Lagodekhi waterfalls – Ninoskhevi & Black Grouse Waterfall

Lagodekhi Waterfalls

The town of Lagodekhi is located in Kakheti – the eastern part of Georgia – on the edge of the Lagodekhi Protected Areas and near the border with Azerbaijan. It’s easily reachable from Tbilisi by marshrutkas, and most people visit Lagodekhi for its preserved nature and hiking activities. You can easily hike to two waterfalls in Lagodekhi – Ninoskhevi and Black Grouse.

If you decide to hike to Black Rock Lake (a three-day long hike), you should be able to see some other waterfall, but I don’t know where exactly, its name, or if it’s possible to walk there since I didn’t hike this trail. You can ask about this at the Lagodekhi Protected Areas visitors center (197 Vashlovani St., Lagodekhi).

You will find all of the mentioned places on the map at the end of this post.

Ninoskhevi Waterfall (Gurgeniani Waterfall)

Ninoskhevi Waterfall is 40 meters high waterfall that pours down into a watering hole and its power offers a refreshing shower. You can take a dip in the main pool under the waterfall, but it’s better to use one of the smaller pools below.

The waterfall is named after the Ninoskhevi river on which is located, and it’s also called Gurgeniani Waterfall after the nearest village. Locals also call it Great or Big Waterfall.

40 meters high Ninoskhevi Waterfall is a true gem of Lagodekhi
40 meters high Ninoskhevi Waterfall is a true gem of Lagodekhi

How to get to Ninoskhevi Waterfall

  • Duration: 4–6 hours
  • Distance: 10 km in total
  • Min. elevation: 605 m
  • Max. elevation: 1 055 m

To get to Ninoskhevi Waterfall, you need to get to the village of Khizabavra (right after Gurgeniani village), where the trail to Ninoskhevi waterfall starts. The best way to get there is in a rented car or by taxi from Lagodekhi. A taxi shouldn’t be expensive, I’d say around 10 or 15 GEL one way. If you are coming by car, there is a free parking lot next to the starting point of the trail. You can of course also walk from Lagodekhi, but it’s more than 10 km just to the village.

There is no entrance fee or opening time, so you can go whenever you want to.

Info boards about Ninoskhevi waterfall at the start of the trail
Info boards about Ninoskhevi waterfall at the start of the trail

The whole hike to the waterfall and back takes 4 to 6 hours, and it depends on the conditions of the trail. It took us around 3 hours to get to Ninoskhevi waterfall because the trail wasn’t in perfect conditions after heavy rains. There was only one wooden bridge across the river at the beginning and later we had to cross the river on our own several times – nothing dangerous or challenging though.

You can’t get lost on the way since you follow the river in its riverbed or the trail in the forest, but often you have to choose your own path.

You willYou will walk through an untouched greeny forest full of brackens and climbing plants walk through greeny forest full of bracken
You will walk through an untouched greeny forest full of brackens and climbing plants
Sometimes you will cross the Ninoskhevi river over a bridge
Sometimes you will cross the Ninoskhevi river over a bridge
This was a real obstacle for me
This was a real obstacle for me
And sometimes you will have to cross it on your own
And sometimes you will have to cross it on your own
In some parts of the trail to Ninoskhevi Waterfall, you will have to climb a little bit
In some parts of the trail to Ninoskhevi Waterfall, you will have to climb a little bit
Or to deal with fallen trees
Or to deal with fallen trees

If you are using Google Maps, be aware that there are three spots for this waterfall and two of them are wrong. The one closest to the village is just the start of the trail, the middle one is the correct one, and the farthest one is also misplaced. Use my map below to get the exact location of the waterfall.

Camping at Ninoskhevi Waterfall

If you want to camp at Ninoskhevi Waterfall, you can. One spot is below the waterfall on the right side of the river (I hope you know how to determine the side of a river). If you continue upstream, there should be another place for camping on the left side of the river. Unfortunately, the first spot was full of trash – plastic bags, bottles, rotten food, or a tarp. You can also camp near the parking lot.

Bring some snack and enjoy a picnic next to the waterfall

Black Grouse Waterfall (Rocho Waterfall)

  • Duration: 3–5 hours
  • Distance: 9 km in total
  • Min. elevation: 560 m
  • Max. elevation: 946 m

Black Grouse Waterfall is a much smaller waterfall with a height of 6 meters, but still a very beautiful one with nice surroundings. You can easily take a dip in the pool because the waterfall is not so powerful here.

Black Grouse means Rocho in Georgian, that’s why you can find two names for this waterfall.

