|Stretch:||Hot spring to Nokalakevi Fortress|
|Difficulty:||Class III- to III|
|Flows:||No Gauge. Estimate at put-in: 1,000 cfs|
|Gradient:||~20 pm average|
|Put-in:||The Hotspring “Gorace zródla siarkowodorowe”|
|Shuttle:||3.5 kms (5 minutes one-way)|
|Season:||Spring and ?|
|Featured in A Wet State #131|
Our thanks to our trip leads at Two Blade Adventures.
Republic of Georgia 2017 Day 14:
Our final morning of the trip, I couldn’t sleep. So instead, I got up early and took a 1 hour shower in the natural hot springs, with the river to my back. It was glorious.
Where we camped, at the hot spring, also just happens to be put-in for this section. So as morning progressed, we packed up and shoved off onto the water. The final gorge of the Tekhuri is short but super scenic. The first half of it is a walled-out class III gorge before the river turns left and opens up to wonderful mountain scenery. Finally, as you approach take-out, you begin to get views Nokalakevi Fortress, which was the main defensive fortress in the area around 550 AD. We took out in the parking lot for the fortress and then spent some time drying our gear before packing it up and heading to Tbilisi.
After about an half hour of driving, we picked up Egor at a bus stop, and dropped off Liza who had been our shuttle driver for the trip. It was honestly nice to have Egor back, if nothing else for how fast he drove compared to Liza. The 5 hour drive would have taken significantly longer without him!
Arriving in Tbilisi, we have about 12 hours to kill before our flights. So we completed a bunch of site seeing. First up was Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. This cathedral is one of the principal churches in the Georgian Orthodox church. It was also the location of Georgian coronations as well as royal burials. Its present structure was completed in 1029 AD! Next up was Jvari monastery, which is perched high on the mountain overlooking the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. Jvari was built in ~600 AD and like Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our next stop was the Chronicals of Georgia, which are a massive sculpture on the mountains above Tbilisi. This sculpture is not 100% finished yet, but the influence of the Soviet born artist are unmistakable. We then got dinner, one last one to over eat ourselves silly as a group. Before then heading for 2 hours in the Turkish Baths. The Turkish Baths are awesome, nice hot tubs, cold tubs, marble beds, saunas, and scrubbing/cleansing massages. So so nice. It was nice to get clean and relax before the long trip home. After the baths, it was 11 pm, so we decided to walk around town for 1.5 hours, going up and down the hills, walking along ancient walls, along small creeks, and through historic districts before we had to wrap it up and Egor drove us all to the airport. Jo had a 2:30 flight so he had a timeline. Irina, Diane, Kevin and I were all flying closer to 4:30 so we had to kill time in the airport while we waited for them to let us check our gear in. But it was nice to have some last time together, and reminisce over the great trip. Two Blade Adventures really did show us a great time, and it was awesome to get to experience such a cool country. I honestly never had this place on my radar before, but I am so happy I went there.
Similar to our flight to Georgia, Diane and I had a long layover in Istanbul, Turkey. But, unlike the inbound flight, this layover was in the morning. So we were able to take advantage of the free tours Turkish Airlines arranges for its customers with long layovers. So, we were able to fit in a 2.5 hour bus tour of Istanbul. If you have longer layovers than we did, there is actually 8 hour walking tours as well. And free. So awesome. Just note you do need a Visa from the US, they are easy to get online and cost ~$20. Then, the fun was over… and we caught our connection, slept and watched movies, all the way to Atlanta… where our trip ended. Another classic set of memories in the bag.
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- Warm-up (II-). The first little bit is little more than fast moving water.
- Gorge (III- to III). The gorge is fast and within beautiful, tight walls. But rest assured that the rapids are basically just wave trains that can be run anywhere. Generally just stay with the current and avoid the walls.
- Opens (I). the river bends left and the rapids start. The first little bit is still a superb canyon with tight walls, and then the walls peal back and you get a pleasant float down to take-out.
Put-in / Take-out: Use the GPS coordinates in the map and a mapping program on your phone. The street names will not be legible anyways…
Put-in: You will drive up the gorge and can peak in. As the river gets next to the road again, take a super sharp right hand turn onto a dirt road. This leads down to the hot spring.
Take-out: Downstream, find your way to the bridge at the Nokalakevi Fortress. Access is on river left just after the road bridge.
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