Georgia is well-known for its beautiful scenic views and attachment to nature. Other than the mountains, valleys, and beaches of the Black Sea, you can also visit the in this country numerous canyons. One of them is Martvili Canyon, located in the northwestern part of Georgia, shy of than 300 kilometers from the capital, Tbilisi. This canyon owes its popularity, not thanks to the turquoise and clear water, but also the opportunity to swim one of its sections rafting boat under the tutelage of a tutor.
Martvili Canyon have been discovered by the Dadiani princely family in the 19th century. They were so enchanted by the local area that they ordered the creation of a path to the canyon along the river. The Dadiani family, which ruled Georgia until 1867, loved to take a bath here. To get to the pools, they used private paths and stairs, which can still be walk today. This historic path has been transformed into a paved walking trail about 700 meters long, which starts directly at the visitor center. Special care should be taken when arriving at the trail during the rain, as the stones can be slippery, and it is easy to have an accident in these cases.
The canyon’s visitor center is located in the village of Inchkhuri. Today there are 2 bridges, 3 viewing platforms and a 30-foot limestone historic stairs. The path offers good views of the Fur Bridge, Dadiani Baths and a 12-meter waterfall. The biggest attraction, however, is a short pontoon boat ride (mandatory with a guide) down the Abasha River, which shows us the true beauty of the place. Carved by the river, the 2.4-kilometer gorge has 50-70-meter rock walls and several cascading waterfalls. You can read about rafting by pontoon later in this article. The time to explore the entire canyon not counting the Abasha River rafting is less than 1.5 hours.
There are some things which make Martvili a different canyon from the rest of Georgian gorges. First, its “presence.” In the canyon, you’ll find beautifully twisted trees with spindle-shaped branches and giant boulders covered with moss that hang over the sparkling turquoise-blue water. The vegetation here is dense, and the slopes are winding. The whole area resembles a fairy tale world. High humidity and subtropical climate make, that it is “green” here practically all year round. Secondly, Martvili Canyon is a Protected Area of the National Parks of Georgia, so you won’t see any vandalism carried out on the local flora and fauna.
Martvili Canyon is located in the municipality of Martvili, in the Samegrelo-Zemo Svanet region. It is located 50 kilometers from Kutaisi. The gorge there is between the village of Gachedili and the town of Marvili. At the entrance to Martvili there are paid parking lots (GPS 42.45856, 42.37752). The price in 2021 was 2 Georgian lari (GEL) per hour.
From the Central Bus Station in Kutaisi to the Martvili area, there is a bus on average every hour between 8am, 6pm. There are no typical bus stops in Martvili, so you have to ask the driver to stop in this town (we have to watch our way!). The trip takes about 1.5 hours. The price of the ticket for 2022 was about 5 Georgian lari.
You can take a cab in Kutaisi and buy a ride to Martvili. Prices in 2022 started at 100 GEL.
Besides, on the GoTrip website, you can look for transportation to Martvili Canyon from anywhere in Georgia. However, you should keep in mind that the driver may, not know our language, so it may happen that we will have difficulty finding suitable a connection for us. On the other hand, if we know although some Russian or English, then there should be no problem with finding transportation.
You can also use Local Rent if you want to rent a car in Georgia. Prices are attractive and often deposit is no required.
BEST TIME TO VISIT THE CANYON
The canyon is open all year round. Most people visit Martvili between June and September. The downside, of course, is that during this period there are definitely more people on the trail than usual. The walking paths are cramped, so the moment they fill up with tourists, visiting the place becomes unpleasant. Like most popular tourist sites in Georgia, it is better to visit during the off-season. There will be certainly fewer what, will allow us to enjoy the walk and the views. Martvili is famed for its wonderful autumn weather and this is undoubtedly the best time to visit this place. To avoid crowds in summer, it is recommended to visit this place in the morning, when the canyon is open, or at lunchtime. The boat trip takes 15-20 minutes, so the latest possible rafting is half an hour before the canyon closes.