Black Grouse Waterfall is only 6 meters high but still a spectacular one.
Black Grouse Waterfall is only 6 meters high but still a spectacular one.

How to get to Black Grouse Waterfall

The hike to Black Grouse Waterfall starts in the town of Lagodekhi, right next to the Lagodekhi Protected Areas visitors center. This trail is well marked, and it took me less than 2 hours to reach the waterfall. You will cross the Shromiskhevi River a few times even though there are some bridges. Most of the time you walk through the forest next to the river, so the terrain is easier than the one to Ninoskhevi Waterfall. The final part of the trail is quite steep and narrow in some places, but easily doable with a little caution.

There is also no entrance fee neither opening time.

Info board about Black Grouse waterfall at the start of the trail
Info board about Black Grouse waterfall at the start of the trail
The first part of the trail goes mostly through the riverbed of the Shromiskhevi River
The first part of the trail goes mostly through the riverbed of the Shromiskhevi River
There are some bridges, but sometimes you will still have to cross the river by foot
There are some bridges, but sometimes you will still have to cross the river by foot
Jungle vibes in Georgia?
Jungle vibes in Georgia?
You can take a dip at the pool of Black Grouse Waterfall
You can take a dip at the pool of Black Grouse Waterfall

Camping at Black Grouse Waterfall

At the waterfall, there is no suitable spot for camping because there are only stones and rocks. But in the last part of the trail, you will pass a place with a sign that should do the job. In Lagodekhi, you can camp in Ocho camp.

How to get from Tbilisi to Lagodekhi

The cheapest way to get from Tbilisi to Lagodekhi is by marshrutka. Marshrutkas depart from the Isani metro station in Tbilisi every one or two hours between 7:40 and 18:15. It costs 7 GEL, and the journey takes two and a half hours.

We passed through Signagi, so if you are looking for transportation from Signagi to Lagodekhi, you can easily do it.

For the journey from Tbilisi, I paid straight to the driver and on the way back I bought a ticket at the bus station in Lagodekhi.

Where to stay in Lagodekhi

I stayed at Lagodekhi Woods Guest House, and I can’t recommend this place highly enough! It’s very close to the Lagodekhi Protected Areas visitors center and approximately 20 minutes by walking from the bus station. The accommodation is a private room with a bathroom and a kitchen, and you can also relax in their green garden. The family lives in the house next to your place, is super hospitable, and I had one of my best times in Georgia with them.

Because Lagodekhi is a popular area for travelers, you will find lots of accommodations in Lagodekhi.

From restaurants in Lagodekhi, I can recommend Dzveli Sakhli, Wald Hotel Lagodekhi, or Royal Palace. There is also Nikora Supermarket on the main road.

Lagodekhi Woods Guesthouse

Lagodekhi Woods GuesthousePERSONAL TIP. Private room with bathroom and kitchen, close to the national reserve.

Map of places in Lagodekhi

P.S. Keep it clean! There are no trash bins along the trail so keep your trash! Trash bins are located at the start of both trails. Sadly, there is a lot of garbage around the trail. You can do something good for your only planet and bring a part of it back with you. Thanks!

The sad part of the Lagodekhi Protected Areas – trash everywhere
The sad part of the Lagodekhi Protected Areas – trash everywhere

Cliff jumping in Sarpi, Georgia

Cliff jumping Sarpi

Bored with swimming and sunbathing at Georgian beaches? Get a free dose of adrenaline and try cliff jumping in Sarpi! Sarpi is 18 km south of Batumi, and it’s not only a border crossing town between Georgia and Turkey. It also offers some cliffs to jump off into the Black Sea.

Cliff jumping in Sarpi
Cliff jumping in Sarpi

Cliff jumping spots in Sarpi

The cliff jumping spots in Sarpi are located at the northern tip of Sarpi beach, and you can easily walk there from the main parking lot next to the border crossing.

There are two cliff diving spots next to each other. The lower one can be about 2 meters high while the higher one can be about 6 or 7 meters high. From both of the spots, you jump into the same deep and safe area.

It’s pretty straightforward to get back to the lower rock after jumping. To get back to the higher one, you either swim to the beach or swim to the left and climb the rock from there. Some parts are slippery so be careful.

During sunny summer days, it can get a little bit crowded, but not everybody is willing to jump immediately so feel free to skip the line up there.

