Route Length: 16,4 km.
Route Duration: 6 hrs. 30 min.
Min./Max. Height: 1331/2189 m.
Total Ascent/Descent: 1095/1135 m.
Route Type: Connecting
Route category of complexity: Moderate
The route starts at the center of the village Damala, near a spring, and follows the asphalt road towards the Kokhta Fortress. The Stronghold, erected on a rocky outcrop and built of flat stones, archaeologically is not well explored, although according to annals, the name of the fort is related to the eminent events of the 13th century. In this very Fortress was born the rebellion against perpetual Mongolian rule in Georgia. Unfolded story of this rebellion and unprecedented velour of its main inspirator – Tsotne Dadiani had become an integral part of Georgian history, which was passed down from one generation to another.
From the fortress the itinerary twists into the ravine, crosses it and takes the dirt forest road, running uphill and appears on Veli Ridge. There is a high possibility to encounter wildlife in these areas. While crossing a bare field, the route swiftly changes direction towards the west. From the ridge the route enters the forest, follows the path downhill and approaches the Shoreti Monastery complex. The medieval Christian temple surrounded on three sides by high mountains, streams, spruce and broadleaved forests, till today proudly stands, engraved with gorgeous ornaments, medieval inscriptions and an extraordinary mosaic adornment – a rare phenomenon for the Georgian ecclesiastical art.
To the north of the temple a small trail guides the visitors to the Shoreti tower. Elevated platform of the tower offers fantastic chance to enjoy breathtaking views of the world below: Otistskali valley, vast meadows of the Ota village and the monastery, hidden in the deep woodland. In order to protect visitors’ safety and not to damage the monument it is not recommended to climb tower walls. Down in the meadow, near the temple, there is spotted a small spring with tasty cold water. Overall the area works as a perfect camping site.
The itinerary follows zigzagged dirt road outlined in thick woods until reaching the Otistskali River. You need special equipment to cross the river in springs, or you can simply take off your hiking boots, step into cold water barefoot and get to the other bank. Within a couple of meters the itinerary finds itself on the crossroads. One road heads to the Tsitelitsikhe Fortress, while the second road turns left towards the Village Ota. Visitors can join the Damala – Tsitelitsikhe Fortress – Gharta Church – Ota route here, or continue the way left, towards end point. From the intersection the route sets off south, and in 1.4 kilometers enters its final destination – the village Ota.