enveloped with clouds, herd of white sheep grazing the mountain field while the gentle purl of glistening river Mtkavri sweeps through the foothill of the mountains. A must visit place for nature photographers!
Not to forget, the drive through the village of Uplistsike is quite a sight as well. The village was formed during the second world war, when the people were displaced from their homes which is pretty evident from the rusty old gates to old brick houses. Also, you would find an array of persimmon trees bearing decadent- juicy persimmons!
I recommend, shoes that are comfortable, has a good grip on sloppy surfaces ( or hiking shoes) and really warm clothing. Oh! Do carry an umbrella with you as the weather there can be unpredictable since it is a highland.
Please note, there is an entry fee of 3 GEL (Georgian Lari) to the cave town.
Gori was the next stop for the day. Not too far from Uplistsikhe, is also the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. Hence, this place is known for his Museum which was built next to his house. Not getting much into the detail, albeit the Museum is quite impressive and our Museum guide was very much in detail which made it all the more interesting to learn Stalin’s stories.
I would recommend you request for a Museum guide, if you are travelling by yourself.
An entry fee of 10 GEL includes an English-speaking guide and 15 GEL including train carriage. Check out my Instagram for more info.
Oh! This place is mystical. I would call it a mini winter wonderland! Borjomi, as some of you may know is known for its mineral water. The highest export of Georgia. Containing various elements including Sulphur in its spring water, it is known to have cured various ailments for many years now. The taste- very pungent, highly carbonated. A sip would go a long way! The water flows from the taps in designated areas, so make sure you carry empty bottles if you wish to collect it and yes, it is free! Although, there is a minimal entry fee for the Mineral Water Park.
Toward the entrance of the Mineral Water Park, you would find small stalls run by really adorable old ladies, cladded with warm clothing, where just the sight of them makes you feel welcomed and comforted. They make their living by selling souvenirs and fresh flower honey. I would encourage you to buy from them if you wish to, however, I do not recommend you to negotiate prices with them. Firstly, because they are reasonably priced, secondly, being a developing economy- highly dependent on tourism their incomes can be seasonal. This could indirectly get you involved in developing the local community. Isn’t that pure satisfaction? 🙂
Our trip with the wonderful guide came to an end on this day and it was time to say goodbye to her! Below, I have shared my small piece of thought for Sophie. 🙂
Unlike any other tour guides whom I have come across, Sophie is so passionate about her job and I really loved that about her. One can talk to her about anything, mainly Georgia and she has all the information laid out to you. Extremely passionate hiker, when you hear her talk about it; you can feel the excitement within her. She loves her country and shares that love with everyone she meets. Apart from being our tour guide, she bonded so well with my family, she became one of us! Extremely caring towards her clients, very hardworking- despite the terrible cold she had and very knowledgeable! To a wonderful friend I gained in the journey and who made it memorable for us! Thank you, Sophie! We love you and wish success in all your endeavors! ❤
I will be sharing my tour around the Old Tbilisi on my Instagram, so do catch up on the rest of my trip there!
Please note, all the above pictures have been taken and edited further by me entirely for the blog. Any resemblance or similarities are not intentional and is purely coincidental. If you wish to use them for any commercial purpose, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org