The lower cliff jumping spot is on the left, the higher one on the right
The lower cliff jumping spot is on the left, the higher one on the right
Jumping off the higher cliff
Jumping off the higher cliff
Crowded cliff jumping spots in Sarpi
Crowded cliff jumping spots in Sarpi

How to get to Sarpi from Batumi

Before going to Sarpi, you will be probably staying or transferring in Batumi. The cheapest way to get from Batumi to Sarpi is by marshrutka. Because there is a border crossing to Turkey in Sarpi, marshrutkas frequently depart from Tbilisi square – a parking lot next to the main road between Holy Mother Virgin Nativity Cathedral and Argo Cable Car station. The price for a marshrutka is 1 GEL, and you pay when you get off.

If you are staying far away from Tbilisi sq., you can get to the square by taxi, it should cost you around 3–6 GEL depending on the distance. For example, the price for a route from McDonald’s next to the Batumi Mall to Tbilisi sq. was less than 4 GEL. The second option to catch a marshrutka to Sarpi is to stop it on the way. Marshrutkas follow the main road E70 to Sarpi so you can stop them anywhere and if there is some free place, the driver will take you.

You can also take a taxi from Batumi to Sarpi. It should cost you around 15 GEL one way.

What to do in Sarpi

Not into cliff jumping? Well, except for swimming and sunbathing, there is hardly anything else to do. You can visit St. Andrew the Apostle church, do some hiking in the surrounding mountains, or go for a trip to visit an ancient Roman fortress in Gonio.

The beach in Sarpi. The church is on the left, the border crossing building in the middle.
The beach in Sarpi. The church is on the left, the border crossing building in the middle.

Where to stay in Sarpi

Even though Sarpi is just a small town, you will find many guesthouses there with prices starting at 30 GEL per night.

Guesthouse Lazika

Guest House Lazika in Sarpi

Guest house Lazika in Sarpi has the best reviews and offers a view of Black Sea.

Guesthouse Emily

Guest House Emily in Sarpi

Guest house Emily offers the cheapest accommodation in Sarpi with a view of Black Sea.

Renting a car in Georgia and my experience with CARS 4 RENT

Rent a car in Georgia with CARS 4 RENT

Renting a car can often become a nightmare full of hidden fees and other unpleasant practices by car rental companies. When I wanted to rent a car in Georgia, I did a survey in advance, and CARS 4 RENT car rental seemed to be the best one regarding the reviews and prices. Also, the rental price includes full car insurance and additional drivers.

With my friends who came to Georgia for the first time, we wanted to save time and have the opportunity to stop wherever and whenever we want to. We rented Subaru Forester, a 4WD car suitable for easier off-road (which you will encounter even on the main roads in Georgia), avoiding waiting for marshrutkas and bargaining with taxi drivers.

Subaru Forester rented with CARS 4 RENT

Choosing a car with CARS 4 RENT

When renting a car with CARS4 RENT, you will get exactly the type of car you choose. There is no “or similar car” here.

After selecting the date and the place of return/lease, the available cars will be categorized according to their year of production, you will find any additional info, and each car is labeled with its category (city/highway, easy off-road and any off-road). CARS 4 RENT has the cheapest rental cars in the Discounted Vehicles group that were manufactured between 2001 and 2006. There is a reason for the discount for each vehicle, for example, right-hand drive car.

Once you make your booking, you will receive an email containing a confirmation link.


TourRadar

Most of the cars have an automatic transmission and among the cheapest cars are Toyota Prius, Ford Fiesta, or Mitsubishi Pajero.

If you want to learn about car insurance, payment, changing and canceling rental and many more, read their terms and conditions.

Cows on the road while driving in Georgia

Collecting your car

When we arrived to collect our car, we were already awaited by an English speaking employee in front of CARS 4 RENT office in Tbilisi. He took us straight to the car where we signed the contract (which is both in English and Georgian), we got the keys, and that was it. Quick and simple.

Because you have 100% insurance, you don’t have to deal with inspecting your car for any scratches.

Returning your car

We chose a one-way rental and returned our car in Kutaisi. They just checked if the fuel tank is full and within a minute the car was returned.

The car rented with CARS 4 RENTAL at the Paravani Lake

What you might be interested in when renting a car in Georgia with CARS 4 RENT

When I rent a car, I am always interested in the following information. For other frequent questions, visit the car rental’s website.

Do I need a credit card?

No, with CARS 4 RENT, you can rent a car without a credit card. You can pay for the rental in cash or by card.

Mileage and return with the full or empty fuel tank?

The mileage is unlimited. You will get the car with a full tank, and you will also be returning the vehicle with the full tank.

Is it necessary to wash the car before returning?

We were advised to return it clean. Anyway, we drove our car in the rain and off-road, so it was needed. You will find a lot of smaller garage car washers everywhere. We paid 5 GEL for washing the car’s exterior.

