3 Hikes in Dedoplistskaro (Georgia) That Took My Breath Away

The small town of Dedoplistskaro, Georgia, doesn’t get mentioned too often when you ask about the highlights of Caucasus, however, I am here to tell you: write it down in your Georgia itinerary and underline it. Twice. (In hot pink, preferably.)

If you like trekking among ruins, gorges and marvelous views of snowy Caucasus peaks, this place’s got you covered.

Dedoplistskaro is located in the east of Georgia and it is also the eastern tip of the Kakheti region, famous for its wine. If you are heading to Kakheti, why don’t you stop by to do some hiking at the same time?

I have spent more than a week hanging around, discovering the must-see things in Dedoplistskaro and while I haven’t seen everything by any chance, I’d like to give you a few tips on the surroundings and feed your inspiration engine with some trekking fuel.

These are three hikes you can take when in Dedoplistskaro – two of them super easy and one requires several days (and, surprisingly, some paperwork. But you won’t regret it, I promise).

Khornabuji castle dedoplistskaro georgia
Khornabuji castle

Hike to Khornabuji fortress

The Khornabuji castle (also known as Tamaris Tsikhe, Tamar’s castle, although it is older than this legendary queen) is built at a strategically crucial spot, watching over two valleys, Iori and Alazani. In human language, that means it has a great view from the top!

The first evidence of a settlement nearby reaches all the way to the third millennium BC and was mentioned by the Greek historian Strabo. (Don’t think I wasn’t trying to find out what exactly he said, but I miserably failed.) Anyhow, the first evidence of an actual fortress here comes from the 5th century.

It is extremely easy to walk to the Khornabuji castle from the downtown of Dedoplistskaro – there are actually marks signaling the way. Start at the church in the village center – nearby, you can check out a tourist information board with a map and some tips – and take to the north from there. Walk straight until you leave the village behind, then walk some more. You will cross the railway at some point and enter a small forest. The way is wide enough for a car to pass, however, it can get muddy as hell in rainy weather.

Read more: Hiking in Svaneti, Georgia

Shortly before the fortress, there is a turn to the left – I highly recommend you to take the detour because there is a viewpoint with a great view of the castle, the plains, surrounding hills and on a clear day, also the striking Caucasus range.

There is a ruin of a restaurant (or something), but it is not suitable to camp within as it is full of bricks and concrete falling apart. There is a cozy fireplace with a table that you can use for a picnic and also a flat spot to set up your tent, however, it got pretty windy at night. Depending on your equipment, you might want to opt for a different camping spot in the valley.

From the viewpoint, you have to return to the main trail and continue for about 10 – 15 minutes to reach the fortress. It is perched on top of a massive rock but below, there is a wide, flat area of green grass, perfect and comfy for camping. There is also a building that looks like a small restaurant or maybe a tourist information office, but there is no sign and it was closed at the time of our visit. In rainy weather and low season, you might want to opt for camping at the terrace which flaunts a solid roof.

Read more: What happens when you overstay visa in Armenia?

To climb Khornabuji itself (very worth it), head to the left, following the arrow. (Only a blind person, a.k.a. me, would miss it.) At the entrance, there is a nice small room where we almost spent the night, but in the end, we wanted to enjoy the morning view from the viewpoint so we went back.

The fortress is on a steep hill and the ascent can be a little tricky, but you are obviously wearing good hiking boots with an awesome grip so you won’t hurt yourself.

Exploring Khornabuji was an exciting adventure because you have to climb over the rocks and pass some narrow spots to go up. The ruins are overgrown with old trees and we didn’t meet any other tourists so the whole place was shrouded in a mysterious, fairy-tale atmosphere, bathing in the golden light of an October sunset.

khornabuji sunset hiking georgia caucasus
Sunset at the castle

How to get to Khornabuji

Start in the downtown of Dedoplistskaro, at the church (right next to the school). Head to the north, taking the Vakhtang Gorgasali street, and go straight. You will connect to the Tskaro street, then Tamar street and finally Shota Rustaveli street which will take you out of the village, cross the railway and connect with the trail. (Or just follow the GPS – the Khornabuji fortress has a point in the MapsMe app.)

