Route Length: 16,4 km.
Route Duration: 6 hrs. 35 min.
Min./Max. Height: 1331/2189 m.
Total Ascent/Descent: 1135/1095 m.
Route Type: Connecting
Route category of complexity: Moderate
The route starts at the center of the village Ota, near a small spring, and follows the east path towards the Shoreti Monastery. A crossroads will appear in about 1.4 kilometers. One road heads to the Tsitelitsikhe Fortress, while the second road turns right towards the Monastery and within a couple of meters crosses the river Otistskali. 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. The itinerary follows zigzagged dirt road outlined in thick woods until it reaches 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: Otitsklis 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 takes easterly direction and goes into the forest, sharply picks up altitude and appears on the Veli Ridge. There is a high possibility to encounter wildlife in these areas. From the ridge the route swiftly changes direction, to the south. It crosses a bare field and takes the dirt forest road, running downhill. The itinerary crosses ravine and follows a trail leading to the 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.
After observing the entire village Damala and its airy vicinities from the fortress the visitors can take an asphalt road leading directly to this village. The route passes a spring, enters the village Damala and ends up at the village center.