Samegrelo

Samegrelo is a coastal region located in western Georgia. In ancient times, Samegrelo was part of the Colchis Kingdom and one of the first proto-Kartvelian kingdoms formed in the south of Caucasian mountains. It is rich in cultural traditions and archeological artifacts, as well as untouched natural beauty. The Black Sea has a major influence on the subtropical climate of the region and creates an environment for flora and fauna that you will not encounter in Georgia’s eastern regions. Also Samegrelo boasts delicious cuisine full with distinct, spicy foods. Samegrelo is mainly inhabited by Megrelians. They speak a dialect of Georgian known as Mingrelian and nearly all speak fluent Georgian. Mingrelians are one of the largest Georgian subgroups, making up 23% of the whole population.

how to get there

Zugdidi, Samegrelo
Photo Source: georgia.travel

You can get to the capital of the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region, Zugdidi located 335 km (208 miles) from Tbilisi, via train. It departs from railway station every day. A ticket costs approximately 10 USD with schedules available from Georgian Railway’s official website. Also, Minibuses (marshutkas) leave from the Tbilisi bus terminal every 2-3 hours with a travel time that can take up to 6 hours from Tbilisi for the same price as the train. Zugdidi is also easily accessible from Kutaisi and Batumi; Georgia’s second and third largest cities respectively. Georgian Railway offers a Zugdidi-Kutaisi train, which departs twice a day. From Batumi you can take one of the several daily minibuses from the Batumi station for approximately 10 USD.

kolkheti National Park

Kolkheti National Park
Photo Source: wikiwand.com

Kolkheti National Park straddles the Samegrelo and Guria regions.  Kolkheti National Park covers an area of 28,940 hectares, incorporating the land of the former Kolkheti State Nature Reserve, including Lake Paliastomi (surface area measuring just 17.3 km²/6.6 m²) that is great for fishing. Also, some items from ancient Colchis were found near and in the lake by archaeologists. The park has several marked tourist routes, several of them concentrating on the surrounding areas of Lake Paliastomi. The lake attracts migrating birds, especially early spring and late autumn, and is a popular destination for bird-watching. Kolkheti National Park also offers a wide variety of boating tours, eco-educational tours, as well as other services like tent rentals, binoculars, and picnic areas.

Tsalenjikha

Tsalenjikha Cathedral
Photo Source: wikimedia.org

Tsalenjikha is located on the edge of Egrisi Mountain range, 30 km (18 miles) from Zugdidi. Historically, Tsalenjikha functioned as a residence for the Dadiani princes of Mingrelia and a bishop’s cathedra within the medieval Cathedral of the Savior (12-14th cc), a central cross-domed church best known for its unique cycle of murals. In the village of Chkvaleri, located a 40 minute drive away from Tsalenjikha, you can find the beautiful Intsra Waterfall. You can take a marshutka from Zugdidi to Jvari (around 1 hour drive, 1 USD) and find Chkvaleri just 5 km (2 miles) further. You can walk or pay 3 USD for a taxi. There is also a scheduled, direct bus from Zugdidi to Chkvaleri. It usually leaves from Zugdidi in the afternoon for 2 USD.  

From Chkvaleri there is nice hiking trail to Kuakantsalia or “The Swinging Stone”. The rock stands on a limestone massif and with a simple touch from a human, make the giant rock wobble. It is located on Kvira Mountain, which offers a picturesque view of the Enguri River Lowlands. Enguri Dam, near Jvari, is the world’s second highest concrete arch dam with a height of 271.5 metres (890 ft). It offers spectacular views, so we recommend you to stop by when you are traveling in the area.

Gachedili Canyon

Martvili Canyons
Photo Source: ilovegeorgia.com

Located in historical place of Samegrelo, Martvili has lots of stories to tell. On its highest hill stands a monastery, but in ancient times this place uses to be a pagan cultural center and was a sacred site. An enormous oak tree that stood here was worshipped as an idol of fertility. Today people usually visit the Martvili canyons to enjoy its waterfalls and take a boat trip within its emerald river. Entrance costs 3 USD, boat trip 5 USD per person. There also are walking routes through the canyon and they are as impressive, if not more, than the boat trip.

Visitor center works every day from 10 am to 6 pm; Except Monday.

Dadiani Palace

Dadiani Palace
Photo Source: gettoknowsamegrelo.blogspot.

Zugdidi is a Capital of the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region. The main architectural sights of this city are the Dadiani Palace Museum and the Old Botanical Gardens. The Dadiani Palace’s History and Architecture Museum houses exhibits on Georgia’s natural cultural heritage – precious materials, sacred Christian artifacts, manuscripts from 13th – 14th centuries, miniatures, memorial relics of Dadiani dynasty, and objects connected to the French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. The House of Dadiani was a family of nobles, with a liniage dating back to 1046.

Zugdidi Botanical Garden

Zugdidi Botanical Garden
Photo Source: ge.undp.org

The construction on this decorative garden began in 1840. David Dadiani, the ruler of Samegrelo, fenced in a forest area surrounding his palace and set up an institution for horticultural sciences there. Soon, its caretaking and management passed to his wife, Ekaterina Chavchavadze-Dadiani, who added a great variety of native and exotic plants the garden. The garden now has over eighty genera of exotic plants introduced from Southeast Asia, India, Japan, the Mediterranean, and the Americas.

 

Where to stay

On the road to Toba Lake in Samegrelo
Photo Credit: Kakha Oghadze

All the larger settlements in Samegrelo, including Zugdidi and Poti, offer visitors a wide array of places to stay. Most of them you can find on popular websites like booking.com and Airbnb. If you are visiting Anaklia, a popular destination during the Georgian Electronic Music Festival, there are several 5-Star high-end hotels (Hotel Anaklia and Golden Fleece Hotel) as well as cheaper guesthouses.

2017-01-20T23:29:10+00:00 December 11th, 2016|