You can get here by car, but the road can be muddy in rainy weather. (What a surprise, I know.)

If you follow the road further from the fortress, you can walk all the way to the village of Karaghaji.

Distance

about 4 – 5 km from the village to the fortress, a tiny bit more with the detour to the viewpoint.

Artsivis Kheoba Eagle gorge dedoplistskaro georgia
Eagle gorge views

Hiking to Eagle gorge (Artsivis Kheoba)

The Eagle gorge was similarly deserted when we visited and we enjoyed yet another romantic sunset sitting on the rocks and watching the panorama. The autumn colors, the limestone formations with trees growing at a 90 degrees angle and the mist slowly spreading over the valley as the evening got colder (F said it was smoke from the stoves, but shush) created a somewhat melancholic atmosphere combined with the howling of jackals hidden in the valley just as the sun disappeared.

Artsivis Kheoba Eagle gorge dedoplistskaro georgia
Autumn nature at the Eagle gorge

How to get to Eagle gorge

From the downtown of Dedoplistskaro, walk in the direction of the Border Police (Lermontov street). Connect with the Lenin street, then Cholokashvili street and walk towards the north. Leaving the village, you will see a small stone building (not sure what it is meant for but I thought it would be great to spend the night unless you have a better option). Pass around it and continue walking up the hill. You can see the gorge from above and all the surrounding mountains and the village from the top.

We didn’t go deep into the gorge because it was after dark, however, if I would go back, I would certainly love to explore more. Apparently, there are a few waterfalls and even some archaeological find to be seen.

Read more: No, you can NOT travel for free. Here is why.

Distance

About 3 easy km from the village

hiking vashlovani georgia
Golden hour

Trekking in Vashlovani Natural Reserve

Vashlovani is the place for you if you love walking for days without meeting anyone, aren’t scared of carrying a lot of water on your back and wish to get closer to the wilderness. (And wildlife. The wolfs are just around the corner, ya know.)

Vashlovani is home to a small, but growing population of gazelles, but also wolfs, bears, jackals, spiders, and snakes. It is an ornithologist’s paradise too. Personally, it is my favorite place in Georgia – it is stunningly beautiful, but not crowded with tourists. It possesses a great natural richness but is not advertised too heavily.

Read more: Hiking the Lycian way in Turkey

Don’t expect anything like Svaneti at Vashlovani, I am talking about the real remote here. There is not even a shop in Kasristskali (well, they say there is, but it was closed and it didn’t look like a shop), although there is a drinkable water source.

From Kasristskali, it is possible to walk or drive on the Vashlovani trails and admire its natural treasures.

Before heading to Vashlovani, be sure to stop by the Visitors Center in Dedoplistskaro and get a permit. (And a map.) You will also need the approval of the Border Police as the natural park sits right at the border with Azerbaijan.

Caucasus sunset dedoplistskaro georgia
Caucasus range at sunset

How to get to Vashlovani National Park

Although both Khornabuji and Artsivis Kheoba belong to the Vashlovani protected areas, to get deep into the so-called “Georgian Africa” and admire its dry steppes, strange limestone formations, and endemic flora, you need to get your well-shaped hiker’s butt to Kasristskali, about 50 km from Dedoplistskaro.

While most of the people recommend renting a car to visit Vashlovani (and it is a sound decision), it is definitely possible to hike there without a vehicle (or on a bike, for that matter).

I don’t know about marshrutkas going to Kasristskali (there might be some though) and if you don’t want to pay for a taxi, you can hitchhike. Some people say it is impossible, but that is not accurate – there just isn’t all that much traffic going to Kasristskali, so it might take a while. It is easy (as usually in Georgia) to hitchhike to the roundabout where most people turn to Zemo Kvedi, but you will need to take the shattered road to the east.