Do I need international driving license?

No, you are OK with your national driving license (in Latin or Cyrillic) if you are staying in Georgia for no more than one year.

Minimum age of the driver and additional drivers

Anybody over 21 who holds a driving license for at least 1 year can drive the rental car. The lessor of the vehicle must be present.

Car insurance

The price of the rental vehicle with CARS 4 RENT includes full car insurance with no excess.*

Damage caused to third parties – anything outside of the vehicle – is insured up to 50,000 USD.

*The insurance does not apply only to tire damage during off-road driving, the excess here varies between 39 and 95 EUR.

Assistance in case of problems

In case of any problem or accident, 24/7 support is available on the phone.

Off-road driving in Georgia with the car rented with CARS 4 RENT

Renting a car in Georgia with CARS 4 RENT was a positive experience, and I can recommend this car rental company for everyone, whether you decide to rent a car in Tbilisi, Kutaisi or Batumi. They also have great reviews on Facebook (4.9 out of 5) and on Google Maps (4.8 out of 5), and their helpful and English speaking staff will always be available to you.

CARS 4 RENT car rental

[icon name=”globe” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] | [icon name=”facebook-square” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]
[icon name=”map-marker” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] CARS 4 RENT, 24a Shalva Dadiani, Tbilisi, 0105
[icon name=”phone” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] +995 557 17 11 44 (24/7, Viber, WhatsApp)
[icon name=”envelope-o” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] info@world4you.travel

Branch offices of CARS 4 RENT

CARS 4 RENT has branches in the three largest cities of Georgia – Tbilisi, Kutaisi, and Batumi. However, you can collect your car at an airport or any different address.

Tbilisi

24a Shalva dadiani, Tbilisi

Kutaisi

65 Baratashvili, Kutaisi

Batumi

80 Giorgi Tsereteli, Batumi

20 steps to become a true Georgian driver

Driving in Georgia

Driving in Georgia is… Specific. It seems many Georgian drivers have been gifted with immortality. Well, at least they drive as if they were. Even though I have spent there three months, traveling in Georgia by car can always surprise me and give me a heart attack.

1. Buy a CNG car with the steering wheel on the right side because it’s cheaper. The less you see when passing, the better.

2. You should buy BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

3. You have the CNG car so don’t forget to ask passengers to leave the car when refueling. Safety is safety. But, for God’s sake, don’t forget to smoke during refueling!

4. Reverse on a highway.

5. Don’t keep garbage inside your car but throw it out of the window immediately.

6. Pass in bends.

7. Pass when there is a solid line. Twice more points if it’s a double solid line.

8. Pass when there is oncoming traffic.

9. Pass inside a tunnel. With lights off.

10. Pass when a car from oncoming traffic is also passing.

11. Make your own variants of dangerous passing.

12. Have a crack in the windscreen. The more, the better hierarchical position.

13. In bends, show off that you can use two lanes at once.

14. Listen to a crappy, cheap and loud Russian and Georgian music.

15. Don’t slow down when there are cows or pigs chilling on the road. They might moooove.

16. Only use the safety belt in the presence of the police, but only the chest part. Freedom is freedom.

17. Take more passengers in the car than what it is intended for, so the one in the middle seat doesn’t have to use the seatbelt. On behalf of Georgian drivers, we wish you a pleasant flight.

18. Turn on the lights when it’s really dark. Until then no one needs to see you.

19. Ignore the pedestrians who want to use the crosswalk.

20. If you need to cross yourself when spotting a cross, but you have one hand out of the window holding a cigarette, use the hand you are holding the steering wheel with. True masters can do this in bends.

Anyway, I can recommend visiting this beautiful and hospitable country to everyone. You can always use a train or a plane for traveling around Georgia. Have you been to Georgia? Do you have more tips how to become a true Georgian driver? Or some scary stories from Georgian roads? Let me know in the comments below.

Transportation in Tbilisi

Night Tbilisi

Public transportation in Tbilisi is good, bud the traffic can be madness. Into three lanes fit at least four cars and drivers are not used to give priority to pedestrians. The only safe options are crosswalks with traffic lights, overpasses and underpasses. But you can cross the street anywhere you want, you won’t get a fine and you will notice that everybody does it. You just need to be brave enough, guess the right moment and also wait in the middle of the road if needed. After some time you will run between those cars as anything.

