Hike in khevsureti : Khakhabo gorge
If you love the outdoors and rugged nature and are in Tbilisi, it’s hard to think of a better destination than Khevsureti. It is a huge area. Khevsureti covers 1050 km² and is stretches over south and north slopes of the main Caucasus watershed mountain range. The Southern Khevsureti covers Abudelaurebi Lakes, while the north Khevsureti includes Arkhoti gorge and Shatili-Mutso villages with among other unknown gorges.
Pshav-Khevsureti National Park is the newest and the least known in Georgia, but definitely worth a visit. Its trekking trails are less popular, less overcrowded but a really gem of the Caucasus Mountains. Among these trekking trails can be named Khakhabo Gorge as a real trekking destination in Khevsureti.
How to get there
Pshav-Khevsureti National Park is located approximately 110 km from the capital of Georgia. You will need less than three hours to reach the park. It is advisable to use 4X4 car as sometimes the road is pretty rough there. You will need to drive a car to Datvijvari Pass which divides Khevsureti into South and North parts. From here, you can start hike to Khakhabo gorge.
If you use Public transportation, then you can use Tbilisi-Shatili mini-buses. They run from Didube Metro Station from Tbilisi, three times in a week. You will get out from the bus on Datvisjvari Pass, and hike to Khakhabo Gorge.
Khakhabo Trekking Trail is around 16 km length on uneven terrain. If you are in a good shape and start early and the car would wait on Andaki Road, you possible can finish the trail in one day, but it is recommended to take two days to enjoy the wild terrain in depth. There is no guesthouse or established camping place here, only shepherds and one family in Kakhabo village, so bring a tent and camping equipment with yourself. There is no mobile or internet coverage in the valley except near Kakhabo village where you can get free wifi.
Starting of Kakhabo Trail
You can start hiking from Tsurbovani place. This is located in 2 km from Datvijvari Pass, after you go down to the river from the Pass. Pshavi-Khevsureti National Park administration intends to build here a wooden cottage, and thus this will be the main road to Kakhabo.
Another starting point could be Datvijvari Pass itself. You can follow the main watershed mountain range and enjoy the best panorama views over Khevsureti. You will walk around 3 km on the mountain range, then you will descend to Kakhabo valley.
Kakhabo gorge is a very narrow area and follows the river basin until the Andaki road. You cannot miss your way here, just follow the trail alongside the river. In 2020, a small car road next to the hiking trail was made, so this will give you direction points as well. In June and July, Hiking trail is quite established but the main challenge is a river. You have to cross the river at least 15 times while being in the gorge. In the mid of the trail you will discover an almost abandoned village of Khakhabo. In its prime years, it was no less than Shatili, but now it is abandoned and almost in ruins. You can camp near Kakhabo village and taste the locals’ cheese and other dairy products.
Next day you will hike in the lower part of Khakhabo gorge. Here the valley becomes even narrower and you will need to navigate in a canyon. Luckily, there are wooden bridges here, so you do not need to cross the river on foot.
After couple of hours, you will reach the camping place and car road. From here you can drive to Ardoti village and then Mutso and Shatili, or walk towards Ardoti and overnight there.
End of the Hiking
This hiking trail is exceptional as even after finishing it, you have three main highlights to witness – Ardoti village with its interesting graveyard, Mutso with its war towers, and Shatili with its tens of towers and Houses.
Alternatively, you can hike directly from Ardoti to Tusheti through Atsunta Pass if you would like to do further hiking, or to Borbalo through Andaki gorge and pass.