Tobavarkchili Lakes Trekking :
An Adventure into the wild Caucasus
The most beautiful, still unexplored and hidden trail in Georgia describes only a bit a stunning Tobavarchkhili Lakes. This place is only open to the world only from June until September and requires at least 6 days to be explored by the hikers. If you are looking for a trail where you can challenge yourself, hike in the wild nature, camp under the thousands of the starts, then this trail may be a perfect choice for you.
Tobavarchkhili Lakes are located in Samegrelo region of Georgia. There are more than seven lakes totally, but the biggest ones are Small and Big Tobavarchkhili Lakes. The name of Tobabavarchkhili means in Megrelian language as a “Silver Lake”. There are several routes going to the lake, however, the most convenient and balanced option is to hike from Mukhuri village and finish in Skuri village. This route is quite challenging, but not extreme and offers different landscape and opportunity to explore at least 5 lakes of Tobavarchkhili Lakes. Because of this, we lead groups in such way. Below, I will describe one of our last year adventure to Tobavarchkhili Lake.
Last year adventure to Tobavarchkhili Lakes started when one of our American guests contacted us in July. They wanted to explore hidden and not tourist crowded Georgian mountains by camping. Mutually, we chose Tobavarchkhili Lakes. In August, I (a company guide) met our guests, and we drove to Mukhuri village in Samegrelo region, Western Georgia. After 6 hours of driving, we reached the village where our next transport was waiting for us. As it happens many times, our guest did not believe that the transport in front of them was our mean to get to the mountains. Guess, why?
We rode in the mountains for 25 km by this truck.
These soviet trucks are the only means to get to the point where you can start hiking in the mountains. The truck drives on 25 km off-road, and reaches the camping huts (shepherd huts) in 3 hours. After three hours, we see our driver as god because of his professional driving manner in extreme conditions through mud, hills and rivers. Yes, there is a small river on the road, so truck goes through it to reach the huts. When we reach the huts, we are happy. There are no more roads, just an alpine zones and sharp peaks of the Caucasus Mountains.
We rested for 1 hour, drank one glass of Chacha (Georgian Alcohol), met our Horse shepherds, put our backpacks on horses, and then started hiking. After 4 km of hiking, we reach next shepherd hut where we set up our tent, gather some woods and had a dinner in the alpine meadows covered by the stars and the crawling mist.
The next morning is sunny, but the mist and clouds surrounded us. After having breakfast with Georgian honey, tea and coffee, we start a difficult hiking. This day we go through rocks, cross a small river, and start hiking up to the pass. One member of our group is quite tired but excited as I was told him that we were going to walk on the snow and ice in August. Well, hiking down from the pass to Lakes goes through snowy slopes, and is excited but difficult.
By the sunset, we reach Small Tobavarchkhili Lakes. Probably the most beautiful lake we have ever seen.
Next day is a time of relaxing. We stay at the shore of the lake, walk around it, and even some members of our group (included me) dares to swim into the lake. The water is clean but super cold, but swimming and relaxing into the cleanest water is a bit adventure as well.
There are other tents on the shores of the lakes. One Georgian group came to the lake yesterday, but they were struggling to cope with the landscape. They expected a forest on the shores of the lake, but found only meadows and rocks. Luckily, for us, they brought barbeque, raw corn and many other things. As we had a camping gas, we made a brilliant barbeque and corn in the evening. After we went to our tents, rain started. Sleeping in a tent under the rain in the place where there is no humans except fellow hikers always brings to me a strange feeling of happiness as you realize that your tent, sleeping bag & mat is only a shelter you got for next 5 days.
Next day, we set up for hiking. This day we need to cross another pass, but both slopes of it, we found snow and ice.
Horses are struggling to cope as we do also. After two hours, we reach the top of the pass where we see a marvelous lake between the sharp peaks.
We reach a lake and set up our tent. Some members of our group goes to explore nearby lakes, while others are looking for mountainous birds. They noise can be heard everywhere. The second half of the day, we also rest next to the Big Tobavarchkhili Lake.
Ahead of us for next two days, lies Magana gorge, we hiked from Tobavarchkhili Lake through the gorge, cross several rivers, went into the small narrow path between the rocks and reach a Shepherd huts.
At the beginning of Magana gorge, two brothers are shepherding their herds in the alpine meadows. We stayed there for a lunch and tasted the famous Megrelian cuisine– Elarji (Cheese and Corn), Sulguni (cheese) and Matsoni (Georgian white Yogurt).
Afterwards, we delve into the Magana gorve once again, and passes abandoned shepherd huts. There were many shepherds in Magana in the past, but now, people almost deserted this place. After had hiking into the subtropical forest, we reach our small camping place. Here weather and landscape is already changed. At 1400 m. sea level, rivers are not so could and people could take a bath into the mountainous rivers.
Next day is our last hiking day. We hike into the forest and hurry up to reach our Soviet Truck near Kirnakhora hut (Touristic hut). However, we were a bit late, as on the way, we tempted to taste mountainous blueberries, dewberries, and raspberries. They turned out so delicious that we stayed in the forest one hour more. After 4 hours of hiking, we finally reached the hut and our beloved Soviet Truck, and drove to Skuri Village. Some members in our group hoped that the road would be less dangerous and better in shape than the way from Mukhuri but we found this “road” much more dangerous and muddy than our first road from Mukhuri. After 2 hours of driving, we reached Skuri village, got in our comfortable cars, and drive to Anaklia, a Black Sea Resort. Everyone was tired, but the emotions, memories, adventure, and challenges that we have overcome would hunt for us for a long time.
TrekGeorgia offers a 7-Day Tour Trek to Tobavarchkhili Lakes