Boasting the distinction of being Georgia’s highest alpine resort, Bakhmaro is a place of extraordinary charm. In summer, vacationers come for the simple pleasure of hiking amid the beautiful, untouched wilderness. And in winter, the remote village is roused from the deepest sleep by skiers navigating the snowy mountain slopes.
THINGS TO DO IN BAKHMARO
Nestled on the slopes of the Meskheti range, Bakhmaro is a townlet and mountain resort situated in Chokhatauri district, within the Guria region of western Georgia. The highest alpine climatic resort in the country, Bakhmaro is located at a Georgian altitudinal zone of 2,020m above sea level.
Since 1890, Bakhmaro has attracted visitors with its diverse tourist activities in Georgia. Roads and water pipes were built to make the village more accessible to visitors. This was followed by the construction of the summer cottages. After the Second World War, the road from Nabeglavi was extended, which made Bakhmaro an increasingly popular tourist destination.
Surrounded by forests of fir and pine, Bakhmaro boasts a heavenly landscape of lush alpine meadows and breathtaking vistas. The resort is famous for its pretty cottages that are scattered throughout the green valleys straddling the banks of River Bakhvistskali. Standing out in the mist of the mountains, the unique wooden cottages are perched on stilts to avoid the winter snow that reaches up to 8m high.
Bakhmaro is also unique for its microclimate. Warm air from the Black Sea rises and mixes with the fresh mountain air, which is beneficial for people with respiratory problems. Consumption of spring water sourced from the surrounding mountains of Bakhmaro also contributes to the general wellness of the body.
Bakhmaro offers a range of unmarked trails for summer hiking and horse-riding in the Lesser Caucasus Mountains. Several mountain paths from Bakhmaro lead to other Gurian villages including Vakijvari, Mtispiri and Gomismta. Another path to Zotikeli passes through the beautiful River Bakhvistskali gorge.
Several vantage points from the forest-covered mountains in Bakhmaro offer breathtaking panoramas of the sun. Gadrekili or “Sunset Hill” is located to the east of Bakhmaro, at an elevation of 2,250m above sea level. In good weather, it is possible to watch the sun set on the Black Sea from this peak.
Chadrekili or “Sunrise Hill” is located 2km northwest of Bakhmaro, at an elevation of 2,505m above sea level. To catch the sunrise, sun worshippers set off early around 2am on a relatively easy hike up to Chadrekili. Visitors to Bakhmaro can also join in the local tradition of gathering firewood, lighting bonfires and sitting around the campfire while telling stories, singing and playing games.
Bakhmaro Ski Resort
Although popular as a summer destination, for decades, Bakhmaro remained largely uninhabited during winter. But all this changed at the start of the 21st century when small groups of ski enthusiasts began to come for the snowy slopes of Bakhmaro’s Lesser Caucasus Mountains.
The early skiers were drawn to the location by its unpaved powder snow hills which set Bakhmaro apart from the more “managed” Georgia ski resorts. The superb terrain featuring a combination of wide grassy slopes and spruce/ beech forest provided quality skiing throughout the season. Moreover, the rather modest tourist infrastructure also made Bakhmaro attractive for many of the pioneer skiers.
Noting the interest Bakhmaro has generated as a ski destination, the Georgian government has recently made plans to transform the rural mountain village into a modern winter resort. This will make Bakhmaro a year-round resort rather than just attracting tourists in the summer.
Initial development plans for Bakhmaro Ski Resort include building good roads, fixing water infrastructure and supplying electricity and natural gas. There are also future plans to build a ski lift system, new ski routes, heli-skiing facilities and install platforms for panoramic views.
Once these developments are complete, Bakhmaro will become the highest ski resort in the country of Georgia. From December to March each year, winter sports enthusiasts will be able to enjoy amazing skiing and snowboarding on the forested slopes of Bakhmaro, against a backdrop of picturesque Georgian nature.
Each year, tourists flock Bakhmaro to enjoy its amazing fresh air, sublime climate, summer sun and winter skiing opportunities. But beyond Bakhmaro, Guria’s other districts offer a host of places to visit in Georgia.
Nabeglavi is a health resort famous for its carbonated mineral water, which is similar to Georgia’s other famous mineral water sourced from Borjomi. Nabeglavi lies on the well-developed regional road that connects Chokhatauri with the Bakhmaro Mountain Resort.
Niko Berdzenishvili Historical Museum of Chokhatauri
Founded in 1958, the Niko Berdzenishvili Historical Museum of Chokhatauri houses archaeological and ethnographic Georgian artifacts, weapons, tools, pottery, burial items and numismatic material, as well as furniture, old photos, manuscripts and personal items of Guria’s principals.
Niko Mari Memorial Museum
Founded in 1999, the Niko Mari Memorial Museum showcases exhibitions depicting the life of famous Georgian scientist and historian Niko Mari. Located in the village of Thalaczike, the private museum houses Niko Mari’s manuscripts, memorabilia, works and furniture. The museum is housed in an old wooden house that belonged to the Mari family.
Constructed in the 9th century, Erketi Monastery is located in Erketi Village, 8km southeast of Chokhatauri. On the church’s southern wall is a fresco of Pilate washing his hands – a rarity in Georgian frescoes. To the side of the church is a monastery with a door carved out of grape tree. To the south of Erketi in Shubani Village is the Church of St. George which is built on a high gorge with great views.
Eristavi Palace & Garden
Located in Goraberezhouli, 2km west of Chokhatauri, the Eristavi Palace and Garden is a 17th century complex that consists of a palace and garden, enclosed by a stone fence. The garden covers one hectare and houses rare plant species including: a pencil tree, candy tree, giant sequoia, a Japanese strawberry tree and ginkgo.