For public transport in Tbilisi purchase METROMANI card which will save you money while changing lines. Without this card you will pay for every single ride by bus 0.50 GEL and you won’t be able to use the metro. You can get METROMANI card at every metro station for 2 GEL and you can charge it there with any amount. Another charging option are orange pay boxes which you can find around the city with any problem and you can also use them for top up your mobile phone credit and another services. Just place the card at a designated point on the machine, insert coins or banknotes (the lowest accepted coin is 50 tetri) and you are recharged. But beware that pay boxes won’t give you change so charge only with amount you really want. With this card you pay also 0.50 GEL for the ticket but it’s valid for 90 minutes so while changing line or bus you won’t be charged again. However, if you get on a different bus, use the card again at the machine, you will get ticket for 0 GEL. Therefore it is good that everybody have their own card. Although the card is not tied to a name and you can take any amount of tickets, the discount will be applied only once. Before leaving Tbilisi you can return this card (up to 1 month from purchase) and if you provide your purchase receipt, they will give you 2 GEL back.

BUS

In every bus you will find a machine in which you can buy the ticket for 0.50 GEL – just put there coin or their sum or place the card and it will give you the ticket. At every bus stop there is always departure stop which is also in English and the ID of the stop can be useful. You can find all of the stops, routes on ttc.com.ge where you can plan your journey, find timetables etc. There is also an Android app which offers same functions as the website and one of the useful function is Route Maps. Are you standing at the bus stop and you don’t know where the lines are going? Just enter the line number and you can see the route on the map. To find a route it is easier to use ID of the stop than writing the name. It is interesting that in a lot of buses you will meet employees who will pass you the ticket and sometimes check your ticket even you just purchased it in front of them. You can also meet inspectors but I found their approach to controls quite lax. I also noticed that passengers often didn’t buy the ticket if the employee wasn’t at in the bus, before getting off the bus they checked the bus stop if there are no inspectors and they had the ride for free. BTW, the fine for black passengers is 5 GEL.

Departure table and pay box
Departure table and pay box
Ticket for 0 lari. You can see the line number (14), date and time
Ticket for 0 lari. You can see the line number (14), date and time

METRO

Metro in Tbilisi has two lines – First Line (red) and Saburtalo (blue) and the only transfer station is Station Square I (Sadguris Moedani I). It runs from 6:00 till 23:59, the signs are in Georgian and English, so the announcement about the next stop and at each entrance there are turnstiles.

Map of metro
Map of metro

MARSHRUTKA

If you are missing fast and furious intercity marshrutkas, you won’t get this kind of ride in Tbilisi. Yeah, it would still be full of honking and crazy driving. They will make a stop for you almost everywhere you say/wave and the price is 0.40–0.80 GEL per ride. You won’t find marshrutka’s departures on the stop boards but will find the routes in the Route Scheme or you can plan the route on the map.

TAXI

Sami lari! You won’t regret with this sentence in Tbilisi. Sami means three and because the prices are mostly between 3 and 5 GEL you probably always find some driver who will accept this price. Except you don’t want to go through the whole city or to the airport. The city is full of taxis so you can get it anytime and everywhere, that’s why you can try sami lari with more drivers. These taxis doesn’t have taximeters so always bargain about the price in advance. But of course you can find also taxi services where you can order taxi by phone. They have taximeters and they should be slightly cheaper. You won’t find UBER here but you can use the app Taxify (iOS, Android, WP) which is kind of Eastern European copy of UBER.

HOW TO GET TO/FROM THE AIRPORT

The cheapest option is bus or train. The bus #37 goes to the airport and his route starts at Station Square and goes through Freedom Square. Between 7:00 and 20:00 it runs every 15–30 minutes and then every one hour till 23:00. The train goes from the Tbilisi central railway station (next to Station Square) only twice a day and it also costs 0.50 GEL. From the central railway station it goes at 7:55 and 17:20 and from the airport to the railway station at 8:45 and 18:05. Since a lot of flights are early in the morning you won’t probably avoid the use of taxi. It should costs a maximum of 25 GEL from the city center to the airport, some of taxi services can do it for 14 GEL.

CABLE CAR

Do you want to visit Mother of Georgia (Kartvlis Deda) or Narikala fortress but you don’t want to walk up there? From Rike park you can take cable car which offers view on the old city and takes you directly next to the fortress which is just a short walk from the statue. For the ride you need METROMANI card (you can buy it there) and it costs 1 GEL per ride.

The second and probably less known is funicular from Vilnius Square to Mtatsminda amusement park where you can find Ferris wheel and TV tower. You won’t succeed with METROMANI card here and you have to buy another card which also costs 2 GEL. The ride is for 2 GEL and you don’t need more cards for more people.

