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Lagodekhi Nature Reserve: Trekking in the First Protected Area of Georgia

Intact forests, waterfalls, wild rivers, alpine lakes, and landscapes that will take your breath away are just a small example of what is waiting for you at this nature reserve. Lagodekhi goes into the Caucasus Mountains with a difference in altitude from 1312 and 11482 feet tall. This remote area of Kakheti shares borders with Russia and Azerbaijan. It is the northeastern end of Georgia.

Since the 19th century, it drew the attention of botanists for its biodiversity and it was the first protected area in the country, which has helped preserve its ecosystem at an almost intact state. It is a sanctuary for the brown bear, the deer, the wolf, and the Eurasian lynx. It offers good one-day walks for trekking beginners and there is another trail that is a little more demanding and will take several days to traverse. The route leads to Shavi Klde Lake. The trails are marked but you have to pay attention so as not to lose your way.

There is a Visitor Service Center in the town of Lagodekhi that rents mountain equipment (sleeping bags, tents, camping supplies, and more). They offer all kinds of information and they organize horse riding as well. To enter the reservation, you have to register beforehand. In the village, there are some lodgings to spend the night. Take the time to marvelĀ at the number of fruit trees that are on the streets: cherry trees, pear trees, apple trees, plums, etc. Everything is within easy reach.

Routes around Lagodekhi

There are four popular routes in Lagodeki that attract thousands of visitors each year.

Black Grouse Waterfall

It is the most popular hiking route. It starts from the visitor center and it ends at the small waterfall of Rocho about 2.8 miles away. It’s a round trip road without any trouble and it is well signposted. Trekking this route will only take you three or four hours. If you are lucky, you will see some deer or roe deer.

Great Waterfall

This trail begins at the information booth of the nearby village of Gurgeniani and it ends at the Ninoskhevi waterfall, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Georgia. It is a simple round trip (6 miles) that will not take you more than 4 hours in total.

It goes up the Ninoskhevi River thanks to a well-marked road that is surrounded by exuberant nature. The finishing touch is marked by a 131-feet waterfall filling everything with freshness and humidity.

Machi Fortress

This round trip trail begins at the information center of the nearby Matsimi village and it ends at the ruined Machi Fortress. You should not take more than four hours in this 2-mile route. It was one of the Kakheti fortresses, and it was built in the Middle Ages to defend the territory.

Black Rock Lake

This is the main dish of Lagodekhi. It is a three-day round trip of hiking beginning at the Lagodekhi visitor center and ends at Lake Black Rock. The lake marks the border with Dagestan and it is almost 3.000 meters high (9842 feet tall). The route passes through diverse ecosystems: humid forest, semi alpine landscapes, and glacial lakes. And it offers stunning views of the Alazani valley and the Caucasus Mountains.

The first day you climb almost 1000 meters (3280 feet) to the camping area, 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the starting point. Here, there is also a small shelter with a capacity of 16 people. You get to the lake on the second day and you can go back to the refuge. It is much more relaxed on the last day. You just go down to Lagodekhi.

Practical Information

Visitor Service Center

Address: 197 Vashlovani Street (Lagodekhi)

Opening Hours: all day

Phone: +995 577 10 18 90 / +995 5 77 10 18 45

E-mail: tshalvashvili@apa.gov.ge

It is located in the building at the entrance to the park, about 1 mile up the main road. You should sign up when you get there. They rent all kinds of equipment: tents (10 GEL), mochlas (5 GEL), sleeping bags (5 GEL), and camping equipment (3 GEL). They also coordinate horse-riding (50 GEL) activities. They offer all kinds of information and advice.

Mountain Guides

Revaz Shikhashvili: +995 555 55 63 15

Giorgi Kavtlishvili: +995 593 94 21 91

Vitaly Lekiashvili: +995 593 33 59 30

Giorgi Aladashvili: +995 557 00 45 15

Transportation

  • Lagodehki-Tbilisi minibuses: 6:45, 7:20, 7:55, 8:45, 9:30, 10:10, 11:00, 12:00, 1:00, 1:50, 2.50, 4:00, 4:45 and 5:30 p.m.
  • Lagodekhi-Telavi minibuses: 8:00, 9:00, 12:30, 1:30, 2:20 p.m.
  • Lagodekhi-Kvareli minibuses: at 12:00 p.m.
  • Kvareli-Lagodekhi: every hour from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Accommodation

Cheap Lodging

Vashlovani Guesthouse

Address: 92 Vashlobani Street

Phone: +995 5 99 85 66 57

E-mail: iakuna01@gmail.com

It has single, double, and quad rooms. They are quite clean and comfortable. Shared bathrooms. The house has a garden with tomatoes, cucumbers, and is full of fruit trees. One of the members of the family speaks English.

Medium Price Lodging

Caucasioni Hotel

Address: 136 Vashlovani Street

Phone: +995 5 99 85 66 40

E-mail: irina-orujashvili@mail.ru

Price: 50 GEL (10 GEL breakfast and 15 GEL dinner).

Modern, small hotel, without big luxuries but comfortable enough to spend a few days. It is near the visitor center. It has a small kitchen and a living room with a fireplace. Nadia and Irina are in charge, and although they do not know English, they make themselves understood. They are very good cooks in the kitchen and are very friendly.

Lago Hotel

Address: 63 Zakatala Street

Phone: +995 5 98 108 500

E-mail: hotel-lago@yahoo.com

They have a pool, billiards, and ping pong. It is the best accommodation in the area. It is a small hotel with a capacity of 20 people. If you want, there is also a small area in their beautiful garden where you can put up a tent.

They produce their own wine, which they offer to their customers during meals. It’s on the main road crossing the town, so it’s easy to find it. They offer rooms with individual bathroom (90 GEL) and shared rooms (60 GEL). For more information: www.hotelago.ge