Samtskhe-Javakheti

Samtskhe-Javakheti is a region of Georgia, which borders Northern Armenia to the south.

Cities and Towns

Other destinations

The Vardzia cave monastery

Understand

Samtskhe-Javakheti was traditionally known as Meskheti, for its Meskhi Georgian tribes. The region is especially dry and mountainous south of Borjomi (which is still as green and wet as anywhere in Imereti). Javakheti, the southeastern portion of the region around Akhalkalaki, sees a bit of political ferment, since the vast majority of its residents are ethnically Armenian and demand greater autonomy and language rights. Unlike in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, however, the political situation here does not translate into any danger for a visitor; it is rather just an extra reason why Javakheti is an interesting destination.

Visitors should make Vardzia their number one travel priority (and stop along the way at Khertvisi Castle). but those with some extra time to explore would be foolish not to haul themselves up the bumpy mountain road to see the treasure that is Sapara Monastery. Borjomi is another great destination, but is far easier to visit than the rest of the regional attractions, as it is located very close to the main highway going between Tbilisi and Kutaisi.

Talk

In the southeast of the region around Akhalkalaki, Armenian is widely spoken, even more so than Georgian. But in the rest of the region, Georgian language speakers predominate. Russian is also widely spoken, especially by older generations.

Get around

Marshrutkas are generally the way to go when traveling south of Akhaltsikhe, as they seem to handle the bumpy dirt roads better than the Soviet built taxis (do not, however, underestimate the rock-crawling capabilities of a lada, seriously!).

Eat

If you are looking to sample some Armenian cuisine, Akhalkalaki is home to some authentic-as-it-gets cheap Armenian cafes.

Stay safe

Samtskhe-Javakheti is a quite safe region of Georgia. Probably the biggest danger to a visitor is the risk of falling off various cultural monumentsthere are no guard rails to speak of. But common sense and a natural fear of heights should keep you safe.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, January 17, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.