The hike begins following a small path outside the monastery fence, which leads to the upper fort of Saro. Before reaching the tower, it turns left and sets off on a short trail towards the village of Nijgori. This is a historical trail, which for centuries was used by the local people of Saro-Khizabavara to harvest their orchards and vineyards planted along the Mtkvari Valley. The trail goes through the Saro outcrops, and during the journey there is utter silence, except for the bubbling water below in a deep ravine. The trail runs downhill, and suddenly the full view of the terraced village of Old Nijgori comes into sight. This place is called “Marnebi” by the locals, which means cellars.
A good spot for a break is in between the Marnebi and Saro Forts. According to tradition, this was a dream spot for exhausted passengers to stop for a moment and take a breath. The massive stones placed there are used as chairs. From here the trail goes sharply downhill into the ravine and is entirely absorbed in the green shades of the forest. The route crosses a stream and then arrives in the village of Old Nijgori. At first glimpse it resembles a medieval village frozen in time. Old Nijgori or ‘Marnebi’ is a unique architectural settlement. It is built on nine terraces and is designed so that one’s Bani (flat roof of tamped earth) serves as a yard for the other.
Old Nijgori used to be a shelter for the peasants, who due to weather conditions, had fruit orchards planted on the banks of the Mtkvari and spent days away from home. Hence they had set a perfect set of rural infrastructure in Nijgori. There was a temple, and dwellings were complete with fireplaces, stockrooms, a winepress, a bath, and of course the cellars.
After strolling in the symmetrically designed settlement of Old Nijgori, it is possible to take the same trail and return to the Saro Forts, or through the centuries-old mulberry orchards.
Nijgori – Saro
Reverse route of the previous trail.