Guest post by: Anya Sapharova

Top attractions In Kutaisi and nearby vicinity

Republic of Georgia can be called a country with Western and Eastern ‘lungs’ as long as its two busiest and biggest cities are scattered in the opposite directions of the country. Many tourists haven’t seen Georgia beyond its Eastern center –Tbilisi. What concerns the Western state with the ancient city of Kutaisi as its center – only the most curios with inexhaustible thirst for adventures discover the mighty city with its vivid historic heritage which is under UNESCO protection.

Still a lot has been funded to renovation, industrialization, and development of Kutaisi. You can easily arrive at Kutaisi International Airport that has become an irreplaceable source of transportation and Georgia’s connection to the rest of the world. It is the second largest airport in the country and serves about 250 passengers per hour - not bad for a small country’s scale.

Traveling to Kutaisi may resemble a walk with the history shoulder by shoulder. This sacramental atmosphere surrounds the city and afterwards the visitors as well primarily because of a big number of churches and cathedrals there. From one sight they look the same but they differ a lot in their history. Each cathedral is named after either a prominent king or a historic event. It is not a secret that Georgians are deeply faithful to their religion and that is why they are infinitely proud of their religious historical legacy.

Bagrati cathedral is one of the biggest cathedrals in the country. After 300 years of deplorable condition it had been renovated by the government though it caused discontent and disputes from the clergy. They claim that many details are now lost under the layer of paint but as a result we have an absolute reincarnation of the old Bagrati cathedral. What really fascinate are the calibers of the architectural monument and the place where it stands. Enormous Bagrati stands at the top of the mountain that really perplexes – how could have Georgians erect such a big cathedral on the place that is far from being flat?

Bagrati complex is vast and striking. It makes you think about the architecture and outstanding figures of Georgian history. It is easy to reach it because it is so much elevated that you can easily see it from any part of Kutaisi.

Another place that is in the Kutaisi surroundings is known as Martvili Canyon. Greenery and millennium rhododendrons create a magic prehistoric atmosphere. The place is among famous resorts. This place is well-known for various waterfalls, fast-flowing rivers and fresh air. It is known that previously the lakes of Martvili Canyon were used as baths for the noble Dadiani family. You can rent a boat or take a walking tour around the place, or try both!

If you plan to visit Martvili for one whole day and then come back to Kutaisi in the evening, you can take a bus from the bus-station. Still don’t go there very late if you want to explore the terrain thoroughly. The traveling fee is 4 GEL per person. In another case it is possible to rent a taxi (the price varies from 70-100 GEL) and visit both Martvili and Okatse Canyons, though you will have to be very quick in order to get back to your hotel on time and take off for your next adventure. Learn more about Okatse Canyon and the nearby Kinchkha Waterfall 

Georgia is known for its abundance of rivers, canyons, and lakes. Here comes another option that can be added – caves. The cave ‘Kumistavi” which is also knows as Prometheus Cave got its name after the Greek myth of Prometheus and the eagle that was gnawing Prometheus liver, supposedly somewhere nearby the cave. It is one of the biggest registered caves in Georgia and only one-tenth of the territory is open for the tourists. You may find underground rivers and lakes. You can rent a boat (7 GEL) and make a tour in the subterranean part of Georgia. Don’t get afraid if you see myriads of bats flying in the cave. They won’t harm you because they fly very high under the ceiling.

Another option is to take a 1600 meter walking tour (7 GEL) that might take you about one hour. You will walk past stalactites and stalagmites, illuminated with colorful led bulbs. The journey will be memorable for sure after absorbing the mysterious atmosphere of the cave. By the way, you will hear classical music everywhere in the cave and this accompaniment makes the journey even more pleasant.

If you want to get to the Prometheus Cave from Kutaisi, you had better to take the № 30 bus and go to Tsqaltubo. The price of the bus is 2 GEL. From there you can take bus that goes to the cave every two hours. The price is 1.5 GEL.

After having finished with the Prometheus Cave time to move forward and visit the Sataplia Cave. In Georgian ‘Sataplia’ means the place where you can find honey. Previously wild bees lived in those places but now very few are left. The view is picturesque with all those relict trees and even the footprints of the dinosaurs. That is the first pavilion that leads you into the cave. In some places the footprints of the dinosaurs are illuminated in different colors. You can even hear the roars of dinosaurs coming out from the speakers.

Outside the cave figures of different dinosaurs are waiting for tourists to guess their names and are humbly waiting for a picture to be taken.

Lots of people go to observation deck to have a look at the horizon. Others prefer to have a picture near stalagmite in the shape of the heart. Couples often take pictures there. Sataplia Cave is 7 kilometers away from Kutaisi. You have to ride bus № 31 (or №35) and get to the final station (they say it is near the ice rink). You make a transit to bus №45 and get straight to Sataplia Cave.

A trip to Kutaisi and its nearby attractions might be tiring both physically and emotionally – too many kilometers to walk and too much happiness to deal with! Kutaisi is the best place to enjoy reunion with nature.

Those who cannot sit still and want more can travel to other cities that are not very far from Kutaisi. If you choose Zugdidi, it will take you about 2 hours (or even less) to get there. The second option (Kutaisi-Mestia) is more time-consuming and takes all in all 5 hours but it is totally worth it. Either destination will leave a lot of pleasant memories and will beckon to come back to Georgia many times.