Once in Kasristskali, follow the arrows leading to the tourist trail. I wrote a whole, long-ass guide detailing all you need to do to walk to Vashlovani, including the best route I would recommend you to take and you can find it here:

Hiking in Vashlovani Natural Park & the best itinerary

Distance

About 50 km on the bumpy road from Dedoplistskaro to Kasristskali (180 km from Tbilisi)

dedoplistskaro lagodekhi georgia
View from Khornabuji

Best hiking trails in Dedoplistskaro, Georgia

In this article, I have tried to give you an idea of the hiking routes in Dedoplistskaro; the three options I have presented you with are fairly easy to walk, especially Khornabuji and Eagle gorge since they are directly accessible on foot from the town of Dedoplistskaro.

Trekking to Vashlovani requires a bit more preparations because of its remoteness and the necessary paperwork, but with enough time, it is not impossible as the terrain there is mostly flat.

If you love wild nature and are hoping to encounter faraway places on your trip to Georgia, Vashlovani will certainly satisfy your thirst for adventure.

Have you visited Dedoplistskaro? Do you have more tips on hiking trails I haven’t explored? I’d be happy to hear about them in the comments!

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hiking dedoplistskaro georgia - three awesome hikes in dedoplistskaro that you shouldn't miss! Add this to your Kakheti itinerary and you will love Caucasus forever.
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Planning your trip to Georgia?

I’ve got you covered. Sort of. Here are my articles about the country of Georgia:

Mysterious Ushguli: The Highest Settlement of Europe & Its Legends

Travel for Health: Thermal Radon Springs In Tskaltubo, Georgia

Kutaisigraphy: A Slow Travel Guide to Kutaisi, Georgia (+ Tips on Hospitals & Medical Checks)

Into the Badlands: Trekking in Vashlovani Natural Reserve in Georgia

I am constantly working on new posts, but if you have more specific questions, feel free to reach out in the comments!

Stray story seeker. Hungry hitchhiker. Wannabe polyglot. Aspiring travel writer. Currently bumming around in Turkey.
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25 Comments

    • I heard skiing in Georgia is awesome and I am hoping to go for a short trip to Bakuriani when there will be more snow! I’d still give Georgia in the winter a chance, I heard the skiing is also great. But visiting in summer or autumn (or spring) has its charm too…maybe you can visit in spring when there is still snow in the mountains but already sunny and good for hiking in the lower places like this one?

  1. I think I have tried to read out loud the name of the place like 10 times now, still looking at it like “dedo..plist..skaro? 😀 I sometimes do regret I didn’t discover a bit more of Eastern Europe when I lived in Europe. Looks like a great hike you had and a very good guide for people who want to do it. Btw I think its the first time I see the menu on the left side – interesting!

    • Hahaha, oh yeah, I have a hard time remembering the Georgian names! Maybe you’ll be back in the region some time and will get a chance to explore the region of Caucasus – it has a lot to offer! You made me worry about the placement of my menu though, I thought it was pretty common? I am trying to figure out how to switch it to a sticky menu on top of the page though because that’s what I find most comfortable…

    • The nature in this region is particularly striking. I haven’t seen many countries that would be as diverse as Georgia! I am happy to inspire you to visit in the future – it is so, so worth it 🙂 Thank you for reading!

    • Hello Veronica, thank you for reading! Georgia is a beautiful, diverse country and I hope you manage to visit sooner or later 🙂 I know just three or four words in Georgian, however, I get around relatively easily since I can speak basic Russian and understand most of the basic conversations. My native language, Slovak, is related to Russian so it makes learning easier and many people here are still fluent so I was improving my Russian instead of learning Georgian.

  2. You had me as soon as I read this sentence: “If you like trekking among ruins, gorges and marvelous views of snowy Caucasus peaks” 🙂

    Yep, that sounds right up my street!

    I’m actually planning a visit to Georgia either June (for my birthday) or September next year, which would you say would be best for hiking in this region?

    • Both are a good time, actually! The summer tends to be very hot in Dedoplistskaro so maybe I’d go for September, but on the other hand, September could still be quite hot. June would be great if you are also planning to visit Svaneti, it is the most beautiful time of the year there (I think) plus September could be too cold already. All in all I think June is the best if you can find good flight tickets 😉

  3. What a beautiful place! I’m not much of a hiker myself, but posts like these really inspire me. The pictures are just incredible! Perhaps I’ll start with the one-day ones though, haha. Hoping to visit Georgia soon 🙂

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