View from the Rike-Narikala cable car
View from the Rike-Narikala cable car

 

How to fly to Mestia from Natakhtari (Tbilisi) and Kutaisi

Flight to Mestia

Updated on July 23, 2019

Curious about how to get to Mestia in Georgia? You can spend many hours on the road to get to Mestia by bus, or you can take a flight to Mestia and be in the beautiful mountains in less than one hour!

Vanilla Sky offers flights to Mestia from Natakhtari (Tbilisi) and Kutaisi throughout the year. Service Air operates the flights to Mestia on LET-410 UVP aircraft (registration UR-LSA) for 19 passengers.

In addition to these routes, they also operate flights between Natakhtari and Ambrolauri, and between Tbilisi and Batumi.

Currently, the flight schedule is available until the end of December 2019.

Flights between Natakhtari (Tbilisi) and Mestia

Natakhtari airfield is located in Natakhtari, approximately 30 km north of Tbilisi city center. Flights between Natakhtari and Mestia are operated up to six times a week and up to twice a day.

Ticket price for Natakhtari – Mestia (one way):

  • adult: 90 GEL
  • child 3–12 y. o.: 63 GEL
  • child 0–3 y. o.: free

Flight schedule Natakhtari – Mestia in 2019

DAYNATAKHTARI – MESTIAMESTIA – NATAKHTARI
Monday9:00
17:00
11:00
19:00
Tuesday9:0014:30
Wednesday9:0011:00
Thursday9:0011:00
Friday9:0014:30
Sunday9:0011:00
DAYNATAKHTARI – MESTIAMESTIA – NATAKHTARI
Monday9:00
17:00
11:00
19:00
Tuesday9:0014:30
Wednesday9:0011:00
Thursday9:0011:00
Friday9:0014:30
Sunday9:0011:00
DAYNATAKHTARI – MESTIAMESTIA – NATAKHTARI
Monday9:00
15:00
11:00
16:45
Tuesday9:0014:30
Wednesday9:0011:00
Thursday9:0011:00
Friday9:0014:30
Sunday9:0011:00
DAYNATAKHTARI – MESTIAMESTIA – NATAKHTARI
Monday10:0015:00
Tuesday10:0012:00
Thursday10:0012:00
Friday10:0015:00
Sunday9:0011:00
DAYNATAKHTARI – MESTIAMESTIA – NATAKHTARI
Monday10:0015:00
Tuesday10:0012:00
Friday9:3014:00
Sunday9:0011:00
DAYNATAKHTARI – MESTIAMESTIA – NATAKHTARI
Monday10:0012:00
Tuesday10:0015:00
Thursday10:0012:00
Friday9:3014:00
Sunday9:0011:00


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How to get to Natakhtari airport

Natakhtari airport
Natakhtari airport

The price of the flight ticket from/to Natakhtari includes transportation between Natakhtari airfield and Tbilisi by van. The departure is from the Rose Revolution Sq. (corner of Kiacheli str. & Rose Revolution sq., the opposite side of the Bike monument), find the pick up point on the map below. The departure is 45 minutes before the indicated check-in time.

If you don’t want to use the provided transport for any reason, you can use a taxi. You can use Bolt (formerly Taxify), and it will cost you around 25 GEL from the city center of Tbilisi. Get 5 GEL off your first ride with this Bolt promo code: BCV5C. There is no Uber in Georgia

You can also hitchhike or catch a marshrutka heading north. Ask the driver to stop in Natakhtari and then walk from the main road to the airport for 1 km.

Accommodation in Tbilisi

prices from €3/night

In Tbilisi, you will find many hostels, guest houses, apartments, and hotels. I recommend staying nearby Shota Rustaveli Ave., Old City, or Marjanishvili Sq. You can also stay next to the Natakhtari airport at Vanilla Sky hotel.

Flights between Kutaisi and Mestia

The flights are operated from the David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport. Flights between Kutaisi and Mestia are operated twice a week. This is perfect for those arriving in Kutaisi with Wizzair.