In the middle of the garden are the remains of a fortified building formerly owned by the noble Eristavi family, dukes of Guria. Here you will find the remains of a 22m deep artesian well, historic furniture and a unique, preserved fireplace.
Situated in Janale Village, on the mountains surrounding Guria Lake, are the ruins of an early medieval fortress tower known as Bukistsikhe. Inhabited since the late Bronze Age, the site of Bukistsikhe once housed an ancient Georgian city-type settlement. Today, only the remains of the northern tower dating back to the 6th-7th centuries survived. A steep path leads from the lake to the tower.
Situated above Guria Lake is the Surebi Valley which mainly comprises of abandoned villages. As such, there is almost nothing here but beautiful Georgian nature, which makes Surebi Valley ideal for fans of hiking and the outdoors. Trails go through Kumur Village (20km) in Imereti, to Jaji Lake (26km). From here, paths lead to Sairme Resort, Abastumani, Adjara, Imereti and Samtskhe-Javakheti.
Ureki Sea Resort
Ureki Sea Resort is a coastal town on the Black Sea where the rich treasures of nature – the sun, the sea and fine velvety sands with medicinal properties, all combine to create a unique destination perfect for a healthy retreat in Georgia.
Shekvetili Sea Resort
Shekvetili Sea Resort is a village located on the eastern Black Sea coast, which comprises of a 5km coastal strip dominated by a pine tree forest. The resort perfectly combines two vacation options – relaxing beach holiday with diverse marine activities, and health recreation.
Ozurgeti Dramatic Theater
Established in 1868, Ozurgeti Dramatic Theater is one of the biggest theaters in Georgia. It overlooks the central square and has been renovated severally since it was established. In 1962, the theater was relocated to a 5-story Soviet Neoclassical-style building in which it still resides to this day.
Historical Museum of Ozurgeti
Established in 1936, Ozurgeti History Museum holds over 6,000 Georgian artifacts that date from 9,000 BC to today, including historical, ethnographic and archaeological exhibits. The most prominently displayed is a sword said to have belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte.
Ekvtime Takaishvili Archaeological Museum-Reserve
In addition to showcasing an exhibition on the life of Ekvtime Takaishvili, the Ekvtime Takaishvili Archaeological Museum-Reserve displays a collection of archaeological artifacts. The museum is found inside a typical 19th century Gurian-style wooden house with a balcony, fireplace and tiled roof.
Gurieli Baths is the oldest structure in town which consists of the remains of an ancient Byzantine-era bathhouse. Situated on Ozurgeti’s central square, the baths were constructed and used by the Gurieli family, former rulers of the Principality of Guria.
Palace of Dimitri Gurieli
Constructed in 1873, the Palace of Dimitri Gurieli is Ozurgeti’s oldest surviving building. A former residence of the Gurieli noble family, the palace is today a residence of the local Bishop of the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church.
Developed during the 1810s, the Ozurgeti Gardens are divided into 3 sections: Samkuthkha Garden – a triangular garden with a mini-football pitch; Platanus Garden which has platanus trees; and Beria Park which is situated at the front of the Dimitri Gurieli Palace.
Dotted all over the Ozurgeti city center are marvelous Classical-style Soviet era buildings that date from between the 1930s and the 1960s. The Georgian monuments include the remarkable train station, an old hotel, the old movie theater, as well as industrial, residential and administrative buildings.
Renowned for its love of Georgian sports, Ozurgeti is home to various rugby and football clubs. The city has two stadia – the Friendship Stadium used by the football club, and the Zvani Stadium used by the rugby club. Ozurgeti also runs a variety of municipal sports clubs.
THE BEST TIME TO VISIT BAKHMARO
The resort season in Bakhmaro lasts from June until September. Mid-July to late August is the best time to visit when Bakhmaro weather is warm and pleasant. The ski season in Bakhmaro stretches from December through mid-March.
Time your visit on August 19 to attend “Bakhmaros Doghvi”, a traditional horse race in which riders from the region take part in a circuit that leads through Bakhmaro and its surroundings. The annual horse race is held in celebration of “Periszvaleba” – the Day of the Transfiguration of Jesus, and marks the end of summer when the trees of Georgia gradually begin to change color.
WHERE TO STAY IN BAKHMARO
Most visitors to Bakhmaro stay in its famous wooden cottages that are scattered throughout the green valleys. The unique cottages rest on stilts and stand out in the mist of the mountains. Bakhmaro also has a hotel and a few guesthouses.
WHERE TO EAT IN BAKHMARO
There are a few restaurants in Bakhmaro that serve delicious Georgian cuisine. However, most Bakhmaro restaurants are only open during the resort season. One restaurant is situated near the bazaar area and another one further down the main road, close to the river.
HOW TO GET TO BAKHMARO
For flights to Georgia landing at Kutaisi airport, simply hire a car and drive 2 hours to Bakhmaro (110km). However, driving in country Georgia can be difficult if you don’t speak the Georgian language or understand the Georgian alphabet. Your best bet for getting to Bakhmaro would be via private transfer.
FINAL WORDS AND TRAVEL SUGGESTIONS
In times like these when man has heavily dominated nature, remote, untouched wilderness areas are increasingly rare to find… But they still exist – these magical places with landscapes of such extraordinary beauty and seclusion. And Bakhmaro is one of them.
You can book Bakhmaro hotels and vacation rentals ahead with our Georgia country tourism service. If you’d rather drive, we have a modern fleet of rental cars in Bakhmaro available for hire. We can also arrange for you to visit Georgia and Bakhmaro with private transfers to and from Kutaisi airport.
You can even create your own custom vacation package that includes the places you want to see and things you want to do in Bakhmaro. Fancy an escape into the mountains? Order your custom tour to Bakhmaro today for an unforgettable experience at Georgia’s highest alpine climatic resort!