Khertvisi – Shalosheti Mountain – Atskvita Trail

About

Route Length: 27.9 km
Route Duration: 10 hrs. 20 min.
Min./Max. Height: 1125/2075 m.
Total Ascent/Descent: 1377/1242 m.
Route Type: Connecting
Route category of complexity: Moderate

Route Description
The Route starts at the entrance of the terraced village Khertvisi, at the confluence of river Mtkvari and Paravani, crowned by the inaccessible fortress Khertvisi. After crossing the bridge over the Mtkvari, the dirt road turns to the right, follows the banks of the river and allows visitors to observe the spectacular landscapes, volcanic plateaus and wrinkled gorges that have become image card of Samtskhe-Javakheti. After a while, the dirt road is switched by an asphalt road that turns left. About 400 meters later, emerges the village of Toloshi, surrounded by the fruit rich terraces and orchards.

The road passes through the village and winds its way up to the exit. A few hundred meters away, on a mountain slope, among the colossal, rocky boulders, can be detected a tiny Alandzia church. A single-nave church of the VIII-IX centuries is regarded as the primary pride of the village of Toloshi. Its walls are built of local, fleshy texture stones that grants to the small temple extraordinary monumentality.
The itinerary follows a dirt road, crosses over a small stream and stops at crossroads. From there one direction takes the path to the right and summons its visitors to the Shalosheti settlement. On a bald hill, is seen the church of Shalosheti, erected by Georgian builders in early 8th century. The chamber and part of the conch are ruined. However, the moss-covered walls tell the bittersweet story of Samtskhe-Javakheti journey. Nearby, on the windy edge of the valley, is deep-seated a massive stone – frozen in time – the Menhir of Shalosheti, which was supposed to mark the old road.

The trail crosses the little stream, turns left and sneaks up on a small hill, where by the shore of half-dried lake stands an authentic 9th century Gundi church. To the northwest of the Church is a small sepulcher built into the ground.
The trail runs down to the stream again, crosses it and goes uphill in the north, leading to Aspindza. Before the end of the ascent, it is possible to turn to the left. In about 1.3 km from the road there is spread a canyon-like valley, notable for its genetic and morphological diversity of the landscape. This terrain has been formed for millennia as a result of irregular reduction and leaching of wastewaters. After visiting the canyons, it is possible to return to the dirt road and continue the itinerary in the middle of the golden-covered pastures, and so enter the small village of Atskvita, where the tourist route ends.


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