Written by Tika Bujiashvili

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Mark Twain

It was warm autumn day. A mini bus is driving to Kakheti. Kakheti region is rich in sights. History is waiting for us so we quickly buy some food-Georgian shoti (bread) and cheese in Badiauri and continue our way To Dedoplistskaro. The members of the tour consist of six people-three men and three women.IMG_4569Our destination is Vashlovani protected area. We have seen much spectacular photos of the reserve before and want to see everything with our own eyes.

Vashlovani protected area is located in the far south-east of Georgia, the Dedoplistskaro District and is home to ecologically unique area of Georgia. It is located between two main rivers of Kakheti the Iori and the Alazani.

The sun is shining brightly. It is like autumn is wearing her wedding dress with full of red, gold, brown green colors…

Our first destination was Elia Hill. In the rocky hill St Elia Ezbeteli church is built. . The church is dated 6th century, though the church was restored in 2007. Locals celebrate Eliaoba on August 2. People prayed to St Elia for rain in times of drought. It is an old tradition and today has become a public holiday.IMG_4589Our next destination was the Khornabuji (Tamari) Fortress. Khornabuji Fortress is located near Dedoplistkaro. The archeological findings confirm the existence of a settlement in the area even in Pre-Christian period (4th -3rd centuries BC). Khornabuji started to develop in the 5th century during the reign of King Vakhtang Gorgasali. The latter established the episcopacy there. A trade road used to pass through Khornabuji. The fortress was renovated and modified many times between the 5th and the 17th century. The Town was well developed during the reign of Queen Tamar in the 12th century. This is why the fortress is designated as Tamar’s Fortress.

We felt history here, climbed the ruins of the fortress and took many photos. The view of colorful forest down from Khornabuji fortress was spectacular…IMG_4656154124_1700526150122_1146977248_1944745_144394_nBut more spectacular scenaries of Eagle’s Canyon were waiting for us… No words can express the beauty of the nature, waterfalls, greenness, caves…IMG_4705IMG_4694I nearly forgot to mention, that Vashlovani strict nature reserve was created in 1963 by two famouse Georgian scientist Niko Ketskhoveli and Vasil Gulisashvili. The territory of the reserve includes Pantishara Vashlovani Massive.IMG_4689IMG_47121We got tired. So many impressions to see are much for a day! But we still had a little time and also our rout included Takhti-Tefe. It was created in 2003 in Vashlovani area. So we got in our mini bus and drove to the Takhti-Tefa.

We drove more than three or four km and saw the changes of flora and fauna. We passed bad-land like landscapes of dessert and semi-dessert steppe vegetation and arid and deciduous forests. It is also a home to the remarkable cliffs-of-the canyons, locally called the “Sharp Walls”.

Yes, the scenary was really inspiring but nobody was seen around us. After driving more kilometers we saw horses eating grass and cowherds nearby. We asked them the way but they spoke neither Georgian or Russian nor English. Unfortunately, on the territory of Georgia it was difficult to understand Georgians. Fortunately, our guide knew a few words in Azerbaijanian and we were able to ask them the way to Takhti Tefa…

It was about 5 o’clock. It was starting getting dark…Our guide offered us to go back to Tbilisi and have some khinkali and Mtsvadi at Mirzaani restaurant. I will remind you, that the only food we had was bread and cheese and some water. We were really hungry but loved every inch of our country so much that preferred to see the much-talked canyons and refused the offer.

Soon a black Jeep drove past. Later as we found out they came here from Tbilisi to hunt.

Soon we came to the reservoir. There we met a local man and the passengers of the Jeep. When we told them we wanted to go to Takhti-Tefa, he was happy. He said we were the first visitors who wanted to visit the site. As it was impossible to go there in a mini-bus, he offered us take there in his Jeep.IMG_4760Takhti Tefa was another marvel of Vashlovani Protected area. The car was driving in the grass which was higher than our car. Our shepherd-guide took us to the mud volcano. We had a feeling of being in another planet rather than a foreign country. The volcano is a whitish plane hill that bubbles and throbs. Gas and therapeutic mud flow from the crates and airways and flows down the gorge. The local, whose name I don’t remember unfortunately, told us that there were eagle nests. It worth seeing, but as the sun was setting down we would see nothing.IMG_4789150888_1700531790263_1146977248_1944770_3453409_nIMG_4769_MG_6595So left the place in hope to visit the place once more in the daylight…

Driving back to the place where our mini-bus was waiting, the locals told us much about their lives. We found out that a few Georgian people lived there. Youth didn’t want to live there as there was no water and no jobs. They preferred living in towns. As a result the area was emptying day by day… Talking about the problems, we reached the shepherds’ camp to give them some food, kerosene and water. We saw many sheep together guarded by shepherd dogs…

So the day was full of impressions…

We came back to Tbilisi without a good supper at the restaurant, but the full of impressions: how beautiful country we have and don’t know the value of our treasure…

“All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.”

Samuel Johnson

Thanks Avto Khantadze for some photos