Ticket price for Kutaisi – Mestia (one way):

  • adult: 50 GEL
  • child 3–12 y. o.: 35 GEL
  • child 0–3 y. o.: free

Flight schedule Kutaisi – Mestia in 2019

DAYKUTAISI – MESTIAMESTIA – KUTAISI
Tuesday12:3011:00
Friday12:3011:00
DAYKUTAISI – MESTIAMESTIA – KUTAISI
Tuesday12:3011:00
Friday12:3011:00
DAYKUTAISI – MESTIAMESTIA – KUTAISI
Tuesday12:3011:00
Friday12:3011:00
DAYKUTAISI – MESTIAMESTIA – KUTAISI
Monday13:3012:00
Friday13:3011:30
DAYKUTAISI – MESTIAMESTIA – KUTAISI
Monday13:3012:00
Friday12:3011:00
DAYKUTAISI – MESTIAMESTIA – KUTAISI
Tuesday13:3012:00
Friday12:4511:15

Accommodation in Kutaisi

prices from €3/night

Even though Kutaisi is not a beautiful city, there are some unique places around to see (Sataplia Nature Reserve, Okatse Canyon, Martvili Canyon, or Kinchkha Waterfall). For easier transportation, I recommend staying close to the bus/marshrutka and train station (both next to McDonald’s).

Prices start at €3 for a bed in a hostel dormitory, but you will also find guest houses and high standard hotels.

Queen Tamar airport in Mestia

Queen Tamar airport was built in 2010, and you can fly to Mestia from Natakhtari (Tbilisi) and Kutaisi.

How to get to/from the airport in Mestia

Queen Tamar airport in Mestia is located 2 km east of the town center. You can easily walk, take a taxi or hitchhike, but there is not much traffic.

Queen Tamar airport in Mestia
Queen Tamar airport in Mestia

Vanilla Sky airplane at Mestia airport
Vanilla Sky airplane at Mestia airport

How to book the flight to Mestia with Vanilla Sky

You can book the flight to Mestia online, or at Vanilla Sky office in Tbilisi. If you want to cancel your booking made online, you can do it no later than 48 hours before the time of departure. It’s not possible to make any change in your reservation. The baggage allowance is 15 kg per passenger.

For more info, read terms & conditions, or contact Vanilla Sky on Facebook, they reply quite quickly.

Also, don’t hesitate with the booking, flights to Mestia are sold out quickly!

Book the flight online

Booking your flight to Mestia online is the easiest way, and you can make a reservation for up to 4 people at once. The highlighted days in the calendar mean only days with flights, not days with available seats, so you have to try your desired dates. Also, you can’t see how many seats are available.

Payment is possible only with VISA or Mastercard cards, and there is a 3.5% fee for a transaction.

Vanilla Sky flight online booking
Online booking of a flight to Mestia on Vanilla Sky website

Visit Vanilla Sky office in Tbilisi

Another option is to visit the Vanilla Sky office in Tbilisi and make the reservation there. Find the Vanilla Sky contact below.

I recommend you paying with a card in case the flight will be canceled. It will be easier to refund you the money.

What to do when your flight to/from Mestia is canceled

Flights to/from Mestia are operated under Visual Flight Rules. This means if the weather conditions are bad, the flight will be canceled.

Don’t expect they will let you know the status of the flight. They sent us an email one day before with the information that the departure will be postponed but didn’t contact us on the day of the departure that the flight was canceled.

So it’s smart to have a backup plan.

In case you made the booking online or at the office and paid with a card, you will get the refund back to your card within 30 days. You can get it earlier if you contact them by email. The same applies for cancellation from your side.

If you did booking at the office and paid with cash, then I don’t know, I can only wish you good luck. Will you get the refund at the airport? Will you get it at every airport? Or do you have to go back to their office in Tbilisi? Or will they be able to use bank transfer, so you will probably pay a fee for an incoming transaction in a foreign currency? Let me know in the comments if you know the answer.

Canceled flight to Mestia
Canceled flight to Mestia

Other domestic flights in Georgia provided by Vanilla Sky

Vanilla Sky provides other domestic flights in Georgia.

Tbilisi – Batumi

The route between Tbilisi and Batumi is operated on SAAB 340 aircraft for 32 passengers. Georgian Airways also provide flights from Tbilisi to Batumi.

These flights depart from Tbilisi International Airport, not from Natakhtari.

Natakhtari (Tbilisi) – Ambrolauri

Another destination available from Natakhtari is Ambrolauri, also on LET-410 UVP aircraft.

Vanilla Sky flight route map in Georgia

On this map, you will find all of the mentioned routes, airports and other places.

My review of flight to Mestia with Vanilla Sky

I have two experiences with Vanilla Sky. The first one was in the summer of 2015 when my friend and I flew successfully from Natakhtari to Mestia. The second one was in the summer of 2017 when our flight from Kutaisi to Mestia was canceled due to bad weather in Mestia.

The best part, of course, is the flight itself. You fly over the whole country, and the mountainous scenery of Caucasus is simply amazing! If you have the opportunity to take this flight, do it!