HOW TO DRESS AND WHAT TO TAKE WITH YOU
Comfortable walking shoes with soles with good traction are a necessity. In summer, you can take trekking sandals instead of boots. If there is even the little chance of rain, it is worth to take with you a cape or rain jacket with you. The route is mostly shaded, but in summer, it won’t hurt to take a hat or cap.
You can stock up on snacks or sandwiches for the road. In summer, it is mandatory to take water with you, whereas in winter, it will be a good idea to take a thermos with warm tea.
Of course, it’s a good idea to take a camera 😊. For the pontoon, you can take only small-sized bags (well, they should be waterproof).
TICKET PRICES AND OPENING HOURS
Ticket prices for Martvili Canyon for 2022.
Adults: 17.25 GEL.
Children (6-18 years old): 5.50 GEL.
Children under 6 years of age enter free.
Georgian citizens and residents qualify for discounted tickets in hight 10.35 GEL. Georgians who buy tickets with a discount must show their ID card or passport to the staff controlling the entrance. In case of lack this a document, a person will have to buy a regular ticket.
Tourist agency guides can visit the canyon for free if an deal is signed between the tourist agency and the Protected Areas Agency.
Rafting by pontoon – 15 GEL.
Gorge opening hours: 10:00 – 17:00
The rafting trip takes 15-20 minutes and is 300 meters long. The route passes through the northern part of the canyon, which cannot be seen from the walking route, as it leads south. In addition, the cruise gives a different perspective of admiring the canyon. The path is high up, so the only way to see the rock walls and waterfall from below is rafting the boat. Before boarding the boat, we will be given a life jacket, paddles and a safety helmet if we want. A maximum of 6 people can fit into the pontoon. During the rafting we have to paddle ourselves, but there is a helmsman on board who will help when it will be need. If the water level is too high or the current too strong, rafting in the gorge is canceled. This usually happens in spring and always after heavy rains. Children under the age of 5 or shorter than 1 meter are not participated in rafting. The boat trip ends at the same place where it begins, and there is a waiting area near the pier for those members of the group who did not want to attend in the rafting trip. If we are lucky and there are not many people and there won’t be many keen to cruise, we have a chance to get at ownership the pontoon where, we will be and the helmsman. This gives you a lot of freedom while of making stops, to take souvenir photos.
WHAT NOT TO DO IN THE CANYON
Martivili Canyon is under protection, so it is forbidden, among other things: swimming, climbing rocks, littering, making noise, destroying nature and infrastructure, digging up plants, smoking, fishing and bring animals along.
In Kutaisi are dozens of companies that organize day trips to Martvili. An often recommended agency that organizes trips to the canyon (and other places in Georgia) is Budget Georgia. Prices are affordable and the guides are reputable.
You can find an other offer for a trip to the canyon here.
One of the best and recommended restaurants near Martvili Canyon is Oda Family Marani. It specializes in preparing delicious regional dishes and serves excellent Georgian wines. Previous reservations during peak season are a must.
Before traveling, check the weather forecast. In case of rain and snow, rafting trips are canceled. You can find the current weather in Martvili here.
WHERE TO STAY ON NIGHT
In the canyon area there are many apartments where, you can stay. Some of the most recommended residences by tourists are:
Karma Hostel enjoys one of the best reviews in Martvili. They serve delicious homemade food here, and also the prices are not exorbitant.
In the town of Balda near Martvili is Parna Cottage. The decor of this place is typically Georgian, which makes that the atmosphere here is unique.
Martvili Canyon is called Gachedili Canyon by some. However, at the official website looms the name “Martvili Canyon”.
Undoubtedly, a country like Georgia has a lot to offer tourists, such things as showing beautiful “monuments” of nature. One such place is Martvili Canyon. Although the whole canyon can be visited in 2.5 hours, including with swimming a 300-meter section in a pontoon, it is worth seeing this place. Not because only of the lovely turquoise water, but also to see how beautifully nature has can be incorporated the local vegetation among the 50, 70-meter high vertical rock walls.
Lasha Ge, source commons.wikimedia.org.
Paata Vardanashvili, source commons.wikimedia.org.
Nika Tchokhonelidze, source Unsplash.