The worst part is the communication and customer service, but that might be better by now.

LET 410 cockpit
LET 410 cockpit

LET 410 interior
LET 410 interior

Successful flight from Natakhtari to Mestia

It was not possible to book the flight online at that time, so we had to make a reservation via email. The communication was slow and insufficient since we had to urge them to get available dates. The payment was possible in cash only at their office in Tbilisi, but it was no problem for us because we were spending two months there.

On the day of our flight, we were provided with transport from Tbilisi to Natakhtari airport and everything was on time. At the airport, there was a registration of passengers before the flight and a standard security check. I had a small knife in my bag, but it wasn’t a big problem for them as they took it and gave it back to me at the airport in Mestia.

Take off in Natakhtari
Take off in Natakhtari

Flight over Georgia with Vanilla Sky
Flight over Georgia with Vanilla Sky

Canceled flight from Kutaisi to Mestia

My second flight to Mestia was supposed to be from Kutaisi, but the weather made it impossible. We received an email day before that the time of departure changed, but on the day of the flight, we didn’t receive any info. So we had to go to the airport to find out the flight was canceled and figure out how to get to Mestia (we hitchhiked).

Then I sent an email asking for a refund and received the money back in less than 30 days, probably within one week. They state the 3.5% fee is non-refundable, but they refunded me the whole sum.

Mestia

Mestia is a small town located in the Svaneti region in the Caucasus Mountains. It’s famous for its stone defensive towers, beautiful nature and a trek to Ushguli.

Mestia has become a popular destination amongst travelers visiting Georgia, and it can be quite crowded during summer.

Accommodation in Mestia

prices from €3/night

Since Mestia tourism is increasing, you will find many guest houses in this small mountain town. You can choose from cheap hostels, guest houses, or go for more expensive hotels offering stunning views of this Svanetian city.

How to get to Mestia

All flights are sold out, your flight was canceled, or you just can’t or don’t want to fly?

To Mestia by rental car

To get the freedom of traveling in Georgia, rent a car with a Georgian car rental company CARS 4 RENT. I had a positive experience with them! Driving to Mestia is not difficult, and the road is normal. Just be careful with potholes and fallen rocks in some parts.

To Mestia by marshrutka or train

If you prefer public transportation, you can use marshrutkas (minibus) or a combination of train and marshrutka. In case you can’t find a direct marshrutka to Mestia, look for a connection to Zugdidi and in Zugdidi for another marshrutka. There are two direct trains from Tbilisi to Zugdidi and also from Zugdidi to Tbilisi. If you are in Kutaisi, you can get on the train in Mukhiani or Samtredia.

  • Tbilisi – Mestia
    • direct marshrutka Tbilisi – Mestia (there might be a swap of marshrutkas on the way)
    • marshrutkas with up to two transfers in Kutaisi and/or Zugdidi
    • train Tbilisi – Zugdidi, transfer to marshrutka Zugdidi – Mestia
  • Kutaisi – Mestia
    • direct marshrutka Kutaisi – Mestia (there might be a swap of marshrutkas on the way)
    • marshrutkas with one transfer in Zugdidi
    • train Mukhiani or Samtredia – Zugdidi, transfer to marshrutka

To Mestia by taxi

You might also find taxi drivers offering a shared ride, it’s more comfortable, and it doesn’t have to be too expensive when the car is fully occupied. We used a shared taxi between Mestia and Zugdidi and then took the night train from Zugdidi to Tbilisi.

To Mestia by hitchhiking

Another option is hitchhiking. It’s not difficult to get a ride in Georgia, but the road between Zugdidi and Mestia isn’t busy. Anyway, I was able to hitchhike from Mestia to Tbilisi and make a stop in Anaklia (a city on the Black Sea coast; a time-consuming detour while hitchhiking) in one day.

Helicopter flight to Mestia?

There is a chance you will find some info about a helicopter flight from Tbilisi to Mestia. The info is outdated, but if you want, I’m sure you will be able to arrange a private and expensive flight by a helicopter.

What to do in Mestia

Mestia is popular among trekkers, and the most popular is a trek from Mestia to Ushguli – one of the highest continuously inhabited settlements in Europe recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other favorite hikes are to Koruldi Lakes (you can hike only to a viewpoint with a cross above Mestia) and to Chalaadi Glacier.
If you are a lover of skiing, you can definitely visit Mestia during winter. There are two ski resorts, Hatsvali in Mestia and Tetnuldi 20km east of Mestia.
Not into hiking and trekking? Make a one day trip to Ushguli with a private driver or visit some of the many restaurants and cafés.